conservation news and environmental science news.
Miscanthus bests switchgrass as biofuel source
(07/11/2007) In a side-by-side comparison, miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) grass has been shown to be a more productive bioenergy source than switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago.
How long does it take reef fish to recover from overfishing?
(07/11/2007) Recovery of fish populations from overfishing can take decades, reports a new study based on 37 years of observations.
How will climate change impact the U.S. Northeast?
(07/11/2007) The Northeastern United States could experience widespread changes from global warming if greenhouse gas emission are not significantly reined in, warns a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a team of more than 50 scientists and economists.
Ford Motor to introduce plug-in hybrids, but lags behind rivals
(07/10/2007) Monday Ford Motor Co. announced a partnership with utility Southern California Edison to test a fleet of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles in an effort to make the technology more accessible to consumers, reduce petroleum-related emissions and improve the cost-effectiveness of the nation's electricity grid.
$11B Amazon rainforest dam gets initial approval
(07/10/2007) The Brazilian government has given preliminary go-ahead on a massive Amazon dam project that environmentalists and scientists say could be a potential ecological disaster.
Climate change fueled ancient wars in China
(07/10/2007) A new study ties past climate change to warfare in ancient China.
Poverty and corruption reduce effectiveness of rainforest parks
(07/09/2007) Poverty and corruption are linked to higher incidence of fire in tropical forest reserves, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Poor, corrupt countries -- like Cambodia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone -- have the least effective parks when measured in terms of the incidence of fire relative to surrounding "buffer" areas. The findings have significant implications for rainforest conservation efforts.
McDonald's bolsters eco credentials with recycled biodiesel
(07/09/2007) McDonald's Corp. (Public, NYSE:MCD), the fast-food chain, has bolstered its 'green' credentials by announcing that its UK distribution fleet will be powered by biodiesel made of recycled cooking oil from its restaurants. While the move is expected to save only around 1,675 tons of carbon annually, environmentalists say it sets an important precedent for the parent company and the fast-food industry as a whole.
Inflatable concentrators may cut cost of solar below conventional power plants
(07/08/2007) Cool Earth Solar, a Livermore, California-based company developing an innovative way for capturing solar energy, has merged with Radiant Energy, a developer and owner of renewable and clean energy power plants including solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric. Rob Lamkin, CEO of Radiant Energy, says the merger will help ramp up the technology, which uses inflatable solar concentrators to minimize use of refined silicon, a costly ingredient in solar cells. Lamkin says the technology could dramatically reduce the cost solar energy, bringing it below the cost natural gas-fired power plants.
Home improvement giant bans illegal wood products
(07/08/2007) B&Q, the third largest retailer of home improvement materials, announced that within three years, all Brazilian wood products sold in China would come from certified sources. B&Q has 60 stores in China.
Environmentalists winning fight against illegal ramin timber trade
(07/08/2007) A global crackdown on the illegal ramin timber trade appears to be working, reports a Japanese environmental group.
How to save the world's oceans from overfishing
(07/08/2007) Global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s, while about one-quarter of the world's fisheries are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Despite these dire trends, the situation is changing. Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on addressing the health of marine life and oceans, while sustainable fisheries management is at the top of the agenda for intergovenmental bodies. At the forefront of these efforts is Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's conservation program: the Center for the Future of the Oceans. The aquarium, which has long been recognized as one of the world's most important marine research facilities, is pioneering new strategies for protecting the planet's oceans. Sutton says the approach has four parts: establishing new marine protected areas, pushing for ocean policy reform, promoting sustainable seafood, and protecting wildlife and marine ecosystems.
Metal workers recycle to escape poverty in Madagascascar
(07/06/2007) A ride across the Madagascar countryside can feel like stepping back in time on this tropical island off the east coast of Africa. There is no bustle of big cities. The Malagasy, as the people of Madagascar are known, live much like their forefathers in small communities where traditions are passed down through the generations. They live without any contemporary conveniences including running water, electricity, automobiles, televisions, or even shoes. They commute on foot, or with larger loads, in a wooden cart pulled by zebu, a type of large, bony oxen. Their houses are mostly constructed from available materials including sticks or bricks of dried mud collected from surrounding rice fields.
Rare three-legged tiger photographed in Sumatra
(07/06/2007) A WWF camera trap has captured photos of a three-legged Sumatran tiger on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. WWF says the rare tiger likely escaped from a snare. The big cat seems otherwise healthy.
China will not commit to CO2 limits
(07/06/2007) China will not commit to binding greenhouse gas emissions cuts, reports the BBC. Lu Xuedu, deputy director-general of China's Office of Global Environmental Affairs, told British parliamentarians that China does not presently have the "capability to make those commitments."
Scientists capture first photos of extremely rare birds
(07/06/2007) Scientists have captured the first pictures of one of the world's rarest birds: the recurve-billed bushbird (Clytoctantes alixii), a species found exclusively in bamboo forests of northeastern Colombia.
