conservation news and environmental science news.
New study confirms continuing forest loss in most countries
(11/14/2006) Forest cover continues to shrink in most countries around the world, though forest expansion in some countries gives hope that net deforestation may be peaking, according to a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Renewable sources could power 25% of U.S. energy needs by 2025
(11/13/2006) Renewable energy sources could supply one quarter of America's electricity and motor vehicle fuel needs by 2025 according to a new study from RAND, a nonprofit research organization. Currently six percent is energy used in the United Stats comes from renewable sources like solar, biomass, hydroelectric, tidal, wind, and geothermal.
Music from air guitar now possible
(11/13/2006) CSIRO, Australia's scientific research agency, has developed a shirt that could give hope to air guitarists everywhere. According to the agency, the 'wearable instrument shirt' (WIS) "enables users to play an 'air guitar' simply by moving one arm to pick chords and the other to strum the imaginary instrument's strings."
China surpasses Italy as world's largest exporter of wooden furniture
(11/13/2006) As reported by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the latest figures from UN Comtrade confirmed that China (including Hong Kong) overtook Italy to become the world's largest exporter of wooden furniture in 2005.
Billion tree campaign launched in Nairobi
(11/13/2006) The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a campaign to plant a billion trees within a year. The campaign was announced last week at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
400% increase in carbon dioxide emissions growth since 1990s
(11/13/2006) Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion are currently increasing four times faster than they were in the 1990s said scientists meeting at the Beijing Conference on Global Environment Change. Scientists from the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) warned that growing emissions put the Earth at risk of catastrophic climate change and urged governments to take immediate action to reduce emissions.
Southeast Asian nations propose haze fund, but fail to address root cause
(11/13/2006) Southeast Asian nations agreed to create to a fund to help fight forest fires in Indonesian according to a report from Retuers. The pledge however stops short of addressing the root cause of the choking haze: deforestation.
Fleet of spacecraft could block catastrophic global warming
(11/09/2006) A space sunshield could be used to cool the Earth in an emergency scenario in which global warming reaches crisis levels, according to an astronomer at the University of Arizona. In a paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Roger Angel, Director of the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory and the Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics, proposes launching "trillions of small free-flying spacecraft a million miles above Earth" into the L-1 orbit, an orbit aligned with the sun.
Mining in Venezuelan Amazon threatens biodiversity, indigenous people
(11/09/2006) Troubles are mounting in one of Earth's most beautiful landscapes. Deep in the Venezuelan Amazon, among ancient forested tabletop mountains known as tepuis, crystalline rivers, and breathtaking waterfalls, illegal gold miners are threatening one of world's largest remaining blocks of wilderness, one that is home to indigenous people and strikingly high levels of biological diversity. As the situation worsens -- a series of attacks have counted both miners and indigenous people as victims -- a leading scientific organization has called for the Venezuelan government to take action.
Showerhead cuts water use by injecting air bubbles
(11/09/2006) As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower -- by adding air. The scientists have developed a simple 'air shower' device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.
Conserving wildlife in Tanzania, Africa's most biodiverse country
(11/09/2006) With ecosystems ranging from Lake Tanganyika to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is the most biodiverse country in Africa. Though Tanzania is world famous for its safari animals, the country is also home to two major biodiversity hotspots: coastal forests of Eastern Africa and the montane forests of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Tanzania has set aside nearly a quarter of its land mass in a network of protected areas and more than one-sixth of the country's income is derived from tourism, much of which comes from nature-oriented travel. Despite these conservation achievements, Tanzania's wildlands and biodiversity are not safe. Fueled by surging population growth and poverty, subsistence agriculture, fuelwood collection, and timber extraction have fragmented and degraded extensive areas that are nominally protected as parks. Hunting and unsustainable use of forest products have further imperiled ecosystems and species. In the near future, climate change looms as a major threat not only to Mt. Kilimanjaro's glaciers, which are expected to disappear within ten years, but also to Tanzania's many endemic plants and animals found in its montane forests. Working to better understand these threats and safeguard Tanzania's biodiversity for future generations is Tim Davenport, Country Director for the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) in Tanzania.
Philippines announces new nature conservation plan
(11/08/2006) Philippine president Gloria Arroyo has enacted a new national conservation policy according to conservation International (CI). Arroyo signed an Executive Order at a Nov. 8 ceremony that stated "It is the policy of the state to protect, conserve and sustainably use biological diversity to ensure and secure the well-being of present and future generations of Filipinos."
