Ecosystems

U.S. Environmental Groups Divided on “Clean Coal”
March 22, 2008 08:02 AM - Ben Block, Worldwatch Institute

At a Senate press conference held last week to urge national action on climate change policy, 16 major U.S. environmental organizations shared the stage in solidarity. But while it appears the nation's green groups are united in the fight against global warming, they remain divided on which technologies would best create a carbon-free economy. This division may cause major roadblocks as Congress prepares to debate several climate change policies that could lead to sweeping changes.

Lost in the Amazon
March 21, 2008 12:49 PM - , E Magazine

Wading in muck up to the rims of his black rubber boots, Manoel dos Santos proudly showed off his tall palms of acai (pronounced ah-sie-ee), the deliciously bitter Amazonian berry that American health food stores tout as a miracle fruit. “Ten years ago, we didn’t even have enough acai for ourselves to eat,” dos Santos told the first tour group to ever visit his community.

'Nanominerals' influence Earth systems from ocean to atmosphere to biosphere
March 21, 2008 09:58 AM - National Science Foundation

The ubiquity of tiny particles of minerals--mineral nanoparticles--in oceans and rivers, atmosphere and soils, and in living cells are providing scientists with new ways of understanding Earth's workings. Our planet's physical, chemical, and biological processes are influenced or driven by the properties of these minerals. So states a team of researchers from seven universities in a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Science: "Nanominerals, Mineral Nanoparticles, and Earth Systems."

Melting glaciers will shrink grain harvests in China and India.
March 21, 2008 09:36 AM - Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute

The world is now facing a climate-driven shrinkage of river-based irrigation water supplies. Mountain glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau are melting and could soon deprive the major rivers of India and China of the ice melt needed to sustain them during the dry season. In the Ganges, the Yellow, and the Yangtze river basins, where irrigated agriculture depends heavily on rivers, this loss of dry-season flow will shrink harvests.

Gas-belching volcanoes may have killed dinosaurs
March 20, 2008 02:04 PM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Gas-belching volcanoes may be to blame for a series of mass extinctions over the last 545 million years, including that of the dinosaurs, new evidence suggested on Thursday. A series of eruptions that formed the Deccan Traps in what is now India pumped huge amounts of sulfur into the atmosphere 65 million years ago, with likely devastating repercussions for the Earth's climate, scientists said.

Tropical forest changes 'explained by multiple factors'
March 20, 2008 10:43 AM - , SciDevNet

Changes in the growth and species composition of tropical forests cannot be fully explained by global environmental changes, say researchers. Recent studies in the Amazon rainforest have suggested that changes such as the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (see Carbon emissions 'may alter forest growth patterns') and other factors such as nutrient deposition, temperature, drought frequency and irradiance are increasing the productivity and biomass of forests.

French driftnetters will not fish in 2008
March 20, 2008 10:37 AM - , Oceana

Madrid -- The European Court of Justice refuses to grant this fleet a temporary exemption to permit the use of driftnets. Oceana has reported the French fleet on numerous occasions for using this illegal fishing gear in the Mediterranean, which operated with support from the French government. Driftnets, a fishing gear that can reach dozens of kilometres in length, were prohibited in the European Union in 2002 because they constitute a threat to the conservation of cetaceans, sea turtles and sharks.

Chance sighting gets Fiji its first satellite tagged turtle
March 20, 2008 10:23 AM - WWF

After unsuccessful attempts over the last 2 years, this was the final one during this nesting season to locate and satellite tag a hawksbill nester, a first for Fiji. One of the major challenges has been the lack of funds to reach isolated islands which are now thought to support what remains of a once thriving Fiji turtle nesting population.

Cutting-edge Computing Helps Discover Origin Of Life On Earth
March 19, 2008 09:38 AM - National Grid Service

Deep ocean hydrothermal vents have long been suggested as possible sources of biological molecules such as RNA and DNA but it was unclear how they could survive the high temperatures and pressures that occur round these vents. Professor Peter Coveney and colleagues at the UCL Centre for Computational Science have used computer simulation to provide insight into the structure and stability of DNA while inserted into layered minerals. Computer simulation techniques have rarely been used to understand the possible chemical pathways to the formation of early biomolecules until now.

Arctic pollution's surprising history
March 19, 2008 09:35 AM - University of Utah

Scientists know that air pollution particles from mid-latitude cities migrate to the Arctic and form an ugly haze, but a new University of Utah study finds surprising evidence that polar explorers saw the same phenomenon as early as 1870. “The reaction from some colleagues – when we first mentioned that people had seen haze in the late 1800s – was that it was crazy,” says Tim Garrett, assistant professor of meteorology and senior author of the study. “Who would have thought the Arctic could be so polluted back then? Our instinctive reaction is to believe the world was a cleaner place 130 years ago.”

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