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Thought To Be Safe: Replacement PFAS Used in Food Packaging Are Actually Hazardous

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Sunday, April 16, 2023

A study recently published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters suggests that the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) once considered safe for use in food...

A study recently published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters suggests that the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) once considered safe for use in food...

Food Packaging

A study recently published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters suggests that the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) once considered safe for use in food...

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Revealed: UK ministers ‘misled public’ when scrapping air quality regulations

Exclusive: Documents show warnings that changes would weaken environmental protections were ignoredMinisters have been accused of “misleading the public” after documents obtained by Ends Report and the Guardian revealed they ignored their officials’ advice when scrapping key air quality regulations.On 31 December, two key air quality regulations will drop off the statute book under the Retained EU Law (REUL) Act.. Revoke the NAPCP with no replacement, with the environment improvement plan (EIP) becoming the alternative process.2. Revoke the NAPCP provisions and introduce a new process for assessing policy options, with a new process triggered by a failure or potential failure to achieve a target. Continue reading...

Ministers have been accused of “misleading the public” after documents obtained by Ends Report and the Guardian revealed they ignored their officials’ advice when scrapping key air quality regulations.On 31 December, two key air quality regulations will drop off the statute book under the Retained EU Law (REUL) Act.The rules being revoked are regulations 9 and 10 of the National Emission Ceiling (NEC) regulations, which set legally binding emission reduction commitments for five key air pollutants.Regulation 9 requires the secretary of state to prepare a national air pollution control programme (NAPCP) to limit pollutants in accordance with national emission reduction commitments. Regulation 10 requires that before preparing or significantly revising the NAPCP, the secretary of state must consult the public.Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, has asked ministers to “urgently take steps to prevent these regulations from being stripped from our statute book in just a few weeks’ time”, and has asked them to “explain why they felt this decision was in the interests of people and planet”.Ruth Chambers, from the Greener UK coalition, has also urged the new minister for air quality, Robbie Moore, to “order an immediate rethink”.The decision to scrap these regulations has also sparked strong criticism from the government’s own environmental watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), which warned that revoking these regulations “weakens accountability and transparency and – in the absence of an alternative, comprehensive plan – it has the potential to weaken environmental protection”.The government has dismissed these concerns repeatedly, stating that its intention in revoking the regulations was to “reduce administrative burden” and “remove duplication”.In July 2023, the then environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, reassured the OEP that in revoking the regulations “there [will be] no reduction in the level of environmental protection”, and emphasised that the government “uses expert advice when making provisions that relate to the environment”.However, it can be revealed that ministers knew this was not the case.In advice given to ministers in March 2023, and obtained by Ends Report via an environmental information request, officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) advised the government to carry out a public consultation before reforming the regulations, and to put two options to the public:. Revoke the NAPCP with no replacement, with the environment improvement plan (EIP) becoming the alternative process2. Revoke the NAPCP provisions and introduce a new process for assessing policy options, with a new process triggered by a failure or potential failure to achieve a target The officials advised that any changes to the regulations should take place in 2024, to allow “sufficient time” for a public consultation.Coffey ignored the advice to consult and chose option one.The two options came with a list of pros and cons. For option one, the officials warned that by revoking the regulations with no replacement, there would “no longer be a legal requirement to publish a UK wide document on emission policies under consideration by all UK administrations”, which they warned would make “tracking or setting our progress towards UK wide emission targets difficult”.They also warned there would no longer be clear action following a failure to achieve an emission reduction target.Emily Kearsey, an environmental lawyer at ClientEarth, said it is “further evidence that the removal of these regulations does constitute a regression of environmental law, and also that the government knew this.“They might not have been advised on the regression explicitly, but it’s hard to come to any other conclusion when the civil servants are specifically outlining the gaps that would be created by removing these regulations”, she added.In the document, the officials also warned that the EIP was not an adequate replacement for the NAPCP. They highlighted that the EIP cycle is every five years, meaning that it could be four years between an exceedance of legal air quality limits and the government setting out new policies and measures.“This document shows the broader way in which the government has been basically misleading the public that [revoking these regulations] is in their best interests”, Kearsey said.“Despite the hollow reassurances about having used expert advice, it is now clear that not only did ministers fail to seek the advice of external experts, but also refused to heed the advice of their own officials when deciding to scrap air quality regulations under the REUL Act”, Lucas added.“This reinforces the concerns of campaigners that the government’s approach would create dangerous gaps in transparency and accountability. The state of our filthy air is a public health emergency and is associated with the equivalent of up to 40,000 deaths a year in the UK. It’s essential that the government starts treating this issue seriously – first by maintaining existing regulations and second by strengthening their targets, so that another generation of children does not have to grow up breathing dirty air.”A Defra spokesperson said: “The emissions reduction targets set out in the NEC regulations remain unchanged and as such there has been no reduction in the level of environmental protection. We are committed to achieving these reduction targets and are maintaining the reporting provisions to ensure there is transparency on our progress.”“When we consulted on the NAPCP, as required by the NEC regulations, a number of stakeholders said the format could be improved. With this in mind, we are considering how we can simplify the process to reduce administrative burdens and improve transparency.”

