Topic: Ecology

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The Great Stink

Environment Disaster management London Ecology River Thames

The Great Stink was an event in central London in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames. The problem had been mounting for some years, with an ageing and inadequate sewer system that emptied directly into the Thames. The miasma from the effluent was thought to transmit contagious diseases, and three outbreaks of cholera before the Great Stink were blamed on the ongoing problems with the river.

The smell, and fears of its possible effects, prompted action from the local and national administrators who had been considering possible solutions for the problem. The authorities accepted a proposal from the civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette to move the effluent eastwards along a series of interconnecting sewers that sloped towards outfalls beyond the metropolitan area. Work on high-, mid- and low-level systems for the new Northern and Southern Outfall Sewers started at the beginning of 1859 and lasted until 1875. To aid the drainage, pumping stations were placed to lift the sewage from lower levels into higher pipes. Two of the more ornate stations, Abbey Mills in Stratford and Crossness on the Erith Marshes, are listed for protection by English Heritage. Bazalgette's plan introduced the three embankments to London in which the sewers ran—the Victoria, Chelsea and Albert Embankments.

Bazalgette's work ensured that sewage was no longer dumped onto the shores of the Thames and brought an end to the cholera outbreaks; his actions are thought to have saved more lives than the efforts of any other Victorian official. His sewer system operates into the 21st century, servicing a city that has grown to a population of over eight million. The historian Peter Ackroyd argues that Bazalgette should be considered a hero of London.

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R/K selection theory

Evolutionary biology Ecology

In ecology, r/K selection theory relates to the selection of combinations of traits in an organism that trade off between quantity and quality of offspring. The focus on either an increased quantity of offspring at the expense of individual parental investment of r-strategists, or on a reduced quantity of offspring with a corresponding increased parental investment of K-strategists, varies widely, seemingly to promote success in particular environments.

The terminology of r/K-selection was coined by the ecologists Robert MacArthur and E. O. Wilson in 1967 based on their work on island biogeography; although the concept of the evolution of life history strategies has a longer history (see e.g. plant strategies).

The theory was popular in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was used as a heuristic device, but lost importance in the early 1990s, when it was criticized by several empirical studies. A life-history paradigm has replaced the r/K selection paradigm but continues to incorporate many of its important themes.

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Solarpunk

Science Fiction Literature Politics Ecology

Solarpunk is a movement that encourages optimistic envisionings of the future in light of present environmental concerns, such as climate change and pollution, as well as social inequality. Solarpunk encompasses a multitude of media such as literature, art, architecture, fashion, music, and games. Solarpunk focuses on renewable energies, as well as technology as a whole, to envision a positive future for humanity; although, it also embraces less advanced ways to reduce carbon emissions, like gardening. Solarpunk is also a genre of speculative fiction; some of the most well-known examples are Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World and Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation.

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