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Water, The Most Basic And Essential Resource, Is Now Just Another Wall Street Commodity

Investors can now trade water futures for the first time ever, as fear about the worldwide scarcity of water grows.

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Water, The Most Basic and Essential Resource, Is Now Just Another Wall Street Commodity
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) Water may be the basis for all life on earth, but it may soon become one of the hottest commodities on the Wall Street futures market due to its scarcity as a good.

Water will soon see its price fluctuating like other commodities including wheat, gold, and oil, now that the CME Group has launched futures contracts tied to the spot price of water.

The Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which measures the volume-weighted average price of water in California’s five primary watersheds, began trading under the ticker NQH20 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, it was trading at about $486.53 per Acre Foot ($/AF).

The contracts will let both investors and farmers bet on future prices of the precious liquid with contracts tied to the $1.1 California spot water market, reports Business Insider.

Historically, this is the first time that water has been traded this way.

In the last year, the price of water in California has doubled, increasing fears of the scarcity of this crucial resource. Market analysts claim that the arrival of water futures to the international market will allow better management of the risks tied to any shortage of this good.

For example, those who are in need of extra water in a drought-stricken year – when prices are much higher – will now be able to bet on futures contracts to offset the higher prices they would have to pay in the water market in the future.

Large agricultural firms and municipalities would also theoretically have the ability to protect themselves from large swings in the price of the commodity.

“The NQH20 futures will be an innovative tool to provide agricultural, commercial, and municipal water users with greater transparency, price discovery, and risk transfer, which can help to more efficiently align supply and demand of this vital resource,” said the CME Group.

The financial group touted the NQH2O index as the likely benchmark for global water markets.

The new futures market also creates the possibility that water will be the subject of cut-throat speculation from financial giants, including major banks and hedge funds.

“Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray told Bloomberg. “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.”

China and the United States are the world’s top consumers of water, with California accounting for some 9% of the nation’s daily consumption.

California’s water market is about four times bigger than that of any other state, with water transactions totalling $2.6 billion between 2012 and 2019.

In addition to being an agricultural giant where high-value crops like almonds and pistachios regularly require massive amounts of water, California is also filled with oil production facilities that use huge amounts of water while fracking for oil and gas.

However, the state is frequently hit with major droughts, leading to volatility in the price of the resource, reports CNN.

According to the United Nations, about 2 billion people live in countries where basic access to water is a serious problem. In the next few years, up to two-thirds of the planet could experience water shortages, leading to the displacement of millions of people.

The precious liquid has been excessively exploited by the mining sector and huge industries, while climate change has also been a driver of the increasing scarcity of water.

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Animal World

Octopuses Are Deep Sea Bullies That Punch Fish Out Of ‘Spite’ Or Just For Fun, Study Finds

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Octopuses Are Deep Sea Bullies That Punch Fish Out Of ‘Spite’ Or Just For Fun, Study Finds
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) It’s long been known that octopuses are extremely intelligent creatures, whose brain power may rival that of the golden retriever. However, a new study has found that the ingenious eight-tentacled invertebrates aren’t above bullying behavior, and have been known to punch fishes just for the hell of it.

A new study published Friday in the journal Ecology detailed the discovery, which found that octopuses sometimes throw haymakers at fish for “spite” and also as a means to relieve the boredom of their occasionally lonesome aquatic lives.

The clever cephalopod may be the schoolyard bully of the ocean deep.

Study co-author Eduardo Sampaio, a researcher at the University of Lisbon and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, was thrilled by the discovery, and said in a tweet that he had an absolute blast uncovering the unsettling details of the creature’s aggressive antics.

“OCTOPUSES. PUNCH. FISHES!!” Sampaio wrote, adding: “This was probably the most fun I had writing a paper. Ever!”

Like many creatures in the natural world, octopuses and fish have been known to hunt together, taking advantage of each other’s strengths and methodically communicating and working in tandem when hunting smaller fish. The alliances are often temporary, lasting over an hour at a time.

When this happens, octopuses will use their eight tentacles to pursue prey while fish scour the area or patrol the water column, even using their bodies to communicate where prey are attempting to hide.

However, big blue octopuses aren’t always satisfied with the efforts of their fish partners, and when this happened they apparently clock their fishy friend right in their scaley dome.

The octopus takes a swing that resembles “a swift, explosive motion with one arm directed at a specific fish partner” in an attack “which we refer to as punching,” the scientists wrote.

The act could be a means toward encouraging fishes to simply work more effectively, as scientists found. “[Actively] punching a fish partner entails a small energetic cost for the actor (i.e. octopus),” the researchers wrote.

The researchers observed no less than eight different octopus attacks on fishes between 2018 and 2019 while diving in the Red Sea, with victims including squirrel fish, blacktip, lyretail, groupers, yellow-saddle and goatfishes.

