conservation news and environmental science news.
Archer Daniels Midland announces Amazon biodiesel plant start date
(06/08/2007) Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) plans to start operation of its $20 million biodiesel in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso in early August, a company official said this week, according to MarketWatch.
Sharks do not win CITES protection
(06/08/2007) Two endangered species of sharks failed to win protection at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in The Hague.
First park established in Russian Far East
(06/08/2007) Russia has established the first national park in the far eastern part of the country. The initiative seeks to protect endangered Amur tigers from extinction.
Dirty snow may warm Arctic as much as GHG emissions
(06/07/2007) Dirty snow from soot and forest fires is responsible for one-third or more of Arctic warming reports a new study from researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.
Japan and Iceland defeated on pro-whaling initiative
(06/07/2007) Japan and Iceland failed in their latest attempts to lift regulations protecting whales, reports the Whale and Dolphin conservation Society. Measures introduced at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in the Hague were defeated 55 (against) to 28 (for) with 13 abstentions Thursday.
Logging roads rapidly expanding in Congo rainforest
(06/07/2007) Logging roads are rapidly expanding in the Congo rainforest, report researchers who have constructed the first satellite-based maps of road construction in Central Africa. The authors say the work will help conservation agencies, governments, and scientists better understand how the expansion of logging is impacting the forest, its inhabitants, and global climate.
Tyrannosaurus rex was slow
(06/07/2007) Tyrannosaurus rex was a slow, lumbering beast according to new research published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.
Nobel prize winner debates future of nuclear power
(06/07/2007) Two renowned energy experts sparred in a debate over nuclear energy Wednesday afternoon at Stanford University. Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank, argued that energy efficiency and alternative energy sources will send nuclear power the way of the dinosaurs in the near future. Dr. Burton Richter, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, said that nuclear would play an important part of the future energy portfolio needed to cut carbon emissions to fight global warming.
Dorothy Stang fought for social equity in the Amazon
(06/07/2007) Murder is not a pleasant place to start an article. Destruction of enormous amounts of virgin forest also does not help improve ones feelings and thoughts. Leaving out millions of people and talking about only the rights of thousands is pretty discouraging if you wish to be transparent, progressive and see a future for a beautiful country with enormous potential.
Fashion trends push rhinos toward extinction
(06/06/2007) The illegal trade in rhino horn, used for dubious medicines in Asia and traditional dagger handles in the Middle East, is driving some African rhino populations toward extinction, reports environmental group WWF and wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
U.S. refuses to talk global warming cuts at G8 summit
(06/06/2007) President Bush said he opposed setting firm targets for greenhouse gas cuts at a G8 summit but said that his proposal to fight climate change would not undermine U.N. efforts, as critics have claimed.
Jumbo squid invasion in California
(06/06/2007) Thousands of Jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) squid are appearing off the coast of Southern California, according to published reports.
Can cattle ranchers and soy farmers save the Amazon?
(06/06/2007) John Cain Carter, a Texas rancher who moved to the heart of the Amazon 11 years ago and founded what is perhaps the most innovative organization working in the Amazon, Alianca da Terra, believes the only way to save the Amazon is through the market. Carter says that by giving producers incentives to reduce their impact on the forest, the market can succeed where conservation efforts have failed. What is most remarkable about Alianca's system is that it has the potential to be applied to any commodity anywhere in the world. That means palm oil in Borneo could be certified just as easily as sugar cane in Brazil or sheep in New Zealand. By addressing the supply chain, tracing agricultural products back to the specific fields where they were produced, the system offers perhaps the best market-based solution to combating deforestation. Combining these approaches with large-scale land conservation and scientific research offers what may be the best hope for saving the Amazon.
China Unveils Global Warming Initiative
(06/05/2007) Scientists documented 467 species, including 24 species believed new to science, during a rainforest survey in eastern Suriname, South America. The expedition, led by conservation International (CI), was sponsored by two mining companies, BHP-Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco), hoping to mine the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. conservation International said the Rapid Assessment Survey (RAP) will help "give miners guidance on protecting unique plants and animals during potential future development," according to a statement from the organization.
