conservation news and environmental science news.
Sugar could power hydrogen fuel cars says VTU researcher
(05/22/2007) Sugary carbohydrates could be used to produce low-cost hydrogen to power fuel cells report researchers writing in the May 23 issue of PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science ( www.plosone.org)
Plan to bring lions, elephants to U.S. excludes Africans
(05/22/2007) Writing in the June 2007 Scientific American one of the scientists who helped put forth a radical proposal to reintroduce historical megafauna -- including camels, cheetah, elephants, and lions -- revisits the scheme, reviewing its basic points and refuting some of the criticism the plan received from the general public and other conservation biologists.
Saving big cats depends on science, practical interventions
(05/21/2007) Big cats are some of Earth's largest and most threatened predators. Long persecuted as perceived threats to livestock and humans, hunted for their skins and purported medicinal values, and losing critical habitat to deforestation and conversion for agriculture, big cat populations have dwindled around the world for the past century. Given these trends, it should come as no surprise that big cats have become the focus of conservation efforts. Not only are large predators often the most vulnerable to human pressures and the first to disappear from ecosystems, but efforts to conserve them effectively help protect thousands of other species that share their habitat. At the forefront of these efforts in Dr. Luke Hunter, a biologist with the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) where he heads their Great Cats Program. In a May 2007 interview with mongabay.com, Hunter discussed strategies for conserving carnivores and offered insight for students interested in pursuing careers in conservation science.
Photos of newborn baby giraffe at the Bronx Zoo
(05/21/2007) A baby giraffe born October 30, 2006 at the Bronx Zoo in New York is doing well reports the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS). The youngster is the second offspring of Margaret Sukari, a 12-year old giraffe that lives on the African Plains' Giraffe Lawn at the zoo.
Viagra helps hamsters recover from jet lag
(05/21/2007) A small dose of Viagra (sildenafil) can help hamsters recover more quickly from a six-hour advance in its daily cycle, report researchers in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
CO2 emissions growth surges as global energy efficiency falls
(05/21/2007) Worldwide growth in carbon dioxide emissions has doubled since the close of the 1990s, reports a study published in the early on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings suggest that the global economy is more dependent on fossil fuels than ever before, with carbon intensity--the amount of carbon needed to produce a unit of economic output--decreasing after a period of increases.
Congo guerillas threaten to kill rare gorillas
(05/21/2007) Fresh off killing a park ranger, a group of Congo guerillas said they will slaughter highly endangered mountain gorillas in Congo's Virunga National Park if their demands for immunity aren't met, says WildlifeDirect, a wildlife conservation organization active in the region.
Rare coelacanth captured in Indonesia
(05/20/2007) An Indonesian fisherman caught a coelacanth, a species so ancient it is called a 'living fossil', off the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia, according to the Associated Press. The fisherman managed to keep the specimen alive for 17 hours in a pool before it expired.
Improving energy efficiency will require overcoming market distortions
(05/20/2007) In a new study, McKinsey&Company, one the world's most respected management consulting firms, reports that the world should be able to cut energy demand growth by half over the next 15 years without compromising economic growth. However it says that market forces along will not drive the transition--targeted policies will be needed to overcome present market failures and policy distortions.
High corn price mean pigs eat candy bars, french fries
(05/20/2007) Near record high prices for corn mean that farmers are feeding their pigs people food according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
Abalone poaching drives meth drug trade in South Africa
(05/20/2007) Abalone poaching helps drive the methamphetamine trade in South Africa, reports an article in The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. ethanol may drive Amazon deforestation
(05/17/2007) Ethanol production in the United States may be contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest said a leading expert on the Amazon. Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
16 cities to get energy-saving retrofits
(05/17/2007) Sixteen cities will get financing to make buildings "greener" through environmental renovations, former President Clinton announced Wednesday at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in New York, where mayors and local government officials are meeting to discuss strategies to flight global warming. The green building initiatives will cut carbon emissions and reduce waste.
Southern Ocean may not absorb more CO2 emissions
(05/17/2007) Climate change has weakened one the Earth's largest natural carbon 'sinks' raising the possibility that increased warming could reduce the capacity of some systems to absorb carbon dioxide, reports a study published this week in the journal Science.
Coral diseases largely result from human activities
(05/17/2007) The apparent increase in infectious disease among coral is likely the result of environmental change and, as such, researchers should focus on understanding the relationship between coral diseases and environmental changes, rather than the diseases themselves, argues a paper published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.
Did asteroid wipe out America's first people?
