Ecosystems

Earth's dirty little secret: Slowly but surely we are skinning our planet
November 30, 2007 04:42 PM - University of Washington, Newswire

Seattle, WA - "It only takes one good rainstorm when the soil is bare to lose a century's worth of dirt." "It's more of a conceptual shift than anything else, but it's a conceptual shift that conserves the soil." Seattle, Washington - Throughout history civilizations expanded as they sought new soil to feed their populations, then ultimately fell as they wore out or lost the dirt they depended upon. When that happened, people moved on to fertile new ground and formed new civilizations.

That process is being repeated today, but in a new book a University of Washington geomorphologist argues the results could be far more disastrous for humans because there are very few places left with fertile soil to feed large populations, and farming practices still trigger large losses of rich dirt.

 

 

 

 

Underwater turbines could turn Puget Sound's tides into electricity
November 30, 2007 04:29 PM - University of Washington, Newswire

Seattle, Washington - The UW recently signed an agreement with Snohomish County Public Utility District to study tidal currents in Puget Sound as a possible source of power. The Snohomish County consortium will investigate sites where turbines sitting beneath the water's surface might use the powerful tidal currents to generate electricity.

 

"With renewable energy, you want to go with the source that's most appropriate for your location on the planet," said Phil Malte, professor of mechanical engineering and project manager. "If you're living in Phoenix, Ariz., you want to have a strong component of solar energy in your renewable-energy mix. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, we feel it's appropriate to take a very hard look at tidal energy."

Scientists find rare glass sponge reefs off west coats of US
November 30, 2007 04:24 PM - University of Washington

Greys Harbor, Washington - Thirty miles west of Grays Harbor, University of Washington scientists have discovered large colonies of glass sponges thriving on the seafloor. The species of glass sponges capable of building reefs were thought extinct for 100 million years until they were found in recent years in the protected waters of Canada's Georgia and Hecata straits, the only place in the world they've been observed until now.

The discovery in Washington waters extends the range of reef-building glass sponges into open ocean.

 

 

 

 

WTO proposal limits fisheries subsidies
November 30, 2007 02:29 PM - Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) - New negotiating proposals at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday impose tough limits on subsidies on fisheries, a move that delighted environmentalists concerned about overfishing.

The proposals, from Uruguay's WTO ambassador Guillermo Valles Galmes, who is chairing WTO negotiations on "rules" -- dumping, subsidies and fisheries subsidies -- do not propose a blanket ban on all subsidies to fisheries.

Microbes in ancient ice could give clues to life's origin
November 30, 2007 10:54 AM -

Riverside, California - Researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Delaware have thawed ice estimated to be perhaps a million years old or more from above Lake Vostok, an ancient lake that lies hidden more than two miles beneath the frozen surface of Antarctica.

Currently, the research team, led by UC Riverside’s Brian Lanoil, an assistant professor of environmental sciences, is examining the eons-old water for microorganisms. Using novel genomic techniques, the team is trying to determine how the tiny, living “time capsules” survived the ages in total darkness, in freezing cold and without food and energy from the sun.

WHO concerned at new Ebola strain
November 30, 2007 10:25 AM - Reuters

The outbreak, announced by U.S. and Ugandan health officials on Thursday, is in Bundibugyo, near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.

Invasive species threaten land of the dodo
November 30, 2007 09:54 AM - By Ed Harris, Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Three centuries after the dodo's demise, the rich plant and animal life of Mauritius is still under threat, this time from exploding populations of non-native species such as Chinese guavas and Malagasy geckos.

Does the Electricity You Use Demolish Mountains?
November 30, 2007 09:13 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute

A new Web-based tool allows U.S. residents to learn how their local electricity consumption may be linked to the destruction of landscapes in the Appalachia region of the eastern United States. With “My Connection,” a feature from North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices, users can enter their ZIP codes and use Google Earth to view the decimated mountains from which their power provider obtains coal. “When you can show people they have a direct connection to it, it makes it that much more relevant to their day-to-day life,” Mary Anne Hitt, the executive director of Appalachian Voices, told the Wall Street Journal.

Life In The Southern Ocean & Climate Change
November 29, 2007 11:26 AM - Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

A ten-week expedition to the Lazarev Sea and the eastern part of the Weddell Sea opens this year's Antarctic research season of the German research vessel Polarstern. On the evening of November 28, just some two hours after an official ceremony at the Berlin Museum of Natural History honouring Polarstern's 25th anniversary of service, the research vessel will begin its 24th scientific voyage to the Southern Ocean from Cape Town.

Coal Use Rises Dramatically Despite Impacts on Climate and Health
November 29, 2007 08:48 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

In 2006, coal accounted for 25 percent of world primary energy supply. Due to its high carbon content, coal was responsible for approximately 40 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels, despite supplying only 32 percent of fossil fuel energy. Management of this plentiful but heavily polluting energy resource has tremendous implications for human welfare, the health of ecosystems, and the stability of the global climate.

World coal consumption reached a record 3,090 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2006, an increase of 4.5 percent over 2005. China led world coal use with 39 percent of the total. The United States followed with 18 percent. The European Union and India accounted for 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

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