Borneo, a look into a disappearing world

An interview with canopy expert Dr. Meg Lowman:
Canopy research is key to understanding rainforests

(11/28/2006) The canopy is the most biodiverse part of the rainforest, but due to its inaccessibility, it has been notoriously difficult to study. Over the years a number different techniques have been used to learn more about this biologically rich layer. Today you can find cranes, canopy walkways, ultra-lite planes, dirigible balloons and balloon-rafts, ski-lift-style trams, and remote-controlled pulley systems being employed to provide access to the canopy. Familiar with these efforts is Dr. Margaret D. Lowman, Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College of Florida. Known as "CanopyMeg" to her friends, Lowman has been exploring the rainforest canopy for over 25 years, developing an expertise for the use of different canopy access techniques while authoring over 95 peer-reviewed publications and three books. Recognized as a world-renowned canopy expert, Lowman today focuses on science education and rainforest conservation, and frequently speaks about her adventures to groups ranging from elementary school classes to corporate executives.   [ Interviews | Rainforests]

An interview with writer Jeff Greenwald:
How to travel ethically

(11/27/2006) Ecotourism is hot. Travel companies everywhere are slapping eco-friendly labels on their tours and hotels to attract green-minded visitors. Alas some "ecotourism" is not really good for the environment or local people. That three-week round-the-world eco-tour via private jet for just $42,950 will generate a lot of greenhouse gases as you're flying between plush lodges that import food and staff from other places. Likewise those wood carvings purchased in tourist centers may come not from indigenous artisans but a factory turning endangered rainforest hardwoods into throwaway tourist items. Heavy anchors dropped on reefs are good neither for the coral reef ecosystem nor the sustainability of the local tourism industry. So what's a true "ecotourist" to do? Is it really possible to travel without trampling culture and tradition and further soiling the environment? Writer Jeff Greenwald says it is. Greenwald, who wrote the first international blog in 1993/1994, is Executive Director of Ethical Traveler, a global community dedicated to exploring the "ambassadorial potential" of world travel.   [ Interviews | Ecotourism]

As presidential election approaches, Madagascar's lemur sanctuary burns

(11/23/2006) Forest fires are burning crucial lemur habitat and other hotbeds of biodiversity in Madagascar according to reports from the northeastern part of the island. The upcoming presidential election -- a bitterly contested poll -- may be partially to blame for the upswing in destruction says a leading local conservationist. Madagascar, a biologically rich, but economically poor island country located off the southeastern coast of Africa is almost as famous for its environmental problems as for its lemurs, a charismatic group of primates found nowhere else on Earth. The country is home to some 90 types of lemurs as well as a bonanza of other rare and unusual creatures including a puma-like mongoose, spiny hedgehog-like beasts called tenrecs, and absurdly colorful chameleons. But these creatures are highly threatened by habitat destruction, most of which results from slash-and-burn agriculture that has left less than 10 percent of the island's original forest cover standing.   [ Madagascar]

Amazon Indians use Google Earth, GPS to protect forest home

(11/14/2006) Deep in the most remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians are using Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, and other technologies to protect their fast-dwindling home. Tribes in Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions, which include profound knowledge of the forest ecosystem and medicinal plants. Helping them is the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization working with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests.   [ Amazon | Conservation]

Mining in Venezuelan Amazon threatens biodiversity, indigenous groups

(11/09/2006) Troubles are mounting in one of Earth's most beautiful landscapes. Deep in the Venezuelan Amazon, among ancient forested tabletop mountains known as tepuis, crystalline rivers, and breathtaking waterfalls, illegal gold miners are threatening one of world's largest remaining blocks of wilderness, one that is home to indigenous people and strikingly high levels of biological diversity. As the situation worsens -- a series of attacks have counted both miners and indigenous people as victims -- a leading scientific organization, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, has called upon the Venezuelan government to evict the illegal miners.   [ Amazon | Featured]

An interview with Tim Davenport:
Conserving wildlife in Tanzania, Africa's most biodiverse country