A life-giving river in Alaska is running out of salmon

Alaskan communities have seen a vital food source disappear as fewer salmon make it up the Yukon River.

A life-giving river in Alaska is running out of salmonDecember 3, 2023 at 7:00 a.m. ESTBoats rest on the bank of the Yukon River in Eagle, Alaska. King and chum salmon runs on the Yukon have seen record lows in recent years. (Marlena Sloss for The Washington Post)EAGLE VILLAGE, Alaska — When Jody Potts-Joseph was growing up, her family mushed sled dogs during the harsh Alaskan winters to hunt and trap, feeding them salmon caught from the Yukon River by the thousands.But after rebuilding her sled dog team as an adult, Potts-Joseph, a member of the Han Gwich’in tribe, had to turn to store-bought dog food. The river that was once renowned for its salmon doesn’t have enough to offer anymore.“We haven’t been able to fish for a number of years,” she said as her dogs yelped outside her home in Eagle Village, close to the Yukon near the border with Canada.Flowing from British Columbia through Alaska to the Bering Sea, the nearly 2,000-mile-long Yukon River used to teem with Chinook and chum salmon, sustaining a culture of harvesting fish to feed both Alaskans as well as sled dog teams vital for transportation during the winter.Now those salmon runs have turned into to a trickle, as climate change and other factors weigh against the fish. The result is a drastic cut to local food supplies in a region where store-bought food, shipped in from thousands of miles away, is expensive.“Alaska is a canary in the coal mine,” said Andy Bassich, a homesteader and dog musher in Calico Bluff only a few miles from the Canadian border. “What’s happening up here is only going to happen in the Lower 48 farther down the line.”The declines have forced regulators to issue a series of restrictions on subsistence, commercial and recreational fishing up and down the river, upending a way of life for Alaska Native people and severing a vital connection between land and sea.There are two main species of salmon to fish in the Yukon. The first is chum or dog salmon, which is traditionally fed to canines here but still eaten by people. The other is Chinook or king salmon, the larger and fatter variety that people eat in Alaska and around the world.“This is food that my family and our ancestors have used for millennia,” said Karma Ulvi, chief of the Eagle Tribal Council. “For thousands of years, we’ve fished on these rivers and our people lived here and we took only what we needed.”Both varieties are vanishing. Compared to the last three decades, the Yukon’s chum populations declined by around 80 percent in the period between 2020 and 2022, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Chinook salmon numbers, meanwhile, dropped by nearly two-thirds during the same time.Sonja Sager, a mother of six who lives near Eagle, remembers those better days. Every summer, family members scattered around the region gathered for weeks at “fish camp” along the river to net, cut, brine, smoke and can the salmon that got them through the harsh winters. Smoked strips of the blood orange meat, she said, were “high-power food” that let them endure subzero temperatures.“You could just feel the goodness and the warmth flowing into you when you eat that when it’s cold.”But the restrictions on salmon fishing over the past four years have forced her family to grow more potatoes, hunt for more moose and fish for less-nutritious whitehead and pike to sustain themselves. “They don’t make up for that really rich, beautiful orange meat,” she said.Lost with the decline in the Yukon’s salmon is more than just a food source. For now, people living here cannot connect with family at fish camp and share knowledge about how to catch and prepare salmon.