conservation news and environmental science news.
Intel may power next generation of "$100 laptop"
(09/07/2007) Intel is in talks to speed up the processor of the "$100 laptop" for children in developing countries, reports PC World.
Two-thirds of polar bears at risk of extinction by 2050
(09/07/2007) Two-thirds the world's polar bears could be threatened with extinction by 2050 due to melting sea ice, said U.S. government scientists Friday. U.S. Geological Survey scientists said that the United States (the north coast of Alaska) and Russian would likely lose all of their polar bear populations. The only bears expected to survive would be those in the northern Canadian Arctic islands and the west coast of Greenland. Overall, bears are forecast to lose 42 percent of the Arctic range they need to hunt and breed during summer months.
Experts forecast large decline in Arctic sea ice
(09/07/2007) Summer sea ice off Alaska's north coast will likely shrink to nearly half the area it covered in the 1980s by 2050, report scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The loss of ice would have a significant impact on mammals dependent on sea ice, including polar bear and walrus.
Squid chasing drove evolution of whale sonar
(09/06/2007) A University of California at Berkeley study argues that dolphins and other toothed whales developed sonar to chase schools of squid swimming near the ocean surface at night.
Second set of jaws help moray eels feed
(09/06/2007) Moray eels have a unique way of feeding reminiscent of a science fiction thriller, researchers at UC Davis have discovered. After seizing prey in its jaws, a second set of jaws located in the moray's throat reaches forward into the mouth, grabs the food and carries it back to the esophagus for swallowing.
Brazil's threatened Atlantic forest may be more resilient than thought
(09/06/2007) The Atlantic forest of Brazil, one of the world's most threatened biodiversity hotspots, may have served as a critical refuge for biodiversity during the ice ages. The findings suggest that despite being reduced to just 8 percent of its original extent due to agriculture and urban expansion, the Atlantic forest may be capable of recovery. In other words, the Atlantic forest may be more resilient to change than previously believed.
Toddlers have higher social cognition skills than apes
(09/06/2007) Toddlers have more sophisticated social learning skills than their closest primate relatives, researchers report in the 7 September issue of the journal Science.
Billions of disappearing bees linked to virus
(09/06/2007) Scientists have linked the disappearance of tens of billions of bees to a virus, reports a study published in the 7 September issue of the journal Science. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which colonies inexplicably lose all of their worker bees, has been blamed for the loss of 50-90 percent of colonies in beekeeping operations across the U.S.
Education key to financial support for biodiversity
(09/06/2007) On the coast of south-western Spain, Coto Donana National Park posses a unique wealth of wildlife; its proximity to Africa has allowed for several African species to mix with a wide variety of European: Egyptian Mongooses and the Greater Flamingo live alongside wild boar and Spanish Red Deer. The coastal and wetland park provides a continual respite for hundreds of species of African and European birds. As well, the park is home to several endangered species including the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Andalusian toothcarp, the Sabine (a variety of juniper pine), and the world's most endangered cat, the Iberian Lynx.
Tree resprouting offers hope in former pastures of Brazil's cerrado
(09/06/2007) Deforested landscapes in the Brazilian cerrado show hopeful signs of recovery even after long periods of intensive use, reports a study published in the journal Biotropica. Analyzing the natural reestablishment of native trees in former pastureland located in the dry woodlands of the Brazilian cerrado, a team of researchers found that while species richness was lower in older pasture, density and composition of regenerating trees did not change with pasture age.
Big companies push energy efficiency
(09/05/2007) Some of the world's largest companies are pushing green initiatives to improve energy efficiency in office buildings reports the Wall Street Journal.
Apple introduces iPhone features on new iPod
(09/05/2007) Apple introduced a new iPod with iPhone features, including a touch screen and Wi-Fi for wireless Internet capability.
Researchers head to Congo to study Bonobo psychology
(09/05/2007) Researchers have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo to study the social behvaior of bonobos -- a close relative of the chimpanzee -- in the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Kinshasa.
Malaysia suffers big drop in shorebird populations
(09/05/2007) Malaysia suffered a big drop in shorebirds, reports a new study by Wetlands International. The environmental group attributes the 22 percent decline between 1983-1986 and 2004-2006 to destruction of habitat for aquaculture, agriculture, industry, housing and recreation.
U.S. has 957 billion tons on government land
(09/05/2007) Wednesday, U.S. government agencies announced the country has about 957 billion tons in coal reserves on federal lands. More than half the total lies in Montana and Wyoming. Additional reserves are found on private lands.
Can remittances and globalization help the environment?
(09/05/2007) Globalization and other economic trends appear to be helping the degraded forests of El Salvador recover, reports new research that evaluated the impact of global trade, land policy changes, and remittances on forest cover. The study, by Susanna B. Hecht of University of California at Los Angeles and Sassan S. Saatchi of the California Institute of Technology, used socioeconomic data, land-use surveys, and satellite imagery to document significant increases in the area of El Salvador covered by both light woodlands and forest since peace accords were signed in the warn-torn country in 1992.