(11/08/2006) With ecosystems ranging from Lake Tanganyika to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is the most biodiverse country in Africa. Though Tanzania is world famous for its safari animals, the country is also home to two major biodiversity hotspots: coastal forests of Eastern Africa and the montane forests of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Tanzania has set aside nearly a quarter of its land mass in a network of protected areas and more than one-sixth of the country's income is derived from tourism, much of which comes from nature-oriented travel. Despite these conservation achievements, Tanzania's wildlands and biodiversity are not safe. Fueled by surging population growth and poverty, subsistence agriculture, fuelwood collection, and timber extraction have fragmented and degraded extensive areas that are nominally protected as parks. Hunting and unsustainable use of forest products have further imperiled ecosystems and species. In the near future, climate change looms as a major threat not only to Mt. Kilimanjaro's glaciers, which are expected to disappear within ten years, but also to Tanzania's many endemic plants and animals found in its montane forests. Working to better understand these threats and safeguard Tanzania's biodiversity for future generations is Tim Davenport, Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Tanzania. Davenport, who co-discovered a species of monkey in the Highlands region of Tanzania in 2003, has been working in Tanzania with WCS since 1999.   [ Interviews | Africa]

An interview with Dr. Ranil Senanayake, chairman of Rainforest Rescue International: Sri Lanka's rainforests fast-disappearing but hope remains

(11/06/2006) Sri Lanka, an island off the southern-most point of India, is known as a global biodiversity hotspot for its high number of species in a relatively limited area. However this biological richness is highly threatened by one of the highest deforestation rates of primary forests in the world. In that period, the country lost more than 35 percent of its old-growth forest cover, while total forest cover was diminished by almost 18 percent. Worse, since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by more than 25 percent. Dr Ranil Senanayake, chairman of Rainforest Rescue International, a grassroots environmental organization based in Sri Lanka, says that the key to saving the island's last forests is to "reintroduce the concept of sustainable livelihood" to the people living in and around the island's rainforests by establishing "commercially viable projects that explore the social and cultural relationships between people and ecology."   [ Interviews]

An interview with lemur expert Charlie Welch:
Lemur conservation in Madagascar requires poverty alleviation initiatives

(11/05/2006) Madagascar, an island larger than France that lies off the southeastern coast of Africa, is perhaps best known for its lemurs--primates that look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog. Lemurs, which are found naturally only in Madagascar, serve as a charismatic representation of the island's biodiversity and its problems. Since the arrival of humans some 2000 years ago from southeast Asia, Madagascar has lost all of its mega fauna and more than 90 percent of its wildlands. Today forest clearing for agriculture and hunting continues to put lemurs and other endemic species at risk. The good news is that because of Madagascar's biodiversity, the island has become a top priority for global conservation. At the forefront of these efforts is the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), an international consortium of zoos and related organizations that work to protect Madagascar's wildlife and ecosystems, and the Duke University Lemur Center, the one of the world's leading lemur research facilities. Charlie Welch, currently a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center, recently answered some questions on his experiences in lemur conservation. Welch, along with his wife Andrea Katz, has worked in Madagascar for 17 years and helped transform conservation efforts in the country.   [ Madagascar | Interviews]

Avoided deforestation could help fight third world poverty under global warming pact

(11/01/2006) Next week bureaucrats are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya at the next round of climate talks. Sure to be a hot point of discussion will be avoided deforestation, a concept whereby poor countries are paid to conserve their forests to help fight global warming. Analysis of the numbers suggests that such an avoided deforestation strategy for mitigating climate change could send billions for the world's poorest countries while preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services.   [ Deforestation]


Seagrass, manatee food source, threatened by development

(11/30/2006) Seagrass ecosystems are in peril according to an article published in the December issue of the journal Bioscience. The paper says that seagrasses, which provide important ecological services including habitat for aquatic life, mitigation of nutrient and sediment pollution, and reduction of beach erosion, are highly threatened by coastal development, pollution, and agricultural runoff. Further, the paper warns that their degradation could be sign of worsening environmental conditions.   [ Oceans]

Cattle produce more global warming gases than cars

(11/30/2006) Livestock-rearing generates more greenhouse gases than transportation according to a new report from the United Nations (U.N.), which adds that improved production methods could go a long way towards cutting emissions of gases responsible for global warming. "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," said Henning Steinfeld, a senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official and lead author of the report. "Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."   [ Climate Change]

Private land conservation booms in the United States

(11/30/2006) Private land conservation by local and state land trusts in the United States more than tripled between successive five-year periods from 2000 to 2005 according to a new report from the Land Trust Alliance, a group which represents 1,263 of the country's 1,667 local, state and national land trusts.   [ Conservation]

To avoid extinction humans must colonize space says Hawking

(11/30/2006) As he was awarded the most prestigious prize in science, British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said that humans need to colonize outer space in order avoid extinction. Hawking, who was presented Thursday with the Copley medal from Britain's Royal Society, told BBC Radio that humanity faces extinction if it confines itself to Earth.   [ Earth Science]

