conservation news and environmental science news.
Ocean trawling impacts can be seen from space
(02/16/2008) Bottom trawling, an industrial fishing method that drags large, heavy nets across the seafloor stirs up huge, billowing plumes of sediment on shallow seafloors that can be seen from space.
Prince Charles says protecting forests vital against climate change 'doomsday clock'
(02/15/2008) Long-time environmental activist, Prince Charles delivered an impassioned speech yesterday to the European Parliament on global warming and the importance of rainforest conservation in mitigating the crises.
Warming could bring sharks to Antarctica with devastating ecological consequences
(02/15/2008) Global warming could make the waters around Antarctica hospitable to sharks for the first time in 40 million years. Their return could have devastating ecological consequences report researchers from the University of Rhode Island.
Nike to launch "green" eco-shoe
(02/15/2008) When Nike unveils the $185 Air Jordan XX3 this weekend at the NBA All-Star Game festivities this weekend, it will be the culmination of a company-wide effort to reduce the environmental impact of its footwear manufacturing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Carbon traders, not conservationists, could save Cameroon rainforest
(02/15/2008) The government of Cameroon is looking to lease 830,000 hectares of biodiverse tropical forest to conservationists for an annual sum of $1.6 million. The problem? No conservation groups are interested. Apparently the asking price is too high, according to The Economist.
$1 trillion carbon market in the U.S. by 2020 says study
(02/14/2008) The U.S. carbon emission trading market will top $1 trillion by 2020 if policymakers continue on their current path towards a comprehensive "cap-and-trade" program, estimates an analysis released at climate roundtable discussions at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Jack rabbits vanish from Yellowstone, ecologists puzzled
(02/14/2008) Scientists are puzzled over the apparent disappearance of jack rabbits from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, but say the local extinction may be having region-wide impacts on a variety of other prey species and their predators, according to a new study by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society.
World's largest marine protected area established in the South Pacific
(02/14/2008) Kiribati, a small island nation in the South Pacific, has established the world's largest marine protected area.
84 rare spoon-billed sandpipers found in Myanmar
(02/14/2008) BirdLife International found 84 critically endangered spoon-billed sandpipers in coastal Myanmar (Burma). The discovery is welcome news for a species down to 200 to 300 pairs remaining in the wild.
Only 4% of the ocean is pristine according to first oceanic map of human-impact
(02/14/2008) There is a much used adage regarding the ocean that goes something like this: we know more about our solar system than our ocean. Whether or not one believes this to be true (less than 5% of the ocean has been explored), a group of over twenty researchers, by agglomerating the available information on the oceans, have created a large-scale image of the ocean's health.
UN: biofuels are starving the poor by driving up food prices
(02/14/2008) Echoing sentiments increasingly expressed by politicians, scientists, and advocates for the poor, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warned that the world's poorest people are suffering as a result of the push to use food crops for biofuel production.
Stabilizing climate requires cutting emissions to zero
(02/14/2008) Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero tomorrow, global temperatures would remain high for at least 500 years, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. The findings suggest that stablizing emissions at current levels will not be enough to curtail the effects of climate change.
New World Record for Solar-to-Grid Conversion Efficiency
(02/13/2008) Sandia National Laboratories and Stirling Energy Systems (SES) set a new solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record by achieving a 31.25 percent net efficiency, nearly a 2 point gain of the previous record of 29.4 percent set in 1984.
The concepts of "nature" in Iceland and the U.S.
(02/13/2008) I don't remember how we traveled from the airport to the village. I remember sitting on a bus from Reykjavik to the surrounding countryside, but the timeline from the States to that small Nordic country fails to make sense. This is fitting. It's a habit of mine to arrive at airports early. The airport implies states of both "coming" and "going", yet in truth, you arrive at neither until the moments of physically boarding a plane. Everything in between is pure luxury- seconds, minutes, and sometimes hours of detachment from linear time. I require the freedom to daydream. I wander around. I consider where people might be going. I give some thought to buying an expensive sandwich, the mediocrity of which will never justify the purchase.
Malaysia announces $103B development plan for Borneo island
(02/13/2008) Malaysia announced a $103 billion development plan for Sarawak, a state in northern Borneo.
5,000 mile-long tiger corridor proposed
(02/13/2008) The Wildlife conservation Society and the Panthera Foundation announced plans to establish a 5,000 mile-long "genetic corridor" from Bhutan to Burma that would span eight countries and allow tiger populations to roam freely across the largest remaining block of tiger habitat. The plan has been endorsed by leading conservationists and the new King of Bhutan, his Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Bloomberg: global warming "just as lethal" as terrorism
(02/12/2008) New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Monday that global warming is as big a threat to humanity as terrorism, according to Reuters.
