conservation news and environmental science news.
Arctic sea ice levels fall
(10/04/2006) Arctic sea ice fell to the fourth lowest level on record according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Farmers fight FDA over pet turtle ban
(10/04/2006) Farmers are battling the FDA over the legality of turtles that were once commonly kept as pets according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Up to 73 million sharks killed per year for their fins
(10/04/2006) Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins according to a new paper published in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters. The estimates are three times higher than those projected by the United Nations.
Albatrosses at risk due to fishing
(10/04/2006) About 1 percent of world's waved albatrosses were killed by fisherman in a one-year period according to a new study published online Sept. 26 in the journal Biological conservation
Wells Fargo Makes Largest Corporate Renewable Energy Purchase
(10/03/2006) Wells Fargo said today it will buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) to support generating 550 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable wind energy a year for three years. With this action, Wells Fargo becomes the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Salmon Farms Kill Wild Fish
(10/03/2006) New research confirms that sea lice from fish farms kill wild salmon. Up to 95 per cent of the wild juvenile salmon that migrate past fish farms die as a result of sea lice infestation from the farms. The results of the research have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America.
Poison frogs less toxic when habitat degraded
(10/02/2006) A new study suggests habitat degradation may put some frogs at greater risk of predation by reducing their toxicity. Studying Mantella poison frogs on the island of Madagascar, a team of researchers led by Valerie C. Clark, a chemistry PhD student at Cornell University who earlier this year published a paper describing the origin of frog toxins as being the insects upon which they feed, found that frogs collected from intact forests "consistently have a greater diversity of insect-derived toxins accumulated in their skin than do frogs from disturbed and fragmented forests."
Ozone loss hits record in 2006
(10/02/2006) The European Space Agency (ESA) said that ozone loss in Antarctica hit a record in 2006. ESA reports that ozone measurements made by the Envisat satellite showed the ozone loss of 40 million tons of ozone, a level exceeding the previous record ozone loss of about 39 million tonnes for 2000.
Privatize the Amazon rainforest says UK minister
(10/02/2006) At a summit this week in Mexico, David Miliband, Britain's Environment Secretary, will propose a plan to "privatize" the Amazon to allow the world's largest rainforest to be bought by individuals and groups, according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper online. The scheme, which has been endorsed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, would seek to protect the region's biodiversity while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.
No mention of climate change in new hurricane research report
(09/29/2006) Strangely missing from a new hurricane research report from the National Science Board, a policymaking body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), is any mention of climate change.
Face recognition web search engine to launch soon
(09/29/2006) The Malmo, Sweden, based company Polar Rose will soon be introducing a Web-based search engine that can find photographs of people by analyzing pictures and identifying faces. The search engine-which will be the first of its kind in the world-is the result of research carried out by Jan Erik Solem at Technology and Society, Malmo University College. He will publicly defend his thesis on Friday, September 29
Tiger fur trade thrives in China
(09/28/2006) The illegal tiger and leopard fur trade continues to thrive in China according to recent investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). The organizations say that the trade is "operating without any hindrance from the Chinese government" and endangers surviving wild tiger populations in India
Methane emissions rising, could worsen global warming
(09/28/2006) Concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas more than twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, are rising in Earth's atmosphere finds a new study published in Nature.
Spiderman ability? Tarantulas spin silk from their feet
(09/28/2006) Researchers have found for the first time that tarantulas can produce silk from their feet as well as their spinnerets, a discovery with profound implications for why spiders began to spin silk in the first place.
Photos of newly discovered species in Brazil's Amazon rainforest
(09/28/2006) Brazil has announced the creation of a Amapa State Forest, a 5.7 million acre Amazon protected area larger than the state of New Jersey. According to conservation International (CI), "the designation protects a crucial section of the Amapa Biodiversity Corridor of northern Brazil, which includes some of the most pristine remaining Amazon forest." The Amapa Biodiversity Corridor -- which includes a variety of ecosystems including tropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannah, and wetlands -- is home to more than 1,700 species of animals and plants, including 430 species of birds, 104 species of amphibians, 124 reptile species and 127 mammal species, including 62 bat species, according to biological surveys conducted by conservation International (CI) and the Amapa State Institute for Research. At the core of the Amapa Biodiversity Corridor is Tumucumaque National Park, the world's largest tropical forest park.
Protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica
(09/28/2006) Travel account -- monitoring sea turtle nesting sites on the beaches of Costa Rica.
California Oil Tax Pits Venture Capitalists Versus Big Oil
(09/27/2006) Oil firms are locked in a fierce battle with venture capitalists and environmentalists over Proposition 87, California's proposed oil tax, according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal. California votes on the initiative November 7.
Coral reefs survive tsunami but not cyanide bombs
(09/27/2006) The impact of a tsunami on a coral reef is minimal in comparison to human-caused damage according to a new study published in the journal Atoll Research Bulletin.
Negative messaging not effective for green movement, finds study
(09/27/2006) New research suggests that negative messaging is not effective in convincing people to adopt green initiatives.
Bush administration blocks report linking hurricanes to global warming
(09/27/2006) The Bush administration blocked release of a report suggesting that global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday. According to Nature, a panel of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists drafted a February report that linked recent hurricane activity to human-induced climate change. When the study was scheduled to be released in May, officials at the Commerce Department rejected the report on technical grounds and prohibited its publication.
Arctic ocean warms as global oceans cool
(09/27/2006) Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center say that warm water from the North Atlantic Ocean continues to surge into the Arctic Ocean potentially increasing ice melt in the region.
Not extinct? Ivory-billed Woodpecker may live in Florida
(09/26/2006) Researchers found evidence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird once believed to be extinct, in a remote river basin in the panhandle of Florida. The discovery, announced in Avian conservation and Ecology, was made in May 2005 by a research team led by Auburn University professor Geoff Hill. The bird was sighted on the Choctawhatchee River and though the team captured no photographs of the species.
Global warming: Earth's temperature near highest level in a million years
(09/25/2006) Earth may nearing its warmest level in the last million years according to a paper published by NASA scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and colleagues report that "Earth is now reaching and passing through the warmest levels in the current interglacial period" and that climate change is causing plant and animal species to migrate towards the north and south poles.
conservationists killed in Nepal helicopter crash
(09/25/2006) 24 people were killed in a helicopter crash in Nepal on Saturday September 23rd. Seven of the victims were staff members of WWF, a leading conservation group. The helicopter was carrying them from a conservation site at Ghunsa, in the remote eastern mountains of Nepal, according to WWF.
Boreal forests worth $250 billion per year worldwide
(09/25/2006) Boreal forests provide services worth $250 billion per year globally according to estimates by Canadian researchers. Mark Anielski, an Edmonton economist, says that environmental services from the boreal -- including carbon capture and storage, water filtration and waste treatment, biodiversity maintenance, and pest control -- are worth about $160 per hectare, or $93 billion per year in Canada alone.
Mars face photo dashes hope for existence of Martians
(09/25/2006) New images from the European Space Agency (ESA) show that the Red Planet's famous "Face on Mars" is nothing but a eroded hill.
Dinosaurs survived rapid climate change
(09/23/2006) New research suggests the existence of periods of dramatic climate change during the Mesozoic Era, a time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. The research, published in the September issue of Geology, presents evidence that ocean surface temperatures varied as much as 6 degrees Celsius (about 11 degrees Fahrenheit) during the Aptian Epoch of the Cretaceous Period 120 million years ago according to scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research who examined ancient rocks from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The results challenge the idea that the period was characterized by a stable, hot and humid climate.
Birds evolved from gliding four-legged dinosaurs
(09/22/2006) Birds may have evolved from gliding four-legged dinosaurs accofding to new research by a University of Calgary paleontologist.
Ozone hole near record size
(09/22/2006) The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Friday that hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica will expand this year to 27.9 million square kilometers (10.8 million square miles), its second-highest recorded level in history.
