Ecosystems

Desalination Raises Environmental, Cost Concerns
April 29, 2008 09:42 AM - Ben Block, Worldwatch Institute

As global freshwater reserves dry up, desalination plants are receiving greater attention as an option for providing both drinking water supplies and agricultural irrigation. But a new study released on Thursday raises several concerns about the environmental impact and cost effectiveness of the widely touted technology to convert seawater to fresh water. Desalination plants pose a risk to marine species when the water is collected from ocean areas, as well as when the salty discharge is deposited into coastal estuaries, according to the report, which was released by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC).

Making a Killing from the Food Crisis
April 29, 2008 09:33 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

The world food crisis is hurting a lot of people, but global agribusiness firms, traders and speculators are raking in huge profits. Much of the news coverage of the world food crisis has focussed on riots in low-income countries, where workers and others cannot cope with skyrocketing costs of staple foods. But there is another side to the story: the big profits that are being made by huge food corporations and investors.

Poor children main victims of climate change: U.N.
April 29, 2008 08:01 AM - Reuters

Millions of the world's poorest children are among the most vulnerable and unwitting victims of climate change caused by the rich developed world, a United Nations report said on Tuesday, calling for urgent action. The UNICEF report "Our Climate, Our Children, Our Responsibility" measured action on targets set in the Millennium Development Goals to halve child poverty by 2015. It found failure on counts from health to survival, education and sex equality.

Australia splashes A$13 bln to secure water supplies
April 29, 2008 02:09 AM - Reuters

The Australian government outlined plans to secure water supplies and repair ailing rivers on Tuesday, to protect the nation's drought-hit food bowl, which produces about A$22 billion ($21 billion) worth of food exports. The A$13 billion 10-year water plan includes A$3 billion to buy river water back from irrigators in the Murray-Darling River basin, which produces 41 percent of Australia's agriculture, as well as money to secure water for the nation's thirsty cities.

Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone
April 28, 2008 08:36 AM - Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Dutch ecologist Roxina Soler and her colleagues have discovered that subterranean and aboveground herbivorous insects can communicate with each other by using plants as telephones. Subterranean insects issue chemical warning signals via the leaves of the plant. This way, aboveground insects are alerted that the plant is already ‘occupied’. Aboveground, leaf-eating insects prefer plants that have not yet been occupied by subterranean root-eating insects. Subterranean insects emit chemical signals via the leaves of the plant, which warn the aboveground insects about their presence. This messaging enables spatially-separated insects to avoid each other, so that they do not unintentionally compete for the same plant.

The Biofuels Scam, Food Shortages and the Coming Collapse of the Human Population
April 26, 2008 09:39 AM - Mike Adams , Organic Consumers Association

It was one of the dumbest "green" ideas ever proposed: Convert millions of acres of cropland into fields for growing ethanol from corn, then burn fossil fuels to harvest the ethanol, expending more energy to extract the fuel than you get from the fuel itself! Meanwhile, sit back and proclaim you've achieved a monumental green victory (President Bush, anyone?) all while unleashing a dangerous spike in global food prices that's causing a ripple effect of food shortages and rationing around the world. I think politicians need to spend less time bragging about their latest greenwashing schemes and more time studying The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Earthquake In Illinois Could Portend An Emerging Threat
April 25, 2008 10:08 AM - Washington University in St. Louis

To the surprise of many, the earthquake on April 18, 2008, about 120 miles east of St. Louis, originated in the Wabash Valley Fault and not the better-known and more-dreaded New Madrid Fault in Missouri's bootheel. The concern of Douglas Wiens, Ph.D., and Michael Wysession, Ph.D., seismologists at Washington University in St. Louis, is that the New Madrid Fault may have seen its day and the Wabash Fault is the new kid on the block.

Plan to reverse global warming could backfire
April 25, 2008 05:15 AM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A proposed solution to reverse the effects of global warming by spraying sulfate particles into Earth's stratosphere could make matters much worse, climate researchers said on Thursday. They said trying to cool off the planet by creating a kind of artificial sun block would delay the recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole by 30 to 70 years and create a new loss of Earth's protective ozone layer over the Arctic.

More space for species in Europe
April 24, 2008 08:07 AM - World Wildlife Fund

Brown bears, wolves, lynx, owls and black storks have been given vast new areas to roam in as the European Commission accepted new areas corresponding to two-thirds the size of The Netherlands to its Natura 2000 network of protected natural areas. Many of the new areas are in central and eastern Europe, including a significant part of the Carpathian Mountains. Slovakia has added a wealth of sites, including for example the traditional farming area of Mala Fatra.

Arctic ice seen melting faster than anticipated
April 24, 2008 07:16 AM - Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) - Arctic ice may be melting faster than most climate change science has concluded, the conservation group WWF said in a report published on Thursday. It found that ice in Greenland and across the Arctic region was retreating "at rates significantly faster than predicted in previous expert assessments."

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