About 300 million Chinese drink unsafe water tainted by chemicals and other contaminants according to a new report from the Chinese government. Further, about 90% of China's cities have polluted ground water, while millions of rural Chinese face risks from naturally occurring contaminants like arsenic and excess fluorine.
December 28, 2005
Malaysia's deforestation rate is accelerating faster than any other tropical country in the world according to data from the United Nations. Analysis of figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows that Malaysia's annual deforestation rate jumped almost 86 percent between 2000-2005 and the 1990-2000 period.
December 26, 2005
I am working on some major revisions so mongabay.com will not be updated as frequently as usual for the next ten days or so.
December 25, 2005
Rob Roy have traveled to interesting places around the world. Here are some of his photos from East Africa and Costa Rica.
December 24, 2005
A new study shows that the net benefits of eating wild Pacific salmon outweigh those of eating farmed Atlantic salmon, when the risks of chemical contaminants are considered. Generally, the vast majority of Atlantic salmon available on the world market is farmed (greater than 99%) while most Pacific salmon is wild-caught (greater than 80%).
December 23, 2005
Growing tree plantations to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate global warming -- so called "carbon sequestration" -- could trigger environmental changes that outweigh some of the benefits, a multi-institutional team led by Duke University suggested in a new report. Those effects include water and nutrient depletion and increased soil salinity and acidity, said the researchers.
December 22, 2005
Apologies for the site being unresponsive for a period this morning -- mongabay.com's servers suffered a major denial-of-service (DOS) attack.
December 21, 2005
The Bolivian government, The Nature Conservancy and the Bolivian conservation organization Fundaci--n Amigos de la Naturaleza announced that the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project is the first conservation-based initiative in the world to be fully certified for reducing greenhouse gas emissions using internationally accepted standards.
December 20, 2005
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2 percent in 2004, from 6,983.2 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent in 2003 to 7,122.1 metric tons in 2004, according to Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2004, a report released today by the Energy Information Administration.
December 19, 2005
During the last Ice Age, the Sahara was savannah with rivers, lakes and plentiful rains. Over the past 10,000 years that landscape changed, but the rains from that period progressively percolated beneath the ground to be collected in aquifers. Today these aquifers are an important source of water for irrigating agriculture and supporting human populations in the area. The European Space Agency has launched a program to monitor the management of this non-renewable resource. Overexploitation risks exhaustion and saline contamination of groundwater, putting the whole region at risk.
Australia warned its neighbors to crack down on illegal logging in their rainforests or face trade restrictions according to an article in The Australian. Federal Forestry Minister Ian Macdonald said that Australia was trying to persuade Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to agree to international standards on sustainable logging.
December 18, 2005
Last week, the two men who admitted to killing Dorothy Stang, an American nun who sought social justice for the poor living in the Amazon, were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms. Raifran das Neves Sales was sentenced to 27 years in prison, while his accomplice in the shooting, Clodoaldo Carlos Batista, was sentenced to 17 years. The rancher accused of hiring the killers will stand trial next year.
December 17, 2005
The mysterious pygmy elephants of Borneo are being tracked across the island by WWF using collars that can send GPS locations daily via satellite. The scientific world knows almost nothing about these animals.
December 16, 2005
Last week the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) received a $90-million grant from the World Bank to support the central African country's transition from instability and civil war. The grant addresses key areas in DRC's forestry sector and alleviates some of the concerns expressed by environmentalists shortly before the resolution was passed. Green groups were dismayed over a proposal to zone half the 600,000 square kilometers of forest -- almost half the country's forests -- for logging, but the the new World Bank grant upholds and strengthens of an existing moratorium on the awarding of new timber concessions.
December 15, 2005
A comprehensive census of all the marine life in the world's oceans is halfway complete. The 10-year international project that began in 2000 and now involves some 1700 researchers from 73 countries has uncovered new evidence of rich biodiversity in the world's oceans along with an alarming decline of many marine species.
