conservation news and environmental science news.
Global research network needed to understand changes in the Arctic
(02/17/2007) A worldwide research network is needed to better understand how climate change is affecting the Arctic, says an Ohio State University geologist.
Giant carbon sequestration project begins in Australia
(02/16/2007) The largest carbon burial experiment in the world got underway yesterday in Australia with the drilling of a 2100-meter (6825 meter) well in the Otway Basin. If there are no signs of leaks, researchers from the Canberra-based Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) will begin injecting carbon dioxide into the well in July according to an article from the NewScientist.com news service.
Does language extinction matter?
(02/16/2007) Most of humanity's 6,000 languages could be extinct within the next two centuries. Does it matter? At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, University of Alaska Fairbanks professor emeritus Michael Krauss argued it does.
Water forecasts in Western U.S. have not improved in 40 years
(02/16/2007) Water supply predictions for the western United States are no better now than they were in the 1960s -- something that should be of particular concern as the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent -- say researchers from the University of Washington (UW).
Americans believe in global warming but don't want to make changes
(02/16/2007) Most Americans believe global warming is real but view it as a distant threat according to comments by Anthony Leiserowitz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Oregon, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.
America needs to plan for global warming-induced drought
(02/16/2007) Models suggest that climate change is likely to produce increased incidence of summer droughts in the western United States. Researchers from Oregon State University say that now is the time to prepare for potential catastrophe.
Weedy grass could free U.S. of foreign oil dependence says biologist
(02/16/2007) A weedy grass may hold the key to domestic energy security and mitigating emissions of greenhouse gasese, said a Stanford University plant biologist speaking Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.
Aquaculture key to seafood crisis
(02/16/2007) A scientific panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco Friday revealed that rising demand for seafood has exceeded the capacity of the marine ecosystem and that expansion of aquaculture will need to continue to help meet consumer appetite for seafood products.
Ethanol always not as green as some believe
(02/16/2007) Ethanol is generally not as green as some people believe says Bruce Dale, Michigan State University professor of chemical engineering and materials science. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco, Dale says that while corn ethanol produces less greenhouse gases than gasoline, it can cause other detrimental environmental effects if not carefully managed.
Biofuels, logging may spur deforestation in Guyana
(02/15/2007) Growing timber exports and rising interest in biofuels are raising concerns that deforestation could accelerate in the South American country of Guyana. Guyana is a small, lightly populated country on the north coast of South America. About three-quarters of Guyana is forested, roughly 60 percent of which is classified as primary forest. Guyana's forests are highly diverse: the country has some 1,263 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, and 6,409 species of plants.
Antarctic subglacial lakes plumbed by satellite
(02/15/2007) The discovery of a network of rapidly filling and emptying lakes lying beneath at least two of West Antarctica's ice streams suggests that change in the Antarctic could be more rapid than previously believed, according to a team of scientists writing in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
Antarctic temperatures are not rising
(02/15/2007) Temperatures in Antarctica are not rising as predicted by many climate models, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. David Bromwich, researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, reports that his work has found no increase in precipitation over Antarctica in the last 50 years. Most climate models predict that precipitation and temperature will increase over Antarctica as the planet warms.
Antarctic Peninsula warming affects penguins, krill
(02/15/2007) While much of Antarctica has cooled over the past decade, a warming trend in the Antarctic Peninsula may indicate what the future holds for the rest of the icy continent's wildlife. Researchers at Ohio State University say that higher temperatures have already forced penguin populations to migrate south and may have reduced the availability of krill that serve as the based of the Antarctic food chain.
Data centers use at least $7.2 billion in electricity globally
(02/15/2007) U.S. data centers consume 45 billion kilowatts of energy per year, according to a new study, commissioned by computer chip maker AMD. Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and a consulting professor at Stanford University, calculated that in 2005 total data center electricity consumption in the U.S., including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment, was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills amounting to $2.7 billion. Globally, data centers used $7.2 billion in electricity.