Rare kangaroos released into New Guinea rainforest
(06/05/2007) China, soon to be the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, unveiled its first climate change initiative Tuesday. According to state media, the National Climate Change Program plan calls for China to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2010, promote carbon sink technologies and other adaptive technologies, raise the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, and increase the amount of renewable energy it produces.
Indonesia: No more rainforest clearing for palm oil
(06/05/2007) Indonesian Minister for Environment Rachmat Witoelar said Indonesia will not allow palm oil producers to clear primary forests for establishing plantations, reports Bloomberg. Indonesia is expected to surpass Malaysia as the world largest producer of palm oil this year. The government hopes to add 7 million hectares of plantations by 2011.
Rainforest educational resource launched in 19 languages
(06/05/2007) Mongabay.com, a leading tropical rainforest information web site, today announced the availability of a rainforest educational resource in 19 languages at world.mongabay.com. The site explains what constitutes a tropical rainforest, why they are important, why they are threatened, and how they can be saved.
Illegal elephant ivory reaches the U.S.
(06/05/2007) Illegally poached elephant ivory is reaching markets in the United States reports a conservation group presenting at the wildlife trade conference meeting in The Hague. Care for the Wild International found 23,741 ivory items in surveys of stores in 15 American cities. The group said half the ivory pieces for sale in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu were imported illegally, while less than 10 percent of such goods on the east coast were illicit.
Elephants respond to calls from friends, not strangers
(06/05/2007) Elephants can distinguish between friendly calls and those of strangers reports a new study covered in ScienceNOW Daily News. In 2004 Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell of Stanford University discovered that elephants use low-frequency, partially infrasonic ground vibrations to communicate with each other from miles away. The pachyderms press their trunks against the ground to detect the calls.
Glaciers speed up due to global warming
(06/05/2007) Antarctic glaciers are moving faster due to global warming, reports the British Antarctic Survey.
Penguins in Alaska?
(06/05/2007) Penguins found in Alaskan waters likely reach the Northern Hemisphere by fishing boat rather than by swimming, report University of Washington researchers.
Tiger parts trade must be banned to save great cats
(06/05/2007) Trade in tiger products must be banned if tigers are to survive in the wild, reports a study published in Bioscience. The paper, The Fate of Wild Tigers, characterizes the decline in wild tiger population as ,catastrophic, and urges governments to outlaw all trade in tiger products from wild and captive-bred sources as well as step up conservation efforts.
Unknown tribe found in the Amazon
(06/04/2007) An unknown Indian tribe has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest reports the Associated Press. The Metyktire tribe, with about 87 members, was found in late May around 1,200 northwest of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's Federal Indian Bureau (FUNAI) says the tribe is a subgroup of the Kayapo tribe and lives on the Kayapos, 12.1-million-acre Menkregnoti Indian reservation.
Vampire bats invade Finland thanks to global warming
(06/04/2007) Global warming has brought blood-sucking moths to Finland reports Reuters.
Frogs rafted from South America to the Caribbean 29M years ago
(06/04/2007) Large populations of frogs in Central America and the Caribbean rafted, over the ocean from South America more than 29 million years ago, reports a new study published in the June 4 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Polynesians brought chickens to Americas before Columbus
(06/04/2007) New DNS analysis shows that Polynesians introduced chickens to South America well before Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World. The evidence supports the theory that the Americas were visited by sea-faring groups from the East prior to the arrival of Europeans. Using carbon dating and analysis DNA to determine the origin of chicken bones discovered at El Arenal, an archaeological site in Chile, a team of researchers led by Alice Storey of the University of Auckland found that the birds were descended from Polynesian stock and were introduced at least 100 years before the arrival of Europeans on the continent. The findings undermine claims that chickens were native to South America or that they were introduced by Spanish or Portuguese explorers.
Geoengineering could stop global warming but carries big risks
(06/04/2007) Using radical techniques to ,engineer, Earth's climate by blocking sunlight could cool Earth but presents great risks that could well worsen global warming should they fail or be discontinued, reports a new study published in the June 4 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
10-20% of birds extinct by 2100 due to global warming, deforestation
(06/04/2007) Ten to twenty percent of the world's terrestrial bird species could be threatened with extinction by 2100 due to climate change and habitat destruction reports a study published in the June 5 issue of the journal PLoS Biology. The numbers are in line with estimates published last year in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Combining future projections on global warming, agricultural expansion and human population growth from the global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment with current geographic ranges of the world's 8,750 species of terrestrial birds, researchers Walter Jetz, David Wilcove, and Andrew Dobson estimate that 950 to 1800 species may be condemned to extinction by 2100.