Sugar cane plantation threatens rare forest in Uganda

(11/30/2006) A plan to clear a protected forest reserve for sugar cane has sparked controversy in Uganda according to a report from Reuters. Uganda-based Mehta Group, owner of a sugar plantation that borders Mabira forest, a nature reserve since 1932, asked Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to consider a proposal that would level about 7,000 hectares, or about a quarter of the reserve which is home to 312 species of tree, 287 species of bird and 199 species of butterfly. Many Ugandans view the clearing of one of the few remaining tracts of primary forest for sugar cane, a low value commodity product, as a poor use of a resource that could attract ecotourists and supply valuable ecological services.   [ Africa]

How many whales are enough?

(11/30/2006) Iceland's decision to resume hunting endangered fin whales raises an important question: how many whales are enough to sustain a population? While conservationists will debate over the actual number using varying models and population studies, a new paper published in the journal Bioscience attempts to establish a new system for setting population targets for threatened species.   [ Conservation]

Rainforest tree diversity may be tied to seed dispersal

(11/29/2006) A new study says tree distribution in the rainforest is highly dependent on species' method of seed dispersal. The research could help explain how a large number of rainforest trees can coexist in a small area.   [ Rainforests]

Fragmentation killing species in the Amazon rainforest

(11/27/2006) Forest fragmentation is rapidly eroding biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest and could worsen global warming according to research to be published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Rainforest trees can live for centuries, even millennia, so none of us expected things to change too fast. But in just two decades-a wink of time for a thousand year-old tree-the ecosystem has been seriously degraded." said Dr. William Laurance, a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and leader of the international team of scientists that conducted the research.   [ Amazon | Biodiversity]

3 new lemur species identified in Madagascar

(11/27/2006) Genetic analysis has revealed three previously unknown species of lemurs on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. The newly described lemurs are all mouse lemurs, one of the world's smallest primates. These lively lemurs are found in virtually all of Madagascar's forests where they feed on insects, fruit, and plant sap. Nocturnal, mouse lemurs betray their presence with high-pitched chirps   [ Madagascar | Lemurs]

Growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions doubles since 1990s

(11/27/2006) The growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions has more than doubled since the close of the 1990s as countries have failed to reign in use of fossil fuels, says a new report from the Global Carbon Project, a group involved in scientific research on the impact of carbon on the planet. The finding was announced at the Annual Science Meeting at Tasmania's Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station. Dr Mike Raupach, co-Chair of the Global Carbon Project and a research scientist at Australia's CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Group, 7.9 billion metric tons (gigatons) of carbon were emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide in 2005, up from 6.8 gigatons in 2000.   [ Climate Change]

Climate change could cause sex switch in crocs

(11/27/2006) Warming climate could cause a sex imbalance in crocodiles making it more difficult to find mates, according to a south African scientist. Dr. Alison Leslie, a professor at South Africa's University of Stellenbosch, said that crocodile gender is determined by embryo temperature during incubation and that higher temperatures could skew the sex ratio of populations.   [ Climate Change]

$100 laptop arrives in Brazil

(11/27/2006) The $100 laptop has arrived in Brazil. According to the Associated Press, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday received a prototype version of the laptop, which has been billed as a durable low-cost PC for children in developing countries. 50 of the laptops are expected to be tested in Brazilian schools beginning today.   [ Technology]

Mongabay Français goes live

(11/25/2006) A French-language version of the kids rainforest site (kids.mongabay.com) is now live at world.mongabay.com/francais-french. Special thanks to Eric Mathieu of marojejy.com who did the translation.

U.N. ocean trawling ban blocked by Iceland

(11/23/2006) United Nations negotiators failed to agree on a measure banning deep-sea bottom trawling, a practice that has been called highly destructive by environmental groups. Iceland, a country recently criticized for its resumption of commercial whaling, blocked the U.N. resolution.   [ Oceans]

Worst mass extinction shifted entire ecology of the world's oceans

(11/23/2006) New research suggests that Earth's greatest mass extinction did more than wipe out an estimated 95% of marine species and 70% of land species; it fundamentally changed the ecology of the world's oceans. The study, published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science, found that "ecologically simple marine communities were largely displaced by complex communities", a shift that continues has continue since.   [ Extinction]

Anti-poaching patrols paying off for safari wildlife in Tanzania

(11/23/2006) Enforcement patrols are effectively cutting poaching of elephants, African buffaloes and black rhinos in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania according to new research published in the journal Science. Employing a sampling technique used to estimate the abundance of fish, an international team of scientists showed that poaching is down significantly in the Serengeti since the mid-1980s due to law enforcement efforts.   [ Conservation]

