conservation news and environmental science news.
Dancing monkeys could be a risk to your health
(12/08/2005) Some urban performing monkeys in Indonesia are carrying several retroviruses that are capable of infecting people, according to a new study led by University of Washington researchers. The results indicate that contact with performing monkeys, which is common in many Asian countries, could represent a little-known path for viruses to jump the species barrier from monkeys to humans and eventually cause human disease. Performing monkeys are animals that are trained to produce tricks in public.
Arctic Inuit sue U.S. govt over global warming pollution
(12/08/2005) A group of people living in the Arctic have filed a lawsuit against the US government, claiming its climate change policies violate their human rights. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) says that by failing to control emissions of greenhouse gases, the US is damaging the livelihoods those living in the Arctic. The group has filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demanding that the US limit its emissions.
Future forests may absorb more carbon dioxide than current forests
(12/08/2005) Forests of the future may grow faster and absorb more carbon in a carbon dioxide enriched environment according to a new study by researchers at the Department of Energy (DOE).
Alaska's Columbia Glacier shrunk by 9 miles since 1980
(12/08/2005) Alaska's rapidly disintegrating Columbia Glacier, which has shrunk in length by 9 miles since 1980, has reached the mid-point of its projected retreat, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.
Mexico addressing greenhouse gas emissions despite no Kyoto obligation
(12/07/2005) Mexico, a country that has no emission reduction obligatons under the Kyoto Protocol, is acting on its own to assist companies in managing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
2005 had worst weather-related economic losses in history
(12/07/2005) This year witnessed the largest financial losses ever as a result of weather-related natural disasters linked by many to human action, more than $200 billion compared to $145 billion in 2004, the previous record, according to statistics presented to the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently meeting in Montreal, Canada.
45% chance Gulf Stream will collapse by 2100 say scientists
(12/07/2005) New research indicates there is a 45 percent chance that the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean could shut down by the end of the century if nothing is done to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Even with immediate climate policy action, say scientists, there would still be a 25 percent probability of a collapse of the system of currents that keep western Europe warmer than regions at similar latitudes in other parts of the world.
Photos of erupting volcano in Vanuatu
(12/07/2005) The Manaro Volcano of Ambae Island, Vanuatu in the South Pacific erupted in spectacular fashion early Thursday. The volano shot steam, toxic gases and ash up to 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) into the air.
Rising ocean causes permanent evacuation of Pacific island community
(12/06/2005) A small community living in the Pacfic island chain of Vanuatu has become one of, if not the first, to be formally moved out of harms way as a result of climate change.
Using biomimicry to fight computer viruses via "immunity software"
(12/06/2005) Biomimicry is being used to fight computer viruses. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Arizona (UA) received $1 million to fund research and development of security software that mimics biological immune systems. The software will screen a computer network for abnormalities, isolating infectious computer viruses, worms and other attack agents while developing software "antibodies" to fight them. UA received the grant from the Army Research Office.
Easter Island's demise caused by rats, Dutch traders says new theory
(12/06/2005) Rats and Dutch traders may be responsible for the mysterious demise of Easter Island according to research presented last week during an American Anthropological Association meeting by a University of Hawaii anthropologist.
2006 Hurricane season likely to be active
(12/06/2005) The United States faces another very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2006, but with likely fewer landfalling intense hurricanes than in 2005 - the costliest, most destructive hurricane season ever - according to a report issued today by Philip Klotzbach, William Gray and the Colorado State University forecast team.
Warming could free far more carbon from high Arctic soil than earlier thought
(12/05/2005) Scientists studying the effects of carbon on climate warming are very likely underestimating, by a vast amount, how much soil carbon is available in the high Arctic to be released into the atmosphere, new University of Washington research shows. A three-year study of soils in northwest Greenland found that a key previous study greatly underestimated the organic carbon stored in the soil. That's because the earlier work generally looked only at the top 10 inches of soil, said Jennifer Horwath, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences.