United States acting unethically on global warming says new report
(11/08/2006) A new paper argues that ethics, human rights, and justice should be key components to international negotiations on global warming. It says that some countries, notably the United States, are currently taking positions that are "ethically problematic" and may violate basic human rights of people living in other countries.
New map shows paths of historic hurricanes
(11/08/2006) NASA posted a new historic hurricane map showing all storm tracks available from the National Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center through September 2006. The map was created by Robert A. Rohde of Global Warming Art.
China may surpass U.S. in carbon dioxide emissions by 2009
(11/07/2006) China's output of carbon dioxide, a gas linked to global warming, may surprass that of the United States by 2009, about a decade earlier than previous estimates according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency. China currently ranks second behind the United States in carbon dioxide emissions, but rapid economic growth, fueled heavily by coal, is spurring a dramatic rise in greenhouse gas pollution. China's emissions growth is one of the big reasons why the United States and Australia have refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol which calls for emissions limits for industrialized countries but none for developing economies including China, India, and Brazil.
Ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds, affect global warming
(11/07/2006) Atmospheric scientists have reported a new and potentially important mechanism by which chemical emissions from ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds that reflect sunlight away from our planet. Discovery of the new link between clouds and the biosphere grew out of efforts to explain increased cloud cover observed over an area of the Southern Ocean where a large bloom of phytoplankton was occurring. Based on satellite data, the researchers hypothesized that airborne particles produced by oxidation of the chemical isoprene -- which is emitted by the phytoplankton -- may have contributed to a doubling of cloud droplet concentrations seen over a large area of ocean off the eastern coast of South America.
Fires in Indonesia kill 1,000 endangered orangutans
(11/07/2006) 1000 orangutans perished this year in forest fires that raged across Borneo and Sumatra according to a conservationist interviewed by Reuters. Willie Smits, an ecologist at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Indonesia, told Reuters that the fires forced hungry orangutans into agricultural areas where they were killed as pests. Orangutans are known for feeding on fruit of oil palm and other crops in fields adjacent to forest areas.
Sri Lanka's rainforests fast-disappearing but hope remains
(11/07/2006) Sri Lanka, an island off the southern-most point of India, is known as a global biodiversity hotspot for its high number of species in a relatively limited area. However this biological richness is highly threatened by one of the highest deforestation rates of primary forests in the world. In that period, the country lost more than 35 percent of its old-growth forest cover, while total forest cover was diminished by almost 18 percent. Worse, since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by more than 25 percent. Dr Ranil Senanayake, chairman of Rainforest Rescue International, a grassroots environmental organization based in Sri Lanka, says that the key to saving the island's last forests is to "reintroduce the concept of sustainable livelihood" to the people living in and around the island's rainforests by establishing "commercially viable projects that explore the social and cultural relationships between people and ecology."
Rhino horn nothing more than keratin, calcium, and melanin confirms research
(11/06/2006) Rhinoceros horns have long been objects of mythological beliefs. Some cultures prize them for their supposed magical or medicinal qualities. Others have used them as dagger handles or good luck charms. But new research at Ohio University removes some of the mystique by explaining how the horn gets its distinctive curve and sharply pointed tip.
Rainforest conservation could yield more cash than logging in PNG
(11/06/2006) Papua New Guinea (PNG) could earn hundreds of millions of dollars for cutting its rainforest destruction if a carbon carbon-trading initiative it proposed last year makes headway this week at U.N. climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya.
Stopping deforestation could net Burma $1 billion
(11/06/2006) Its status as a pariah state aside, Burma could earn hundreds of millions of dollars for cutting its deforestation rate under a carbon-trading initiative proposed by a coalition of developing countries and under discussion this week at U.N. climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya.
Central African Republic could make millions under carbon-trading deal
(11/06/2006) The Central African Republic could earn tens of millions of dollars under a carbon-trading initiative proposed by a coalition of developing countries. The proposal will likely be discussed this week at U.N. climate negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya.
Cameroon could make millions of dollars under emissions deal
(11/06/2006) Cameroon could net tens of millions of dollars under a carbon-trading initiative proposed by a coalition of developing countries and under discussion this week at U.N. climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya. The key: cutting deforestation rates.
