conservation news and environmental science news.
Unchecked global warming will cost trillions says report
(10/14/2006) A new Friends of the Earth-backed report by economists at Tufts University's Global Development and Environment Institute says that global warming could cost trillions of dollars should temperature increases exceed two degrees centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
Phytoplankton generate about five times as much energy as humans finds study
(10/14/2006) A new study estimates that oceanic phytoplankton generate about five times the annual total energy consumption of humans.
NAND PCs may have environmental benefits over standard hard disk PCs
(10/13/2006) Fujitsu announced it will start shipping PCs that use NAND-flash drives instead of standard hard drives. While the new format will be substantially more expensive -- on the order of $670 to replace a 20GB hard drive with a 16GB worth of flash memory -- it will make the laptops lighter and more shock-resistant, extend battery life by 30 minutes and improve system performance on start-up. The shift may have ancillary benefits as well: less energy usage and reduction of components that use metals. The following originally appeared on October 28, 2006 on mongabay.com.
Shell estimates cost of fighting climate change at 0.3% GDP
(10/13/2006) A new report by Shell Oil estimates that the cost of fighting climate change in the Britain by 2010 would be equivalent to just 0.3 percent of GDP. The report also says that the effort to address climate change could be worth £30bn ($56 billion) to businesses in the UK.
Insurance industry needs to do more to fight global warming
(10/13/2006) The insurance industry needs to do more to address the growing impact of climate-change induced damaged according to a report issued this week by insurance giant Allianz and environmental group WWF.
Methane from peat bogs may worsen global warming
(10/13/2006) New research says that methane released from peat bogs at the end of the past ice age worsen global warming. The study warns that a similar event could worsen climate change by causing a rapid shift in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
Solar Energy Powers Mainland China's Richest Man
(10/12/2006) The largest private fortune in mainland China may belong to Shi Zhengrong, the founder of the China's largest producer of photovoltaic equipment used to convert sunlight into eletricity, according to an article in today's edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Warming climate causing Alaska lakes to dry up
(10/12/2006) More than 10,000 Alaskan lakes "shrunk in size or completely dried up" between 1950 and 2002 according to a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research--Biogeosciences. The study says that during this period, "Alaska has experienced a warming climate with longer growing seasons, increased thawing of permafrost, and greater water loss due to evaporation from open water and transpiration from vegetation; yet there has been no substantial change in precipitation."
Extinction may be linked to Earth's tilt and orbital variations
(10/12/2006) A new study suggests that variations in Earth's orbit and tilt may be linked to extinctions of mammal species. Examining the fossilized teeth of rodents over a 22 million year period, researchers lead by Jan van Dam of Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that the disappearance of mammal species -- which survive an average of 2.5 million years before going exinct -- cluster around specific cycles at one million and 2.4 million years. The one million year cycle correponds to wobbles in Earth's orbit, while the 970,000-year cycle is tied to shifts of the Earth on its axis. The cycles are assocation with lower temperatures and changes in precipitation.
Bering Strait land bridge may have flooded earlier than thought
(10/11/2006) Researchers have found evidence suggesting that the Bering Strait land bridge believed to be the major route for human migration from Asia to the Americas may have flooded about 1,000 years earlier than widely thought. The findings may help scientists develop ocean and climate histories for the region to better understand human migration. The study is published in the October issue of Geology magazine by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Global warming and pollution could doom oysters
(10/11/2006) Oysters exposed to high water temperatures and a common heavy metal are unable to obtain sufficient oxygen and convert it to cellular energy, according to a new study presented at The American Physiological Society conference, Comparative Physiology 2006.
Higher oxygen levels could produce monster insects
(10/11/2006) Higher concentrations of oxygen could produce giant insects according to a paper presented at the Comparative Physiology conference currently meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The paper, 'No giants today: tracheal oxygen supply to the legs limits beetle size,' based on research by a team of American researchers, offers evidence that Paleozoic insects were substantially larger because they had a richer oxygen supply. During the late Paleozoic period, about 300 million years ago, the air's oxygen content was around 35 percent, compared to 21 percent today. As a result some dragonflies had two-and-a-half-foot wing spans, while giant spiders roamed the ancient forests.
Photo of new bird species discovered in Colombia
(10/10/2006) A bird species new to science has been discovered on a remote mountain range in northern Colombia according to conservation International. The Yariguies Brush-Finch (Atlapetes latinuchus yariguierum), a large and colorful finch with black, yellow and red plumage, is described in the June issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club.
Fires in Central America worsen air quality in Texas
(10/10/2006) Agricultural fires in Central America can impact air quality and climate in Texas, Oklahoma, and other parts of the southern United States according to new research from NASA.
