conservation news and environmental science news.
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.
Ozone Hole makes Early Appearance in 2007
(08/28/2007) The Antarctic ozone hole was discovered in 1985 by British scientists Joseph Farman, Brian Gardiner, and Jonathan Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey. Though called a hole, it is rather a location in the ozone shield -- a layer that keeps ultra-violet rays from affecting us directly -- that is substantially lacking in ozone concentration.
UPS finds environment a top concern among customers, pushes paperless billing
(08/28/2007) UPS recently surveyed its customers to find out what would make them change billing methods to paperless PDF invoices. Surprisingly, the shipping giant found the primary motivating factor -- cited by 40 percent of those polled -- was concern for the environment.
Northwest Passage Nearly Open, reports NASA
(08/28/2007) The fabeled Northwest Passage is nearly open, with implications for trade and natural resource exploitation, reports NASA.
Wall Street looks at energy efficiency to boost profits
(08/27/2007) Today the Wall Street Journal featured a special section on energy efficiency. The paper reports that business is increasingly looking at reducing energy use as a way to improve the bottom line.
How do snakes survive starvation?
(08/27/2007) Starving snakes employ novel survival strategies not seen before in vertebrates, according to research conducted by a University of Arkansas biologist. These findings could be used in conservation strategies to determine the health of snake populations.
Obesity rates increase nationwide in 2006
(08/27/2007) 31 states saw a rise in obesity rates last year, reports a new study by the Trust for America's Health, a research group that focuses on disease prevention.
U.S. grazing lands at risk due to rising CO2 levels
(08/27/2007) Rising carbon dioxide levels could cause significant changes to open grazing lands and rangelands around the world, reports a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Global warming causes increase in tropical rainfall
(08/27/2007) Climate change appears to be resulting in higher levels of rainfall in the tropics, reports NASA.
Scientists demand Brazil cease Amazon colonization project
(08/27/2007) A group of prominent scientists has called on Brazil to declare an immediate moratorium on a proposed forest colonization project that threatens one of the world's largest and long-running ecological experiments.
Scientists meet in Hungary to discuss saving dying frogs
(08/27/2007) Scientists are meeting this week in Budapest, Hungary to discuss last-ditch efforts to save the world's most threatened frogs from extinction.
Indonesia to push carbon-credits for peatlands conservation
(08/27/2007) Indonesia plans to seek carbon credits for protecting its carbon-rich peatlands, a forestry official said on Monday.
U.S. to spend $27M on possibly extinct bird
(08/26/2007) The U.S. government plans to spend $27 million on the recovery efforts for a bird species that may already be extinct, reports the Associated Press.
European blood-sucker falls victim to global warming
(08/26/2007) Europe's only known land leech may be on the brink of extinction due to shifts in climate, report researchers writing in the journal Naturwissenschaften. The findings are significant because they suggest that "human-induced climate change without apparent habitat destruction can lead to the extinction of populations of cold-adapted species that have a low colonization ability," according to the authors.
Monkey mothers use "baby talk" too
(08/24/2007) Female rhesus monkeys use special vocalizations to communicate with infants much like human mothers use "baby talk" or "motherese" reports a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago.
Iceland halts whaling
(08/24/2007) With stagnant demand for whale meat nearly a year after ending its ban on commercial whaling, Iceland said it would not issue new whale-hunting quotas until it gets an export license from Japan, reports Reuters.
With Corn ethanol more costly than oil, is Jatropha a better biofuel?
(08/24/2007) Jatropha may be a more economic biofuel than corn-based ethanol, reported the The Wall Street Journal on Friday, citing research from Goldman Sachs.
Soccer burns more fat than jogging
(08/23/2007) The experiment Sports scientist Peter Krustrup and his colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, the Copenhagen University Hospital and Bispebjerg Hospital have followed a soccer team consisting of 14 untrained men aged 20 to 40 years.
Imported LNG could have 35% higher GHG emissions than coal
(08/23/2007) A team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers report that the choices U.S. officials make today could limit how the nation's future energy needs are met and could cost consumers billions in idle power plants and associated infrastructure systems.
Iron boosts carbon sequestration by the ocean
(08/23/2007) Wind-blown iron contributes significantly to the biological productivity of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, researchers report in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Animal trafficking at Miami International airport
(08/23/2007) Wildlife Inspector Carlos Pages vividly remembers the times when he opened a crate of imported animals only to discover that not all of them were still in the cloth bags that serve as their shipping cages. Those are the moments when his speed trumps their speed.
Groups demand AES withdraw from Panama dam projects
(08/23/2007) More than 50 green groups demanded Thursday that AES Corporation withdraw from three controversial hydroelectric projects that are threatening La Amistad International Park in Panama. Environmentalists say the dams threaten to displace wildlife and local communities -- the Naso and Ngobe people -- in the World Heritage site.
Photo: newborn mountain gorilla born in Congo
(08/23/2007) conservationists announced the birth of a critically endangered mountain gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park. The newborn marked a positive development for the embattled apes in the park -- nine out of its 100 gorillas have been killed this year by poachers, including five last month.