Forest protection could earn tens of millions for Ghana
(11/06/2006) Ghana could earn tens of millions of dollars for reducing its deforestation rate under a carbon-trading initiative proposed by a coalition of developing countries and under discussion this week at U.N. climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya.
Cambodia sets aside land for endangered bird
(11/06/2006) Cambodia has set aside more than one hundred square miles of habitat for the Bengal florican, a large grassland bird that is endangered due to habitat loss, according to the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS).
Emissions for forest conservation scheme could net Uganda $50 million or more per year
(11/06/2006) Uganda could earn tens of millions of dollars through a global warming proposal under consideration this week at U.N. climate negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya.
Emissions proposal could generate $200m/year for DR Congo
(11/06/2006) The Democratic Republic of Congo could earn hundreds of millions of dollars through a global warming proposal under consideration this week at U.N. climate negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya.
Carbon finance could mean millions for Kenya
(11/06/2006) Kenya could earn millions of dollars for reducing its deforestation rate through a carbon trading mechanism under consideration this week at U.N. climate negotiations in Nairobi.
Cambodia could earn $100 million under climate deal
(11/06/2006) Cambodia could earn hundreds of millions of dollars through a global warming proposal under consideration this week at U.N. climate negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya. At talks last year in Montreal, a coalition of tropical developing countries lead by Papua New Guinea proposed a rainforest conservation compensation initiative whereby industrialized nations would pay them to protect their forests to offset heat-trapping gas emissions. After endorsements by the World Bank, the United Nations, and the United States, the plan will likely be discussed in greater detail at the Nairobi conference.
Carbon finance could net Guyana and Suriname tens of millions of dollars
(11/06/2006) Guyana and Suriname -- two of South America's least known countries -- could earn tens of millions of dollars through a global warming deal that may be proposed this week at U.N. climate talks between 189 countries in Nairobi, Kenya.
Carbon finance could mean billions for Indonesia
(11/06/2006) Indonesia could earn billions of dollars for reducing its deforestation rate through a carbon finance mechanism under consideration this week at U.N. climate negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya.
Bolivia could earn hundreds of millions under global warming deal
(11/06/2006) Bolivia could earn hundreds of millions of dollars through a global warming deal that may be proposed this week at climate talks between 189 countries in Nairobi, Kenya.
Africa will suffer dearly from global warming
(11/06/2006) Already the world's poorest continent, Africa will suffer dearly from global warming unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut by an eventual 80 percent, according to a report from the U.N. issued on the eve of a global climate conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Lemur conservation in Madagascar requires poverty alleviation initiatives
(11/05/2006) Madagascar, an island larger than France that lies off the southeastern coast of Africa, is perhaps best known for its lemurs--primates that look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog. Lemurs, which are found naturally only in Madagascar, serve as a charismatic representation of the island's biodiversity and its problems. Since the arrival of humans some 2000 years ago from southeast Asia, Madagascar has lost all of its mega fauna and more than 90 percent of its wildlands. Today forest clearing for agriculture and hunting continues to put lemurs and other endemic species at risk. The good news is that because of Madagascar's biodiversity, the island has become a top priority for global conservation. At the forefront of these efforts is the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), an international consortium of zoos and related organizations that work to protect Madagascar's wildlife and ecosystems, and the Duke University Lemur Center, the one of the world's leading lemur research facilities. Charlie Welch, currently a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center, recently answered some questions on his experiences in lemur conservation. Welch, along with his wife Andrea Katz, has worked in Madagascar for 17 years and helped transform conservation efforts in the country.
Carbon dioxide levels set record again
(11/04/2006) Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide reached record levels in 2005 according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The U.N. organization said that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels now stand at 379.1 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53 percent from 377.1 ppm in 2004. WMO also found that atmospheric nitrous oxide concentrations, another heat-trapping gas, also reached record levels, up 0.19 percent 319.2 parts per billion (ppb) from 318.6 ppb. Methane levels remained stable at 1873 ppb, after rising slightly between 2002 and 2003.
Ancient sea monster found in Montana
(11/04/2006) A fossil-hunting trip to celebrate a son's homecoming resulted in the recent discovery of an ancient sea monster in central Montana.
Is Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas polluter?
