Ecosystems

WITNESS: A whale of a time in the Indian Ocean
February 28, 2008 07:16 AM - Reuters

Ed Harris has been reporting for Reuters in East Africa since May 2004, filing from Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, and the Indian Ocean region. A British citizen, he has been sending text, photos, and video from Mauritius for 18 months. In the following story, he recounts a chance and very rare meeting with a pod of sperm whales just off the coast of Mauritius.

Climate change and urban sprawl alter Iditarod race
February 28, 2008 07:03 AM - Reuters

WASILLA, Alaska (Reuters) - Urban sprawl and dwindling snow have forced organizers of the world's most famous sled-dog race to bypass Wasilla, a fast-growing Alaskan city that calls itself "Home of the Iditarod." The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has formally moved the start of the race's timed competition to Willow, a hamlet 40 miles north of Wasilla.

China cracks down on water polluters with new law
February 28, 2008 06:32 AM - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China heightened pressure on polluters on Thursday, passing legislation that allows for stiff fines against heads of companies that foul its scarce water resources. The Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law which was passed ahead of the annual full session of China's parliament, or National People's Congress, which opens next week, will take effect on June 1, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Field Dispatch: Natural Habitat Antarctica Final Dispatch
February 27, 2008 09:54 AM - Sybille Klenzendorf,William Penhallegon, WWF

How can I discuss the profound experience of visiting Antarctica in a way that hasn’t already been done? Libraries are filled with books that describe travels to the continent, but most seem to describe it as a place to be conquered, or at least survived. Practically a whole subgenre of literature concerns the incredible survival stories from the early and not-so-early explorers; names like Scott, Mawson, Byrd, Ross, Amundsen, and of course, Shackleton, are embedded in our collective consciousness as men who challenged the continent – and who sometimes paid the ultimate price. Fortunately, however, Antarctica is being seen more recently as something greater than just a savage world to be survived.

How to Save the Rainforests
February 27, 2008 09:50 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

While we have fixated on our little local worries over the past week, the biggest news story of the year passed unnoticed in the night. The Brazilian government was forced to admit that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has returned to ecocidal levels. An area the size of Belgium, taking thousands of years to evolve, was destroyed in the past year alone. Some 20 per cent of the forest has now been trashed, with a further 40 per cent set to be slashed in my lifetime. This is steadily happening to all the rainforests on earth.

Pulp and palm oil the villains in Sumatra's global climate impact
February 27, 2008 09:27 AM - WWF

Pekanbaru, Sumatra: Turning just one Sumatran province's forests and peat swamps into pulpwood and palm oil plantations is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands and rapidly driving the province's elephants into extinction, a new study by WWF and partners has found.

Indonesia deforestation threatens elephants: WWF
February 27, 2008 08:57 AM - Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - Deforestation in a single Indonesian province is releasing more greenhouse gases than the Netherlands, and the loss of habitats is threatening rare tigers and elephants, the WWF conservation group said on Wednesday. It said that Riau province, covering one fifth of Indonesia's Sumatra island, had lost 65 percent of its forests in the past 25 years as companies used the land for pulpwood and palm oil plantations. Big peat swamps had also been cleared.

Indonesia pledges new cash as mud engulfs more land
February 27, 2008 07:10 AM - Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to set aside an additional 700 billion rupiah ($77 million) to compensate thousands more people whose homes are threatened by a mud volcano in East Java province, a minister said on Wednesday. Thousands of homes and factories have already been submerged by the hot mud since it first started to erupt in May 2006, forcing about 15,000 people to abandon their homes.

Beijing says torch can stay alight atop Everest
February 26, 2008 10:55 PM - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese scientists have expressed full confidence that the Olympic relay torch can scale Mount Everest without sputtering out, a newspaper said on Wednesday. The torch relay, ahead of the Games which start in Beijing on August 8, will include a climb to the top of the world's highest mountain, which spans Nepal and the Chinese region of Tibet.

Arctic seed vault opens doors for 100 million seeds
February 26, 2008 09:41 AM - Global Crop Diversity Trust

LONGYEARBYEN, NORWAY (26 FEBRUARY 2008) – The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened today on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, receiving inaugural shipments of 100 million seeds that originated in over 100 countries. With the deposits ranging from unique varieties of major African and Asian food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to European and South American varieties of eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato, the first deposits into the seed vault represent the most comprehensive and diverse collection of food crop seeds being held anywhere in the world.

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