Orangutans use water as a tool
(07/06/2007) German researchers have observed orangutans using water as a tool. Natacha Mendes, Daniel Hanus, and Josep Call of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany conducted an experiment with five orangutans to see whether the red apes could access an out-of-reach peanut floating inside a vertical transparent tube. They quickly found that all five orangutans were able to do so by collecting water from a drinker and spitting it into the tube to raise the water level and win access to the peanut.
Lush forests blanked Greenland 500,000 years ago
(07/05/2007) Rich boreal forests with butterflies and other insects flourished on Greenland within the past million years, reports a new study published in the July 6th issue of the journal Science.
Sea anemone genome provides insight on evolution
(07/05/2007) The sea anemone genome is far more complex and vertebrate-like than the fruit fly or nematode genomes, reports a study published in the July 6th issue of the journal Science. The analysis provides insights into the common ancestor of nearly all multi-celled animals, including humans.
Mangroves more threatened than rainforests
(07/05/2007) Destruction of mangrove forests could leave the world deprived of their important ecological services by the end of a century, warns an international team of scientists writing in the July 6th issue of the journal Science.
Cuba Energy Crisis Solved
(07/05/2007) Cuba may be overcoming its intermittent energy crisis, according to a top U.N. official. Power shortages and brownouts have long been a problem in the small communist island nation, but it was daily 16 hour-electricity cuts in 2004 that finally forced the government to act. Its efforts are apparently paying off.
Photo of white tigers born in Mexico
(07/05/2007) Five white Bengal tigers born in April were put on display at the Guadalajara Zoo in Mexico reports the Associated Press.
760,000 Chinese a year die from pollution
(07/04/2007) 760,000 Chinese die prematurely each year from polluted air and water, according to estimates to be released by the World Bank.
Careless humanity batters the Arctic
(07/03/2007) I feel the need to say from the outset when I discuss topics such as Global-Warming that I am indeed a greenie of sorts, and I believe that the obvious downward spiral that our planet is taking is due to the careless attitudes towards the environment that the industrialized and predominantly white nations have taken over the past decades. I, as a note, am white, and have no qualms in pointing the finger at my own country (Australia) and others that we support, and that support us. In fact, I am ashamed to be one of the only two countries in the world not to have signed the Kyoto Protocol (the other, for reference, being the United States of America).
NASA maps newly proposed source of the Amazon River
(07/03/2007) NASA released a map showing the newly proposed source of the Amazon River, a change that would make it the longest river in the world. Last month Brazilian researchers proposed Mount Mismi, a snow-covered mountain in southern Peru as the source of the Amazon River. Previously, the generally accepted source was in northern Peru. If the revision holds, the length of the Amazon would exceed that of the Nile by roughly 60 miles (105 km). However the claim is likely to be contested.
Unprecedented deletion of a World Heritage Site in Oman
(07/03/2007) The Oryx is one of three or four large antelope species of the genus Oryx, and are known for their long, swept back horns. In 1996 the Arabian Oryx -- found on the Arabian Peninsula -- numbered 450 within a specially designated area known as the Oman Arabian Oryx Sanctuary. Today, the number sits at only 65, with only 4 viable breeding pairs. Without a doubt, the extinction of the Arabian Oryx in the wild is not out of the question.
The Bald Eagle Back and Better than Ever!
(07/03/2007) "Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light" goes the first line for the national anthem of the United States of America. And on July the fourth, the self-proclaimed defenders of freedom celebrate that freedom that they so dearly love on their Independence Day. And what better way to celebrate that day, then to hear that their National bird has made a miraculous comeback after dwindling to a measly documented 417 birds in 1963.
450 years of Amazon research reviewed
(07/02/2007) Research on the Peruvian Amazon is largely inaccessible to the people who could make most use of it, reports a comprehensive review of 2,202 texts published over the past 450 years on the Madre de Dios region of southwestern Peru. The study recommends the establishment of "a Web-based digital library for Neotropical nature" to make research more widely available.
Researchers find large population of extremely rare monkey
(07/02/2007) A team of scientists from WWF and conservation International (CI) has discovered the world's largest known population of grey-shanked doucs (Pygathrix cinerea), a monkey ranked as one of the world's 25 most endangered primates, in Vietnam. The discovery is fueling that the species can be saved from extinction -- less than 1,000 of the monkeys are thought to remain.
Global warming will producer higher death rates in the U.S.
(07/02/2007) Global warming will cause more deaths due to higher temperatures, reports a new study published in Occupational and Environment Medicine. While milder winters will produce fewer deaths, they will not offset high mortality in summer months.
Authorities bust multi-million dollar Amazon logging ring
(07/02/2007) Brazilian authorities have busted a logging ring that used fake permits to cut 500,000 trees in the Amazon rainforest, reports Reuters.
