The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories are drunk fish, fake climate news and bat lighting.

By Willow Hight-Warburton.

Pickle old fish to survive the winter

You’re stuck in freezing water, under thick ice, running out of air… What would you do? For wild carp and goldfish, the solution is simple – Switch to alcohol.

Scientists from Norway and the UK have discovered that a whole-genome duplication event 8.2 million years ago enabled these fish to survive in this ruthless environment by respiring anaerobically.

Normally, anaerobic respiration is lethal if it’s harmful byproduct (lactic acid) is not removed. However, this duplication event meant that these fish could develop a specialised enzyme which changes lactic acid into alcohol. Their gills can then easily remove the alcohol, meaning they can carry on through the winter unperturbed.

So skål you beauties! And we’ll see you in the spring.


‘This tastes fishy’

Global warming “debate” has me hot under the collar

Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel was released this week, and to give a ‘balanced view of the debate’ the BBC interviewed renowned global warming sceptic Nigel Lawson, where he voiced his opinion as fact – our very own, home-grown fake news.

Well, here you go Nig… I present to you the National Climate Assessment, a report by scientists from 13 federal agencies. This comprehensive report irrefutably concludes that global warming is real (surprise surprise) and that human activities are primarily responsible for the increase in global temperatures.

Even more worryingly it states that if an immediate halt to production of greenhouse gases took place today it could not prevent a continual temperature rise for another century, and the associated extreme weather and environmental impacts that would entail.

Isn’t it time everyone accepted the evidence and focused our energies on fixing the problem?


Science is often misrepresented for political gain

The lights are on and nobody’s home

A creepy ambience wouldn’t be complete without a swathe of disturbed bats. However, a survey of Swedish churches has found that flood lighting churches is already driving bats away from their roosts.

The scientist conducting the survey found that since 1980 there has been approximate 70% reduction in bat inhabitancy compared to those churches that had remained in the dark.

They also argue the lights could be affecting the bat colonies that remain in the illuminated churches. Bright lights can increase the risk of bat predation as well as preventing bats from leaving their roots to feed. This could, in turn, slow the growth rate and survival of the pups resulting in the extinction of more colonies.

They argue that this provides evidence that flood-lighting near roosts should require a permit, as ‘the light… it burns!’


To the bat church!

By Willow Hight-Warburton.