conservation news and environmental science news.
Procter & Gamble looks to poor markets for growth
(07/15/2007) Procter & Gamble Co. is aggressively expanding into "bottom of the pyramid" markets in an effort to grow sales, reports Monday's edition of The Wall Street Journal. The consumer products giant is formulating products specifically for some of the world's poorest people.
Polar bears avoiding sea ice for cub dens
(07/15/2007) Polar bears in Alaska are increasingly setting up dens on sea on land because sea ice is thinning, reports a new study by U.S. Geological Survey (UCGS) researchers.
Glaciers in western China shrank 20% in 40 years
(07/13/2007) Glaciers in Western China have melted at "alarming" rates over the past 40 years, according to Chinese state media.
Intel joins forces with $100 laptop project for poor children
(07/13/2007) Intel has teamed with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, agreeing to contribute funding and join the board of the nonprofit group that seeks to bring low-cost laptops to children in poor countries, reports the Associated Press. The announcement comes after Intel chairman Craig Barrett criticized the project in an effort to boost support for its own child-focused Classmate PC.
US says Brazilian ethanol doesn't increase food prices, destroy Amazon rainforest
(07/13/2007) Brazil's surging ethanol production does not put the Amazon rainforest at risk and is not fueling higher food prices, claimed a U.S. energy official visiting Brazil.
Can organic farming feed the world?
(07/12/2007) Contrary to popular belief, organic farming can produce enough to feed the world, reports a new study published in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.
Killers of renowned anthropologist sentenced in Brazil
(07/12/2007) The men charged with the 2005 killing of University of Vermont anthropology professor James Petersen in the Amazon rainforest were sentenced Tuesday to nearly 30 years in prison, close to the maximum under Brazilian law.
Agents of death for wildlife become jewelry in Zambia
(07/12/2007) Craftswomen in Zambia are turning snares formerly used to illegal kill wildlife into jewelry. Called "snareware", the handmade jewelry is part of a program that has grossed $350,000 for rural communities and helped protect endangered wildlife.
Cosmetics retailer announces sustainable palm oil initiative
(07/12/2007) The Body Shop International today introduced a sustainable palm oil initiative, the first for the beauty industry. The company said the move was spurred by growing concerns over the impact of oil palm plantations on biodiversity.
Giant squid found in Australia
(07/11/2007) A giant squid has washed up on a beach on the western coast of the Australian island Tasmania, reports Reuters.
Experts: sun not linked to current global warming
(07/11/2007) Changes in the sun's output is not linked to recently observed global warming, reports a study published in Royal Society's journal Proceedings A.
China calls for sustainable logging by Chinese firms overseas
(07/11/2007) China unveiled a draft sustainable forestry handbook for Chinese companies operating overseas. The move comes as the country faces increasing criticism from environmentalists who say China's booming demand for timber and other materials is destroying the world's tropical forests.
Antioxidant use helped some birds after Chernobyl nuclear accident
(07/11/2007) Brightly colored birds were more adversely affected by high levels of radiation around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, reports a study published online in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology.
Indonesia's peat swamps worth $39B/year
(07/11/2007) Indonesia's peat swamps are worth $39 billion in carbon credits per year, according to rough calculations by Bloomberg.
Miscanthus bests switchgrass as biofuel source
(07/11/2007) In a side-by-side comparison, miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) grass has been shown to be a more productive bioenergy source than switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago.
How long does it take reef fish to recover from overfishing?
(07/11/2007) Recovery of fish populations from overfishing can take decades, reports a new study based on 37 years of observations.
How will climate change impact the U.S. Northeast?
(07/11/2007) The Northeastern United States could experience widespread changes from global warming if greenhouse gas emission are not significantly reined in, warns a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a team of more than 50 scientists and economists.
Ford Motor to introduce plug-in hybrids, but lags behind rivals
(07/10/2007) Monday Ford Motor Co. announced a partnership with utility Southern California Edison to test a fleet of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles in an effort to make the technology more accessible to consumers, reduce petroleum-related emissions and improve the cost-effectiveness of the nation's electricity grid.
$11B Amazon rainforest dam gets initial approval
(07/10/2007) The Brazilian government has given preliminary go-ahead on a massive Amazon dam project that environmentalists and scientists say could be a potential ecological disaster.
Climate change fueled ancient wars in China
(07/10/2007) A new study ties past climate change to warfare in ancient China.
Poverty and corruption reduce effectiveness of rainforest parks
(07/09/2007) Poverty and corruption are linked to higher incidence of fire in tropical forest reserves, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Poor, corrupt countries -- like Cambodia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone -- have the least effective parks when measured in terms of the incidence of fire relative to surrounding "buffer" areas. The findings have significant implications for rainforest conservation efforts.
