February 28, 2005
The BBC carried an article on sustainable forest management in Cameroon.
February 26, 2005
Brazil condemned a proposal by former European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy to declare the Amazon region and other rain forests as "global public assets" subject to world management. Brazil's Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement that said "[Mr. Lamy's statements] are evidence of a prejudiced view underestimating the ability of developing nations to manage their natural resources in a sovereign and sustainable manner." Brazil has long feared foreign intervention in its Amazon region.
February 24, 2005
Researchers at UC Irvine and Humboldt University proposed a new theory on why insects stop breathing for minutes at a time in the Feb. 3 issue of Nature. Timothy Bradley of UCI and Stefan Hetz of Humboldt University (Germany) argue that some insects -- including grasshoppers, moths, butterflies -- close off their respiratory systems periodically to reduce tissue damage that can be caused by excess amounts of oxygen.
February 23, 2005
I have been working on a lot of Madagascar stuff lately. Here's a sampling of some pages: Clickable map of Madagascar - try the links above the image, Threats to Madagascar's environment, How to save Madagascar's environment, a Conservation plan for Madagascar, and Funding conservation initiatives in Madagascar. There's more on the site.
February 22, 2005
Under pressure from activists following the murder of American nun Dorothy Stang, Brazil last week announced the creation of two new protected areas covering more than 30,000 square miles in the Amazon. Nearly 10,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest in Brazil are destroyed each year.
February 20, 2005
Last week the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions came into effect. 141 countries have ratified the pact while 35 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their greenhouse gas pollution below 1990 levels. The United States, the world's largest emitter of such gases, will not ratify the protocol but says it will reduce emissions by 18% before 2012 and spend $5.8 billion this year alone on research. The U.S.'s main objection to the treaty was the exemption of developing nations like China and India from emission quotas.
February 19, 2005
Seasonal agricultural fires used for land clearing are burning across southeast Asia. NASA released satellite images showing fires in Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Madagascar pictures from Dylan.
February 18, 2005
Activist groups, Environmental Investigation Agency (based in Washington) and Telapak (based Indonesia), released a report on illegal logging in Irian Jaya on the island of New Guinea island. The report says rainforest wood is smuggled to China to feed the its growing need for lumber.
February 17, 2005
Sue Wren, a friend, sent along some pictures from her trip to the Amazon last year.
February 16, 2005
Last week's meeting between leaders of Congo basin nations produced a $15 billion treaty that provides for the creation of a new forestry commission, a fund to finance the rainforest conservation, and the restructuring of national laws on logging. The plan will be partially funded through a tax on products exported from the forest.
February 15, 2005
The European Court of Human Rights overturned the ruling in the 'McLibel' case which held that two activists had libeled McDonald's by issuing a pamphlet accusing the fast food chain of starving the Third World, destroying rainforests and selling unhealthy food. According to Reuters, the court "ruled that Helen Steel and David Morris did not receive a fair trial and their freedom of expression was violated by the 1997 judgment ordering them to pay 60,000 sterling ($113,200) in damages." The 'McLibel' trial was the longest in English legal history.
Following the murder of Dorothy Stang, the Brazilian government has announced plans to use the army to help protect government officials trying to recover land that was expropriated and cleared by loggers and ranchers in the Amazon.
February 14, 2005
Brazilian investigators now suspect at least six people were involved in the killing of Dorothy Stang. Members of the president's cabinet have called a meeting to discuss the murder which some are now comparing to the 1988 killing of Chico Mendes, a workers' rights and environmental activist in the Amazon.
February 13, 2005
Dorothy Stang, an American missionary, was shot to death in the Amazon state of Para, less then a week after she accused loggers and ranchers of threatening to kill rural workers. Stang had lived in Brazil since the early 1960s and was an "outspoken critic of efforts by loggers and large landowners to expropriate lands and clear the Amazon rainforest" (Reuters). Police said she was shot three times in the face and two suspects had been taken into custody. She was 74.
February 11, 2005
I added some journal notes for the first part of my trip to Madagascar: Manambolo I, Manambolo II, Manambolo II, Manambolo IV, Kirindy, Morondava, Isalo I, Isalo II, Fort Dauphin, and Berenty. Notes from the bulk of the trip will be added soon.
February 10, 2005
I have launched beta versions of the animal pictures section in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese. You may need to download Asian character sets for text to display properly. Depending on how things go I may expand the foreign languages available and increase the number of photo sections within each language set.
February 9, 2005
Tomorrow's edition of Nature. features a report on gliding ants in the rainforest of Peru. Lead author and insect ecologist Stephen P. Yanoviak notes that Cephalotes atratus ants use gliding as a means to escape predators and survive falls from the canopy.
February 7, 2005
Leaders from seven Congo basin countries drafted a 10-year conservation plan for the region's rainforests. Congo's rainforests are increasingly threatened by commercial logging and the movement of refugees displaced by ongoing civil strife, while Africa has the highest deforestation rate of any region in the world.
February 5, 2005
I will be away for a few days so there will not be any updates. Until then here are some pictures of India taken by Nancy Butler in January.
February 4, 2005
According to the Wall Street Journal, British Petroleum (BP) has built a natural-gas processing plant in the Sahara desert which re-injects carbon dioxide emissions back into the earth. BP plans to inject one million tons of carbon dioxide back underground annually during the next two decades in an effort to meet greenhouse gas emission limits set under the Kyoto Protocol. No one really knows how long the gas will stay in "geologic storage" or even whether burying carbon dioxide is safe (In 1986, more than 1,700 were killed at Lake Nyos, Cameroon when carbon dioxide and other gases were suddenly and spontaneously emitted from a volcanic lake), but the process is seen as a potentially cheaper way to address rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Some environmental groups support the plan reasoning that it is crucial to cut carbon pollution now rather than waiting for alternative technologies, like those based on solar power and hydrogen fuel cells, to be ready for widespread use.
February 3, 2005
Despite its massive environmental degradation, Madagascar has some of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet. From tropical rainforests to endemic spiny forests, the island supports the second highest number of primate species of any country in the world (Brazil is first).
Pictures of New Zealand taken by Nancy Butler in January.
February 2, 2005
I added some new pictures of Heron Island taken by Nancy Butler in January. Heron island, located on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, is home to around 900 species of fish and large nesting populations of sea turtles.
February 1, 2005
Shifts in climate have significantly affected tropical rainforests in the past and there is growing concern among scientists involved with the Large Scale Biosphere/Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia that climate change, when with combined large-scale deforestation, could turn extensive parts of the Amazon rainforest into savanna.
Mongabay received more than 2 million visits during the month of January. It is the first time the site has exceeded that mark. Thank you for your continued interest.
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