Soil moisture, root depth influence climate models
(12/05/2005) By soaking up moisture with their roots and later releasing it from their leaves, plants play an active role in regulating the climate. In fact, in vegetated ecosystems, plants are the primary channels that connect the soil to the atmosphere, with plant roots controlling the below-ground dynamics.
Somali pirates force UN food aid to take land route
(12/05/2005) Facing a plague of piracy off the Horn of Africa that has closed its usual supply lines by sea, the United Nations World Food programme (WFP) today announced the arrival in southern Somalia of its first overland truck convoy carrying food aid in almost five years, and called for urgent funding to make up for the increased costs.
Pandas threatened by roads and forest fragmentation in China
(12/05/2005) China's endangered giant panda is threatened by the rapid expansion of the national highway network, which causing fragmentation of its natural habitat, according to Chinese state media.
70 years after logging, forests don't hold as much carbon as original forests
(12/05/2005) New research out of Ohio State University suggests that following logging, temperate forests take long periods of time to recover their carbon storing capacity. The scientists examined forests of of the upper Great Lakes region, which were 90% logged at the turn of the century, and found that they store only half the carbon the original forests contained. Poor forest management is blamed for the shortfall.
Mozambique Gets World Bank conservation, Tourism Project
(12/05/2005) More of Mozambique's natural ecosystems will be conserved, and thus draw more tourism to the country, thanks to a World Bank-funded project that aims to promote economic growth through sustainable use of natural resources.
Archaeologists make ancient Maya discovery in Guatemala
(12/05/2005) Researchers working in Guatemala have unearthed a monument with the earliest-known depiction of a woman of authority in ancient Mayan culture, according to an archaeologist at the University of Calgary. Kathryn Reese-Taylor said the 2-meter high limestone monument has a portrait of a female who could be either a ruler or a mythical goddess and dates 4th Century A.D. The statue, called a stela, was found at Naachtun, a Mayan city 90 km (55 miles) north of Tikal.
New maps reveal the human footprint on Earth
(12/05/2005) As global populations swell, farmers are cultivating more and more land in a desperate bid to keep pace with the ever-intensifying needs of humans.
Elephant drunk from fruit not likely, finds study
(12/05/2005) Dispelling years of anecdotes in travelogues, the popular press, and scholarly works, biologists from the University of Bristol argue that it is nearly impossible for elephants to become intoxicated from eating the fruit of the marula tree.
Amazon rainforest biodiversity due to biology not climate change says study
(12/05/2005) The biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest results from biological factors, not climate change as widely thought, says new research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists have long argued that the species richness of tropical forests could be due to climate change-induced fragmentation, known as the "forest refuge: theory, and other external factors that caused geographic isolation. Now, researchers from University College London say that biological influences play a greater role in driving species evolution.
Congo rainforest - 600,000 sq km slated for logging
(12/05/2005) The World Bank will meet Thursday to decide whether it will fund large-scale logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo's rainforests. The country, home to the second largest rainforest in the world after Brazil, is emerging from years of civil strife which resulted in the deaths of some 3.8 million people from violence and disease.
Companies increasingly at risk for climate change litigation says UN
(12/05/2005) Companies which contribute to climate change will increasingly face legal action according to a U.N.-sponsored report accounced last week but scheduled for released in March 2006. London-based law firm Freshfields is working with Dutch bank ABN Amro to produce the U.N. report which aims to encourage investors to address environmental, social and governance issues in their investment decisions.
Temperate forests may worsen global warming, tropical forests fight higher temperatures
(12/05/2005) Growing a forest might sound like a good idea to combat global warming, since trees draw carbon dioxide from the air and release cool water from their leaves. But they also absorb sunlight, warming the air in the process. According to a new study from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, planting forests at certain latitudes could make the Earth warmer.
Mysterious carnivore found in Borneo rain forest
(12/05/2005) WWF researchers may have discovered a new, mysterious carnivore species in the dense, central forests of Borneo.