Yesterday The Wall Street Journal ran an article asking "Is Global Warming Killing the Polar Bears?" The article cited several recent studies that suggest polar bears are increasingly under threat from receding ice and warming temperatures.
December 14, 2005
Tuesday the California Public Utilities Commission announced an ambitious program to expand the market for solar power, proposing to provide $2.8 billion of incentives toward solar development over the next 11 years.
In a recent study of bats, Scott Pitnick, professor of biology at Syracuse University, found that testis size is negatively correlated with brain size. In other words, the bigger the balls of a bat species, the smaller its brain
December 13, 2005
Protecting 595 sites around the world would help address an imminent global extinction crisis, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Conducted by scientists working with the 52 member organizations of the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), the study identifies 794 species threatened with imminent extinction by virtual of existing at only a single remaining site on Earth. The study found that just one-third of the sites are known to have legal protection, and most are surrounded by human population densities that are approximately three times the global average. Safeguarding these sites is key to saving these species from extinction say the authors of the study.
December 12, 2005
The worst drought ever recorded in the Amazon continues according to an update from The New York Times. The drought has turned rivers into grassy mud flats, killed tens of millions of fish, stranded hundreds of communities, and brought disease and economic despair to the region. Scientists are not certain as to the cause of the drought, although warmer water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are the leading suspect. This year, some researchers believe that the accumulation of warm waters in the tropical Atlantic helped fuel a record hurricane season while reducing the availability of moisture to the Amazon basin. These conditions are likely to worsen as global temperatures increase.
December 11, 2005
Friday, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Montreal, the U.N. agreed to a "rainforest conservation for emissions" proposal that allows developing nations to receive financial compensation from industrialized countries for agreeing to preserve their rainforests. Environmentalists hope the deal -- set forth by ten developing countries led by Papua New Guinea -- will give developing nations a financial reason to get more involved in climate talks while safeguarding globally important ecosystems.
December 10, 2005
The rise of deadly new diseases such as SARS, Nipah virus and bird flu could be linked to the degradation of the environment says a new report from the World Health Organization.
December 9, 2005
Forests of the future may grow faster and absorb more carbon in a carbon dioxide enriched environment according to a new study by researchers at the Department of Energy. The scientists found that forests grown in plots experimentally enriched with carbon dioxide have higher productivity than forest plots in the current atmosphere. This suggests that future forests may absorb more carbon than forests of today, helping to partially offset rising carbon dioxide levels.
Meanwhile, researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research say that deforestation, the growth of forests, and other changes in land cover could produce local temperature changes comparable to those caused by greenhouse gases.
A group of people living in the Arctic have filed a lawsuit against the US government, claiming its climate change policies violate their human rights. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference says that by failing to control emissions of greenhouse gases, the US is damaging the livelihoods those living in the Arctic. The group has filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demanding that the US limit its emissions. The suit comes as a new University of Colorado at Boulder study found that Alaska's Columbia Glacier has shrunk in length by 9 miles since 1980.
December 8, 2005
New research indicates there is a 45 percent chance that the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean could shut down by the end of the century if nothing is done to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Even with immediate climate policy action, say scientists, there would still be a 25 percent probability of a collapse of the system of currents that keep western Europe warmer than regions at similar latitudes in other parts of the world. The Atlantic thermohaline circulation, better known as the Atlantic heat conveyor belt, is a system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that result in a net transport of warm water into the northern hemisphere. A weakening of the system, which includes the Gulf Stream, could cause a cooling in northwest Europe and worsen droughts in equatorial Africa.
December 7, 2005
The United States faces another very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2006, but with likely fewer landfalling intense hurricanes than in 2005 - the costliest, most destructive hurricane season ever - according to a report issued today by the Colorado State University forecast team.
Biomimicry is being used to fight computer viruses. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Arizona (UA) received $1 million to fund research and development of security software that mimics biological immune systems. The software will screen a computer network for abnormalities, isolating infectious computer viruses, worms and other attack agents while developing software "antibodies" to fight them. UA received the grant from the Army Research Office.