McDonald's bolsters eco credentials with recycled biodiesel
(07/09/2007) McDonald's Corp. (Public, NYSE:MCD), the fast-food chain, has bolstered its 'green' credentials by announcing that its UK distribution fleet will be powered by biodiesel made of recycled cooking oil from its restaurants. While the move is expected to save only around 1,675 tons of carbon annually, environmentalists say it sets an important precedent for the parent company and the fast-food industry as a whole.
Inflatable concentrators may cut cost of solar below conventional power plants
(07/08/2007) Cool Earth Solar, a Livermore, California-based company developing an innovative way for capturing solar energy, has merged with Radiant Energy, a developer and owner of renewable and clean energy power plants including solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric. Rob Lamkin, CEO of Radiant Energy, says the merger will help ramp up the technology, which uses inflatable solar concentrators to minimize use of refined silicon, a costly ingredient in solar cells. Lamkin says the technology could dramatically reduce the cost solar energy, bringing it below the cost natural gas-fired power plants.
Home improvement giant bans illegal wood products
(07/08/2007) B&Q, the third largest retailer of home improvement materials, announced that within three years, all Brazilian wood products sold in China would come from certified sources. B&Q has 60 stores in China.
Environmentalists winning fight against illegal ramin timber trade
(07/08/2007) A global crackdown on the illegal ramin timber trade appears to be working, reports a Japanese environmental group.
How to save the world's oceans from overfishing
(07/08/2007) Global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s, while about one-quarter of the world's fisheries are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Despite these dire trends, the situation is changing. Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on addressing the health of marine life and oceans, while sustainable fisheries management is at the top of the agenda for intergovenmental bodies. At the forefront of these efforts is Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's conservation program: the Center for the Future of the Oceans. The aquarium, which has long been recognized as one of the world's most important marine research facilities, is pioneering new strategies for protecting the planet's oceans. Sutton says the approach has four parts: establishing new marine protected areas, pushing for ocean policy reform, promoting sustainable seafood, and protecting wildlife and marine ecosystems.
Metal workers recycle to escape poverty in Madagascascar
(07/06/2007) A ride across the Madagascar countryside can feel like stepping back in time on this tropical island off the east coast of Africa. There is no bustle of big cities. The Malagasy, as the people of Madagascar are known, live much like their forefathers in small communities where traditions are passed down through the generations. They live without any contemporary conveniences including running water, electricity, automobiles, televisions, or even shoes. They commute on foot, or with larger loads, in a wooden cart pulled by zebu, a type of large, bony oxen. Their houses are mostly constructed from available materials including sticks or bricks of dried mud collected from surrounding rice fields.
Rare three-legged tiger photographed in Sumatra
(07/06/2007) A WWF camera trap has captured photos of a three-legged Sumatran tiger on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. WWF says the rare tiger likely escaped from a snare. The big cat seems otherwise healthy.
China will not commit to CO2 limits
(07/06/2007) China will not commit to binding greenhouse gas emissions cuts, reports the BBC. Lu Xuedu, deputy director-general of China's Office of Global Environmental Affairs, told British parliamentarians that China does not presently have the "capability to make those commitments."
Scientists capture first photos of extremely rare birds
(07/06/2007) Scientists have captured the first pictures of one of the world's rarest birds: the recurve-billed bushbird (Clytoctantes alixii), a species found exclusively in bamboo forests of northeastern Colombia.
Orangutans use water as a tool
(07/06/2007) German researchers have observed orangutans using water as a tool. Natacha Mendes, Daniel Hanus, and Josep Call of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany conducted an experiment with five orangutans to see whether the red apes could access an out-of-reach peanut floating inside a vertical transparent tube. They quickly found that all five orangutans were able to do so by collecting water from a drinker and spitting it into the tube to raise the water level and win access to the peanut.
Lush forests blanked Greenland 500,000 years ago
(07/05/2007) Rich boreal forests with butterflies and other insects flourished on Greenland within the past million years, reports a new study published in the July 6th issue of the journal Science.
Sea anemone genome provides insight on evolution
(07/05/2007) The sea anemone genome is far more complex and vertebrate-like than the fruit fly or nematode genomes, reports a study published in the July 6th issue of the journal Science. The analysis provides insights into the common ancestor of nearly all multi-celled animals, including humans.
Mangroves more threatened than rainforests
(07/05/2007) Destruction of mangrove forests could leave the world deprived of their important ecological services by the end of a century, warns an international team of scientists writing in the July 6th issue of the journal Science.
Cuba Energy Crisis Solved
(07/05/2007) Cuba may be overcoming its intermittent energy crisis, according to a top U.N. official. Power shortages and brownouts have long been a problem in the small communist island nation, but it was daily 16 hour-electricity cuts in 2004 that finally forced the government to act. Its efforts are apparently paying off.
