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Sea Stars of STEM – new project from Lloyd Godson

Friend of StFF,  Lloyd Godson,  is on a mission to encourage young people to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) studies and careers, to conserve Australia’s unique marine biodiversity and to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

His new project is ‘Sea Stars of STEM’ will create the ultimate underwater superhero headquarters for Tik and Bubbles, characters who will inspire young people to follow their dreams and change the world through action.

The project is raising funds to make an underwater headquarters a reality, to check out his page here and maybe you can help.

Living On One – film available to buy

 StFF beneficiary – Living On One – was supported to tour their film around the US in a renovated old bus and inspire young people to do what they can to make a difference through adventure and experiential learning.  See project description on this website for details.

”Living On One Dollar’ has won Best Documentary at the Sonoma International Film Festival, and received endorsements from Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and the Director of the Hunger Games, Gary Ross.

You can buy Living on One Dollar, on iTunes and the website for $9.99.  Every purchase from the Living On One website helps send their friends Chino and Rosa, the stars of the film, to school!   Click here to buy




Creative Climate – from the Open University

The Open University’s Creative Climate project seeks to bring issues such as climate change out of the public arena and into individuals’ homes via personal video diaries, audio tracks, short films and text.  All these resources are stored and catalogued in one easily accessible online platform.

You can browse the Creative Climate website and watch a video diary of a polar scientist commenting on his recent expedition and his observations on the changing sea ice patterns in the Arctic.

Through the project you will be able to watch how local community groups are trying to change the way transport, energy and waste in your part of town and contribute your own thoughts and experiences.

Designed by Dr Joe Smith, a leading specialist in  environmental communications and public understanding, this 10-year project aims to respond directly to limitations of existing environmental media and learning content and unlock the power of the web to enhance environmental understanding and action.

Read more here


Green Creche – news from Cape Town

StFF beneficiary, Touching the Earth Lightly, design and install a safer, insulated creche structure and food garden.

Read about it here.


Picture by Leon Lestrade



Miraculous Fungi

Source – Kew Magazine, Autumn 2013, p 18 – from feature written by Gail Vines

Researchers in the UK have shown for the first time that plants can communicate by sending signals along a network of underground fungi that link the roots of nearby plants. (Ecology letters, vol 16, p 835).

Mycorrhizal fungi can serve as channels for the transmission of ‘infochemicals’ which can act as an early warning system, alerting neighbours to herbivore attack so they can take defensive action.

Aphids find host plants by homing in on a cocktail of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by their leaves and when insects begin to feed, the plants respond by emitting very different VOCs that repel aphids while attracting aphid enemies like parasitic wasps.

Researchers – Lucy Gilbert at the James Hutton Institue in Aberdeen and David Johnson at the University of Aberdeen, together with PhD student Zdenka Babikova and biochemists at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire – showed that when broad bean plants were forewarned of approaching aphids, they switched their output of VOCs to defensive mode before any aphids reached them.

This worked when the plants were connected together underground by fungi around and between their roots.  Only plants connected by underground fungi were able to respond in this way: cut off from the fungal network, the plants continued to give off aphid-attracting chemicals.

The Kew story states that implications could be far reaching – insect ecologists might need to take note of the activity of fungi in the soil and farmers could avoid ploughing and artificial fertilizers to encourage mycorrhizal fungi.

Note:  did you know that fungi are more closely related to humans than they are to plants?

For further information click here for the Kew website.

Also, click here to see a video of the Kew Fungariam


IPCC’s report on climate change produced

As reported by The Telegraph, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has produced the first part of its latest assessment on climate change. The report is the fifth by the IPCC and the first in six years.

Each assessment report is published three volumes – the first now has been published and the final two parts will be released in 2014.

It has taken scientists six years to put the report together with input from 800 experts and citing more than 9,000 scientific studies.

The initial part of the report will focus on the science of climate change while the second and third parts will look at the impact of climate change and what can be done to mitigate it.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body which was established in 1988 by the United Nations.

See The Telegraph’s feature.  Photo: ALAMY



Squirrelpox Vaccine – progress made

In the 19th century a small number of American grey squirrels were introduced to Britain and it is well known that they are now pushing the native red squirrel to extinction – a human induced ecological disaster.

In recent years it was discovered that the greys carry the squirrelpox virus which doesn’t harm them but induces a horrible lingering death in nearly all red squirrels that become infected.  Until 2012 it was believed that the disease was confined to mainland UK, but last year it was discovered also in Ireland.

The Wildlife Ark Trust is a small UK charity raising funds to sponsor research into the development of a squirrelpox vaccine to protect reds against the disease.

An effective vaccine candidate has now been discovered but it needs to be developed and the charity is raising money towards the next phase of research costing £198,000.

Contact the charity for further information.

Photos by Sarah McNeil

Green Shack Project – Explained

Want to know more about The Green Shack Project from Touching the Earth Lightly?  This video is a great place to start.

Climate Week in NYC from 23-30 September 2013

To celebrate Climate Week in New York City, The Weather Company is bringing together some of the biggest leaders in government, science, industry and NGOs, for a day of story-telling and ideas generating on how to reduce the impacts of climate change.
David de Rothschild will be speaking at the event, so if you’re in NYC on September 26th and are interested in joining the discussion head to and RSVP as space is limited.
If you’re not in NYC during that time, don’t worry, the whole conversation will be streamed live on the website! #cwnyc.

Click here to find out more.

Thanks to MYOO and Plastiki for sharing.  

The Guardian International Development Achievement Award 2013 – Vote Now

Mr Illac Diaz’s project combines a recycled plastic bottle, a capful of bleach and distilled water and the result is the ‘Litre of Light’ which provides light to more than 350,000 households in ten countries around the world  without the need for electricity.

This low cost, sustainable design is now a global movement for which the process and  the instructions are entirely open-sourced and spread using traditional and digital social networks.

Illac has been nominated for the Guardian’s International Achievement Award 2013 and the deadline to vote is midnight GMT on Monday 16 September 2013.

Cast your vote for Illac NOW and be part of the Liter of Light revolution.litreoflight