Photos from Xinjiang, a Muslim region in western China
(10/09/2006) Xinjiang, China's largest and western-most province, is one of the planet's most remote and desolate regions. Covering more than one-sixth the country's territory, Xinjiang borders Tibet, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and is dominated by ethnic minorities, notably the Muslim Uyghurs who make up nearly half the 18 million who live in the province. Xinjiang's ethnic mix reflects its historical importance as a central part of the Silk Road, a trading route used since ancient times to transport good between East and West.
Dust may weaken Atlantic hurricanes
(10/09/2006) Sahara Desert dust may weaken Atlantic hurricanes according to a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
A look at the biodiversity extinction crisis
(10/07/2006) As tropical forests -- the world's biological treasure troves -- continue to dwindle, biologists are racing to devise ways to save them and their resident biodiversity. While many conservation biologists talk about population viability analysis and intricacies of reserve layouts, David L. Pearson, a research professor at the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona, focuses on a different approach: education.
Massive coral bleaching in Madagascar
(10/06/2006) A new survey of reefs along Madagascar's southwestern coast found massive damage from coral bleaching, including some reefs that lost up to 99 percent of their coral cover. But the survey team, led by the conservation groups Blue Ventures and the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) and funded by conservation International (CI), also found some signs of hope. Scientists discovered several small reefs with corals that appeared to be resilient to rising sea temperatures and could ultimately be used to reseed damaged reefs. These resilient reefs may also provide valuable information about how to protect corals from future damage.
Global warming threatens western U.S.
(10/06/2006) Global warming will cause drastic changes -- including reduction in snowpack, worsening droughts, increases in wildfire and invasive species, and loss of regional biodiversity -- in the American West if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.
New bird species discovered in Colombia
(10/05/2006) A bird species new to science has been discovered on a remote mountain range in northern Colombia according to conservation International.
$24 million debt-for-nature swap in Guatemala
(10/05/2006) Tropical forest conservation efforts in Guatemala will receive $24 million under a debt-for-nature swap arranged by conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy, and the governments of the United States and Guatemala.
Weak El Nino returns to the Pacific
(10/05/2006) NASA satellite data indicates El Nino has returned to the tropical Pacific Ocean, although in a relatively weak condition that may not persist and is currently much less intense than the last major El Niño episode in 1997-1998.
Northeastern U.S. at risk from global warming
(10/05/2006) A new report warns that global warming will "substantially change" the climate in the northeastern if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
Borneo and Sumatra burn as forest fires rage
(10/05/2006) Forest fires are again buring across Borneo and Sumatra (Indonesia) according to satellite images released this week by NASA.
Hospitals go green
(10/04/2006) Some hospitals are going "green" in an effort to cut pollution and toxic emissions that hurt the health of patients and surrounding communities according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Arctic sea ice levels fall
(10/04/2006) Arctic sea ice fell to the fourth lowest level on record according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Farmers fight FDA over pet turtle ban
(10/04/2006) Farmers are battling the FDA over the legality of turtles that were once commonly kept as pets according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Up to 73 million sharks killed per year for their fins
(10/04/2006) Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins according to a new paper published in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters. The estimates are three times higher than those projected by the United Nations.
Albatrosses at risk due to fishing
(10/04/2006) About 1 percent of world's waved albatrosses were killed by fisherman in a one-year period according to a new study published online Sept. 26 in the journal Biological conservation
Wells Fargo Makes Largest Corporate Renewable Energy Purchase
(10/03/2006) Wells Fargo said today it will buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) to support generating 550 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable wind energy a year for three years. With this action, Wells Fargo becomes the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Salmon Farms Kill Wild Fish
(10/03/2006) New research confirms that sea lice from fish farms kill wild salmon. Up to 95 per cent of the wild juvenile salmon that migrate past fish farms die as a result of sea lice infestation from the farms. The results of the research have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America.
Poison frogs less toxic when habitat degraded
(10/02/2006) A new study suggests habitat degradation may put some frogs at greater risk of predation by reducing their toxicity. Studying Mantella poison frogs on the island of Madagascar, a team of researchers led by Valerie C. Clark, a chemistry PhD student at Cornell University who earlier this year published a paper describing the origin of frog toxins as being the insects upon which they feed, found that frogs collected from intact forests "consistently have a greater diversity of insect-derived toxins accumulated in their skin than do frogs from disturbed and fragmented forests."
Ozone loss hits record in 2006
(10/02/2006) The European Space Agency (ESA) said that ozone loss in Antarctica hit a record in 2006. ESA reports that ozone measurements made by the Envisat satellite showed the ozone loss of 40 million tons of ozone, a level exceeding the previous record ozone loss of about 39 million tonnes for 2000.
Privatize the Amazon rainforest says UK minister
(10/02/2006) At a summit this week in Mexico, David Miliband, Britain's Environment Secretary, will propose a plan to "privatize" the Amazon to allow the world's largest rainforest to be bought by individuals and groups, according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper online. The scheme, which has been endorsed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, would seek to protect the region's biodiversity while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.
