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News articles on featured
Mongabay.com news articles on featured in blog format. Updated regularly.
(11/17/2005) Australia's Great Barrier Reef could lose 95 percent of its living coral by 2050 should ocean temperatures increase by the 1.5 degrees Celsius projected by climate scientists. The startling and controversial prediction, made last year in a report commissioned by the World Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Queensland government, is just one of the dire scenarios forecast for reefs in the near future. The degradation and possible disappearance of these ecosystems would have profound socioeconomic ramifications as well as ecological impacts says Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, head of the University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies.
Demise of passenger pigeon linked to Lyme disease
(11/14/2005) Traditionally, the passenger pigeon has been held as one of the more beloved animal species to fall prey to humankind's often relentless expansion into and disregard for the natural world and its creatures. Once abundant, the bird experienced a rapid decline in the late 1800s, due almost entirely to rampant hunting, and the last passenger pigeon died in 1914. In light of new findings however, this image of a naturally plentiful species laid to waste by man is now being tested. Evidence collected over the past few years from a significant number of Native American archeological sites is beginning to upset long-accepted beliefs about one of the most famous extinct species in modern history.
Africa Heats Up -- climate change threatens future of the continent
(10/11/2005) A series of recent studies have revealed a sobering future for the majority of Africa, a future predicated by undeniable and significant climate change. The threat traverses all levels of the environmental, social, political and economic spheres, from heightened socio-economic disparity to dwindling fish populations, from civil strife to desperate hunger. The greatest and saddest irony of this dark fate projected for the continent is that while Africa has the world's lowest levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, contributing the least to global climate change, it has been forced to bear the brunt of the phenomenon.
Harvesting tornados as power plants; renewable wind vortex energy
(10/09/2005) Engineers are working to use artificial tornados as a renewable energy source according to an article in last week's The Economist. Storms release a tremendous amount of energy. Hurricane Katrina, a category 4 hurricane, released enough energy to supply the world's power needs for a year, while the typical tornado produces as much power as a large power station.
Google, MIT support $100 laptop for the world's poorest children
(10/06/2005) Google, AMD, Brightstar, News Corporation, and Red Hat have signed on to MIT's low-cost laptop initiative which aims to deliver a fully functional $100 machine to the developing world.
Now identified as likely origin of SARS; will bats be killed in China?
(09/29/2005) The likely source of the respiratory disease SARS is the horseshoe bat, a new study in the journal Science suggests. Researchers found a virus closely related to the SARS coronavirus in bats from three regions of China. The 2003 SARS outbreak killed 770 people and caused billions in economic damaged.
First megatransect of Madagascar completed
(09/27/2005) Late last year an international team completed the first known transect of the island of Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island. The eight-month-long journey, dubbed "Hike Madagascar," took the group of intrepid hikers from the southern tip of Madagascar to the northernmost point of the island. The transect targeted rural communities along the eastern forest corridor, surveying villages and providing local farmers with techniques for improving rice yields and putting more food on the table for their families. The hike also provided a glimpse into some of the socioeconomic and environmental issues facing the island nation, which is one of the poorest in the world.
What is a Category 5 Hurricane?
(09/21/2005) Hurricane Rita just strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane. A Category 5 hurricane is the strongest and most severe class of hurricane. The scale, known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, classifies hurricanes by the intensity of their sustained winds, storm surge and flooding, developed in 1969 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and National Hurricane Center director Bob Simpson.
Ecotourism in the rainforest, a guide to your first visit
(09/14/2005) The rainforest is an incredible place. Having having realistic expectations about your experience, being prepared, and knowing what to bring will make your trip run more smoothly. Hopefully your initial visit to the rainforest will be the first of many.