Elevated atmospheric CO2 increases soil carbon
(12/05/2005) An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology indicates that soils in temperate ecosystems might contribute more to partially offsetting the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations than earlier studies have suggested.
Amazon deforestation slows in Brazil for 2005
(12/05/2005) Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest fell 37% for the 2004-2004 year according to Brazilian government figures released today. Between July 2004 and August 2005, 7,298 square miles of rainforest (18,900 square kilometers) -- an area almost half the size of Switzerland -- were destroyed. Last year the figure was 10,088 square miles (26,129 sq km kilometers) and since 1978 some 206,250 square miles (534,200 sq km) of forest has been lost.
Energy efficiency helped California grow an extra $31 billion finds study
(12/04/2005) Countering Bush administration claims to the contrary, environmental officials for the state of California and the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo have found significant evidence that greenhouse gas pollution can be substantially reduced at a profit rather than a cost. The study, commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, found that energy efficiency has helped the California economy grow an extra 3 percent - a $31 billion gain - compared to business as usual. Further, the researchers say that each Californian typically saved about $1,000 per year between 1975 and 1995 just through efficiency standards for buildings and appliances.
Governments making progress in fight against illegal logging says FAO
(12/03/2005) Governments are becoming increasingly innovative in devising ways to control illegal logging claims new research released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Tropical Timber Organization.
Poisonous volcanic gas probably caused worst mass extinction says new study
(12/02/2005) The mass extinction event at the end of the Permian -- where more than two-thirds of reptile and amphibian families perished and 95% of oceans life forms became extinct -- was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas, according to research published in the journal Geology. The researchers believe that volcanic gases from the eruption depleted earth's protective ozone layer and acidified the land and sea.
Tropical Atlantic cooling and deforestation correlate to drought in Africa
(12/02/2005) Against the backdrop of the Montreal Summit on global climate being held this week, an article on African droughts and monsoons, by a University of California, Santa Barbara scientist and others, which appears in the December issue of the journal Geology, underlines concern about the effects of global climate change.
US denies hurricane link with climate change
(12/01/2005) Harlan Watson, chief climate control negotiator for the U.S. State Department, told the Associated Press that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather -- including the hurricanes that thrashed the Gulf earlier this year.
Crystal sponges can absorb carbon dioxide and fight global warming
(12/01/2005) Since the Industrial Revolution, levels of carbon dioxide---a major contributor to the greenhouse effect---have been on the rise, prompting scientists to search for ways of counteracting the trend. One of the main strategies is removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the flue exhaust of power plants, using porous materials that take up the gas as it travels up the flue.
Biosensor Could Help People with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's Disease
(12/01/2005) An engineering researcher at the University of Arkansas has developed a wireless, implantable biosensor that may one day help physicians treat patients with neurological brain disorders such as Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease and epilepsy. Made of carbon nanotubes, the sensor monitors and controls chemicals in the brain and communicates with other sensors to control tremors or direct the movement of prosthetic limbs.
Change in Atlantic circulation could plunge Europe into cold winters
(12/01/2005) The Atlantic Ocean circulation that carries warm waters north and returns cold waters south is slowing, putting Europe at risk of colder temperatures, according to research published in Nature. The Atlantic Heat Conveyor, the system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that result in a net transport of warm water into the northern hemisphere, keeps western Europe warmer than regions at similar latitudes in other parts of the world. A weakening of the system, which includes the Gulf Stream, could cause a cooling in northwest Europe.
Giant, human-sized scorpion discovered
(12/01/2005) Tracks made 330 million years ago by a 1.6 meter-long (5 ft 3 inches) water scorpion have been discovered in Scotland.
U.S. fishing bycatch wastes 1 million metric tons of fish per year
(12/01/2005) A new study shows that for every five pounds of fish caught by U.S. commercial fisheries, one pound is dumped -- dead, dying and wasted. Each year, U.S. commercial fishing operations throw away more than one million metric tons of fish, an amount equivalent to 28 percent of all commercial landings and more than all of the fish landed on the East and West coasts combined.