Pictures of newly discovered species in Suriname
(06/04/2007) Scientists documented 467 species, including 24 species believed new to science, during a rainforest survey in eastern Suriname, South America. The expedition, led by conservation International (CI), was sponsored by two mining companies, BHP-Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco), hoping to mine the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. conservation International said the Rapid Assessment Survey (RAP) will help "give miners guidance on protecting unique plants and animals during potential future development," according to a statement from the organization.
Shark fin does not cure cancer
(06/03/2007) Shark cartilage, long believed in traditional medicine to be an anti-cancer agent, confers no health benefits in lung cancer survival reports an extensive study presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The lead author said the findings cast major skepticism on shark cartilage products that are being sold for profit and have no data to support their efficacy as cancer-fighting agent.
Rural population decline may not slow deforestation
(06/03/2007) A new paper shoots down the theory that increasing urbanization will lead to increasing forest cover in the tropics. Writing in the July issue of the journal Biotropica, Sean Sloan, a researcher from McGill University in Montreal, argues that anticipated declines in rural populations via urbanization will not necessarily result in reforestation--a scenario put forth in a controversial paper published in Biotropica last year by Joseph Wright of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Helene Muller-Landau of the University of Minnesota. Wright and Muller-Landau said that deforestation rates will likely slow, then reverse, due to declining rural population density in developing countries.
Sale of elephant ivory to Japan approved
(06/03/2007) The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) approved the sale of 60 tons of elephant ivory to Japan prior to the start of a 12-day wildlife conference in The Hague, Netherlands. The agency, which oversees the trade in wildlife products, said that South Africa, Botswana and Namibia can ivory from stocks gathered from elephants that have died naturally. The proceeds will go to a conservation fund.
Globalization could save the Amazon rainforest
(06/03/2007) The Amazon basin is home to the world's largest rainforest, an ecosystem that supports perhaps 30 percent of the world's terrestrial species, stores vast amounts of carbon, and exerts considerable influence on global weather patterns and climate. Few would dispute that it is one of the planet's most important landscapes. Despite its scale, the Amazon is also one of the fastest changing ecosystems, largely as a result of human activities, including deforestation, forest fires, and, increasingly, climate change. Few people understand these impacts better than Dr. Daniel Nepstad, one of the world's foremost experts on the Amazon rainforest. Now head of the Woods Hole Research Center's Amazon program in Belem, Brazil, Nepstad has spent more than 23 years in the Amazon, studying subjects ranging from forest fires and forest management policy to sustainable development. Nepstad says the Amazon is presently at a point unlike any he's ever seen, one where there are unparalleled risks and opportunities. While he's hopeful about some of the trends, he knows the Amazon faces difficult and immediate challenges.
9 Atlantic hurricanes expected in 2007
(05/31/2007) Hurricane forecaster William M. Gray of the Colorado State University updated his hurricane predictions for the 2007 storm season, expecting 17 named storms and nine hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. The forecasts were unchanged from his last bulletin.
Bush unveils global warming strategy
(05/31/2007) Thursday, President Bush outlined his proposal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, calling for a series of meetings between the world's largest polluters to establish a global target for emissions reduction. The Associated Press reported that environmentalists quickly dismissed the plan as a "do-nothing" approach, while other critics said the plan comes too late to restore the administration's credibility after years of dragging its feet and outright rejecting action on global warming.
Monsoon pattern linked to climate change
(05/31/2007) Researchers have constructed a 155,000 record of monsoon history. The findings could help climatologists better understand the impact of climate change on monsoon patterns, which play a critical role in agriculture for hundreds of millions of people.