“We’ve never seen permanent marks or anything like that from getting punched, but can’t say for sure if fish are hurt or not. It’s clear they don’t like it!” Sampaio wrote in a tweet.

And while six of the altercations were clearly a matter of the octopus keeping their fish partners in line, at least two of the incidents were likely a form of “spiteful behavior” or even “punishment.”

I laughed out loud, and almost choked on my own regulator,” Sampaio later told Live Science. “But I still marvelled at it every time I saw it.”

“The fish would get pushed to the edge of the group, or would actually leave the group,” he continued. “Sometimes after a while it would return, other times it would not return at all. The octopus would leave the fish alone after displacing it.”

While some might see octopuses as miniature sea monsters, the invertebrates are actually contemplative, thoughtful creatures who are known to give hugs – especially while high on MDMA – have dreams, and socialize with one another.

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Animal World

Indigenous Community In Canada Mourns After Poachers Kill Sacred White “Spirit Moose”

First Nation communities in Canada are in a shock after a rare white moose, seen as a “spirit” animal, was killed by suspected poachers.

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Indigenous Community In Canada Mourns After Poachers Kill Sacred White “Spirit Moose”
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) First Nation communities in Canada are in a state of shock and anger after a rare white moose, seen as a “spirit” animal to indigenous people, was killed by suspected poachers.

The rare white moose, seen as a sacred creature by the native culture, was killed by poachers near the city of Timmins, Ontario, leaving locals in a state of mourning.

The corpses of two female moose, including a majestic white cow, were discovered shot and discarded along a service road with their entire bodies intact, including the head, reports The Guardian.

Local residents have traditionally revered the white moose population – as well as white animals including bison, ravens, and grizzly bears – who have a ghostly pallor due to a recessive gene, and have been sighted moving quietly among the aspen and pine forests of the region.

Community leaders are perplexed about the seemingly needless execution of the creature.

Everybody is outraged and sad. Why would you shoot it? No one needs one that bad,” remarked Chief Murray Ray of the Flying Post First Nation.If you have a license to shoot a cow moose, you could shoot another one. Just leave the white ones alone.”

The incident is now under investigation by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Signs around the area warn against killing the creatures, which are now under legal protection under laws that locals fought hard for.

“I really hope they find the people that are responsible for this and they’re charged,” Murray added.

Troy Woodhouse, a fellow member of the Flying Post First Nation community, noted that anyone who sees the moose in person would likely realize “how much of a sacred animal it is and rare and majestic to see.”

It saddens me that somebody would take such a beautiful animal,” Woodhouse added.Nobody knows exactly how many are in the area, so the loss of a single spirit moose is one too many.”

Woodhouse fondly remembers the first time that he saw a young white bull moose alongside his wife near the home of his grandfather’s home, which is also in the region.

“It was a sign that he’s watching over us on the land. It was very special to me,” he said.

Woodhouse has personally volunteered to give CAD $1,000 to anyone who volunteers any information that leads to the hunters’ arrest, or for them if the killing was a mistake and they decide to turn themselves in. Others, including animal rights activists and a drilling company, have contributed CAD $8,000 (USD $6,121) for a pool that will go to anyone who can help find the culprit.

“Maybe hunters tried to get one moose and got the other by accident,” he added. “If a person does come forward and admit what they did, I would put my portion towards any of their legal fees. There’s so much negativity in the world today. It’s nice to just see some people banding together and trying to turn this into something positive.”

The creatures are extremely rare in the region. Wildlife photographer Mark Clement, who says that he has seen at least four over the years, estimates that only 30 of the white moose reside in the area.

This isn’t the first time that the slaying of the creatures has outraged indigenous communities in Canada.

In 2013, three hunters killed a white moose in Nova Scotia and faced charges by the Mi’kmaq people. They were eventually forced to return the animal’s pelt to Mi’kmaq authorities so that a days-long mourning ceremony could be held to honour the rare and majestic creatures.

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Scientists Accidentally Discover Massive, Skyscraper-Sized Coral Reef On Great Barrier Reef

The remarkable, 1,600-foot-tall underwater structure is taller than New York City’s Empire State Building.

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Coral Reef
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) A massive, detached coral reef the size of a skyscraper has been discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, researchers announced Monday, marking the first such find in over a century.

The remarkable, 1,600-foot-tall underwater structure – the first to be discovered in 120 years – is taller than manmade buildings like France’s Eiffel Tower, New York City’s Empire State Building, and Britain’s tallest building, the 95-storey The Shard.

The unexpected discovery was made on Oct. 20 by a team of Australian scientists on the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor who were on a 12-month expedition conducting underwater mapping of the northern seafloor of the Great Barrier Reef.

On Sunday, the team used the institute’s underwater robot or remotely operated vehicle (ROV) SuBastian to explore the new reef. The institute live-streamed the robotic dive and subsequent “climb” up the reef, allowing viewers across the world to enjoy close-up views of the tremendous natural structure.

