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Scientists suggest new geological epoch: ours

(01/30/2008) It would be called the Anthropocene. The word was coined by chemist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen at a conference in 2000. It denotes a new geological epoch, beginning about 200 years ago at the time of the Industrial Revolution, when our planet's systems were increasingly affected by our species. While the term Anthropocene has been used informally for years, a recent peer-reviewed British paper argues that it is now time to officially accept Anthropocene as a distinct era and to leave the Holocene to the pre-Industrial past.


Copper mine triggers controversy in Armenia

(01/28/2008) In Northern Armenia, a company has been given the go-ahead to establish a copper mine in Teghut Forest sparking off a struggle between industry and environmentalists. Teghut Forest spans approximately 29,000 square kilometers--the size of the English channel--and supports a large number of Armenia's native species, including the Syrian Brown Bear and the Short-toed Eagle. The mine will be operated by Armenian Copper Program (ACP). ACP is apart of the Valex group, located in Liechtenstein and co-owned by Russian citizen, Valeri Medzhloumyan. The project will be the largest mine in Armenia, and is estimated to make a hundred million annually for as long as the mining lasts (most likely, less than twenty-five years). Environmentalists believe that the mine will cause large and lasting damage to the region, while government and industry state that the mine's environmental impact will be small while giving the region an economic boost.


How much would it cost to end Amazon deforestation?

(01/27/2008) With Brazil last week announcing a significant jump in Amazon deforestation during the second half of 2007, the question emerges, how much would it cost to end the destruction of Earth's largest rainforest?


7000 sq km of Amazon rainforest destroyed in late 2007 says Greenpeace

(01/25/2008) Brazilian government figures will likely show that more than 7,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed between August and the end December 2007, said environmental group Greenpeace.


Groups call for doubling of reef protection for International Year of the Reef

(01/25/2008) Thursday 17 countries and 30 organization launched the International Year of the Reef, a campaign to protect coral reefs increasingly threatened by climate change, pollution, and unsustainable activities.


Largest body of geologists issues warning on global warming

(01/24/2008) A statement newly released by the world's largest scientific society of Earth and space scientists--the American Geophysical Union, or AGU--updates the organization's position on climate change: the evidence for it, potential consequences from it, and how to respond to it.


Amazon deforestation jumps in the second half of 2007

(01/24/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose sharply in the second half of 2007 as a result of surging prices for beef and grain, said a top Brazilian environmental official.


Sustainability mandated for biofuels used in the EU

(01/24/2008) Biofuels used in the European Union will have meet strict environmental requirements said the head of the E.U.'s energy program on Wednesday.


55% of the Amazon may be lost by 2030

(01/23/2008) Cattle ranching, industrial soy farming, and logging are three of the leading drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. As commodity prices continue to rise, driven by surging demand for biofuels and grain for meat production, the economic incentives for developing the Amazon increase. Already the largest exporter of beef and the second largest producer of soy - with the largest expanse of "undeveloped" but arable land of any country - Brazil is well on its way to rivaling the U.S. as the world's agricultural superpower. The trend towards turning the Amazon into a giant breadbasket seems unstoppable. Nevertheless the decision at the U.N. climate talks in Bali to include "Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) in future climate treaty negotiations may preempt this fate, says Dr. Daniel Nepstad, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research Institute.


Photos: Top 100 most threatened amphibians named

(01/21/2008) Due to numerous factors--including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and chytrid fungus--amphibians are probably the most threatened taxon of species in the world. Dr Jonathan Baillie, head of the EDGE organization which has just established an amphibian program, stated that "tragically, amphibians tend to be the overlooked members of the animal kingdom, even though one in every three amphibian species is currently threatened with extinction, a far higher proportion than that of bird or mammal species." To help save these species on the brink, EDGE, apart of the Zoological Society of London, has compiled a list of the hundred most threatened and evolutionary distinct amphibians.