Global-warming weakened reefs could suffer more storm damage

(11/23/2006) Australia's Great Barrier Reef and other coral ecosystems could suffer from increasingly powerful storms brought about by global warming according to computer models published by a team of Australian scientists in the journal Nature. Researchers from the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) at James Cook University produced the first engineering model to predict how much damage a reef is likely to suffer from violent wave action.   [ Coral Reefs]

Rainforest site for kids now in Español

(11/22/2006) Thanks to Dr. David L. Pearson and Claudia Hernandez Camacho from the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, the mongabay kids site and the rainforest overview are now available in Spanish. I hope this is just the first of many language versions of the kids site. I'm currently looking for help to translate kids.mongabay.com into other languages.

Interview with Mexican research scientist Alejandro Estrada:
Mexico's rainforests depend on government conservation efforts

(11/21/2006) Few people realize that Mexico is home to the northernmost extent of rainforests that once extended clear down to the Amazon Basin. Though diminished in extent to about 30 percent of their original range, these rainforests are still characterized by high levels of biodiversity, including such charismatic species as jaguar, howler and spider monkeys, and macaws. While still threatened by encroachment and illegal activities, in recent years the Mexican government and an assortment of environmental organizations has made progress in protecting these forests. Particularly active in these conservation efforts is the Los Tuxtlas Biological Station based in Veracruz (southern Mexico). In November 2006, Dr. Alejandro Estrada, senior research scientist at Los Tuxtlas and a leading authority on these forests, answered some questions on Mexico's remaining rainforests and conservation efforts in the country.   [ Interviews]

Atmospheric levels of key greenhouse gas stabilize, could begin to decline

(11/20/2006) Atmospheric levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas have leveled off for the past seven years according to scientists at the University of California, Irvine. Methane, twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, has an atmospheric lifetime of about eight years so it is possible to reduce concentrations in a relatively short period of time. By contrast, carbon dioxide can persist for a century in the atmosphere making emissions a long-term problem.   [ Climate Change]

$100 laptop for poor children ships

(11/19/2006) The first ten $100 laptops have shipped from their Taiwanese manufacturer according to a report from News Corporation. The One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) ñ the nonprofit group behind the device ñ reportedly tested the laptops, which were hand-built, at the U.S. State Department last week.   [ Poverty Alleviation]

Military coup in Madagascar fails, democracy remains in place

(11/19/2006) Reuters reports that an attempted military coup by General Andrianafidisoa, who has been barred from running in the December 3 presidential election, failed on Friday.   [ Madagascar]

New species of orchids discovered in Papua New Guinea

(11/17/2006) Last month, environmental group WWF announced the discovery of eight orchid species previously unknown to science in the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Over the course of three orchid surveys in PNG's Kikori region between 1998 and 2006 -- conducted in a partnership with a consortium of oil and gas companies -- WWF collected some 300 species of orchids, including eight which have been confirmed as new the science, and 20 that may be undescribed species. WWF says the discovery will help conservation efforts in the region.   [ Species Discovery]

Inhofe doesn't attend climate change meeting but issues statement on children's book

(11/16/2006) James Inhofe, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, dismissed the United Nations climate meeting in Nairobi as "a brainwashing session" and released a statement attacking the body's new children's book on the climate change. The Oklahoma Republican, who was the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from oil and gas companies during the 2004 election cycle, has been a vocal opponent of the idea that humans are contributing to global warming, a stance that puts him in opposition with the majority of climate scientists. Inhofe didn't bother to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which ends tomorrow, but he did find time to issue a statement on "Tore and the Town on Thin Ice", the new children's book from the U.N.   [ Politics]

Pollution could be used to fight global warming

(11/16/2006) A Nobel Prize-winning scientist caused a stir Wednesday at the U.N. climate conference in Nairobi when he said "pollution" could be used to help fight global warming. Paul J. Crutzen, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the hole in the ozone layer, said that injecting sulfur into the atmosphere could slow global warming by reflecting solar radiation back into space. The plan would use balloons carrying artillery guns to fire sulfates into the stratosphere. Unlike greenhouse gas emissions, which feature a lag-time in heating the globe, the climatic response from sulfate injection would take effect within six months and the reflective particles would remain in the stratosphere for up to two years.   [ Climate Change]