(05/17/2007) An asteroid may have caused the near-extinction of North America's first humans, argues a series of studies to be presented May 24, at the American Geophysical Union's meeting in Acapulco, Mexico. Nature reports that while the theory has been discounted in the past, new research suggests that an comet or asteroid could have exploded above or on the northern ice cap some 13,000 years ago, plunging regional temperatures to plunge for the next 1000 years. The theory would also help explain the disappearance of the continent's large mammals, including woolly mammoths, American lions, and the saber tooth tiger.
Deep-sea mining threatens fragile marine ecosystems
(05/17/2007) Undersea habitats supporting rare and potentially valuable organisms are at risk from seafloor mining scheduled to begin within this decade, says a new study led by a University of Toronto Mississauga geologist.
Ancient Amazonian technology could save the world
(05/17/2007) Terra preta, the ancient charcoal-based soil used by ancient Amazonians to create permanently fertile agricultural lands in the rainforest, is getting serious consideration as a means to fight global warming and meet domestic energy demand, reports an article in Scientific American.
US tropical hardwood imports fall 24% since 2002
(05/16/2007) The United States is importing considerable less tropical hardwood according to the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) Tropical Timber Market Report.
Peru makes progress on illegal mahogany logging
(05/16/2007) Last month Inrena, Peru's environmental agency, implemented regulations for mahogany loggers that will now require forest concession holders to replant ten times the logged amount of trees. Overall, the initiative calls for the production and establishment of one million of mahogany plantlets over 5 years.
China tropical log imports jump at Jiangsu port
(05/16/2007) Logs imports through Zhangjiagang Port in Jiangsu Province, China have increased significantly in 2007, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its bi-weekly update.
Madagascar's cyclone woes worsen, U.N. calls for more money
(05/16/2007) The United Nations relief arm today more than doubled the appeal it launched just two months ago to help Madagascar as the country tries to recover and rebuild its agriculture after a series of deadly recent cyclones and tropical storms since December.
Calpine may benefit from global warming limits
(05/16/2007) Power generator Calpine will be well-positioned when the regularlory environment for carbon dioxide emissions shifts and federal caps are introduced, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Rare softshell turtle rediscovered in Cambodia
(05/16/2007) Scientists from conservation International have successfully hatched a clutch of eggs from one of the world's most endangered turtle species.
Deep-sea creatures discovered near the Antarctic
(05/16/2007) Scientists have found hundreds of new marine creatures in the depths of the Weddell Sea near Antarctica, including Carnivorous sponges, free-swimming worms, crustaceans, and mollusks, reports research published in the current issue of the journal Nature.
California-sized area of snow melt spotted in Antarctica
(05/16/2007) NASA has found clear evidence of a California-sized area of snow melting in west Antarctica in January 2005 in response to warm temperatures.
Top ten threatened species named by WWF
(05/16/2007) The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced its top ten list for species in need of trade protection ahead of the upcoming Conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Biofuels displace indigenous people
(05/15/2007) Indigenous people are being pushed off their lands to make way for an expansion of biofuel crops around the world, threatening to destroy their cultures by forcing them into big cities, the head of a U.N. panel said Monday.
New species of hummingbird discovered in Colombia
(05/15/2007) Ornithologists have discovered a previously unknown blue-and-green-throated hummingbird species in a cloud forest in Colombia, reports BirdLife International, a conservation group. The bird, called the gorgeted puffleg, measures up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
Environmental concerns mount as palm oil production grows
(05/15/2007) The booming market for palm oil is driving record production but fueling rising concerns over the environmental impact of the supposedly "green" bioenergy source. The two leading producers of palm oil, Malaysia and Indonesia, have rapidly expanded palm oil production in recent years, often at the expense of biodiverse rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands that store billions of tons of greenhouse gases. Environmentalists say that due to these factors, burning of palm oil can at times be more damaging the global climate than the use of fossil fuels.
Amazon nun-killer sentenced to 30 years in Brazil
(05/15/2007) Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, a Brazilian rancher charged with ordering the killing of Dorothy Stang, an American nun, in the Amazon rainforest in February 2005, was convicted today of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
20-40% of U.S. bees have disappeared
(05/14/2007) Known and unknown ailments have killed 20 to 40 percent of bee colonies across the United States this winter according to a leading entomologist.
'Green' dams could reduce GHG emissions
(05/14/2007) Scientists in Brazil have developed a way to reduce greenhouse emissions from large hydro-electric dams, according to a report from BBC News. The technology, developed by researchers at Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE), extracts methane from reservoir water to supplement energy produced by the dam turbines.