Chinese demand takes toll on wildlife in Burma (Myanmar)
(09/04/2007) If the market of Mong La is anything to go by, the remaining wild elephants, tigers and bears in Myanmar's forests are being hunted down slowly and sold to China.
$400/ton carbon tax needed to curb aviation emissions
(09/04/2007) European Union proposals to reduce the climate impact of aviation will fail unless there is a substantial rise in carbon prices, concludes analysis by the Tyndall Centre, a UK-based climate research body. Friends of the Earth (FoE), an environmental lobby group, funded the study.
Felix: first time two Category-5 storms hit land in same season
(09/04/2007) Hurricane Felix made landfall in Nicaragua around 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time as a Category 5 storm with top winds at 160 mph (260 km/h), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Chupacabra story is a hoax; likely a Xolo dog breed
(09/04/2007) An alleged chupacabra carcass found in Texas is likely a hoax to sell T-shirts say dog experts. The animal, described in an Associated Press report last week as "a cross between two or three different things", was found as road kill last month near the Texas town of Cuero. The woman who discovered the carcass has been using it to market chupacabra T-shirts. In lively Internet discussions dog breeders say the carcass appears to be a Xoloitzcuintle or Xolo, otherwise known as a Mexican Hairless dog, rather than the blood-sucking creature of legend.
Rebels invade Congo gorilla sanctuary, park rangers evacuated
(09/04/2007) Guerillas have invaded Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, causing park rangers to flee, and leaving critically endangered mountain gorillas at great risk, reports Wildlife Direct, a group that promotes wildlife protection through blogs by rangers and conservationists.
Climate change drove human evolution
(09/03/2007) Climate change appears to have been a significant driver of human evolution, report researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).
Industrial pollution acidifies ocean, threatens marine animals
(09/03/2007) Ocean acidification, already a concern due to rising levels of carbon dioxide, is worsening due to nitric acid and sulfuric acid from industry, report researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).
Loss of livestock breeds put food supplies at risk in poor countries
(09/03/2007) A number of rare livestock breeds face extinction, a prospects the weakens genetic diversity and could be the food supply at risk in some parts of the world, warns a new report from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The group calls for the immediate establishment of genebanks to conserve reproductive material from the most threatened breeds.
Investigation finds evidence of Borneo forest clearing for palm oil
(09/02/2007) An Associated Press investigation found evidence of workers opening up rainforest land for new oil palm plantations in the heart of Borneo.
Legendary blood-sucking chupacabra found in Texas?
(09/01/2007) Phylis Canion, a woman in Texas, believes she may have found the mythical blood-sucking chupacabra as roadkill near her ranch, reports the Associated Press.
Rare Chinese river dolphin sighting in doubt
(09/01/2007) A prominent researcher is skeptical of last week's reported sighting of the baiji, the Chinese river dolphin declared extinct earlier this year, according to the New York Times. The sighting near Tongling city in Anhui Province -- widely reported in Chinese and Western media -- was captured on video.
Stopping malaria using smell
(08/31/2007) Researchers have taken an important first step in developing improved repellants to protect mankind from its deadliest insect parasite: the mosquito.
"Weird" algae key to survival of coral reefs
(08/31/2007) A team of coral researchers has taken a major stride towards revealing the workings of the mysterious "engine" that drives Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and corals the world over.
Global warming to cause more severe thunderstorms, reports NASA
(08/31/2007) Global warming will increase the incidence of severe storms and tornados, report NASA scientists.
Large mammals disappearing from Africa's parks
(08/31/2007) Large mammals are disappearing from Africa's national parks, warn researchers writing in the September 2007 issue of the African Journal of Ecology.
Future Ice Age Put on the Back Burner
(08/30/2007) Dr Toby Tyrrell of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton has published a report in the latest edition of New Scientist magazine laying out his research that future ice-ages -- an evolutionary imperative for the planet earth -- could be pushed back some half a million years.
Business has to lead the Clean Up of the Enviroment
(08/30/2007) Though the next two and-a-bit years will remain in a sort of ecological standstill, the remaining century is going to be the boiling point for earth. Will it crumble in to a roiling mass of disaster or will we finally manage to remove such a deep imprint as we have made over the past 30 years in the next 10.
Guidelines to ensure biofuels production won't hurt the environment
(08/30/2007) Environmentalists have long seen biofuels as a means to improve the sustainability of transportation and energy use since they are a renewable source of energy that can be replenished on an ongoing basis. Further, because biofuels are generally derived from plants, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, biofuel production offers the potential to help offset carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change. Nonetheless, in recent years, there has been considerable backlash against biofuels, which are increasingly viewed as a threat to the environment. Green groups now point to large-scale land conversion for energy crops, higher food prices, and a spate to studies that suggest net emissions from corn ethanol are little better than those from fossil fuels, to caution that biofuels can cause more problems than they address.
