Ecosystems

Small Planets Forming in the Pleiades: Astronomers
November 15, 2007 09:06 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Small, rocky planets that could resemble the Earth or Mars may be forming around a star in the Pleiades star cluster, astronomers reported on Wednesday.

One of the stars in the cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, is surrounded by an extraordinary number of hot dust particles that could be the "building blocks of planets" said Inseok Song, a staff scientist at NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology.

Greenpeace Blocks Shipment of Indonesian Palm Oil
November 15, 2007 08:35 AM - Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Greenpeace has blocked a tanker carrying more than 30,000 tonnes of palm oil from leaving an Indonesian port to protest against forest destruction blamed on plantations, the environmental group said on Thursday.

The protest came less than three weeks before a U.N. climate change meeting on the resort island of Bali, where delegates from 189 countries will debate ways to slow down global warming, including the impact of dwindling tropical rainforests.

China Defends Mega Dam, Guards Against Disaster
November 15, 2007 08:16 AM - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China defended the environmental effects of its huge Three Gorges Dam on Thursday, with a senior official saying pollution was under control and threats from landslides under close guard.

The dam on the Yangtze River lies in the central province of Hubei and holds a 660-km (410-mile) reservoir. In September, an official warned of environmental calamity if landslides, siltage and pollution were not contained.

But in an implicit denial of that warning, the office director of the Three Gorges Project Committee, Wang Xiaofeng, said problems were manageable and within expectations.

 

U.S. groups Seek Protection for Loggerhead Turtles
November 15, 2007 08:03 AM - Reuters, Jim Loney

MIAMI  - Loggerhead sea turtles in U.S. Atlantic waters face extinction from commercial fishing and global warming and should be designated an endangered species, two environmental groups said on Thursday.

The ocean conservation group Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity are petitioning the U.S. government to win better protection for loggerhead habitats and nesting beaches along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

The petition to be filed on Thursday with the U.S. Commerce Department and the Department of the Interior serves as a warning that the groups could sue the U.S. government if it fails to act to protect the species.

Loggerhead nest counts in Florida have dropped nearly 50 percent in the last decade, according to Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Island Nations Plan for Rising Seas, Mass Migration
November 14, 2007 08:33 AM - Ajay Makan -Reuters

Countries usually evacuate their citizens because of war or a sudden and catastrophic natural disaster.

For the Pacific island state of Kiribati, the climate change disaster facing the nation is no less dramatic but on a slower time scale and means preparing its 100,000 inhabitants for lives in nations less vulnerable to wild weather and rising seas.

As China's mega dam rises, so do strains and fear
November 14, 2007 08:03 AM - Chris Buckley -Reuters

The slopes of Chenjialing Village have shuddered and groaned lately, cracking and warping homes and fields, and making residents fear the banks of China's swelling Three Gorges Dam may hold deadly perils.

The vast hydro scheme is meant to subdue the Yangtze River, but as the water levels rise, parts of its shores have strained and cracked, dismaying scientists and officials and alarming villages such as Chenjialing in Badong County.

Yellowstone Rising
November 14, 2007 07:48 AM - NSF

The Yellowstone "supervolcano" rose at a record rate since mid-2004, likely because a Los Angeles-sized, pancake-shaped blob of molten rock was boiled up 6 miles beneath the slumbering giant, scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) report in the November 9 issue of the journal Science.

"There is no evidence of an imminent volcanic eruption or hydrothermal explosion, that's the bottom line," says seismologist Robert Smith, lead author of the study and a geophysicist at the University of Utah. "A lot of calderas [giant volcanic craters] worldwide go up and down over decades without erupting."

Who's L.A. gonna call? -- "Drought Busters"
November 13, 2007 07:11 PM - Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A team of "Drought Busters" driving hybrid Toyota Prius cars was dispatched throughout Los Angeles on Tuesday to educate residents on water waste as the city struggles with a record drought.

Water authorities said the six-person team would give written notices to Angelenos caught wasting water as well as handing out advice on how to cut excessive water use.

Fines are not envisaged at the moment but officials left open the possibility that the Drought Busters could impose penalties if record low rainfall persists.

"We are not in the mandatory water conservation phase at this point and we will not be writing fines," the city's Department of Water and Power chief, Robert Rozanski, told a news conference.

Brazil seeks aid from U.N. chief for Amazon
November 13, 2007 04:30 PM - Raymond Colitt -Reuters

Beneath a towering canopy in the heat of the Amazon jungle, Brazilian Indians and officials urged U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to rally international support to protect the world's largest rain forest.

"We need the Secretary to help convert international good will into concrete mechanisms that benefit the residents of the Amazon," Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva told Ban under a century-old Samauma tree 30 minutes upriver from Belem, the Amazon's largest city.

Brown root rot -- a potentially serious forage crop disease -- is found throughout the Northeast
November 13, 2007 08:14 AM - Cornell University

Cornell plant pathologists have detected brown root rot -- a potentially serious forage crop disease -- in the northeastern United States. It is widespread in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire and has been detected in Pennsylvania and Maine.

The findings are published in the October issue of the journal Plant Disease.

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