(11/03/2006) Is Indonesia the world's third largest producer of greenhouse gases? A new study by Wetlands International says it is, if the country's destruction of peat bogs is taken into account. A report released Thursday by Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics, a Dutch research institute, estimates that emissions from Indonesia's destruction of its extensive peat bogs releases 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year -- about ten percent of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. For comparison, the United States, the world's largest emitter of heat-trapping gases, produces about 7.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year. 70 percent of emissions result from the burning of peatlands, while 30 percent result from drainage, according to the report, titled Peatland degradation fuels climate change.
Beetle biomimicry could allow robots to climb vertical glass walls
(11/03/2006) Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Metals Research are developing adhesives based on biomimicry of beetles' feet. The design enables the materials to stick to smooth walls without any adhesives. The researchers say the technology, which uses microhairs "reminiscent of tiny mushrooms", could someday allow robots to climb vertical glass walls and refrigerator magnets to be replaced by non-magnetic objects.
Coral reefs can be saved from global warming
(11/03/2006) The outlook for coral reefs -- often termed the rainforests of the sea -- is dire. Overfishing, pollution, damage from anchors, mining for construction materials, and over-collection for the pet trade are all over-shadowed by climate change which could decimate reefs by higher water temperatures and increasingly acidic conditions which could render many coral species incapable of forming carbonate support structures. Nevertheless a new report from the World conservation Union (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy says that measures can be taken to help increase the survival chances for coral reefs. The report, "Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching", outlines strategies for helping reefs to be better adapt to the impacts of climate change.
All stocks of wild seafood species to collapse by 2048 says new study
(11/03/2006) All stocks of currently fished wild seafood species are projected to collpase by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of the journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.
Tropical biodiversity results from age of species argues new theory
(11/02/2006) Why are there more species in the tropics than in the temperate regions of the globe? Many of the world's species live in the tropics (perhaps more than half), but the reason has been debated for more than 100 years.
British firm looks to Amazon rainforest for new drugs
(11/02/2006) A British drug discovery company has partnered with a Brazilian firm to look for medicines from Amazonian and Atlantic rainforests according to a news release from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Shift toward toward service-based economy won't end global warming
(11/02/2006) The shift toward a service-based economy won't automatically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, a University of Minnesota researcher has found. His research contradicts assumptions about global warming often preferred by some economists and national policy experts.
Researchers find the missing link for elephant evolution
(11/02/2006) A pig-sized, tusked creature that roamed the earth some 27 million years ago represents a missing link between the oldest known relatives of elephants and the more recent group from which modern elephants descended.
Lots of sex produces healthier offspring -- for carnivorous marsupials
(11/02/2006) Promiscuous females are more likely to give birth to healthier offspring -- at least in mouse-sized, insect-eating marsupials -- say researchers at The Australian National University (ANU). ANU scientists showed, for the first time, that promiscuity increases the survival rate of offspring in an animal species, the brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) nocturnal, forest-dwelling, carnivorous marsupial. Their results are published in the current edition of the journal Nature.
Ancient climate record preserved in prehistoric plants
(11/02/2006) About 350 million years ago, at the boundary of the Devonian and Carboniferous ages, the climate changed. There was no one around to record it, but there are records nonetheless in the rocks deposited by glaciers and in tissues preserved in fossils of ancient life.
Hotspot conservation may not save endangered species
(11/02/2006) New research suggests conservation efforts based on biological hotspots might need to be re-prioritized since threatened species across different groups of animals -- mammals, birds and amphibians -- don't necessarily occur in the same areas. The study, published in the current edition (Nov. 2) of the journal Nature, shows a geographical discrepancy in hotspots of endangered species from different groups: geographical areas with a high concentration of endangered species from one group, do not necessarily have high numbers from other groups.
Australia says global warming pact pointless without India and China
(11/01/2006) Australia said there is "no point" of Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming unless it applies to China and India too, according to the BBC News web site
Low-use and abandoned logging roads negatively impact wildlife in the United States
(11/01/2006) A new study says that forest roads adversely affect wildlife populations. Writing in an article to be published in the journal conservation Biology, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that low-use and abandoned logging, mining, and oil access roads create a significant ecological footprint in heavily forested areas.
Shark biomimicry produces renewable energy system
(11/01/2006) An Australian firm has developed a renewable tidal energy conversion system based on the highly efficient fin structure of shark, tuna, and mackerel. BioPower Systems Pty Ltd., a renewable energy systems company based in Eveleigh, New South Wales, says that its bioSTREAM technology for converting tidal and marine current energy into electricity is modeled on biological species, such as shark and tuna, that use Thunniform-mode swimming propulsion.
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