Cheap ranch loans may be driving jump in Amazon deforestation
(02/12/2008) Surging deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon may be partly the result of new financial incentives given by state banks such as the Bank of Amazon (BASA), reports Agencia de Noticias da Amazonia, a Brazilian newspaper, and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Lake Mead could be dry up by 2021
(02/12/2008) There is a 50 percent chance Lake Mead, a key source of water for millions of people in the southwestern U.S., will be dry by 2021 if climate changes as expected and future water usage is not curtailed, a new study finds.
First photos of face-to-face mating by gorillas in the wild
(02/12/2008) Scientists have taken the first photos of face-to-face copulation by wild gorillas. The images were captured in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo.
How activists and scientists saved a rainforest island from destruction for palm oil
(02/12/2008) In mid-January, Mongabay learned that the government of Papua New Guinea had changed its mind: it would no longer allow Vitroplant Ltd. to deforest 70% of Woodlark Island for palm oil plantations. This change came about after one hundred Woodlark Islanders (out of a population of 6,000) traveled to Alotau, the capital of Milne Bay Province, to deliver a protest letter to the local government; after several articles in Mongabay and Pacific Magazine highlighted the plight of the island; after Eco-Internet held a campaign in which approximately three thousand individuals worldwide sent nearly 50,000 letters to local officials; and after an article appeared in the London Telegraph stating that due to deforestation on New Britain Island and planned deforestation on Woodlark Island, Papua New Guinea had gone from being an eco-hero to an 'eco-zero'.
New duck-billed dinosaur discovered in Mexico
(02/12/2008) A previously unknown species of dinosaur has been discovered in Mexico, shadding new light on the history of western North America, report researchers from the Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah.
Sumatran tiger faces extinction due to wildlife trade
(02/12/2008) The critically endangered Sumatran Tiger faces extinction due to the tiger parts trade in Indonesia, reports a new report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network run by IUCN and WWF.
Two strange carnivorous dinosaurs discovered in the Sahara
(02/12/2008) Two previously unknown species of dinosaur discovered in the Sahara were unusual meat-eaters, report scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Bristol.
Steel production drives deforestation in Brazil's Pantanal
(02/11/2008) A steel mill in Corumbá, in the heart of Brazil's Pantanal wetland, is fueling destruction of forests for charcoal and undermining the rights of Amazonian forest dwellers, reports the Inter Press Service.
10% of China's forests destroyed in recent storms
(02/11/2008) Winter snow storms in China have destroyed 10 percent of the country's forest resources according to Chinese state media.
Mini-pterodactyl discovered in China
(02/11/2008) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of pterodactyl in northeastern China.
Global warming puts penguins at risk of extinction
(02/11/2008) Climate change could put the long-term survival of sub-Antarctic King Penguins at risk by reducing the availability of prey, reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Global warming to increase insect attacks on plants
(02/11/2008) Global warming will increase attacks on plant leaves by insects, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Litter of naked mole rats born in time for Chinese New Year
(02/10/2008) The Bronx Zoo introduces some of its favorite little herbivore critters — a new litter of naked mole rat "pups" arriving just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year — Year of the Golden Rat. Naked mole rats can be seen everyday at their World of Darkness exhibit. Native to the tropical grasslands of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, the Zoo's habitat gives a visual "slice of life" in a naked mole rat colony. Literally, the exhibit was designed to go deep underground to provide Zoo-goers with a view of this complex tunneling-system. Naked mole rats have a social system similar to bees with a queen (the only reproductive female), workers, and breeders.
Paper packaging devours south-eastern forests in the US
(02/10/2008) The Dogwood Alliance has released a report highlighting the damage done by paper pulp mills and their corporate customers to America's Mid-Atlantic Coastal Forests. The forests, which span from Delaware through the Carolinas to Georgia, are extremely rich in biodiversity; scientists have catalogued over two-thousand terrestrial species, including thirty-two endemic species. Probably the most famous endemic species is the Venus flytrap; this strange carnivorous plant is native to an area only 10 by 100 square miles in North Carolina. A study by WWF determined that both species richness and endemism is even higher for freshwater aquatic species.
Natural ocean thermostat may protect some coral reefs
(02/07/2008) Natural processes may prevent oceans from warming beyond a certain point, helping protect some coral reefs from the impacts of climate change, new research finds. The study provides evidence that an ocean "thermostat" may be helping regulate sea-surface temperatures in a biologically diverse region of the western Pacific.
Madagascar's tortoises at high risk of extinction
(02/07/2008) Madagascar's rare and unique turtles and tortoises face high risk of extinction in the wild if conservation measures are not rapidly put into place, warned a group of scientists meeting to discuss the fate of Madagascar's most threatened repitles.
First rainforest-for-carbon-credits deal becomes a reality
(02/07/2008) Villagers in Aceh, the Indonesian province that suffered through three decades of civil war and lost some 170,000 people to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, could soon see $26 million in carbon credits for protecting rainforests from logging under a deal announced today between conservationists, carbon traders, and the Aceh government.