Slurp gun used to capture hermaphrodite from hydrothermal vent
(02/15/2007) Researchers used an "Alvin Slurp Gun" to capture a hagfish from a deep sea hydrothermal vent. It is the first time that a member of the jawless fishes (agnathans) have been captured from a hydrothermal vent site. The results are published in the current edition of the journal Biology Bulletin.
$100 laptop for poor children will cost $130
(02/15/2007) The $100 laptop designed for poor children in developing countries looks like it will cost $130, at least initially, according to the computer's manufacturer, Quanta Computer Inc. In a statement Thursday, Quanta said it ship between 5 million to 10 million units this year as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, an effort launched by Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Laboratory.
Chili peppers came from Ecuadorian rainforests 6,100 years ago
(02/15/2007) Chili peppers were first cultivated 6,100 years in South America according to research published in the current edition of the journal Science.
'Ark' aims to save amphibians from extinction
(02/15/2007) Scientists are meeting in Atlanta is discuss last minute efforts to save disappearing amphibians from extinction. A mysterious outbreak of fungal disease has wiped out an estimated 170 species in the past decade, and put more than one-third of the world's remaining amphibians at risk.
Global warming may worsen droughts in U.S. Southwest, Middle East
(02/14/2007) A new NASA study says that global warming could increase droughts in southwest United States, Mexico, parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Australia -- areas already stressed by periodic water shortages.
Blind pink snake discovered in Madagascar
(02/14/2007) A pink worm-like snake has been rediscovered in Madagascar more than 100 years after it was first found. The snake, which is blind and measures about ten inches long, is described in the February 1, 2007 edition of Zootaxa, a leading taxonomic journal.
Mysterious outbreak killing millions of bees
(02/14/2007) An mysterious outbreak is causing the deaths of millions of honeybees in 22 states according to an entomologist from the University of Montana. Jerry Bromenshenk says that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is "causing agricultural honeybees nationwide to abandon their hives and disappear."
U.S. forests suffer from beauty products packaging
(02/14/2007) Every year millions of acres of forests in the southern United States are cut to fuel the pulp and paper industry. Nearly 25 percent of this demand comes from paper packaging, which usually ends up in landfills after a brief life as a disposable product. To support this industry, millions of acres of natural forest have been converted into fast-growing pine plantations -- in fact, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that nearly twenty percent of Southern forests are now pine plantations. Nationwide the United States lost an average of 831 square miles of old-growth forest per year according to official figures, the seventh highest loss in the world.
China misses pollution targets
(02/13/2007) China's environmental protection agency said that the country failed to meet any of its 2006 pollution control goals according to its web site. The State Environmental Protection (SEPA) admitted that economic growth actually caused the country to fall well behind its environmental targets.
Salamander diversity tied to elevation in the tropics
(02/13/2007) Scientists have long documented high levels of biodiversity at mid-elevation ecosystems in the tropics, but no one has ever conclusively determined the underlying causes of this species richness. A new study, which examined 13 genera and 137 species of tropical salamanders, suggests that this pattern may result from the time when the habitats were first colonized.
U.S. leads world in shark attacks in 2006
(02/13/2007) The United States led the world in shark attacks in 2006, according to figures released from the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. The U.S. had 38 shark attacks, down from 40 in 2005. Globally there were 62 known shark attacks in 2006, an increase of 1 from 2005, but well below the 79 attacked recorded in 2000.
Rare giant bat eats night-flying birds
(02/13/2007) A new study published in PLoS ONE, an open online journal, reports that nocturnally migrating songbirds are preyed upon by giant bats. The findings go against the belief that night-flying birds lacked predators.
Global cooling may have spawned complex life on Earth
(02/13/2007) Icy conditions some 600-800 million years ago may have set the stage for the evolution of more complex lifeforms, according to research published in the February 14, 2007 edition of PLoS ONE. The theory may have implications for life on other planets.
2006 was fifth warmest year on record
(02/13/2007) Last week NASA scientists announced that 2006 was the fifth-warmest year in the past century, after 2005, 1998, 2002, and 2003 (in descending order by warmest year).