“We’re watching our way of life slipping away,” Sager said.For Potts-Joseph, supermarket food just isn’t as healthy for Indigenous people like her. “The food that we get from the land, it works the best with our DNA,” she said. “And it’s something our people have eaten and lived off for for thousands of years.”Researchers attribute the decline in salmon to a constellation of factors. “Like a lot of 21st century environmental problems, it doesn’t have a singular cause,” said Bathsheba Demuth, an environmental historian at Brown University who is writing a book about the Yukon.One contributing factor for the decline is happening hundreds of miles away at sea. Commercial fishing boats in the Bering Sea and elsewhere off Alaska that use huge nets to trawl for more than 2 billion pounds of pollock a year — a fish used in fish sticks and McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches — are accidentally scooping up salmon born in the Yukon and destined to return to the river.Tim Bristol, executive director of the advocacy group SalmonState, wants to see regulators limit bycatch, or the number of chum salmon ocean fishers take accidentally, by shutting down fishing that harvests too many chum.The National Marine Fisheries Service and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which oversee Alaskan fisheries, have limits on bycatch for king salmon. Bristol said that is “an improvement,” but may have come too late.He added that other parts of the world have moved away from trawling. Earlier this year, trawling vessels killed several orcas off Alaska. Whether the practice should continue is “a question for Alaska, and I think it’s a question for the United States,” Bristol said.But the pollock fishing companies said existing bycatch limits are working well to curb the Chinook taken. The chum salmon the fleet accidentally catches, it adds, is mostly from Asian hatcheries, not Alaskan rivers.“Although the Alaska pollock fishery is not the cause of this crisis, we are redoubling our focus on technology, management and science innovations to minimize the incidental catch,” said Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the At-sea Processors Association, a pollock industry group.Michael Kampnich, a commercial fisher and a former logger, used to dismiss environmentalists’ concerns. But he said it is impossible for him to ignore the impact of trawling.“The scale of this bycatch is unimaginable,” he said. “And I just understand, this is not sustainable.”But a bigger threat to salmon, scientists say, is climate change. In the ocean, higher temperatures, including a massive marine heat wave known as the “Blob,” made it hard for some younger salmon to feed and thrive.And when adult salmon return to the Yukon to spawn, they get no reprieve as warming river waters stress the cold-loving fish as it makes its epic journey. The trip up the Yukon into Canada, the longest for any salmon on Earth, is stressful enough even for healthy fish.“It’s the equivalent of doing an ultramarathon every day for a month,” said Katie Howard, a fisheries scientist who leads the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s salmon ocean ecology program. “That’s what they’re swimming.”Also contributing to the declines is a vitamin deficiency in some fish, as well as a disease called ichthyophonus that may be spreading more readily among the stressed fish.“There’s many things that are affecting the decline in salmon, from warming waters to disease, but I think the one thing that we can fix is the commercial fishing and the bycatch,” said Ulvi, who also chairs the Yukon Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which formed in response to low salmon numbers.Potts-Joseph hopes Indigenous knowledge about how to fish sustainably and catch only what is needed can help restore salmon. “It comes from thousands of years of living and observing and being a part of this landscape.”Demuth, the Brown University professor, took a class of undergraduates from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks on a 100-mile canoe trip down the Yukon to gather some of that knowledge through oral histories.Seneca Roach, an English and political science major from Homer who went on the trip, has more faith in their generation to solve climate change than they do in today’s adult leaders.“It’s in your line of sight. Everywhere you go, you see the effects. It’d be a disservice to the world in general to not learn about it and care about it.”Dino Grandoni reported from Washington.Climate change and global warming

Unlocking the secrets of natural materials

Professor Benedetto Marelli develops silk-based technologies with uses “from lab to fork,” including helping crops grow and preserving perishable foods.