Anti-HIV drug from rainforest almost lost before its discovery
(09/13/2005) Rainforest plants have long been recognized for their potential to provide healing compounds. Indigenous peoples of the rainforest have used medicinal plants for treating a wide variety of health conditions while western pharmacologists have derived a number of drugs from such plants. However, as forests around the world continue to fall there is a real risk that pharmaceutically-useful plants will disappear before they are examined for their chemical properties. Increasingly, it is becoming a race against time to collect and screen plants before their native habitats are destroyed. One near miss occurred recently with a compound that has shown significant anti-HIV effects, Calanolide A.
Visiting Croatia; tourists replace soldiers
(09/08/2005) Fourteen years ago Croatia was a war zone. Serbian forces occupied about one third of the country and shelled the historic city Dubrovnik. Ethnic cleansing and atrocities were committed and thousands of people were displaced. Today, peace has returned to Croatia and the country is experiencing a tourism boom. With some of the best weather in the Mediterranean and the sparkling waters of the Adriatic there are good reasons that Croatia has regained its former glory at a top tourist destination.
Hurricane could hit San Diego
(09/08/2005) San Diego has been hit by hurricanes in the past and may be affected by such storms in the future according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While a hurricane in San Diego would likely produce significantly less damage that Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, it could still exact a high cost to Southern California especially if the region was caught off guard.
Medicinal plants explored at Conservatory of Flowers
(09/06/2005) Plants have long been used by humans for treating a wide range of ills from childhood leukemia to hangovers. Indeed, many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to Western doctors have a long history of use as herbal remedies including quinine, opium, aspirin, and coca.
Personal account of hurricane destruction along Mississippi Gulf Coast
(09/06/2005) The following is an eyewitness account of hurricane destruction along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Included is information on plans to provide pro bono services from out of state lawyers to the storm victims, many of whom will need assistance in dealing with insurance companies, relief bureaucracies, and possibly personal or small business bankruptcies in the aftermath of the storm.
Chernobyl environment and people recovering
(09/06/2005) Chernobyl's ecosystems seem to be recovering just 19 years after the region was badly contaminated with radiation from a nuclear meltdown according to a report backed by the United Nations.
Global warming may have triggered worst mass extinction
(08/29/2005) A dramatic rise in carbon dioxide 250 million years ago may have caused global temperatures to soar and result in Earth's greatest mass extinction, according to a study published in the September issue of Geology. Global warming, which may have produced temperatures 10 to 30 degrees Celsius higher than today, would have had a significant impact both on oceans, where about 95% of lifeforms became extinct, and on land, where almost 75% of species died out.
Dubai's artificial islands have high environmental cost
(08/23/2005) Dubai, a city-state in the United Arab Emirates with a population of around one million, has lately embarked on an ambitious plan to boost its international standing in the eyes of the world's rich by building a number of artificial islands. These islands, which will house luxury residences, villas, and hotels, are a growing concern for environmentalists due to their impact on the local marine ecology.
Study discovers why poison dart frogs are toxic
(08/09/2005) A new study published in the current issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that poison dart frogs, as well as the Mantella poison frogs of Madagascar, derive their toxicity from the ants they eat. Specifically, both groups are frogs are capable of storing ants' toxic alkaloid molecules in their glands without being harmed.
Renewable energy in China, a strategic future?
(08/02/2005) China's failed bid for American petroleum firm Unocal may prompt it to further focus on its development of alternative energy sources.
Brazil's grasslands could replace food production of American heartland
(08/01/2005) Today when people mention Brazil and agriculture, people often first envision the Amazon rainforest giving way to soybean plantations and cattle farms. While the Amazon is being converted for such purposes, the cerrado, a vast area of savanna-like grasslands covering more than 20% of the country's surface area, is increasingly under threat as farmers from the United States and Europe are setting their sights on the country's sizeable agricultural potential.
Corporations among largest global economic enterprises
(07/18/2005) Of the world's largest 150 economic entities, 95 are corporations (63.3%) according to data released this month by Fortune Magazine and the World Bank. Wal-Mart, BP, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch/Shell Group all rank in the 25 largest entities in the world, above countries that include Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Denmark, Poland, South Africa, and Greece.