Rich countries grow at ecological expense of poor countries

(01/21/2008) The costs of environmental degradation caused by rich countries are disproportionately falling on the world's poorest countries, reports an analysis published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Malaysian timber firm fined for illegal rainforest logging in Guyana

(01/21/2008) Barama Company Limited, a subsidiary of the Samling Group, a Malaysian logging firm, has been fined for violating Guyana's forest laws, reports Staebroek News. Barama operates the largest timber concession in Guyana.


Border fence may drive largest American cat to extinction

(01/21/2008) The Bush Administration's decision to not prepare a recovery plan for the endangered jaguar in its native habitat in Arizona and New Mexico may spell the end for the big cat in the United States, says an environmental group.


New Jersey scraps plan to buy Amazon rainforest timber

(01/21/2008) The city council of Ocean City in New Jersey voted 6-0 last Thursday to cancel a $1.1 million purchase of ipe timber originating in the Amazon rainforest.


Photo: the night monkey

(01/20/2008) "Midget" is the youngest member of a family (six in all) of douroucoulis at the Bronx Zoo's World of Darkness. The only true nocturnal monkey, this species is also known as "owl monkey" or "night monkey".


Recovery from worst mass extinction took 30M years

(01/20/2008) The recovery of complex ecosystems following history's worst mass extinction took 30 million years reports a study published last week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Two-thirds of carnivores die when reintroduced into the wild

(01/20/2008) Carnivores reintroduced to the wild as part of conservation programs fare poorly, reports a new study published online in the journal Biological conservation.


New program pays Canadians for energy efficiency gains

(01/20/2008) As I write this article, CBS News is having a Sunday evening prime-time, hour long special on global warming. What is alarming is both the extent of how bad the situation is for the planet, the impact on wildlife (e.g . Polar Bear populations dwindling dangerously low due to reduced glaciers) and the alleged refusal of certain governments to acknowledge both that there is a fact based problem and that we are running out of time to reduce its effects on the air we breathe, our environments, our forests and its wildlife population.


Invasive species hurt developing world economies

(01/18/2008) The 'real' costs of invasive species are underestimated in developing countries, argues a new report that calls for more research into the environmental, social and economic impact of non-native plants and animals.


Palm oil industry prepares green initiative to counter criticism

(01/18/2008) Global food and consumer goods giants are backing a plan to certify that palm oil is produced in a way that doesn't drive destruction of tropical rainforests, reports The Wall Street Journal. The move comes as the palm industry is facing increasing scrutiny -- and consumer backlash -- for its practices which scientists say are driving large-scale destruction of forests across Indonesia and Malaysia, resulting in massive greenhouse gas emissions.


U.S. biofuels policy drives deforestation in Indonesia, the Amazon

(01/17/2008) U.S. incentives for biofuel production are promoting deforestation in southeast Asia and the Amazon by driving up crop prices and displacing energy feedstock production, say researchers.


Giant exploding palm tree discovered in Madagascar

(01/17/2008) A gigantic palm that flowers itself to death and exists as part of an entirely unique genus has been discovered in Madagascar; its name will be published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society on 17 January 2008. The mystery palm has a huge trunk which towers over 18m high and fan leaves which are 5m in diameter - among the largest known in flowering plants. This is the most massive palm ever to be found in Madagascar.


80% of world's undernourished children live in 10% of countries

(01/17/2008) Worldwide, undernutrition is responsible for more than a third of all deaths of children under the age of five. If a child survives past this age, he or she is much more likely than a child adequately nourished to demonstrate lower educational achievement, be of below-average height, and give birth to smaller infants.


Amazon deforestation surging due to oil, soy prices

(01/17/2008) A Brazilian scientist has confirmed that forest clearing in the Amazon rainforest has surged in recent months, according to Reuters.


2007 ties 1998 as second warmest year in past century

(01/17/2008) 2007 tied 1998 as the second warmest year in a century say climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).


Photo: guira cuckoo couple at the Bronx Zoo

(01/17/2008) The guira, a cuckoo, is one of the most common birds of Brazil. Although they live in groups of six to 18 individuals, they have a tendency to form couples.