Add invasive species status to list of biofuel concerns
(09/22/2006) High energy prices over the past couple years have fueled interest in biofuels, which proponents say are less damaging to the environment and provide energy security not afforded by foreign oil and gas imports. Nevertheless, accompanying their rise in visibility, have been concerns over their environmental impact of converting natural vegetation for their production. Now scientists warn that some biofuel crops pose a risk as invasive species.
Virgin's Branson commits $3 billion to fight global warming
(09/21/2006) According to BBC News, Sir Richard Branson will commit all profits from his travel firms, including airline Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains, over the next tend years to fight global warming. The pledge, worth some $3 billion, was made at the on the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
California sues automakers over global warming
(09/21/2006) California sued six of the world's largest automakers over greenhouse gas emissions charging that pollution their vehicles have caused billions of dollars in health damages. Auto industry representatives said the action was political and just in time for November elections.
California sues Bush administration forest law repeal
(09/21/2006) Yesterday California sued the Bush Administration over its repeal of the Clinton Administration's "Roadless Rule". According to a release from state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, "The Northern Federal District of California ruled the U.S. Forest Service violated federal environmental laws by stripping national forest roadless areas of protection from road-building and logging without performing any environmental analysis of the consequences. The court ordered the immediate reinstatement of protections for nearly 50 million acres of remaining undeveloped forests."
Dolphin Slaughter Resumes in Japan
(09/21/2006) As the annual dolphin drive hunts begin in the Japanese villages of Taiji and Futo, a consortium of scientists and zoo and aquarium professionals has launched a campaign to end the practices through public awareness and by appealing to the government of Japan to put an end to the hunts.
Rare, 90-million-year-old tree for sale
(09/20/2006) IThe National Geographic Society announced it will sell the Wollemi Pine, one of the world's oldest and rarest trees, to consumers in the United States this holiday season. Fewer than 100 tree exist in the wild.
Greenland's ice continues to melt
(09/20/2006) Data gathered by a pair of NASA satellites orbiting Earth show Greenland continued to lose ice mass at a significant rate through April 2006, and that the rate of loss is accelerating, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.
Oldest juvenile skeleton discovered in Ethiopia
(09/20/2006) Discovery of a nearly intact 3.3 million year-old juvenile skeleton is filling an important gap in understanding the evolution of a species thought to be among the earliest direct ancestors to humans, says William Kimbel, a paleoanthropologist with ASU's Institute of Human Origins. Kimbel is part of the team that studied the skeleton of an approximately three-year-old female Australopithecus afarensis, the same species as the well known Lucy, from Dikika, Ethiopia.
Amazon rainforest has its first wireless city under poverty alleviation initiative by Intel
(09/20/2006) Intel unveiled what it is calling the "World's Most Remote Digital City" in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The wireless, high-speed Internet network installation in Parintins, a town on an island in the Amazon River, is part of the tech firm's initiative to treat the world's poor as a market. Some economists have argued that addressing the world's poor in such a manner could bring benefits that they have not seen through historical aid efforts.
Tree rings could settle global warming hurricane debate
(09/20/2006) Scientists have shown that ancient tree rings could help settle the debate as to whether hurricanes are strengthening in intensity due to global warming. By measuring different isotopes of oxygen present in the rings, Professors Claudia Mora and Henri Grissino-Mayer of the University of Tennessee have identified periods when hurricanes hit areas of the Southeastern United States up to 500 years ago. The research could help create a record of hurricanes that would help researchers understand hurricane frequency and intensity. Currently reliable history for hurricanes only dates back a generation or so. Prior to that, the official hurricane records kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic basin hurricane database (HURDAT) are controversial at best since storm data from more than 20 years ago is not nearly as accurate as current hurricane data due to improvements in tracking technology. The lack of a credible baseline makes it nearly impossible to accurately compare storm frequency and strength over the period.
Extent of Mercury Pollution More Widespread, Report Shows
(09/20/2006) Mercury pollution is making its way into nearly every habitat in the U.S., exposing countless species of wildlife to potentially harmful levels of mercury, a new report from the National Wildlife Federation shows.