Indonesia may seek rainforest conservation compensation to fight global warming

(11/16/2006) Indonesia may soon join the Coalition of Rainforest Nations in seeking compensation for rainforest conservation, according to a report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), a timber industry group. Indonesia has the world's second highest annual loss of forest cover after Brazil, but deforestation in the country has a disproportionate impact on global warming due to its peat forests which store large amounts of carbon. By some estimates, the destruction of these ecosystems releases 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year -- about ten percent of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.   [ Indonesia]

Global warming reduces polar bear survival rate

(11/16/2006) Polar bear survival rates have dropped significantly in the past 20 years, probably due to melting sea ice caused by higher temperatures, according to a study released this week.   [ Climate Change]

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rise 0.6% in 2005 to new record

(11/14/2006) Emissions of heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, rose by 0.6 percent between 2004 and 2005 according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Since 1990, such greenhouse gas emissions have climbed by 16.9 percent. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a 7 percent reduction in emissions levels below 1990 levels by 2012.   [ United States]

Ebola outbreaks may worsen with global warming

(11/14/2006) Ebola outbreaks are linked to wildlife and climate according to new research published in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Ebola, a deadly hemorrhagic fever made famous in Richard Preston's book The Hot Zone, periodically emerges to affect human populations in Central Africa. Until now, scientists had little understanding of the pattern behind Ebola outbreaks.   [ Climate Change]

Bottom trawling is ecologically destructive and should be banned says coalition

(11/14/2006) Deep sea bottom trawling is threatening marine ecosystems and biodiversity and should be banned said the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an advocacy group representing more than 60 conservation organizations from around the world.   [ Oceans]

Species evolution not making up for extinction caused by climate change

(11/14/2006) Current global warming has already caused extinctions in the world's most sensitive habitats and will continue to cause more species to go extinct over the next 50 to 100 years says a new study published in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics by a University of Texas at Austin biologist. The study, Dr. Camille Parmesan, an associate professor of integrative biology, also showed that species are not evolving fast enough to avoid extinction.   [ Climate Change | Extinction]

World's rarest cat captured in remote Russia

(11/14/2006) Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists captured a Far Eastern leopard in Southwest Primorski Krai in the southern Russian Far East, less than 20 miles from the Chinese border. With a wild population of 30, the Far Eastern leopard is the world's most endangered big cat.   [ Conservation]

RAN supports action on illegal Venezuelan mining [external]

(11/14/2006) The Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a leading environmental advocacy group, has voiced support for the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation resolution calling for an end to illegal mining in one of the world's most beautiful rainforests.   [ Conservation]

Sweden doing most to fight global warming, Saudi Arabia the least

(11/13/2006) Sweden, Britain and Denmark top the list of countries doing the most to address global warming, while the United States, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia rank as doing the least according to a new report released by environmental groups. Still, warns the report, even the best ranking countries are not doing enough to stave off climate change.   [ Politics]

New study confirms continuing forest loss in most countries

(11/13/2006) Forest cover continues to shrink in most countries around the world, though forest expansion in some countries gives hope that net deforestation may be peaking, according to a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers say that Earth's two most populous nations -- China and India -- have reached an equilibrium point in where they do not produce a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions from change in forest cover.   [ Deforestation]

U.S. stymies attempt to crack down on illegal logging

(11/13/2006) Monday the United States stymied an attempt by timber exporting and importing nations to establish new trade rules to tackle illegal logging, according to a report from Reuters. The news agency said that the U.S. may have neutered the initiative by insisting that all agreements had to be voluntary and failing to show up a Houses of Parliament meeting where proposals for the 2008 G8 summit in Tokyo were being developed.   [ Logging]

Global warming could doom many bird species

(11/13/2006) Up to 72 percent of bird species in northeastern Australia and more than a third in Europe could go extinct unless action is taken to address global warming said a report from environmental group WWF. The report, "Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report", reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds and identifies groups of birds at high risk from climate change: migratory, mountain, island, wetland, Arctic, Antarctic and seabirds. It says that species that can easily migrate to new habitats will likely thrive, while birds that live in niche environments may decline.   [ Birds]

400% increase in carbon dioxide emissions growth since 1990s

(11/13/2006) Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion are currently increasing four times faster than they were in the 1990s said scientists meeting at the Beijing Conference on Global Environment Change. Scientists from the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) warned that growing emissions put the Earth at risk of catastrophic climate change and urged governments to take immediate action to reduce emissions.   [ Climate Change]

Billion tree campaign launched in Nairobi

(11/13/2006) The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a campaign to plant a billion trees within a year. The campaign was announced last week at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.   [ Climate Change]