No mention of climate change in new hurricane research report
(09/29/2006) Strangely missing from a new hurricane research report from the National Science Board, a policymaking body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), is any mention of climate change.
Face recognition web search engine to launch soon
(09/29/2006) The Malmo, Sweden, based company Polar Rose will soon be introducing a Web-based search engine that can find photographs of people by analyzing pictures and identifying faces. The search engine-which will be the first of its kind in the world-is the result of research carried out by Jan Erik Solem at Technology and Society, Malmo University College. He will publicly defend his thesis on Friday, September 29
Tiger fur trade thrives in China
(09/28/2006) The illegal tiger and leopard fur trade continues to thrive in China according to recent investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). The organizations say that the trade is "operating without any hindrance from the Chinese government" and endangers surviving wild tiger populations in India
Methane emissions rising, could worsen global warming
(09/28/2006) Concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas more than twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, are rising in Earth's atmosphere finds a new study published in Nature.
Spiderman ability? Tarantulas spin silk from their feet
(09/28/2006) Researchers have found for the first time that tarantulas can produce silk from their feet as well as their spinnerets, a discovery with profound implications for why spiders began to spin silk in the first place.
Photos of newly discovered species in Brazil's Amazon rainforest
(09/28/2006) Brazil has announced the creation of a Amapa State Forest, a 5.7 million acre Amazon protected area larger than the state of New Jersey. According to conservation International (CI), "the designation protects a crucial section of the Amapa Biodiversity Corridor of northern Brazil, which includes some of the most pristine remaining Amazon forest." The Amapa Biodiversity Corridor -- which includes a variety of ecosystems including tropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannah, and wetlands -- is home to more than 1,700 species of animals and plants, including 430 species of birds, 104 species of amphibians, 124 reptile species and 127 mammal species, including 62 bat species, according to biological surveys conducted by conservation International (CI) and the Amapa State Institute for Research. At the core of the Amapa Biodiversity Corridor is Tumucumaque National Park, the world's largest tropical forest park.
Protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica
(09/28/2006) Travel account -- monitoring sea turtle nesting sites on the beaches of Costa Rica.
California Oil Tax Pits Venture Capitalists Versus Big Oil
(09/27/2006) Oil firms are locked in a fierce battle with venture capitalists and environmentalists over Proposition 87, California's proposed oil tax, according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal. California votes on the initiative November 7.
Coral reefs survive tsunami but not cyanide bombs
(09/27/2006) The impact of a tsunami on a coral reef is minimal in comparison to human-caused damage according to a new study published in the journal Atoll Research Bulletin.
Negative messaging not effective for green movement, finds study
(09/27/2006) New research suggests that negative messaging is not effective in convincing people to adopt green initiatives.
Bush administration blocks report linking hurricanes to global warming
(09/27/2006) The Bush administration blocked release of a report suggesting that global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday. According to Nature, a panel of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists drafted a February report that linked recent hurricane activity to human-induced climate change. When the study was scheduled to be released in May, officials at the Commerce Department rejected the report on technical grounds and prohibited its publication.
Arctic ocean warms as global oceans cool
(09/27/2006) Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center say that warm water from the North Atlantic Ocean continues to surge into the Arctic Ocean potentially increasing ice melt in the region.
Not extinct? Ivory-billed Woodpecker may live in Florida
(09/26/2006) Researchers found evidence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird once believed to be extinct, in a remote river basin in the panhandle of Florida. The discovery, announced in Avian conservation and Ecology, was made in May 2005 by a research team led by Auburn University professor Geoff Hill. The bird was sighted on the Choctawhatchee River and though the team captured no photographs of the species.
Global warming: Earth's temperature near highest level in a million years
(09/25/2006) Earth may nearing its warmest level in the last million years according to a paper published by NASA scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and colleagues report that "Earth is now reaching and passing through the warmest levels in the current interglacial period" and that climate change is causing plant and animal species to migrate towards the north and south poles.
conservationists killed in Nepal helicopter crash
(09/25/2006) 24 people were killed in a helicopter crash in Nepal on Saturday September 23rd. Seven of the victims were staff members of WWF, a leading conservation group. The helicopter was carrying them from a conservation site at Ghunsa, in the remote eastern mountains of Nepal, according to WWF.
Boreal forests worth $250 billion per year worldwide
(09/25/2006) Boreal forests provide services worth $250 billion per year globally according to estimates by Canadian researchers. Mark Anielski, an Edmonton economist, says that environmental services from the boreal -- including carbon capture and storage, water filtration and waste treatment, biodiversity maintenance, and pest control -- are worth about $160 per hectare, or $93 billion per year in Canada alone.
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