Lemur hunting persists in Madagascar, rare primates fall victim to hunger
(07/17/2005) While it has been illegal to kill or keep lemurs as pets since 1964, lemurs are hunted where they are not protected by local taboos. Many lemurs are particularly easy targets for hunting because evolution has rendered them ecologically naive in that without natural predators over the majority of their existence, they are less fearful than they should be.
Biomimetics, technology that mimcs nature
(07/11/2005) Engineers, scientists, and business people alike are increasingly turning toward nature for design inspiration. The field of biomimetics, the application of methods and systems found in nature to engineering and technology, has spawned a number of innovations far superior to anything the human mind alone could have devised. The reason is simple. Nature, through billions of years of trial and error, has produced effective solutions to innumerable complicated real-world problems. The rigorous competition of natural selection means waste and efficiency is not tolerated in natural systems, unlike many of the technologies devised by humans.
Mobilizing seniors to fight poverty in Africa
(07/04/2005) One program that could have potential for real poverty alleviation in Africa is a "Gray Corps" concept which would take advantage of the experience and expertise of aging Americans (aged 65 and older), a segment of the population that is expected to grow from approximately 35 million in 2000 to an estimated 71 million in 2030. This group could be key to addressing a number of looming social issues both here in the United States and abroad.
Toad on brink of extinction, scientists race to study for bioactive compounds
(06/29/2005) Following the construction of a dam in Tanzania, the Kihansi Spray Toad sits on the brink of extinction. Scientists are racing to study the amphibian for bioactive compounds with potential medical applications.
Dancing lemur attracts tourists to island of Madagascar
(05/30/2005) In the dry deciduous forests of south western Madagascar there lives a lemur that loudly cusses but "dances" like a ballet performer. Verreaux's sifaka is among the most popular of lemur species, a group of primates endemic to islands off the southeastern coast of Africa. While threatened, Verreaux's sifaka is easily spotted is several of Madagascar's more accessible parks.
Gray Corps of senior citizens could help fight poverty, health problems in developing world
(05/30/2005) According to recent data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over is projected to increase from 12.4% in 2000 to 19.6% in 2030. It is this growing segment of the population that could be key to addressing a number of looming social issues both here in the United States and abroad.
China's Imminent Water Crisis
(05/30/2005) China has long suffered from alternating periods of severe flooding and drought. Combined with high pollution levels and a history of heedless and haphazard policies, the country is witnessing a precipitous drop in this most essential supply.
Tourism in Madagascar; Visting the World's Most Unusual Island
(05/26/2005) Madagascar is a place like no other. Separated from mainland Africa for some 160 millions years, 80% of its native flora and fauna are unique to the island.
Helping the poor by selling them stuff
(05/24/2005) Helping the poor by selling them stuff; poverty alleviation through private enterprise. In his book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, Prahalad argues that by regarding the world's masses, who he terms "the bottom of the pyramid," as potential customers, businesses and the poor will be better off. Prahalad suggests that the private sector may do a better job eradicating poverty, building dignity and respect, encouraging entrepreneurship, and reducing dependency than handouts under traditional aid programs
Tsunami relief, rainforest attack; aid groups conflict over deforestation and reconstruction
(05/22/2005) Tsunami reconstruction efforts result in deforestation.
Why sustainably-managed eco-friendly wood is more expensive for consumers
(05/19/2005) Eco-friendly wood is all the rage these days. Companies from Ikea to Home Depot require their suppliers of tropical wood to be certified by various organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which aim to ensure wood is harvested in a sustainable and responsible manner. Typically, sustainablly managed wood products are more costly for consumers. Why is this wood more expensive?
How did rainforest shamans gain their boundless knowledge on medicinal plants?
(05/14/2005) For thousands of years, indigenous people have extensively used rainforest plants for their health needs -- the peoples of Southeast Asian forests used 6,500 species, while Northwest Amazonian forest dwellers used 1300 species for medicinal purposes. Perhaps more staggering than their boundless knowledge of medicinal plants, is how shamans and medicinemen could have acquired such knowledge. There are over 100,000 plant species in tropical rainforests around the globe, how did indigenous peoples know what plants to use and combine especially when so many are either poisonous or have no effect when ingested. Many treatments combine a wide variety of completely unrelated innocuous plant ingredients to produce a dramatic effect.
