Ecosystems

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.

Fish species found in old outback uranium mine
February 25, 2008 08:47 PM - Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists announced the discovery of a new species of freshwater fish on Tuesday, two decades after it was sighted in a disused uranium mine in the outback Northern Territory. The Barraway's carp gudgeon, or Hypseleotris barrawayi, was found by a biologist in a uranium pit in the Kakadu National Park in 1988, but was only recently declared a new species after extensive studies.

Dust in West up 500 percent in past 2 centuries
February 25, 2008 09:55 AM - University of Colorado at Boulder

The West has become 500 percent dustier in the past two centuries due to westward U.S. expansion and accompanying human activity beginning in the 1800s, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sediment records from dust blown into alpine lakes in southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains over millennia indicates the sharp rise in dust deposits coincided with railroad, ranching and livestock activity in the middle of the last century, said geological sciences Assistant Professor Jason Neff, lead author on the study. The results have implications ranging from ecosystem alteration to human health, he said.

Butterfly fish 'may face extinction'

A beautiful black, white and yellow butterflyfish, much admired by eco-tourists, divers and aquarium keepers alike, may be at risk of extinction, scientists have warned. The case of the Chevroned Butterflyfish is a stark example of how human pressure on the world’s coral reefs is confronting certain species with ‘blind alleys’ from which they may be unable to escape, says Dr Morgan Pratchett of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Media Release and James Cook University.

Mining sets off earthquake in west Germany
February 24, 2008 07:07 AM - Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) - A mild earthquake caused by coal mining shook the western German state of Saarland on Saturday, causing damage to buildings but no injuries. A police spokesman in the Saarlouis region on the French border said the earthquake measured 4.0 on the Richter scale, the strongest on record in the area, and had knocked over chimneys and caused electricity outages.

Kenyan wildlife park bush fire rages for second day
February 23, 2008 11:24 AM - Reuters

NAKURU, Kenya (Reuters) - Using branches to beat back flames, Kenyan rangers and residents struggled for a second day on Saturday to control bush fires that have engulfed a third of one of the nation's best-known wildlife parks. At least 100 local citizens joined wildlife officials to help put out the fire, which was accidentally started in a nearby village and has already destroyed large patches of the 188 square km Lake Nakuru National Park.

Can Japan Convince International Community to Support “Sustainable” Whaling?
February 23, 2008 09:23 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

The International Whaling Commission’s 78 members are meeting in London next month in an effort to reach agreement on whale conservation rules. Meanwhile, global whale hunting continues to increase. The March 6–8 gathering, titled “The Future of the IWC,” will prepare IWC member states for their annual meeting in Chile this June. Delegates at the June conference will likely face considerable pressure to produce an agreement on the future of whaling, particularly in light of rising catches by Japan and other countries.

Traces of unapproved GMO trait found in U.S. corn
February 22, 2008 05:33 PM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Traces of an unapproved genetically modified trait were found in U.S. corn planted in 2006 and 2007 but the grain poses no threat to food or feed safety, said the U.S Agriculture Department on Friday. The 2008 corn crop will not be affected when it is planted this spring across the United States, the world's largest corn exporter.

Congo, Rwanda and Uganda united to save mountain gorillas
February 22, 2008 09:41 AM - WWF

Borders will matter less to central Africa’s mountain gorillas, following the launch of a strategic conservation plan and an associated project which covers adjoining areas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are only about 720 gorillas left in the tropical mountain forests shared by the three countries, the Central Albertine Rift Area Network. The gorillas’ natural habitat is threatened by the destruction of these forests and the great apes themselves are victims of poachers.

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