To reproduce, parasite transforms ant into juicy red berry

(01/17/2008) Scientists have discovered a parasite that transforms the appearance of its host, an ant, into that of a juicy red berry that birds are more likely to eat and disperse into new habitats, reports an article published in The American Naturalist. It is the first example of fruit mimicry caused by a parasite, say the researchers who discovered the parasite, a nematode or roundworm found in the canopy of tropical forests ranging from Central America to the lowland Amazon.


Global warming will diminish fish catch in the Bering sea

(01/16/2008) One half of the fish caught in the U.S. annually--and almost a third worldwide--come from the Bering Sea. Yet, this vast resource is increasingly threatened by climate change. A recent study, published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, showed that global warming will greatly affect the Bering Sea's phytoplankton, the cornerstone of the sea's rich ecosystem.


Cellulosic ethanol production could fight Gulf Dead Zone, help fisheries

(01/16/2008) Feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production could help fight the massive "dead zone" that forms each year in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of current farming practices, says a University of Alabama in Huntsville biologist.


Climate change causes shift in American bird ranges

(01/16/2008) Breeding ranges of North American birds have shifted northward coinciding with a period of increasing global temperatures, report researchers writing in the April issue of conservation Biology.


Tropical islanders win battle against palm-oil

(01/16/2008) Mongabay has confirmed that the Milne Bay government has pulled plans to allow Vitroplant to log 70% of Woodlark Island for palm oil plantations. The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Hon John Hickey, stated in a press release that "Vitroplant did do a feasibility study and were keen to invest on the island. However due to landowner objections on the development of the oil palm industry on the island, the company has decided to pull out." Vitroplant has yet to comment.


Photos: rare aye-aye lemur born at Bristol Zoo Gardens

(01/16/2008) Born on November 23rd, 2007 at Bristol Zoo Gardens this baby Aye-aye was given the name Raz. According to the EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) organization this is only the second Aye-aye to be hand raised in the UK.


2,000 pound rodent discovered

(01/16/2008) Scientists have discovered the remains of an extinct 2,000 pound rodent -- the largest rodent ever known. The find is described Wednesday in Britain's Proceedings of the Royal Society.


Could battery discovery make long-range electric cars viable?

(01/16/2008) A discovery by Stanford University researchers could extend the life of rechargeable lithium ion batteries ten-fold, potentially ushering in a new era of 40-hour laptop batteries and long-range electric cars.


E.U. may ban palm oil biodiesel

(01/15/2008) The E.U. may ban imports of certain biofuel feedstocks that damage the environment, reports The New York Times. Environmentalists say some biofuels like palm oil are driving the destruction of biologically-rich rainforests and may produce more emissions than conventional fossil fuels.


Sierra Leone bans timber exports

(01/15/2008) Sierra Leone has re-imposed a timber export ban after accusing foreign companies of illegally logging its forests, according to BBC News.


Indonesia seeks to cut fuel subsidies via biofuels

(01/15/2008) Biofuels will make up 10 percent of Indonesia's fuel transport consumption by 2010 under a plan announced Monday by a senior government official, according to Reuters. The initiative could ease the economic impact of fuel subsidies - currently some of the highest in the world - in Indonesia, while boosting demand for locally produced bioenergy crops including palm oil, jatropha, sugar cane and cassava.


Starfish invasion threatens world's richest coral reefs

(01/14/2008) Outbreaks of the notorious crown of thorns starfish now threaten the "coral triangle," the richest center of coral reef biodiversity on Earth, according to recent surveys by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.


Politics and the Amazon

(01/14/2008) In terms of environmental conservation, the Amazon is a logistics nightmare. How does Brazil protect 4.2 million square kilometers of forest with a border of 10.938 km?