In Madagascar, Woodworking Zafimaniry remember lost forests
(05/12/2005) In the rolling hills of the southeastern highlands of Madagascar there lives a group of people known as the Zafimaniry, or the "the people of the forest." The Zafimaniry are renowned sculptors of wood and traditionally, virtually every member of the community was involved in some aspect of woodworking and cabinetmaking. However, these are not good times for many Zafimaniry. Severe deforestation for slash-and-burn cultivation ("tavy") has left their surroundings nearly completely devoid of trees. Once encircled by vigorous forests, some Zafimaniry villages are more than a day's trek from the nearest natural wood source. As a result, over the past decade, the Zafimaniry have increasingly looked toward tourism as an answer to their the economic plight. The unmoderated flow of tourists into these remote and delicate communities has denigrated their culture and left some Zafimaniry further entrenched in poverty.
Genographic Project stirs controversy
(05/09/2005) National Geographic's Genographic Project: Whose Blood, Whose History, Whose Gain?
The Giant Jumping Rat, another oddity from Madagascar
(05/08/2005) The giant jumping rat is the largest rodent in Madagascar, roughly equivilant in size to a rabbit.
For What It's Worth: Ecological Services and conservation
(05/04/2005) For a long time, preserving natural spaces was considered to be a favor to the environment without a true, measurable benefit to businesses, industrial production and productivity. In recent years however, scientists are increasingly producing substantial evidence to support the notion that the natural environment supplies a diverse range of renewable economic benefits beyond timber and fish. These benefits are termed “ecological services” and provide such valuable functions as water treatment, pollination and sediment capture, simply by remaining intact.
Scientists search for Mongolian Death Worm
(05/03/2005) A group of English scientists are spending a month in the Gobi desert in search of the Mongolian Death Worm, a fabled creature said to lurk in the sands of the hostile region. The three to five feet long long creature is known to the locals as Allghoi khorkhoi, Mongolian for intestine worm because it is reported to look like the intestine of a cow. Mongolian nomads have made extraordinary claims about the animal, reporting that the death worm can spit a corrosive yellow saliva that acts like acid and that they have the ability to generate blasts of electricity powerful enough to kill a full grown camel.
World population growth rate continues to plummet
(05/02/2005) According to figures released earlier this year by the UN, global birth rates fell to the lowest level in recorded history with the average woman in the developing world having 2.9 children, down from an average of nearly 6 babies in the 1970s. UN demographers also predict that fertility in most of the developing world will fall below the replacement level (2.1 children per woman) before the end of the 21st century. Factors leading to falling birth rates include increased level education for women, the use of contraceptives, and urbanization.
Circumventing Washington: Corporate America and activists bypass the White House
(04/27/2005) Corporate America, Activists & Circumventing Washington: A New Approach to Environmental Lobbying. Green groups partner with corporate interests to bring changes in business practices.
Shamans and Robots: Bridging the Past and Future of Ethnobotany and Bioprospecting
(04/25/2005) A look at trends in ethnobotany and bioprospecting in seeking new ways to address human health conditions.
Down a river of blood into a remote canyon in Madagascar: Exploring the Manambolo River
(04/24/2005) Madagascar has been called the great red island and from space, astronauts have remarked the island looks like it is bleeding to death. Severe environmental degradation means Madagascar loses more topsoil per hectare than any country in the world. Being one of the poorest nations on Earth, the people of Madagascar can ill afford this loss. In 2004 I set off to see one of these rivers that is carrying away the lifeblood of the Malagasy; the Manambolo of Western Madagascar.
Seeking the world's strangest primate on a tropical island paradise
(04/17/2005) Seeking the world's strangest primate on a tropical island paradise
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