Why poison dart frogs are poisonous
(05/14/2007) Mites -- not ants as long believed -- appear to be the primary source of toxins used by poison arrow frogs to defend against predators, reports new research published in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Poison dart frogs, colorful amphibians with skin secretions so toxic that they are used by indigenous populations to poison the tips of hunting arrows, are one of several groups of animals capable of sequestering deadly compounds from dietary sources without being harmed. Until now, it was believed that ants were the primary source of these defensive skin alkaloids in frogs.
California sues Bush administration over fuel standards
(05/14/2007) Monday California sued the Bush administration for "illegally adopting 'dangerously misguided' gas mileage rules." In a lawsuit backed by 11 states, the suit alleges that the Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new mileage standards violate federal law by ignoring both the environment environmental impact on oil use and the country's growing dependence on imported oil.
Canada's boreal forest must be saved
(05/14/2007) At a conference Monday, 1500 prominent scientists called for protection of Canada's boreal forest, one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on the planet.
Marine reserves help damaged coral reefs recover
(05/14/2007) Marine reserves can help coral reefs damaged by overfishing, disease, and bleaching caused by high temperatures, reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Remote sensing tools used to predict bird species richness
(05/14/2007) Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland have taken a novel approach to studying biological diversity by making use of laser remote sensing (lidar). WHRC scientists examined the relationships between bird species richness and habitat metrics derived from lidar data acquired by aircraft. They then explored the efficacy of predicting bird richness and abundance based on these metrics.
Urban parks can offset warming effects of climate change says study
(05/14/2007) Increasing the number of urban parks and street trees in a city could offset the local heat effects of global warming, reports a new study by researchers at the University of Manchester.
Citigroup commits $50 billion to fight global warming
(05/13/2007) Citigroup said last week that it plans to spend $50 billion towards mitigating climate change, mostly through investments in clean energy and 'alternative technology' over the next 10 years.
Asian gangs fueling the illegal ivory trade
(05/13/2007) Asian-run organized crime syndicates based in Africa are behind the rising illegal trade in elephant ivory, reports TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN-The World conservation Union.
Carnivorous plants invade San Francisco
(05/13/2007) While most plants derive nutrients from soil, some trap and consume living creatures for their primary source of sustenance. Now a special exhibit at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers offers a journey into the strange world of carnivorous plants.
Climate shift in East Africa due to geology, not global climate change
(05/11/2007) A shift towards a drier climate in East Africa may be due to geological changes like the emergence of the Rift Valley, not global climate change suggests research published in the current issue of the journal Nature. Dr. Bonnie Jacobs, Chair of Environmental Science Program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, reports that the rise of the high Ethiopian plateau may have caused dramatic shifts in the region's vegetation.
Global warming to cause summer temperature spike in Eastern U.S.
(05/11/2007) NASA scientists warn that average summer temperatures in the eastern United States will climb as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2080s as a result of human-induced global warming.
iPod can distrupt cardiac pacemakers
(05/11/2007) An iPod can tigger monitoring malfunctions in cardiac pacemakers due to electromagnetic interference, reports a study presented by a 17-year-old school student to a group of heart specialists at a meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver, Colorado.
Sex differences fuel evolution
(05/10/2007) Some Caribbean lizards' strong sexual dimorphism allows them to colonize much larger niches and habitats than they might otherwise occupy, allowing males and females to avoid competing with each other for resources and setting the stage for the population as a whole to thrive. The finding, reported this week in the journal Nature, suggests sex differences may have fueled the evolutionary flourishing of the Earth's wildly diverse fauna in a way not previously appreciated by scientists.
Ocean 'burps' may have ended last ice ages
(05/10/2007) A University of Colorado at Boulder-led research team tracing the origin of a large carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age has detected two ancient 'burps' that originated from the deepest parts of the oceans.
Reducing tropical deforestation will help fight global warming
(05/10/2007) Scientists have lent support to a plan by developing countries to fight global warming by reducing deforestation rates. Tropical deforestation releases more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, though in some years, like the 1997-1998 el Nino year when fires released some 2 billion tons of carbon from peat swamps alone in Indonesia, emissions are more than twice that. Writing in the journal Science, an international team of scientists argue that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED) initiative, launched in 2005 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scientifically and technologically sound, and that political and economic challenges facing the plan can be overcome.
UN warns on dangers of bioenergy
(05/09/2007) Biofuels offer "an extraordinary opportunity" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could make "substantial demands on the world's land and water resources at a time when demand for both food and forest products is also rising rapidly," said the U.N. in its first assessment on the growing bioenergy industry.
South Korea fishermen cheat on whale killing
(05/09/2007) Fishermen in South Korea are killing far more whales than they claim, reports an article in New Scientist Magazine. DNA fingerprinting of whale meat purchased in local markets suggests that South Korea caught 827 minke whales between 1999 and 2003, well above the 458 they reported.
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