The blade-like reef measures nearly a mile wide at its base, and its tallest point extends to about 130 feet below the surface of the ocean.

This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” Wendy Schmidt, the institute’s co-founder, said in a statement“The state of our knowledge about what’s in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”

The towering reef lies off the coast of North Queensland, in the area surrounding Cape York. Since the late 19th century, seven detached reefs have been found in the region.

“We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” said Robin Beaman, a marine geologist at James Cook University who is leading the expedition. “To not only 3D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible.”

The expansive Great Barrier Reef comprises about 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. It is home to an incredible array of fish, shrimp, and various other reef denizens.

In recent years, dead coral reefs have become one of the major horrors resulting from the impact of human economic activities, with thousands of miles of coral ecosystem across the globe being transformed into bleached-out graveyards due to the devastating impact of fast-heating ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, pollution, marine pests, and overfishing.

The newfound reef is completely separate from the main shelf edge of the Great Barrier Reef, and very little is known about why such detached reefs exist.

And while the Great Barrier Reef has felt a devastating impact from recent coral bleaching, the newly-discovered reef appears to be mostly intact.

“To find a new half-a-kilometre tall reef in the offshore Cape York area of the well-recognized Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world is just beyond our coastline,” said Jyotika Virmani, the executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “This powerful combination of mapping data and underwater imagery will be used to understand this new reef and its role within the incredible Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

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The Amazon Rainforest Is Coming Dangerously Close To Permanently Converting Into Dry Savannah

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications found that as much as 40% of the Amazon rainforest could become a savannah-like environment.

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Photo Credit: Daily Sabah

(TMU) – A vast swathe of the Amazon is teetering on the brink of disaster and risks crossing the tipping point of transforming from a closed canopy rainforest teeming with life to an open savannah with few trees as climate conditions deprive the region of rainfall and effectively kill its unique ecosystem, scientists have warned.

Rainforests are extremely sensitive to even the slightest changes in rainfall and moisture levels, and extended periods of drought and fire can be devastating in areas that rely on rain for sustenance. In the Amazon, such conditions would transform the lush rainforest into a semi-arid savannah-like mixture of woodland and grassland while also boosting the risk of fire.

While such dramatic changes to the Amazon were believed to be worst-case scenarios that could happen decades away, a team of Europe-based scientists warned on Monday that the tipping point is now dangerously close.

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications found that as much as 40% of the existing Amazon rainforest is already seeing so little rainfall that it could exist as a savannah-like environment, deprived of its canopy-like tree coverage and with far less biodiversity.

Researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Center used computer models and data analysis to stimulate the effect of continued climate change resulting from emissions from burning fossil fuels from now until the end of the century to find the results.

Rainforests typically create their own rainfall through water vapour, which then sustains and even extends the reach of tree levels.

However, when rain levels plummet, forest land also begins to fade away and degrade – resulting in a drier landscape that becomes more susceptible to the ravages of fire, drought, and ultimately, total deforestation.

The situation in the Amazon has only grown worse as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has stubbornly pushed forward the opening of the rainforest to economic development, unleashing a wave of human-caused fires meant to illegally clear one of the region so that it can be exploited by miners, cattle ranchers, loggers, and big agricultural interests.

This year’s fires in the Brazilian Amazon are the worst in a decade, marking a dizzying 60% rise in fire hotspots compared to last year’s infamous blazes.

The rainforest is so delicate that even the most subtle changes in climate conditions can have an outsized impact on the ecological balance of the environment, said the study’s lead author, Arie Staal.

As forests grow and spread across a region, this affects rainfall,” he told The Guardian. “Forests create their own rain because leaves give off water vapour and this falls as rain further downwind. Rainfall means fewer fires leading to even more forests.”

However, the loss of large areas of rainforest mean a precipitous drop in rainfall levels across the region.

“Drier conditions make it harder for the forest to recover and increase the flammability of the ecosystem,” Staal said.

At that point, the rainforest crosses a threshold and converts into a savannah-type environment – a conversion that is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

“It is harder to return from the ‘trap’ caused by the feedback mechanism in which the open, grassy ecosystem is more flammable, and the fires, in turn, keep the ecosystem open,” Staal said.

Experts have warned that the Amazon rainforest is a crucial barrier to the catastrophic breakdown of global climate conditions. Without the Amazon rainforest, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could become out of control and drive global warming to intolerable levels while the change in rainfall patterns could impact the entire Western Hemisphere.

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Tragically, the loss of rainforests like the Amazon would also entail the extermination of a huge portion of global species.

“We understand now that rainforests on all continents are very sensitive to global change and can rapidly lose their ability to adapt,” said study co-author Ingo Fetzer of the Stockholm Research Center. “Once gone, their recovery will take many decades to return to their original state. And given that rainforests host the majority of all global species, all this will be forever lost.”

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