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Plug up the COAL; keep it in the ground!
November 19, 2013 12:43 PM - reprint from UNEP Climate Change Conference
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary UNFCCC, Speaks to the World Coal Association in Warsaw: invest in renewables and leave most of your coal underground. The path forward begins in the past, recognizing that coal played a key role in the history of our economic development. From heating to transportation to the provision of electricity, coal has undoubtedly enabled much of our progress over the last 200 years.
Study estimates 400,000 seabirds are killed by gillnets
November 19, 2013 08:57 AM - Jordanna Dulaney, MONGABAY.COM
A recent study from the Biological Conservation journal brings shocking news: every year across the globe, an estimated 400,000 seabirds are killed by gillnets. Gillnets, a common term for any net used to entangle and catch fish, are used all over the world, and at any depth. These nets, whether used in subsistence or commercial fishing, trap anything that swims through them. When unintended marine wildlife, or "bycatch," is caught in these nets, the results can be significant.
Atmosphere locked in time
November 18, 2013 11:23 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Amber has long been appreciated for its ability to preserve a moment in time as it encapsulated plant matter, bugs and other organisms. As a tool for ecosystem reconstruction, scientists have learnt a great deal. But recently researchers led by Ralf Tapper of the University of Innsbruck, have begun using amber and other fossil plant resins to reconstruct the composition of Earth's atmosphere from the last 220 million years. The results suggest that atmospheric oxygen was considerably lower in the Earth's geological past than previously assumed.
Tiny algae signal big changes for warming Arctic lakes
November 18, 2013 10:05 AM - Molly Sharlach, MONGABAY.COM
The mighty polar bear has long been the poster child for the effects of global warming in the Arctic, but the microscopic diatom tells an equally powerful story. Diatoms are a type of algae that form the base of the food chain in watery habitats the world over. Disturbances among lake diatoms have exposed the impacts of rapid warming in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of eastern Canada, researchers reported Oct. 9 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
2012 death toll for bats reaches 600,000 due to wind turbines
November 18, 2013 09:14 AM - Editor, ENN
Efforts to promote and develop new forms of sustainable energy have pushed wind power to the forefront. However, this type of power comes with a cost — as it often interferes with birds' and bats' migration, killing hundreds of thousands of these winged species. According to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver, more than 600,000 bats were killed by wind energy turbines in 2012. This has serious environmental repercussions as bats help pollinate crops and help control harmful insect pests.
Snowpack Dust Creates Problems for Colorado River
November 15, 2013 04:20 PM - Editor, ENN
Desert soils have been piling up in the Rocky Mountains since the mid-1800s as human land use activities disturb and break up the soil crust. And during recent years, desert dust has been settling exceptionally thick and dark on the snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, this poses a significant problem for the Colorado River and the 40 million people who depend on this source for water. How so? Snow dusted with dark particles absorbs more of the sun's rays and melts faster than clean snow. And unfortunately, desert dust is causing snowpack to melt many as six weeks earlier than it did in the 1800s.
Longline Fisheries in Costa Rica Hook Tens of Thousands of Sea Turtles Every Year
November 15, 2013 01:04 PM - Julia Calderone, MONGABAY.COM
Hundreds of kilometers of commercial fishing lines slither along coastal waters in Costa Rica, hooking thousands of mahi-mahi and many other marketable fish. But when scientists scrutinized fishermen’s catch, they were shocked by the staggering number of sea turtles accidentally snagged on the lines. A study published Aug. 20 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology suggests that longline fisheries in Costa Rica unintentionally caught about 700,000 Olive Ridley turtles as bycatch between 1999 and 2010—the second highest catch after mahi-mahi. Other bycatch included silky sharks, pelagic stingrays and Indo-Pacific sailfish.
Scientists Develop New Technique to Predict Wildfires
November 15, 2013 09:54 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Last year, over 9 million acres were burned in the US alone due to wildfires. While wildfires can be caused by natural events, they often burn out of control and may get to a point where they become uncontrollable, even when managed by firefighters. Despite their sparks of uncertainty and paths of destruction, researchers have found a way to predict wildfire growth through the lifetime of their blazes. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Maryland, have developed a technique that combines cutting-edge simulations of the interaction of weather and fire with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires. This is the first time computer modeling offers the promise of continually-updated daylong predictions.
Ocean acidification set to spiral out of control
November 15, 2013 06:57 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
The continued release of greenhouse gases into the air is set to bring about huge changes to land ecosystems as they are forced to adapt to rising temperatures. But the marine world — which is just as integral to human existence yet receives little attention during climate negotiations — will endure a similarly tumultuous time as emissions rise, scientists say. "Changing oceans will cause massive destruction of coral reefs, which, with their rich biodiversity, are the jungles of the sea," says Luis Valdes, the head of ocean science at UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), and co-author of a forthcoming report into ocean acidification.
Ooo, la la! Meet Bouba!
November 14, 2013 03:06 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
The Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Queen's Zoo in Flushing, NY has a new resident today. His name is Bouba and he is an Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) most commonly found in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru western Bolivia and northwestern Argentina.