December 6, 2005
This week more than 11,000 geophysicists from around the world are convening in San Francisco for the 2005 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. So far several important earth science studies have been released, including the climate change-related research that follows.
Another study by the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory suggests that planting forests in temperate regions could worsen global warming. The researchers found that northern forests have a net warming effect in that they absorb sunlight while releasing only limited amounts of cooling moisture into the air.
New research out of Ohio State University suggests that following logging, temperate forests take long periods of time to recover their carbon storing capacity. The scientists examined forests of of the upper Great Lakes region, which were 90% logged at the turn of the century, and found that they store only half the carbon the original forests contained. Poor forest management is blamed for the shortfall.
WWF has again announced the discovery of a mysterious carnivore found in Borneo rain forest. This time around the conservation group has pictures of the bushy-tailed animal which it likens to a cat. The group also warns that the creature's fate is in doubt due to widespread deforestation on Borneo and a massive palm oil plantation planned for the heart of the island.
December 5, 2005
Scientists at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) at the University of Wisconsin have devised new maps that reveal the human footprint on Earth. The maps show that agricultural activity now dominates more than a third of the Earth's landscape and has emerged as one of the central forces of global environmental change.
Governments are becoming increasingly innovative in devising ways to control illegal logging claims new research released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Tropical Timber Organization. Governments has good reason to be more vigilant in monitoring the timber trade: each year, according to World Bank estimates, governments lose about US$5 billion in revenues due to illegal logging. The cost to national economies is even higher -- smuggled timber costs timber producing countries an additional US$10 billion per year. Beyond economic losses from the illicit timber trade, illegal logging has significant environmental impacts including the reduction of biodiversity through habitat destruction and bushmeat hunting, increasing the susceptibility of forests to fire, and contributing to climate change by the conversion of biomass.
December 4, 2005
Countering Bush administration claims to the contrary, environmental officials for the state of California and the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo have found significant evidence that greenhouse gas pollution can be substantially reduced at a profit rather than a cost. The study, commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, found that energy efficiency has helped the California economy grow an extra 3 percent - a $31 billion gain - compared to business as usual. Further, the researchers say that each Californian typically saved about $1,000 per year between 1975 and 1995 just through efficiency standards for buildings and appliances.
December 3, 2005
The mass extinction event at the end of the Permian -- where more than two-thirds of reptile and amphibian families perished and 95% of oceans life forms became extinct -- was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas, according to research published in the journal Geology. The researchers believe that volcanic gases from the eruption, near present day Siberia, depleted earth's protective ozone layer and acidified the land and sea. The study supports research presented in the September issue of Geology which argued that a dramatic rise in carbon dioxide 250 million years ago may have caused global temperatures to soar and result in Earth's greatest mass extinction. A massive volcanic eruption could well have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which would have warmed and acidified oceans.
December 2, 2005
The Atlantic Ocean circulation that carries warm waters north and returns cold waters south is slowing, putting Europe at risk of colder temperatures, according to research published in Nature. The Atlantic Heat Conveyor, the system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that result in a net transport of warm water into the northern hemisphere, keeps western Europe warmer than regions at similar latitudes in other parts of the world. A weakening of the system, which includes the Gulf Stream, could cause a cooling in northwest Europe.
December 1, 2005
A group of scientists have a developed a new theory to explain why tropical rain forests have such high biodiversity. The scientists say that species will regulate themselves to make room for each other if they follow "community membership rules." The new theory undermines the conventional 'niche theory' which has been traditionally used to explain community assemblages.
Harlan Watson, chief climate control negotiator for the U.S. State Department, told the Associated Press that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather -- including the hurricanes that thrashed the Gulf earlier this year. "There's a difference between climate and extreme weather," Watson said. "Our scientists continually tell us we cannot blame any single extreme event, attribute that to climate change." Scientists say otherwise:
Help support mongabay.com when you buy from Amazon.com
HIGH RESOLUTION PHOTOS / PRINTS
About | Privacy
Copyright Rhett Butler 2013