Pearl River Delta under Rising Water Threat
(08/30/2007) 1,153 square km (445 square miles) of land surrounding the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province, China may be engulfed by rising sea levels by 2050, reports Chinese state media. The cities worst affected will be Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, alongside Zhuhai and Foshan if nothing is done to combat the problem soon.
Rising Population puts strain on Soil
(08/30/2007) Soil degradation and vegetation loss may accelerate global warming, warned Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.
Peru's deforestation rate surged in 2005
(08/30/2007) Peru's deforestation rates surged in 2005, according to new analysis published in the journal Science.
Saving beautiful - and ugly - species from extinction
(08/30/2007) Allow me to wax poetic about the world's newest wildlife organization, EDGE. I must admit I'm a little in love. This singular organization was founded in January as a part of the London Zoological Society. Its basic tenants remain similar to other endangered species programs: survey populations, set up conservation programs, work with local governments and communities to ensure protection. However, what is unique about EDGE is not their approach to saving species, but rather the species they choose to focus their efforts on. This year they have selected ten mammalian species: the Yangztee River Dolphin, Attenborough's Long-Beaked Echidna, Hispaniolan Solenodon, Bactarian Camel, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Slender Loris, Hirola, Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Bumblebee Bat, and the Long-eared Jerboa.
The other side of carbon trading
(08/29/2007) Planting trees in Uganda to offset greenhouse-gas emissions in Europe seemed like a good idea - until farmers were evicted from their land to make room for a forest.
How private equity can profit from carbon offsets in Indonesia
(08/29/2007) The emerging carbon market for avoided deforestation presents unprecedented opportunities for private equity to make profitable investments that also help protect the environment. Indeed, for the first time, conservation may be associated with positive financial returns. Here's a brief look at how private equity and other investors can capitalize on this opportunity to earn attractive returns while fighting climate change, protecting ecosystem services, and safeguarding endangered species like orangutans.
"Extinct" baiji river dolphin spotted alive in China
(08/29/2007) An "extinct" baiji has been spotted alive in the Yangtze River, reports Chinese state media.
Meeting seeks to save Sumatra's tigers and elephants from extinction
(08/29/2007) Over 100 wildlife experts and government officials will meet in Indonesia Wednesday to draft an action plan to save Sumatran elephnts and tigers from extinction, reports Reuters.
Largest-ever Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed
(08/29/2007) An environmental group plans the largest ever legal action in the history of the Endangered Species Act.
Orchids may have co-existed with dinosaurs
(08/29/2007) Orchids are old enough to have co-existed with dinosaurs, report Harvard University scientists.
Flies prefer Coke
(08/29/2007) While you may not catch a fly sipping Perrier, the insect has specialized taste cells for carbonated water that probably encourage it to binge on food with growing microorganisms. Yeast and bacteria both produce carbon dioxide (CO2) when they feast, and CO2 dissolves readily in water to produce seltzer or soda water.
Environmental, safety concerns mount over China's Three Gorges Dam
(08/29/2007) Environmental problems are worse than anticipated at China's massive Three Gorges Dam, reports the The Wall Street Journal. A year after its completion, there are rising concerns of pollution, landslides, and flooding.
NGOs should use palm oil to drive conservation
(08/29/2007) Environmentalists view the expansion of oil palm plantations in southeast Asia as one of the greatest threats to the region's forests and biodiversity. Campaigners say oil palm is driving the conversion of tens of thousands of hectares of peatlands and lowland forest in Indonesia and Malaysia, putting wildlife at risk, increasing the vulnerability of the forests to fires, and triggering large emissions of greenhouse gases. Pressure from these groups have in recent months convinced European policymakers to reconsider sourcing energy crop production to the region.
Indonesia's peatlands may offer U.S. firms global warming offsets
(08/29/2007) The following is modified version of a letter I've used to pitch U.S. companies on the concept of carbon finance in Indonesia's peatlands. Discussions are slow and the critical December U.N. climate meeting is fast approaching, so I'm posting this as a tool to help you get American firms interested in avoided deforestation offsets. Please feel free to use, modify, and distribute this letter widely.
New poison frog species discovered in Colombia
(08/28/2007) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of poison frog in a remote mountainous region in Colombia. The tiny frog has been dubbed the "golden frog of Supata" and lives only in a 20 hectare area in Colombia's Cundinamarca region.
Greenhouse gases made 2006 2nd-warmest year on record for U.S.
(08/28/2007) Greenhouse gases likely accounted for over half of the widespread warmth across the continental United States in 2006, report scientists writing in the September 5th issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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