Overfishing of fresh waters of serious concern
(12/01/2005) Systematic overfishing of fresh waters occurs worldwide but is largely unrecognized because of weak reporting and because other pressures can obscure fishery declines, according to an article in the December 2005 issue of BioScience.
U.S. "exporting" carbon emissions to China says study
(12/01/2005) The growth of Chinese imports in the U.S. economy boosted the total emissions of carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas) from the two countries by over 700 million metric tons between 1997 and 2003, according to a study published online in the journal Energy Policy. The analysis, prepared by two scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, suggests that American emissions of carbon dioxide in 2003 would have been 6% higher if the United States had manufactured the products that it imported from China. Meanwhile, China's 2003 emissions would have been 14% lower had it not produced goods for the United States.
Australian industry embraces green energy while government fights emissions cuts
(12/01/2005) Despite Australia's resistance to limiting carbon dioxide emissions through the Kyoto Protocol, Australian industry and entrepreneurs are working on novel ways to reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels.
Scientists taking a multidisciplinary approach to understanding nature
(12/01/2005) Improved tools and increasingly sophisticated approaches are helping researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory gain a better understanding of how organisms respond to and interact with their environment.
Toucan Beaks Are Models Of Lightweight Strength says UCSD engineer
(11/30/2005) As a boy growing up in Brazil 40 years ago, Marc A. Meyers marveled at the lightweight toughness of toucan beaks that he occasionally found on the forest floor. Now a materials scientist and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, Meyers said makers of airplanes and automobiles may benefit from the first ever detailed engineering analysis of toucan beaks conducted in his lab.
Study uncovers how thousands of tree species coexist in rain forest
(11/30/2005) A group of scientists have a developed a new theory to explain why the biodiversity of tropical rain forests is so high and how species are assembled in an ecological community. According to their research presented in Nature, the answer can be found in 'neutral theory' whereby community membership is determined by just five fundamental processes. The scientists say that species will regulate themselves to make room for each other if they follow the 'membership rules.' The new theory undermines the conventional 'niche theory' which has been traditionally used to explain community assemblages.
Rise in deer ticks put East Coast hikers at risk says Penn State entomologist
(11/30/2005) Every year it seems the tick identification laboratory in Penn State's entomology department receives more submissions from residents around the state than the year before. But Steven Jacobs, the extension entomologist who oversees the lab, said this year is different.
Young women smokers have higher risk of breast cancer
(11/30/2005) Researchers outline in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings their study of postmenopausal women, which supports the hypothesis that women who smoke cigarettes before first full-term pregnancy have a 20 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared with women who began smoking after the birth of their first child or were never smokers.
75% of Switzerland's glaciers gone by 2050, Europe heats up
(11/30/2005) The four hottest years on record were 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Ten percent of Alpine glaciers disappeared during the summer of 2003 alone. At current rates, three quarters of Switzerland's glaciers will have melted by 2050. Europe has not seen climate changes on this scale for 5 000 years, says a new report by the European Environment Agency.
Bird songs can serve as a warning system to detect ecological disturbances
(11/30/2005) Changes in bird song could be used as an early warning system to detect man-made ecological disturbances, new research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology has found.
Rainforests worth $1.1 trillion for carbon alone in Coalition nations
(11/29/2005) If a coalition of developing countries has its way, there could soon be new forests sprouting up in tropical regions. The group of ten countries, led by Papua New Guinea, has proposed that wealthy countries pay them to preserve their rainforests. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations argues that all countries should pay for the benefits -- from carbon sequestration to watershed protection -- that tropical rainforests provide.
2005 Atlantic hurricane season worst on record
(11/29/2005) The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is the busiest on record and extends the active hurricane cycle that began in 1995 -- a trend likely to continue for years to come. The season included 26 named storms, including 13 hurricanes in which seven were major.
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