Sri Lanka to give poached ivory to Buddhist temple, flouting international agreements
February 6, 2013 09:18 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The Sri Lankan government is planning to give 359 elephant tusks to a Buddhist temple, a move that critics say is flouting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The illegal tusks were seized in Sri Lanka last May en route to Dubai from Kenya; they are believed to stem from hundreds of butchered elephants, including juveniles, inside Africa, possibly Uganda. The decision comes after a high-profile National Geographic article, Ivory Worship, outlined how demand for ivory religious handicrafts, particularly by Catholics and Buddhists, is worsening the current poaching crisis.
New Research Questions Invasive Bird Introduction to Manage Tick Populations in Turkey
February 5, 2013 05:30 AM - Thomas Handley, MONGABAY.COM
As Turkey raises and releases thousands of non-native helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) to eat ticks that carry the deadly Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, new research suggests guineafowl actually eat few ticks, carry the parasites on their feathers, and further spread the disease.
Planting Trees Helps Fight Climate Change, but mainly locally
February 2, 2013 07:48 AM - Science Daily
Afforestation, planting trees in an area where there have previously been no trees, can reduce the effect of climate change by cooling temperate regions, finds a study in BioMed Central's open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. Afforestation would lead to cooler and wetter summers by the end of this century. Without check climate change is projected to lead to summer droughts and winter floods across Europe. Using REMO, the regional climate model of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, researchers tested what would happen to climate change in 100 years if land currently covered in non-forest vegetation was converted into deciduous forest. This equates to more than a doubling of forest in Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Northern Ukraine, Northern Germany and France. But in already heavily forested countries such as Sweden the increase is smaller, at less than 10%.
Chevron Moving Forward on Permits for Shale Gas Projects in Romania
February 1, 2013 05:55 AM - Business Review Romnania
The county council in Vaslui County, Romania awarded last December Chevron the right to drill an exploratory well for shale gas in a locality within the Barlad concession that covers some 600,000 hectares in North East Romania. Chevron will drill its first exploratory well in the Paltinis village, within the Bacesti locality in rural Vaslui. People in this region took to the streets three times last year to protest the exploitation of shale gas through franking. Dumitru Buzatu, president of the Vaslui county council, said that Chevron's permitting is legal.
'Biotic Pump' Theory Suggests Forests Drive Wind and Rain
January 31, 2013 08:58 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
It took over two-and-a-half-years for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics to finally accept a paper outlining a new meteorological hypothesis in which condensation, not temperature, drives winds. If proven correct, the hypothesis could have massive ramifications on global policy—not to mention meteorology—as essentially the hypothesis means that the world's forest play a major role in driving precipitation from the coast into a continent's interior. The theory, known as the biotic pump, was first developed in 2006 by two Russian scientists, Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva of the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics, but the two have faced major pushback and delays in their attempt to put the theory before the greater scientific community.
How Profoundly Cities Affect Temperatures Both Near and Far
January 28, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
It has been known for a long time that cities create warmer temperatures due to heat stored in buildings, roads, and other man-made structures. They also add heat from air conditioners, boilers, and other combustion sources. This is known as the urban "heat island". What has not been known until now, is that cities also raise temperatures in the areas surrounding them, out thousands of miles. A new study shows the extent to which human activities are influencing the atmosphere, both locally, and at distant locations. Scientists have concluded that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems. This affects temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others, according to the study this week in Nature Climate Change.
Massachusetts Leads the Divestment Charge
January 27, 2013 07:48 AM - LESLIE FRIDAY/ecoRI News
Harvard University is a world leader in higher education, but sophomore Chloe Maxmin wants her college to also blaze trails battling climate change. The social studies and environmental science major helps coordinate Divest Harvard, an offshoot of a 350.org-sponsored campaign pushing colleges, local governments, nonprofits and pensions to divest from the 200 companies with a majority of the fossil-fuel reserves. Maxmin's group started speaking to students in August about the urgency for action on global climate change while pitching divestment as a powerful financial tool. The group then launched a successful petition drive that placed divestment on last November’s student ballot and earned 72 percent support for a non-binding referendum urging Harvard to steer its $31 billion endowment away from fossil fuels. Divest Harvard's next step is to meet Feb. 1 with Harvard's Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility to pitch its case.
Breakthrough Treaty on Limiting Mercury Emissions
January 26, 2013 08:18 AM - Yojana Sharma, SciDevNet
A legally binding global treaty to curb mercury in the environment, agreed after a week of gruelling negotiations in Geneva, will also include a funding facility to assist developing countries in phasing out the toxic heavy metal in industrial processes and in artisanal gold mining in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after the Japanese port where people suffered serious health effects from mercury pollution in the 1950s, was agreed by more than 140 countries after week-long talks in Geneva leading up to all-night negotiations on Saturday (19 January).
European Carbon Market in trouble
January 25, 2013 05:45 AM - EurActive
EU carbon prices briefly slid 40% to a record low after politicians opposed plans to support the market, raising concerns prices could hit zero and sending a warning to European governments to pull together in lowering carbon emissions. Prices in the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) on Thursday (24 January) dropped to €2.81 a metric tonne after a vote in the European Parliament's energy and industry committee opposing a scheme known as "backloading" - or supporting prices by extracting allowances from the market and reinjecting them later. In volatile trade, they later climbed back above €4.
From Light Green to Sustainable Buildings
January 23, 2013 05:04 PM - Supriya Kumar, Worldwatch Institute
As more people move to urban areas in search of economic opportunities, the number of buildings that are needed to house them continues to rise. It is estimated that by 2030, an additional 1.4 billion people will live in cities, of which 1.3 billion will dwell in cities of developing countries. The increasing number of buildings has long-term impacts on both the environment and natural resources. Fortunately, a variety of policy tools hold promise for promoting sustainability in buildings, according to Kaarin Taipale, contributing author of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity. The buildings in which we live and work are a major consumer of energy, responsible for some 30—40 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, a similar share of total solid waste, and 12 percent of all fresh water used. With the rate of urbanization reaching record levels, there will be more construction and buildings than ever before.