Arctic ice hole larger than Britain forms, shocks scientists
(09/20/2006) European Space Agency satellite images acquired from 23 to 25 August 2006 have shown for the first time dramatic openings larger than the size of the British Isles in the Arctic's perennial sea ice pack north of Svalbard, and extending into the Russian Arctic all the way to the North Pole. The agency says the findings are shocking to scientists. 'If this anomaly trend continues, the North-East Passage or 'Northern Sea Route' between Europe and Asia will be open over longer intervals of time, and it is conceivable we might see attempts at sailing around the world directly across the summer Arctic Ocean within the next 10-20 years,' said Mark Drinkwater, a scientist with ESA.
$230B for moon return but only $30M for deep ocean research?
(09/19/2006) Unless you're a space buff, you probably missed the latest news from Mars. The Rover mission has now determined that a promontory scientists call "McCool Hill" is 85 feet taller than nearby "Husband Hill." Stop the presses! Exploring new frontiers in the quest for knowledge has inspired humans for centuries, and today's extraterrestrial search for alien life forms and clues to our origin, captures the public's imagination like few others.
China makes environmental moves as problems mount
(09/19/2006) China, the world's most populous country and fastest growing economy, faces a host of environmental problems. Energy and water shortages, water and air pollution, cropland and biodiversity losses, and escalating emissions of greenhouses gases are all concerns as the country moves towards world superpower status. While these issues could threaten to destablilize the country and derail economic growth, it appears that it is taking steps to address some of these challenges.
Expansion of agriculture in the Amazon may impact climate
(09/19/2006) A new study from NASA scientists shows that forest clearing for large-scale agriculture has recently become a significant cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. The researchers warn that this change in land use may affect the region' climate and the Amazon's ability to absorb carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
War-torn Congo Announces Two New Parks
(09/18/2006) The Minister of forestry Economy of the Republic of Congo announced today plans to create two new protected areas that together could be larger than Yellowstone National Park, spanning nearly one million hectares (3,800 square miles). Instead of bison and elk, these new protected areas contain elephants, chimpanzees, hippos, crocodiles, and some of the highest densities of gorillas on earth. The announcement was made by Minister Henri Djombo and officials from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) at the United Nations.
Climate Change Threatens Lemurs
(09/18/2006) Tropical rainforests are among the most stable environments on Earth, but they are still no match for global climate change. Dr. Patricia Wright, the widely admired primatologist and Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University, finds that climate change could mean the difference between survival and extinction for endangered lemurs.
New species of 'walking' shark discovered
(09/18/2006) Two recent expeditions led by conservation International (CI) to the heart of Asia'Coral Triangle' discovered dozens of new species of marine life including epaulette sharks, 'flasher' wrasse and reef-building coral, confirming the region as the Earthapos;s richest seascape.
Shift from hard drives to flash may have environmental benefits
(08/29/2006) A leading technology research group says flash, or solid state memory drives may soon replace the standard hard drives in laptops. Over the past few years, flash memory technology has been claiming an increasingly sizeable share of the market, particularly in the form of USB drives. According to the Gartner Group, the NAND flash market has grown from 1.56 billion in 200 to 11.42 billion in 2005, with even higher projections for the next two years. This summer, Samsung set a new bar by releasing computers that utilize flash memory storage, negating the need for traditional magnetic disk media. The implications of a shift for laptops are significant for a number of reasons including changing performance demand, market trends and investment opportunities. Unconsidered at this point, but nonetheless compelling, is the possible environmental impact of such a transition.
Acid rain affects one-third of China
(08/28/2006) One-third of China is impacted by acid rain according to officials quotes Sunday by state media. The Associated Press reports that China's factories are sending ever increasing amounts of sulphur dioxide -- the chemical that causes acid rain -- according to Sheng Huaren, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of parliament. Emissions of sulphur dioxide have risen by 27 percent since 2000.
One year later: Hurricane Katrina in review
(08/28/2006) While hurricane Katrina was the most devastating, causing 1833 fatalities and over $81 billion in damage, it was not the strongest storm of the year -- both Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma were more powerful. Katrina, which at one point in the Gulf of Mexico was a Category 5 hurricane, was only a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall near New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Nevertheless, the damage was extensive.
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