After drought, ponds keep up with the Joneses
October 16, 2007 08:20 AM - Washington University in St. Louis

An ecologist at Washington University in St. Louis has discovered that after ponds dry up through drought in a region, when they revive, the community of species in each pond tends to be very similar to one another, like so many suburban houses made of ticky tacky.

Virgin Atlantic 747 to Test Biofuel in Early 2008
October 15, 2007 10:47 PM - Al Yoon, Reuters

BOSTON (Reuters) - British billionaire Richard Branson said on Monday his Virgin Group hopes to produce clean biofuels by around the start of the next decade and early next year will test a jet plane on renewable fuel.

Virgin hopes to provide clean fuel for buses, trains and cars within three or four years, Branson told a Mortgage Bankers Association meeting in Boston.

In the meantime, Virgin will be conducting a test jet flight on renewable fuels. "Early next year we will fly one of our 747s without passengers with one of the fuels that we have developed," Branson told the annual conference.

Researchers Genetically Alter Plants Hoping They'll Vacuum Up Toxins
October 15, 2007 10:41 PM - Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists hope they've figured out a way to trick plants into doing the dirty work of environmental cleanup, U.S. and British researchers said on Monday.

"Our work is in the beginning stages, but it holds great promise," said Sharon Doty, an assistant professor of forest resources at the University of Washington, whose study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In work they describe as preliminary, researchers at the University of Washington say they've genetically altered poplar trees to pull toxins out of contaminated ground water, perhaps offering a cost-effective way of cleaning up environmental pollutants.

Scientists call for drastic cuts in EU cod fishing
October 15, 2007 10:59 AM -

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe's trawlermen should cut back drastically next year on trawling for cod in the North Sea and aim to take less than half their 2006 catch from the sea, a group of international scientists said on Monday.

Cod, one of Europe's most threatened species due to years of chronic overfishing, has long risked a collapse in numbers. But matters seem to have improved slightly, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) said.

"Our scientific surveys show that the number of young fish has increased, although only to half of the long-term average," said Martin Pastoors, chairman of the ICES' main committee on compiling scientific advice on fish stocks and numbers.

China considers environmental tax on polluters
October 15, 2007 07:50 AM - Reuters

China is considering an environmental tax on polluters to cut emissions, a senior government official said on Monday.

"We are actively promoting this idea. But we have to consult with relevant ministries," Pan Yue, deputy head of the State Environmental Protection Administration, told reporters on the sidelines of the ruling Communist Party's five-yearly Congress.

Canada not listening to leading environmentalist
October 14, 2007 10:20 PM - Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO (Reuters) - David Suzuki, Canada's best-known environmentalist, has spent a generation encouraging Canadians to look after the environment, but it seems they have not been listening.

Goateed, soft-spoken and avuncular, Suzuki has built a devout following from 28 years narrating "The Nature of Things," a popular television series on the science of the natural world.

Now aged 71, he notes Canada's environmental credentials are eroding just when he says it is more important than ever to move in the opposite direction.

Five Asian nations to study flood, climate risks
October 14, 2007 05:53 AM - Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - A new U.N. course will help five Asian nations cope with a predicted worsening of floods due to climate change that may threaten cities from Beijing to Hanoi, the U.N. University said on Sunday.

Experts from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal and Sri Lanka would take part from November in a three-month course run by the U.N. University in Thailand to help map risks of downpours, rivers breaking their banks and rising sea levels.

If successful, the course could be expanded to other regions.

World Bank studies rising seas in Guyana
October 12, 2007 08:17 PM - Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank and Global Environmental Facility have approved $3.8 million in grant funding to protect low-lying coastal areas in Guyana threatened by rising sea levels, an official said on Friday.

This is the first project of its kind to be approved under the Global Environmental Facility's Special Climate Change Fund. It will look at ways to improve coastal drainage in the small South American country.

Gerald Meier, a consultant with the World Bank's hazard risk management group, said the project was responding to the catastrophic flooding in Guyana in 2005, which affected most of the inhabited northern coast of the country where up to 90 percent of the population lives.

Two Hawaiian Birds on Brink of Extinction
October 12, 2007 07:31 PM -

Washington, D.C.– Two rare hawaiian birds are on the verge of extinction a conservatinist group is saying. They are asking the US government to step in and help protect them.

American Bird Conservancy and Dr. Eric VanderWerf, an acknowledged expert on Hawaiian birds, submitted a petition yesterday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting protection under the Endangered Species Act for the Akekee and the Akikiki, two very rare birds found only on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.  Recent population surveys are raising concern that these species may be on the brink of extinction.

Process for Certifying Asian Catfish Aquaculture Products is Underway
October 12, 2007 12:08 PM -

WASHINGTON - Asian catfish aquaculture is moving toward sustainability. The catfish is a member of the "Pangasius" family. During the inaugural meeting of the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue, more than 70 producers, buyers, government officials and others from around the world agreed that there is an urgent need and willingness to certify pangasius aquaculture products.

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