When scientists talk about the destruction of rain forests or the acidification of oceans, we often hear about the tragic loss of plants and animals.
But ecologists at the University of California, Berkeley say there's also a human tragedy that frequently goes unnoticed: As fish and fauna are wiped out, more children around the world are forced to work, and more people are forced into indentured servitude, scientists wrote Thursday in the journal Science.
Outside the northern Guatemalan town of Olopa, near the Honduran border, farmer Edwin Fernando Diaz Viera stands in the middle of his tiny coffee field. He says it was his lifelong dream to own a farm here. The area is renowned for producing some of the world's richest arabica, the smooth-tasting beans beloved by specialty coffee brewers.
"My farm was beautiful; it was big," he says.
But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop.
"Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything," he says.
Maybe you've wondered, while looking at the price tag on some organic produce, whether that label is telling the truth.
Peter Laufer, a writer and professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, doesn't just wonder. He's an outright skeptic, especially because the organic label seems to him like a license to raise prices. And also because those products are arriving through supply chains that stretch to far corners of the world.
Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 10:47 am
When you kiss your husband, does your dog try to get your attention? And does that mean that your dog feels jealous? Threatened? Or are we just imagining that?
Many if not all dog owners are sure that their pets have feelings. And we've known for a while that animals exhibit behaviors that look like jealousy, guilt and shame. But it's hard to find out what animals are really feeling. And researchers say that understanding that could give us valuable insights into human emotions, too.