Borneo's rainforest protected
(02/12/2007) An agreement to protect large areas of forest in central Borneo was officially signed by three governments that share the island. Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia will 'conserve and sustainably manage' the so-called 'Heart of Borneo', one of the most biodiverse, and threatened, tropical rainforests in the world. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) played a critical role in the initiative's creation.
HSBC gives Smithsonian $8 million to study global warming impact on forests
(02/12/2007) HSBC, one of the world's largest banks, today announced an $8 million grant to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to fund the world's largest field experiment on the long-term effects of climate change on forest dynamics. The grant will enable STRI to expand the research capability of its Center for Tropical Forest Science, a network of tropical forest research stations across 20 sites in 17 countries.
$25 million prize to fight global warming
(02/12/2007) Friday Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore announced the establishment of a $25 million prize for the development of a technology that fights global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The prize follows in the footsteps of the X Prize, a contest that was won by the SpaceShipOne rocket plane as the first privately developed craft to reach the boundary of outer space.
Amazon deforestation damaging critical ecosystem services
(02/08/2007) Human disturbance of the Amazon rainforest is more extensive than previously thought say a team of scientists writing in the current edition of the journal Frontiers in Ecology. Reviewing recent research on the Amazon ecosystem, they note that human activities are affecting the health of the forest and impacting the ecological goods and services the Amazon provides mankind.
Human ecological footprint to grow 34% by 2015 finds study
(02/08/2007) Population size and affluence are driving environmental degradation according to a new study published in the current edition of the journal Frontiers in Ecology. The authors say other widely cited drivers of environmental stress -- urbanization, economic structure, age distribution -- actually have relatively little impact.
Societies must adapt to global warming, mitigation alone is not the answer
(02/07/2007) Mankind must prepare for global warming by building resilient societies and fostering sustainable development, says a team scientists writing in the current issue of the journal Nature. The researchers say climate change is inevitable and policymakers should be plan adaptation strategies to minimize the negative impacts of future environmental stresses on society.
Carbon dioxide could be frozen and stored to fight global warming
(02/07/2007) Carbon dioxide could be frozen and stored huge underground reservoirs as a way to fight global warming according to scientists from the University of Leicester and the British Geological Society (BGS).
Extinction risk accelerated when interacting human threats interact
(02/07/2007) A new study warns that the simultaneous effect of habitat fragmentation, overexploitation, and climate warming could increase the risk of a species' extinction.
North America hit by sudden, severe climate cooling 65 M years ago
(02/07/2007) The largest climate change in central North America since the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a temperature drop of nearly 15 degrees Fahrenheit, is documented within the fossilized teeth of horses and other plant-eating mammals, a new study reveals.
Photos of the ancient Romeo and Juliet skeleton
(02/07/2007) Archaeologists unearthed a pair of human skeletons lying in an eternal embrace at a construction site outside Mantua, 25 miles south of Verona, the city featured in Shakespeare's "Roeo and Juliet." The skeletons date are thought to be 5,000-6,000 years ago.
Lemurs at risk due to invasion of feral beasts, global warming
(02/07/2007) The lemurs of Madagascar are among the world's most threatened primates. Extensive habitat destruction, hunting, and the introduction of alien species have doomed dozens of species to extinction since humans first arrived on the island within the past 2000 years. Most of the casualties were Madagascar's largest lemurs -- today the biggest lemur is but a fraction of the gorilla-sized giants that once ruled the island. Despite this relative impoverishment of megafauna, Madagascar still boasts nearly 90 kinds of lemurs, all of which are unique to the island (save one species that was probably introduced to some nearby islands). Lemurs display a range of unusual behvaiors from singing like a whale (the indri) to sashaying across the sand like a ballet dancer (the sifaka). Interest in lemurs has helped Madagascar become a global conservation priority, though they are still at risk. Continued deforestation, scattered hunting, and looming climate change all pose significant threats to some lemur populations. One largely unexamined threat comes from introduced species such as the Indian civet and mongoose, but especially dogs and cats that have become feral.
Just how bad is the biodiversity extinction crisis?