Photo of white tigers born in Mexico
(07/05/2007) Five white Bengal tigers born in April were put on display at the Guadalajara Zoo in Mexico reports the Associated Press.
760,000 Chinese a year die from pollution
(07/04/2007) 760,000 Chinese die prematurely each year from polluted air and water, according to estimates to be released by the World Bank.
Careless humanity batters the Arctic
(07/03/2007) I feel the need to say from the outset when I discuss topics such as Global-Warming that I am indeed a greenie of sorts, and I believe that the obvious downward spiral that our planet is taking is due to the careless attitudes towards the environment that the industrialized and predominantly white nations have taken over the past decades. I, as a note, am white, and have no qualms in pointing the finger at my own country (Australia) and others that we support, and that support us. In fact, I am ashamed to be one of the only two countries in the world not to have signed the Kyoto Protocol (the other, for reference, being the United States of America).
NASA maps newly proposed source of the Amazon River
(07/03/2007) NASA released a map showing the newly proposed source of the Amazon River, a change that would make it the longest river in the world. Last month Brazilian researchers proposed Mount Mismi, a snow-covered mountain in southern Peru as the source of the Amazon River. Previously, the generally accepted source was in northern Peru. If the revision holds, the length of the Amazon would exceed that of the Nile by roughly 60 miles (105 km). However the claim is likely to be contested.
Unprecedented deletion of a World Heritage Site in Oman
(07/03/2007) The Oryx is one of three or four large antelope species of the genus Oryx, and are known for their long, swept back horns. In 1996 the Arabian Oryx -- found on the Arabian Peninsula -- numbered 450 within a specially designated area known as the Oman Arabian Oryx Sanctuary. Today, the number sits at only 65, with only 4 viable breeding pairs. Without a doubt, the extinction of the Arabian Oryx in the wild is not out of the question.
The Bald Eagle Back and Better than Ever!
(07/03/2007) "Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light" goes the first line for the national anthem of the United States of America. And on July the fourth, the self-proclaimed defenders of freedom celebrate that freedom that they so dearly love on their Independence Day. And what better way to celebrate that day, then to hear that their National bird has made a miraculous comeback after dwindling to a measly documented 417 birds in 1963.
450 years of Amazon research reviewed
(07/02/2007) Research on the Peruvian Amazon is largely inaccessible to the people who could make most use of it, reports a comprehensive review of 2,202 texts published over the past 450 years on the Madre de Dios region of southwestern Peru. The study recommends the establishment of "a Web-based digital library for Neotropical nature" to make research more widely available.
Researchers find large population of extremely rare monkey
(07/02/2007) A team of scientists from WWF and conservation International (CI) has discovered the world's largest known population of grey-shanked doucs (Pygathrix cinerea), a monkey ranked as one of the world's 25 most endangered primates, in Vietnam. The discovery is fueling that the species can be saved from extinction -- less than 1,000 of the monkeys are thought to remain.
Global warming will producer higher death rates in the U.S.
(07/02/2007) Global warming will cause more deaths due to higher temperatures, reports a new study published in Occupational and Environment Medicine. While milder winters will produce fewer deaths, they will not offset high mortality in summer months.
Authorities bust multi-million dollar Amazon logging ring
(07/02/2007) Brazilian authorities have busted a logging ring that used fake permits to cut 500,000 trees in the Amazon rainforest, reports Reuters.
Norway bans tropical timber
(07/02/2007) Concerned about rising deforestation rates, Norway has banned the use of tropical timber in all public buildings, reports the Rainforest Foundation Norway.
UNESCO lists rainforest parks of Madagascar as Heritage sites
(07/02/2007) UNESCO has listed six rainforest parks in Madagascar as World Heritage sites. The announcement comes as the Indian Ocean island nation has moved aggressively to protect its biologically-rich forests from further degradation.
Forest disturbance reduces biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest
(07/02/2007) Two new studies in the Amazon rainforest show that plantation forests and second-growth forests have lower species counts for butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians than adjacent primary forest areas. The research has important implications for conservation of tropical biodiversity in a world where old-growth forest is increasingly replaced by secondary forests, industrial plantations, and agricultural landscapes.
Cat domestication tied to rise of agriculture
(07/01/2007) A new study traces the domestication of house cats to the emergence of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent some 10,000 years ago--not Egypt as previously presumed.
Man-eating piranha are actually cowards
(07/01/2007) Despite their reputations as aggressive blood-thirsty carnivores, piranha schooling behvaior is a defensive measure to protect against predators rather than an offensive hunting maneuver, reports new research presented at the Royal Society's summer science exhibition in London. Piranhas face many predators in their Amazon habitat, including caiman, freshwater dolphins, and giant fish like the pirarucu or arapaima.
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