Blocking sunlight may cripple toxic bacteria
(08/23/2007) Certain types of bacteria have sunlight-sensing molecules similar to those found in plants, according to a new study. Surprisingly, at least one species--responsible for causing the flu-like disorder Brucellosis--needs light to maximize its virulence. The work suggests an entirely new model for bacterial virulence based on light sensitivity.
Cats have 10-minute short term memory
(08/22/2007) New research suggest cats have short-term memory of about 10 minutes, according to CBC News.
China to miss pollution goals for 2007
(08/22/2007) China has managed to cut emissions of sulphur dioxide, an acid-rain causing pollutant, during the first half of 2007 but is likely to miss reduction targets for the year, reports the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).
U.S. firms driving pollution in China
(08/22/2007) U.S. firms are helping drive environmental degradation in China, putting the health of millions of Chinese at risk, reports The Wall Street Journal. The paper says that by demanding ever lower products for goods, manufacturers are forced to reduced environmental safeguards in order to compete.
Could peatlands conservation be more profitable than palm oil?
(08/22/2007) This past June, World Bank published a report warning that climate change presents serious risks to Indonesia, including the possibility of losing 2,000 islands as sea levels rise. While this scenario is dire, proposed mechanisms for addressing climate change, notably carbon credits through avoided deforestation, offer a unique opportunity for Indonesia to strengthen its economy while demonstrating worldwide innovative political and environmental leadership. In a July 29th editorial we argued that in some cases, preserving ecosystems for carbon credits could be more valuable than conversion for oil palm plantations, providing higher tax revenue for the Indonesian treasury while at the same time offering attractive economic returns for investors.
U.S. military attacks illegal wildlife trade in Afghanistan
(08/22/2007) The U.S. military has teamed with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) to attack the illegal wildlife trade in Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.
Court rebukes Bush Administration on global warming report
(08/22/2007) Tuesday the Bush Administration was ordered to publish an updated research plan and national assessment on climate change. By law the White Hosue is required to publish such a report every four years, yet the current administration has failed to do so since it took office. The last National Assessment was issued in late 2000 under the Clinton administration, but environmental groups say the Bush Administration had tried to surpress its findings and recommendations.
T. rex could outrun a human athlete
(08/22/2007) T. rex could reach speeds of up to 18mph, according to new supercomputer simulations that are believed to be the most accurate projections ever produced.
4.25 billion year old diamond discovered
(08/22/2007) Scientists have discovered 4.25 billion year old diamonds in Australia.
Land reform agency sanctions logging in Amazon rainforest park
(08/21/2007) Under the guise of a sustainable development scheme, a Brazilian land agency has granted large tracts of Amazon rainforest to colonists who quickly resold the forest to loggers, alleges a new report from Greenpeace. Some of the concessions were in the Amazon National Park, a national park.
Canon introduces 5 new cameras
(08/21/2007) Canon unveiled several new digital cameras Monday, including a 21.1-megapixel, full-frame model.
Biofuels driving destruction of Brazilian cerrado
(08/21/2007) The cerrado, wooded grassland in Brazil that once covered an area half the size of Europe, is fast being transformed into croplands to meet rising demand for soybeans, sugarcane, and cattle. The cerrado is now disappearing more than twice as the rate as the neighboring Amazon rainforest, according to a Brazilian expert on the savanna ecosystem.
Dean was 3rd most intense Atlantic hurricane at landfall
(08/21/2007) Hurricane Dean was the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center who measured the storm's central atmospheric pressure.
Man eaten by bear at Serbian zoo
(08/20/2007) A 23-year old Serbian man was found dead and half-eaten in the bear cage at the Belgrade Zoo during an annual beer festival, reports Reuters.
Could a hurricane hit California?
(08/20/2007) San Diego has been hit by hurricanes in the past and could 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 than Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, it could still exact a high cost to Southern California especially if the region was caught off guard.
Crop domestication originated in compost piles
(08/19/2007) New research lends support to the theory that backyard gardens and refuse heaps played an important role in early crop domestication.
July 2007 was the 15th warmest July on record for the U.S.
(08/18/2007) July 2007 brought record and near-record warmth to the western United States, while much of the eastern and southern U.S. experienced cooler-than-average temperatures, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
Lake Superior may hit record low levels this fall
(08/18/2007) NOAA hydrologists indicate that Lake Superior is nearing record lows for the month of August, a trend that if continued could break past record lows for the months of September and October. NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is able to forecast lake levels 12 months in advance using current hydrological conditions combined with NOAA's long-term climate outlooks.
'New continent' and species discovered in Atlantic study
(08/18/2007) A scientist from the University of Aberdeen is leading a team of international researchers whose work will continue our understanding of life in the deepest oceans, and contribute to the global Census of Marine Life.
NASA admits to error in global warming data
(08/17/2007) NASA has admitted to a data error that skewed temperatures since 2000.
Sony launches consumer electronics recycling program
(08/17/2007) Sony has launched a recycling program for consumer electronics.
Islands to face water problems as sea levels rise, populations grow
(08/15/2007) Islands in the tropical Pacific may face water problems as sea levels rise and populations grow, warns research published in Vadose Zone Journal.
Elephants get Photo IDs for Protection
(08/15/2007) Asian elephants don't carry photo identification, so scientists from the Wildlife conservation Society and India's Nature conservation Foundation are providing the service free of charge by creating a photographic archive of individual elephants, which can help save them as well.
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