(02/06/2007) In recent years, scientists have warned of a looming biodiversity extinction crisis, one that will rival or exceed the five historic mass extinctions that occurred millions of years ago. Unlike these past extinctions, which were variously the result of catastrophic climate change, extraterrestrial collisions, atmospheric poisoning, and hyperactive volcanism, the current extinction event is one of our own making, fueled mainly by habitat destruction and, to a lesser extent, over-exploitation of certain species. While few scientists doubt species extinction is occurring, the degree to which it will occur in the future has long been subject of debate in conservation literature. Looking solely at species loss resulting from tropical deforestation, some researchers have forecast extinction rates as high as 75 percent. Now a new paper, published in Biotropica, argues that the most dire of these projections may be overstated. Using models that show lower rates of forest loss based on slowing population growth and other factors, Joseph Wright from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Helene Muller-Landau from the University of Minnesota say that species loss may be more moderate than the commonly cited figures. While some scientists have criticized their work as "overly optimistic," prominent biologists say that their research has ignited an important discussion and raises fundamental questions about future conservation priorities and research efforts. This could ultimately result in more effective strategies for conserving biological diversity, they say.
98% of orangutan habitat in Borneo, Sumatra gone by 2022
(02/06/2007) A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today warns that illegal logging is rapidly destroying the last remaining habitat for orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. The report says that up to 98 percent may be destroyed by 2022 without urgent action.
Brazil calls out rich countries on global warming
(02/06/2007) Reuters reports that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized wealthy countries for their contributions to global warming and told them to stay out of Brazil's business when it comes to the fate of the Amazon rainforest.
Rare vulture colony found in Cambodia
(02/06/2007) Working in the remote forests of Cambodia, conservationists from the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) have just discovered Southeast Asia's only known breeding colony of slender-billed vultures, one of the world's most threatened bird species.
13% of Florida's whooping cranes killed in weekend storms
(02/05/2007) 17 whooping cranes were killed in severe storms in Florida according to a report from the Associated Press. The whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, is one of North America's most endangered birds with a wild population of less than 360. Until the recent storms, Florida was home to a non-migratory population of 53 and a migratory population of 83, according to the Whooping Crane conservation Association.
Unknown mollusks and crustaceans discovered in the Philippines
(02/05/2007) A French-led marine expedition team may have discovered hundreds of previously unknown species of mollusks and crustaceans around Panglao, an island in the Philippines, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Female butterflies become more promiscuous when males are scarce
(02/05/2007) Female butterflies become more promiscuous when males die from bacteria outbreaks, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology. The research suggests that surviving males have a tough time keeping up their frisky mates, showing "signs of fatigue and put less effort into mating."
Toxin from 'translucent doughnut' could produce cancer treatment
(02/05/2007) A toxin derived from a reclusive sea creature resembling a translucent doughnut has inspired UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers to develop a related compound that shows promise as a cancer treatment.
In search of wildlife, while dodging leeches, in Madagascar's unexplored rainforest
(02/05/2007) It is called a rainforest for a reason--because it rains.... and rains. As my field partner, Angelin Razafimanantsoa, and I make our way down muddy mountainsides in the endless downpour, we stop only long enough to pick squirming, bloodthirsty leeches off each other's face. Hours pass as we wade through knee-deep streams rushing over smooth, slippery rocks and thick forest stands. Seven hours ago, we anticipated arriving at our next base camp in three hours' time. Now, as night is falling, it seems we have at least five hours more to go.
Limitations of Global conservation Efforts in Madagascar
(02/04/2007) The success of the conservation efforts in a local context is usually primarily dependent on legal support and financial assistance. Recent experience however suggests that other factors may be just as important. Of particular importance is the management approach taken by the conservation authority. While the financial and regulatory incentives are sufficient in establishing protected areas, they maybe unsuccessful in protecting and maintaining them from local socioeconomic pressures. Madagascar as a case study clearly demonstrates this.
Global warming report released in Paris
(02/02/2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) officially unveiled its long-waited report on global climate change. The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries and representatives from 113 governments reviewed and signed off on the report the course of this week.
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