United States acting unethically on global warming says new report

(11/08/2006) For all the lip service the U.S. government gives to "values", a new paper raises some troubling ethical questions on its global warming stance. The paper, published by the Collaborative Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change, argues that ethics, human rights, and justice should be key components to international negotiations on global warming. It says that some countries, notably the United States, are currently taking positions that are "ethically problematic" and may violate basic human rights of people living in other countries.   [ Climate Change]

Fires in Indonesia kill 1,000 endangered orangutans

(11/06/2006) 1000 orangutans perished this year in forest fires that raged across Borneo and Sumatra according to a conservationist interviewed by Reuters. Willie Smits, an ecologist at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Indonesia, told Reuters that the fires forced hungry orangutans into agricultural areas where they were killed as pests. Orangutans are known for feeding on fruit of oil palm and other crops in fields adjacent to forest areas.   [ Primates | Indonesia]

Africa will suffer dearly from global warming

(11/05/2006) Already the world's poorest continent, Africa will suffer dearly from global warming unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut by an eventual 80 percent, according to a report from the U.N. issued on the eve of a global climate conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Avoided deforestation could help the continent fight global warming and address biodiversity loss and poverty at the same time. Economic possibilities for Africa and beyond: Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Surniame, and Uganda.   [ Africa]

Carbon dioxide levels set record again

(11/04/2006) Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide reached record levels in 2005 according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The U.N. organization said that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels now stand at 379.1 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53 percent from 377.1 ppm in 2004. WMO also found that atmospheric nitrous oxide concentrations, another heat-trapping gas, also reached record levels, up 0.19 percent 319.2 parts per billion (ppb) from 318.6 ppb. Methane levels remained stable at 1873 ppb, after rising slightly between 2002 and 2003.   [ Climate Change]

Is Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas polluter?

(11/03/2006) Is Indonesia the world's third largest producer of greenhouse gases? A new study by Wetlands International says it is, if the country's destruction of peat bogs is taken into account. A report released Thursday by Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics, a Dutch research institute, estimates that emissions from Indonesia's destruction of its extensive peat bogs releases 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year -- about ten percent of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.   [ Indonesia]

Beetle biomimicry could allow robots to climb vertical glass walls

(11/03/2006) Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Metals Research are developing adhesives based on biomimicry of beetles' feet. The design enables the materials to stick to smooth walls without any adhesives. The researchers say the technology, which uses microhairs "reminiscent of tiny mushrooms", could someday allow robots to climb vertical glass walls and refrigerator magnets to be replaced by non-magnetic objects.   [ Biomimicry]

Coral reefs can be saved from global warming

(11/03/2006) The outlook for coral reefs -- often termed the rainforests of the sea -- is dire. Overfishing, pollution, damage from anchors, mining for construction materials, and over-collection for the pet trade are all over-shadowed by climate change which could decimate reefs by higher water temperatures and increasingly acidic conditions which could render many coral species incapable of forming carbonate support structures. Nevertheless a new report from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy says that measures can be taken to help increase the survival chances for coral reefs. The report, "Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching", outlines strategies for helping reefs to be better adapt to the impacts of climate change.   [ Coral Reefs]

All stocks of wild seafood species to collapse by 2048 says new study

(11/02/2006) All stocks of currently fished wild seafood species are projected to collapse by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of the journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.   [ Oceans]

Hotspot conservation may not save endangered species

(11/02/2006) New research suggests conservation efforts based on biological hotspots might need to be re-prioritized since threatened species across different groups of animals -- mammals, birds and amphibians -- don't necessarily occur in the same areas. The study, published in the current edition (Nov. 2) of the journal Nature, shows a geographical discrepancy in hotspots of endangered species from different groups: geographical areas with a high concentration of endangered species from one group, do not necessarily have high numbers from other groups.   [ Conservation]

British firm looks to Amazon rainforest for new drugs

(11/02/2006) A British drug discovery company has partnered with a Brazilian firm to look for medicines from Amazonian and Atlantic rainforests according to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.   [ Amazon]

Shark biomimicry produces renewable energy system

(11/01/2006) An Australian firm has developed a renewable tidal energy conversion system based on the highly efficient fin structure of shark, tuna, and mackerel. BioPower Systems, a renewable energy systems company based in Eveleigh, New South Wales, says that its bioSTREAM technology for converting tidal and marine current energy into electricity is modeled on biological species, such as shark and tuna, that use Thunniform-mode swimming propulsion.   [ Biomimicry]