Norway bans tropical timber
(07/02/2007) Concerned about rising deforestation rates, Norway has banned the use of tropical timber in all public buildings, reports the Rainforest Foundation Norway.
UNESCO lists rainforest parks of Madagascar as Heritage sites
(07/02/2007) UNESCO has listed six rainforest parks in Madagascar as World Heritage sites. The announcement comes as the Indian Ocean island nation has moved aggressively to protect its biologically-rich forests from further degradation.
Forest disturbance reduces biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest
(07/02/2007) Two new studies in the Amazon rainforest show that plantation forests and second-growth forests have lower species counts for butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians than adjacent primary forest areas. The research has important implications for conservation of tropical biodiversity in a world where old-growth forest is increasingly replaced by secondary forests, industrial plantations, and agricultural landscapes.
Cat domestication tied to rise of agriculture
(07/01/2007) A new study traces the domestication of house cats to the emergence of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent some 10,000 years ago--not Egypt as previously presumed.
Man-eating piranha are actually cowards
(07/01/2007) Despite their reputations as aggressive blood-thirsty carnivores, piranha schooling behvaior is a defensive measure to protect against predators rather than an offensive hunting maneuver, reports new research presented at the Royal Society's summer science exhibition in London. Piranhas face many predators in their Amazon habitat, including caiman, freshwater dolphins, and giant fish like the pirarucu or arapaima.
(07/01/2007) Biodiversity conservation is often associated with the protection of charismatic animals and beautiful landscapes. Missing is consideration of the role that biodiversity plays in the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world, who rely on hunting, plant collection, and other services afforded by biodiversity for everyday subsistence.
WWF condemns iron fertilization scheme to fight global warming
(06/28/2007) Environmental group WWF condemned a scheme by Planktos, Inc. (OTCBB: PLKT) to dump up to 100 tons of iron dust in the open ocean west of the Galapagos Islands. The firm claims the experiment will fertilize massive blooms of phytoplankton that will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help fight global warming.
China to ban ozone-depleting CFCs
(06/28/2007) China has moved to ban the production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), according to a statement from the country's environmental protection agency. The action is in accordance with the 1987 Montreal Protocol to phase out the use of ozone layer-depleting products . China, which signed the agreement in 1991, says it will end all CFC production by 2010.
Peanuts, cotton, squash first farmed in Peru 6,000-10,000 years ago
(06/28/2007) Anthropologists have discovered the earliest-known evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming. The study, which show that the crops were grown in the Peruvian Andes 5,000-10,000 years ago, is published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Rare and mysterious forests of Sulawesi 80% gone
(06/28/2007) Roughly 80 percent of Sulawesi's richest forests have been degraded and destroyed for agriculture, logging, and mining, reports a ground-breaking assessment of the Indonesian island's forests.
Did Tasmanian Tiger survive extinction until 1950s?
(06/27/2007) A University of Adelaide project led by zoologist Dr Jeremy Austin is investigating whether the world-fabled Tasmanian Tiger may have survived beyond its reported extinction in the late 1930s.
First U.S. test of ecological services payment underway
(06/27/2007) Farmers in Jamestown, R.I., are being paid by local residents to delay haying their fields until after birds have completed nesting in a unique test to establish investment markets for ecological services.
Biosphere II lives on
(06/27/2007) The ill-fated Biosphere II project, an experiment that attempted to re-create Earth's ecosystems inside a greenhouse in the early 1990s, will live on as a scientific laboratory after the University of Arizona (UA) said it would develop the facility into a research center.
Madagascar rainforests get World Heritage Listing
(06/27/2007) The World Heritage Committee has named the rainforests of Madagascar as one of three new UNESCO World Heritage List sites.
Climate change is making poison ivy worse
(06/26/2007) New research shows that climate change is making poison ivy more potent, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
Antibiotic-free chicken may boost profit at Tyson
(06/26/2007) Tyson's decision to produce all of its branded chicken without antibiotics could spur growth at the poultry producer, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Set back for AES on rainforest dam project in Panama
(06/26/2007) The World Heritage Committee moved to assess threats to La Amistad International Park, a World Heritage site shared by Panama and Costa Rica, from AES Corporation's planned construction of four hydroelectric dams on the park's border. The decision was based on an April 2007 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 30 other organizations in the United States, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Past global warming produced monster penguins
(06/25/2007) Scientists have discovered fossil remains of a giant species of penguin that lived some 40 million years ago in what is now Peru. Coupled with the finding of a smaller species from the same time period, the remains reveal that early penguins responded differently to natural climate change than scientists would have expected. The results are published in the PNAS Online Early Edition the week of June 25-29, 2007.
70% of Indonesia's mangrove forests damaged
(06/25/2007) 70 percent of Indonesia's remaining mangrove forests are damaged due to human activities, ANTARA News reported a local expert as saying.
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