Biofuels are worsening global warming
(02/07/2008) Converting native ecosystems for production of biofuel feed stocks is worsening the greenhouse gas emissions they are intended to mitigate, reports a pair of studies published in the journal Science. The studies follow a series of reports that have linked ethanol and biodiesel production to increased carbon dioxide emissions, destruction of biodiverse forest and savanna habitats, and water and air pollution.
Carbon tax would make China greener and reduce warming risks
(02/07/2008) Driven by booming economic growth and rapid urbanization, China's carbon dioxide emissions are surging. At the same time, forecasts suggest climate change will have an immense impact on the country, with rising sea levels projected to swamp key industrial areas and diminished rainfall reducing agricultural output. Given this outlook, a new policy paper published in Science argues that China will need to embark on a cleaner path to growth, one that is less dependent on coal. The authors say that international assistance in the form of carbon funds could help persuade Chinese leadership to move towards more environmentally-friendly energy technologies.
Staples dumps Asia Pulp & Paper over its destruction of virgin rainforests
(02/07/2008) Office supply giant Staples Inc. dropped Asia Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. (APP), one of the world's largest paper companies, as a supplier due to concerns over its environmental performance, reports Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal.
Sea turtle makes record migration - 12,774 miles
(02/07/2008) Satellite-tagging has revealed that a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) swam a total distance of 20,558 kilometers (12,774 miles) over 647 days from Jamursba-Medi, Indonesia to the coast of Oregon. The results are published in The State of the World's Sea Turtles magazine, a publication launched by conservation International and the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group.
France blocks controversial rainforest gold mine in French Guiana
(02/06/2008) Environmentalists declared victory after the French government blocked approval of a controversial gold mine bordering the Kaw wetland, an ecologically rich site in French Guiana. The decision was handed down last week following an environmental assessment by the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development based on work by local scientists.
Is California fish catch linked to wind patterns?
(02/06/2008) Are fluctuations in fish catch off the coast of California linked to wind patterns? A new study by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests yes
Values and Sustainability
(02/05/2008) Intentions matter. This simple wisdom becomes quite apparent the older we become. Though we don't always have control on the outcome of our effort, our intentions often dictate how happy or upset we are with any of life's results (a.k.a. the quality of our lives). For instance, if we are committed to become healthy in all aspect of our lives we are less likely to become fat, more likely to eat quality food, and more likely to exercise in ways that bring us joy. If our intentions are to be thin the road we take may be unhealthy, filled with inconsistent weight, and bring us no pleasure. When it comes to living green intentions matter more than we realize because how we define our values towards nature, conservation, and sustainability can greatly impact not only the quality of our own lives, but the quality of life for all living species.
Overfishing may hurt Amazon forest trees
(02/05/2008) Overfishing is reducing the effectiveness of seed dispersal by fish in the Brazilian Pantanal, reports Nature. The research suggests that fishing practices can affect forest health.
New uakari monkey discovered in the Amazon rainforest
(02/05/2008) A previously unknown species of uakari monkey was discovered in the Brazilian Amazon, reports National Geographic News. The primate was identified after it was killed by Yanomamo Indians near the Brazil-Venezuela border.
The Panamanian golden frog declared extinct by BBC Natural History crew
(02/04/2008) A national symbol of Panama has been declared extinct by BBC filmmakers. The crew was in Panama to film the unique frog for David Attenborough's most recent series on reptiles and amphibians, entitled Life in Cold Blood. The filmmakers achieved their objective and captured the golden frog on film, including rarely seen behvaior.
Borneo's Sabah state will see $32B in investment
(02/04/2008) Malaysia put forth a $32.4 billion development plan for Sabah, a rainforest state on the island of Borneo, reports Reuters.
NASA: Rain falls more often during the week than weekends
(02/04/2008) Storms in the southeastern United States generate more rainfall during the work week than on weekends, report NASA scientists. The pattern can be attributed to lower atmospheric pollution from humans on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Atmospheric particulates have been linked to rainfall.
Papua New Guinea's Environment Minister says foreign firms attempted to bribe him
(02/04/2008) The Environment and conservation minister of Papua New Guinea, Benny Allen, has stated that three different foreign firms attempted to bribe him.
Climate system approaching 9 critical tipping points
(02/04/2008) Earth is approaching and may pass nine important climate tipping points this century, according to research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).
People spending less time outdoors
(02/04/2008) People worldwide are spending less time out in nature, according to research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The development, warn the authors, could have implications for future conservation policy issues.
Photo: Palawan peacock pheasant
(02/04/2008) NYC's Fashion Week extravaganza has nothing on some amazing colors that are on the "runway" models at the Wildlife conservation Society's Bronx Zoo headquarters. "Palooka", the Bronx Zoo's male Palawan peacock pheasant is showing off his most brilliant blue feathers this season - a sure ringer for the forecasted fall color line-up.
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