Twenty million dollars to protect endangered hotspots

(01/14/2008) conservation International and the World Bank have signed an agreement for 20 million dollars of funding to protect bio-diverse hotspots. Ten new conservation projects will be funded, including programs in Micronesia, Polynesia, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean Basin, and temperate forests in South Africa. The funds are being provided by the Global Environmental Facility, which brings together 178 governments to support global environmental initiatives.


Palm oil developer abandons plan to log 70% of Woodlark Island

(01/14/2008) Vitro Plant, a developer that planned to log 70 percent of Papua New Guinea's Woodlark Island for oil palm plantations, has pulled out of the project reports The National, a Papuan newspaper.


Scientists discover four species of anole lizards in 24 hours in Panama

(01/13/2008) In January of 2006 a biological expedition uncovered four anole species in a single day. Dr. Gunther Koehler, a member of the expedition, described the discoveries as "a once in a life time experience; during expeditions before, we had found new species, one at a time--but four species within 24 hours, that was incredible!"


China bans plastic bags

(01/13/2008) In effort to stem plastic pollution, China has banned stores from using flimsy plastic bags and is mandating an additional charge if customers opt for a more durable plastic bag. Joining countries such as Ireland, Taiwan, and parts of South Africa, this new measure is aimed at encouraging the use of cloth bags and other reusable containers. Bangladesh has banned plastic shopping bags completely since 2002 when they were found to block drainage systems and cause flooding during monsoon rains. Australia is contemplating the move, as are cities such as London and Boston.


The hidden value of Bali: Why saving the world's rainforests is good for the climate and the US economy

(01/10/2008) A few weeks ago, over 10,000 politicians, scientists, NGO representatives, and academics inundated Bali, Indonesia. The goal was to negotiate, lobby, and struggle through the increasingly complex web of international climate change policy. At the end of it all an agreement was reached as part of the "Bali Action Plan" to spend two more years negotiating on a future agreement that should include reducing deforestation in developing countries--something that currently accounts for up to 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions.


Extremely high levels of mercury and arsenic found in Chinese lake

(01/10/2008) A team of researchers, led by biologists at Dartmouth, has found potentially dangerous levels of mercury and arsenic in Lake Baiyangdian, the largest lake in the North China Plain and a source of both food and drinking water for the people who live around it.


Dirt-munching helps protect chimps from malaria

(01/10/2008) Soil ingestion helps chimps protect themselves from malaria, reports a new study published in the journal Naturwissenschaften. Apparently geophagy, as the deliberate behvaior is known, increases the potency of ingested plants with anti-malarial properties.


An interview with primate researcher Dr. Karen Strier: America's largest monkey recovering after brush with extinction

(01/10/2008) The Atlantic forest of Brazil boasts South America's largest primates, the Southern and Northern Muriqui. The muriqui are unique among all primates, because they are not territorial and do not display aggressive behvaior. The IUCN has classified the Southern Muriqui as endangered, while the Nothern Muriqui is critically endangered. Dr. Karen Strier has studied the Northern Muriqui in the field for twenty-five years. A professor of zoology and anthropology at the University of Madison Wisconsin, she is the author of Faces in the Forest: the Endangered Muriqui Monkeys of Brazil and a new textbook entitled Primate behvaioral Ecology.


Too early to say if iron seeding will slow global warming - scientists

(01/10/2008) Schemes to use feed the ocean with iron as a way to enhance carbon sequestration from the atmosphere are premature and could be damaging to sea life and marine ecosystems, warns a letter published in the journal Science by an international group of scientists.


Disappearance of elephants, giraffes causes ecological chain reaction

(01/10/2008) The disappearance of elephants, giraffes and other grazing animals from the eastern African savanna could send ecological ripple effects all the way to the savanna's ants and the acacia trees they inhabit, warns a new study published in the journal Science.


Despite Arctic crocodiles, glaciers existed during extreme global warming 90M years ago

(01/10/2008) Massive glaciers extended across 50-60 percent of Antarctica some 91.2 million years even as crocodiles roamed the Arctic and surface temperatures of the western tropical Atlantic Ocean climbed to 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), reports a study published in the journal Science.


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