Growing up in Milan, Benedetto Marelli liked figuring out how things worked. He repaired broken devices simply to have the opportunity to take them apart and put them together again. Also, from a young age, he had a strong desire to make a positive impact on the world. Enrolling at the Polytechnic University of Milan, he chose to study engineering. “Engineering seemed like the right fit to fulfill my passions at the intersection of discovering how the world works, together with understanding the rules of nature and harnessing this knowledge to create something new that could positively impact our society,” says Marelli, MIT’s Paul M. Cook Career Development Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Marelli decided to focus on biomedical engineering, which at the time was the closest thing available to biological engineering. “I liked the idea of pursuing studies that provided me a background to engineer life,” in order to improve human health and agriculture, he says. Marelli went on to earn a PhD in materials science and engineering at McGill University and then worked in Tufts University’s biomaterials Silklab as a postdoc. After his postdoc, Marelli was drawn to MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental in large part because of the work of Markus Buehler, MIT’s McAfee Professor of Engineering, who studies how to design new materials by understanding the architecture of natural ones. “This resonated with my training and idea of using nature’s building blocks to build a more sustainable society,” Marelli says. "It was a big leap forward for me to go from biomedical engineering to civil and environmental engineering. It meant completely changing my community, understanding what I could teach and how to mentor students in a new engineering branch. As Markus is working with silk to study how to engineer better materials, this made me see a clear connection with what I was doing and what I could be doing. I consider him one of my mentors here at MIT and was fortunate to end up collaborating with him." Marelli’s research is aimed at mitigating several pressing global problems, he says. “Boosting food production to provide food security to an ever-increasing population, soil restoration, decreasing the environmental impact of fertilizers, and addressing stressors coming from climate change are societal challenges that need the development of rapidly scalable and deployable technologies,” he says. Marelli and his fellow researchers have developed coatings derived from natural silk that extend the shelf life of food, deliver biofertilizers to seeds planted in salty, unproductive soils, and allow seeds to establish healthier plants and increase crop yield in drought-stricken lands. The technologies have performed well in field tests being conducted in Morocco in collaboration with the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Ben Guerir, according to Marelli, and offer much potential. “I believe that with this technology, together with the common efforts shared by the MIT PIs participating in the Climate Grand Challenge on Revolutionizing Agriculture, we have a  real opportunity to positively impact planetary health and find new solutions that work in both rural settings and highly modernized agricultural fields,” says Marelli, who recently earned tenure. As a researcher and entrepreneur with about 20 patents to his name and awards including a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers award, and the Ole Madsen Mentoring Award, Marelli says that in general his insights into structural proteins — and how to use that understanding to manufacture advanced materials at multiple scales — are among his proudest achievements. More specifically, Marelli cites one of his breakthroughs involving a strawberry. Having dipped the berry in an odorless, tasteless edible silk suspension as part of a cooking contest held in his postdoctoral lab, he accidentally left it on his bench, only to find a week or so later that it had been well-preserved. “The coating of the strawberry to increase its shelf life is difficult to beat when it comes to inspiring people that natural polymers can serve as technical materials that can positively impact our society” by lessening food waste and the need for energy-intensive refrigerated shipping, Marelli says. When Marelli won the BioInnovation Institute and Science Prize for Innovation in 2022, he told the journal Science that he thinks students should be encouraged to choose an entrepreneurial path. He acknowledged the steepness of the learning curve of being an entrepreneur but also pointed out how the impact of research can be exponentially increased. He expanded on this idea more recently. “I believe an increasing number of academics and graduate students should try to get their hands ‘dirty’ with entrepreneurial efforts. We live in a time where academics are called to have a tangible impact on our society, and translating what we study in our labs is clearly a good way to employ our students and enhance the global effort to develop new technology that can make our society more sustainable and equitable,” Marelli says. Referring to a spinoff company, Mori, that grew out of the coated strawberry discovery and that develops silk-based products to preserve a wide range of perishable foods, Marelli says he finds it very satisfying to know that Mori has a product on the market that came out of his research efforts — and that 80 people are working to translate the discovery from “lab to fork.” “Knowing that the technology can move the needle in crises such as food waste and food-related environmental impact is the highest reward of all,” he says. Marelli says he tells students who are seeking solutions to extremely complicated problems to come up with one solution, “however crazy it might be,” and then do an extensive literature review to see what other researchers have done and whether “there is any hint that points toward developing their solution.” “Once we understand the feasibility, I typically work with them to simplify it as much as we can, and then to break down the problem in small parts that are addressable in series and/or in parallel,” Marelli says. That process of discovery is ongoing. Asked which of his technologies will have the greatest impact on the world, Marelli says, “I’d like to think it’s the ones that still need to be discovered.”