Human ancestors first walked in trees
(05/31/2007) Walking on two legs is likely to have first arisen among apes living in trees, rather than ground-dwelling prehistoric ancestors of humans, reports research published in the June 1st issue of the journal Science.
conservation biology needs to be accessible to the masses
(05/31/2007) Since its earliest days, when private collectors amassed great stores of specimens collected from the farthest reaches of the Earth, natural history studies often have been a pursuit of the economically well-off and of intellectually elitist scientists. One of the most important spinoffs of these natural history studies has been conservation Biology. Unfortunately, the culture of exclusivity appears to have also infected conservation Biology. Technical jargon, restricted access to data, and poor communication among researchers, amateur enthusiasts and political decision-makers have colluded to keep it a clubby affair that may be hurting goals of sustainable use of resources, long term management policies, and species and habitat conservation.
Colorful marine creatures discovered off Panama
(05/31/2007) Researchers have discovered five new species of sea slug off the coast of Central America. Surveys have found that the region, known as the Tropical Eastern Pacific, is characterized by large numbers of endemic and previously unknown species. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) reports that recent expeditions have turned up 5 new species of nudibranchs--a group of mollusks lacking outer shells. The discoveries are important because nudibranchs have developed "sophisticated chemical defense mechanisms" which can help with the development of novel medicinal products.
BBC airs purported footage of Loch Ness monster
(05/31/2007) BBC Scotland has aired video footage of what a man claims to be 'Nessie', the mysterious creature rumored to dwell in the deep Scottish lake. While scientists have thoroughly rejected the idea that Nessie is a dinosaur surviving from prehistoric times, they allow that the Loch Ness could house unknown species of fish or eels that could be mistaken for the beast of legend.
Hurricanes may help cool climate
(05/31/2007) Tropical cyclones and hurricanes play an important role in the ocean circulation patterns that transport heat and maintain the climate of North America and Europe, report researchers from Purdue University.
Global warming will worsen fires in Australia
(05/31/2007) Global warming will put Australia at significantly higher risk of catastrophic bushfires said a leading climate scientists. Speaking at a climate conference in Sydney, Andy Pitman, co-director of the University of New South Wales's climate change research center, said that Australia will face a 100 to 200 percent increase in bushfire vulnerability by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions aren't curbed.
Does drought cause war?
(05/30/2007) A new study links drought to the outbreak of war, reports New Scientist Magazine.
Tasmania agrees to logging moratorium
(05/30/2007) Forestry Tasmania, the forest service of Tasmania, has signed an agreement with environmental activists to cease logging activities in the Upper Florentine Valley of the island. The moratorium will last through federal elections this in October..
Sea ice forecasts to be used to save polar bears
(05/30/2007) In the wake of the U.S. government's watershed decision to propose listing the polar bear as 'Threatened' under the Endangered Species Act, the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) is launching a bold initiative to save the Earth's largest terrestrial predator, not by following the bears themselves, but the receding sea ice habitat that may drastically shrink as a result of global warming. In a project named 'Warm Waters for Cool Bears,' WCS will use both current and historical satellite imagery to predict where sea ice is likely to persist and where subsequent conservation efforts to save the species will be most effective.
Cheetah are unfaithful mates
(05/30/2007) Female cheetah are highly promiscuous reports a new study by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) scientists.
Mahogany logging threats tribal people, says report
(05/30/2007) Ahead of the CITES meeting in the Hague, a new report alleges widespread illegal mahogany logging in Peru.
Global warming may be key factor in frog deaths
(05/30/2007) Three papers published in this week's issue of the journal Nature debate the proximate causes for the global decline of amphibians, but nonetheless reveal mounting concerns among scientists over the continuing disappearance of frogs, salamanders, and their relatives.
Greenpeace pressures China on global warming
(05/30/2007) Greenpeace stepped up the pressure on China to do something about its surging greenhouse gas emissions, launching a campaign that warns melting glaciers could hurt Chinese agriculture and hydroelectric projects. The environmental group cited a Chinese Academy of Sciences' projection that 80 percent of the glaciers in Tibet and the surrounding region could melt by 2035, though other research suggests more moderate melting.
HSBC puts $100 towards global warming research
(05/30/2007) HSBC announced Wednesday it would spend $100 million on climate change research. The investment, which will go to the Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and WWF over a five year period, is the largest donation ever made by a British company.
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