Underestimating the Impacts of Old-Growth Logging
August 1, 2014 09:28 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Ecologists may be underestimating the impact of logging in old-growth tropical forests by failing to account for subtleties in how different animal groups respond to the intensity of timber extraction, argues a paper published today in the journal Current Biology. The study, led by Zuzana Burivalova of ETH Zurich, is based on a meta-analysis of 48 studies that evaluated the impact of selective logging on mammals, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates in tropical forests. Burivalova, together with co-authors Cagan Sekercioglu and Lian Pin Koh, found that biodiversity is inversely proportional to logging intensity.
Defending against sea level rise could make the problem worse
August 1, 2014 09:12 AM - Harriet Jarlett, Planet Earth Online
A combination of coastal defences and rising sea levels could change typical UK tidal ranges, potentially leading to a higher risk of flooding, say scientists. The researchers wanted to find out how tides around the UK might respond to changes in sea level over the next century depending on the level of coastal defences in place.
Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison
As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.
Nesting Implications for the Northern Gulf Loggerhead
July 31, 2014 10:29 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, a massive response to protect beaches, wetlands, and wildlife occurred. Nonetheless, because of the spill, extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats were reported and many studies have been conducted to quantify the affects of the oil spill on specific species. One study in particular which started in the wake of the spill looks at the nesting of loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf and how their feeding areas have been not only affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill, but by commercial fishing operations, and areas used for oil and gas extraction.
CO2 decrease cause of Antarctic ice sheet growth in ice age
July 31, 2014 06:15 AM - University of New Hampshire via ScienceDaily
Climate modelers from the University of New Hampshire have shown that the most likely explanation for the initiation of Antarctic glaciation during a major climate shift 34 million years ago was decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The finding counters a 40-year-old theory suggesting massive rearrangements of Earth's continents caused global cooling and the abrupt formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. It will provide scientists insight into the climate change implications of current rising global CO2 levels. In a paper published today in Nature, Matthew Huber of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space and department of Earth sciences provides evidence that the long-held, prevailing theory known as "Southern Ocean gateway opening" is not the best explanation for the climate shift that occurred during the Eocene-Oligocene transition when Earth's polar regions were ice-free.
Green Turtle success story
July 30, 2014 07:48 AM - Staff, Click Green, ClickGreen
More than 70 years after major turtle nesting beaches became protected on the remote UK overseas territory of Ascension Island researchers are now reporting a boom in population numbers. Scientists from the University of Exeter and Ascension Island Government Conservation Department report that the number of green turtles nesting at the remote South Atlantic outpost has increased by more than 500 per cent since records began in the 1970s.
Do "Fat taxes" work?
July 28, 2014 02:55 PM - EurActiv
Specific taxes on sugar, salt or fat do cause reductions in consumption, the European Commission found in a new report. But higher taxes may also merely encourage consumers to go for cheaper products, it warned. The precise impact of such "fat taxes" on the competitiveness of the European agriculture and food sector still needs to be fully assessed, the report added.
How to encourage recycling and feed stray animals at the same time!
July 27, 2014 08:28 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2
Istanbul, Turkey recently unveiled awesome new machines that help both the environment and needy animals. Each time a person recycles a plastic bottle in the designated receptacle, pet food is ejected into a bowl at the bottom so hungry stray animals have something to eat. So far, the machines have been a hit with residents. People who would normally toss bottles in a trash can might wait to carry the plastic a bit longer to dispose of it in the recycling bin now that they know they can assist animals. It’s a win-win scenario that doubles Turkish people's incentive to do the right thing.
The important role of community forests
July 25, 2014 07:49 AM - Yale Environment360
Expanding and strengthening the community forest rights of indigenous groups and rural residents can make a major contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, according to a new report. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative said that indigenous people and rural inhabitants in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have government-recognized rights to forests containing nearly 38 billion tons of carbon, equal to 29 times the annual emissions of all the world’s passenger vehicles. By enforcing community rights to those forests, the study said, governments can play a major role in tackling climate change. In the Brazilian Amazon, for example, deforestation rates are 11 times lower in community forests than in forests outside those areas. In areas where community forest rights are ignored, deforestation rates often soar. The report made five major recommendations, from better enforcement of community forest zones to compensating communities for the climate and other benefits their forests provide.
Groundwater depletion and western US water supply
July 24, 2014 04:34 PM - NASA and UC Irvine
A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.