Sophisticated Microbial Metropolis: Revealing Bacterial Teamwork Across Generations

When bacteria build communities, they cooperate and share nutrients across generations. Researchers at the University of Basel have now successfully demonstrated this for the first...

Researchers at the University of Basel have developed a groundbreaking method to study bacterial communities, revealing how bacteria share resources and cooperate across generations. Using Bacillus subtilis as a model, the study highlights the benefits of communal living for bacteria and the complex dynamics within these communities. When bacteria build communities, they cooperate and share nutrients across generations. Researchers at the University of Basel have now successfully demonstrated this for the first time using a newly developed method. This innovative technique enables the tracking of gene expression during the development of bacterial communities over space and time. In nature, bacteria typically live in communities. They collectively colonize our gut, also known as the gut microbiome, or form biofilms such as dental plaque. Living communally offers numerous benefits to individual bacteria, such as increased resilience against harsh environmental conditions, expansion into new territories, and mutual advantages derived from shared resources. Bacterial Life in Communities The development of bacterial communities is a highly complex process where bacteria form intricate three-dimensional structures. In their latest study published on November 16 in the journal Nature Microbiology, the team led by Professor Knut Drescher from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has investigated the development of bacterial swarm communities in detail. They achieved a methodological breakthrough enabling them to simultaneously measure gene expression and image the behavior of individual cells in microbial communities in space and time. Swarm of Bacillus subtilis bacteria on an agar plate. (Colorized image). Credit: University of Basel, Biozentrum Generational Resource Sharing “We used Bacillus subtilis as a model organism. This ubiquitous bacterium is also found in our intestinal flora. We have revealed that these bacteria, which live in communities, cooperate and interact with each other across generations,” explains Prof Knut Drescher, head of the study. “Earlier generations deposit metabolites for later generations.” They also identified different subpopulations within a bacterial swarm, which produce and consume different metabolites. Some of the metabolites secreted by one subpopulation become the food for other subpopulations that emerge later during swarm development. Task Distribution Within Bacterial Communities The researchers combined state-of-the-art adaptive microscopy, gene expression analyses, metabolite analyses, and robotic sampling. Using this innovative approach, the researchers have been able to simultaneously examine gene expression and bacterial behavior at precisely defined locations and specific times as well as to identify the metabolites secreted by the bacteria. The bacterial swarm could thus be divided into three major regions: the swarm front, the intermediate region, and the swarm center. However, the three regions display gradual transitions.  “Depending on the region, the bacteria differ in appearance, characteristics, and behavior. While they are mostly motile at the edges, the bacteria in the center form long non-motile threads, resulting in a 3D biofilm. One reason is the varying availability of space and resources,” explains first author Hannah Jeckel. “The spatial distribution of bacteria with distinct behavior enables the community to expand but also to hide in a protective biofilm.” This process appears to be a widespread strategy in bacterial communities and is crucial for their survival. Dynamics and Survival Strategies in Bacterial Communities This study illustrates the complexity and dynamics within bacterial communities and reveals cooperative interactions among individual bacteria — in favor of the community. The spatial and temporal effects thus play a central role in the development and establishment of microbial communities. A milestone of this work is the development of a pioneering technique that enabled the researchers to acquire comprehensive spatiotemporal data of a multicellular process at a resolution never before achieved in any other biological system. Reference: “Simultaneous spatiotemporal transcriptomics and microscopy of Bacillus subtilis swarm development reveal cooperation across generations” by Hannah Jeckel, Kazuki Nosho, Konstantin Neuhaus, Alasdair D. Hastewell, Dominic J. Skinner, Dibya Saha, Niklas Netter, Nicole Paczia, Jörn Dunkel and Knut Drescher, 16 November 2023, Nature Microbiology.DOI: 10.1038/s41564-023-01518-4

Long-haired rats invade Australian coastal towns: ‘Quite destructive’

Hordes of long-haired rats are plaguing coastal communities in Australia, contaminating water supplies, chewing electrical wiring and devouring food supplies.

Emma Gray was among the first to notice signs of the impending plague.A biological researcher, Gray went to northwest Queensland in Australia in June to study one mammal but unexpectedly ended up focusing on another. During her field work, she caught more than 1,000 long-haired rats. As Gray looked around, she saw evidence of far more.“You could just see tunnels everywhere in the grass,” Gray, a postdoctoral researcher at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, told The Washington Post.Gray said she immediately knew what was happening: an explosion in the number of long-haired rats. Native to Australia, long-haired rats normally eke out an existence in relatively low numbers, only to skyrocket into legions when the right conditions present themselves.Gray was right. Hordes of the rats have since spread north as government officials warn of a “Rat Plague.” The rats have most recently hit the country’s coastal towns, including Karumba, where they have chewed through electrical wires, devoured food reserves, attacked pets and, in at least one case, destroyed a car.“They’re causing havoc with everything,” a Karumba resident told 4BC radio, adding: “They’re eating anything and everything they can get their hands on.”Known as Rattus villosissimus to scientists and majaru or mayaroo to Indigenous Australians, the long-haired rat typically lives in arid and semiarid habitats. They normally hide inside cracks in clay soil, which provide shelter both from the heat and from predators such as barn owls, letter-winged kites and feral cats, Gray said.Long-haired rats eat wild plants, specifically their leaves and seeds, Gray added, because unlike the brown rats familiar to city dwellers around the world, they are not commensal, or reliant on humans for food and shelter. Every three to five years, though sometimes more often, La Niña weather brings increased rainfall to Australia, including every year since 2020, when an unusual “triple-dip” La Niña unleashed record-breaking rains across the country, causing flooding and forcing evacuations, the BBC reported.For the long-haired rat, more rain means more vegetation growth, and more food means more rats — lots more. With a strong food supply, long-haired rats can give birth every three weeks, producing litters with as many as 12 babies, Gray said.“It’s a very natural phenomenon that’s been happening basically as far back as our records go, to early explorers,” she said, adding that, despite the lack of historical records, she suspects the boom-and-bust cycle has been going on for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years.Explosions in the long-haired rat population happen every three to 17 years, the last one occurring in 2011 after two years of above-average rainfall, Gray said. Luke Wharton, a resident of a nearby community that was also hit by rats, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that this year’s plague “might top it.”More rats mean more problems, at least for people.“They’re quite destructive when they get into such large numbers,” Gray said.Karumba is only the latest town to suffer under the onslaught. After Gray’s discovery in June near the inland town of Julia Creek, the rats marched steadily northward, hitting other inland communities as they pressed toward the sea, according to the ABC. Along the way, they contaminated water sources and destroyed crops.Long-haired rats have quickly worn out their welcome in Karumba. Jemma Probert, who owns a fishing charter, told the ABC that she’s had to flick them off her boat, while commercial fisherman Brett Fallon told the news organization that every night, at least 100 invade his vessel. Derek Lord, who runs a car rental business, told the AFP that they destroyed a vehicle by stripping the wiring out of the engine bay. He said they also drove his pet ducks “mad” by breaking into their cages and stealing their eggs.“There’s rats everywhere,” Lord said, adding: “They’re just like, bold as hell.”The rats swim out to sandbanks during low tide, only to drown when the water rises, Probert told the ABC. Fallon said that he caught sight of their corpses floating on the water surface.“When the moon came over the town last night, the river was well and truly alive with the bodies of rats,” he said.The rats’ bodies — thousands and thousands of them — then wash ashore. ​​While government officials clean up many of them, others rot.“The stench is quite bad,” Carpentaria Shire Council Mayor Jack Bawden, who represents Karumba, told NPR.But spikes in the long-haired rat population end quickly. Although scientists aren’t exactly sure why, a number of factors are thought to contribute, including inbreeding, an increase in the number of predators and a declining food supply.Although the triple-dip La Niña ended earlier this year, Australia is moving into the wet season, when the rats’ food supply should be ample, University of Sydney environmental sciences professor Peter Banks told the ABC. Bawden told the news agency that he and other local government officials are preparing to cope with wave after wave of tiny, four-legged invaders.“We’re not getting any relief anytime soon,” he said, adding: “We may just have to wait it out.”

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