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Recovery of Atlantic Forest depends on land-use histories
December 11, 2012 10:05 AM - Thomas Handley, MONGABAY.COM
The intensity of land-use influences the speed of regeneration in tropical rainforests, says new research. Tropical rainforests are a priority for biodiversity conservation; they are hotspots of endemism but also some of the most threatened global habitats. The Atlantic Forest stands out among tropical rainforests, hosting an estimated 8,000 species of endemic plants and more than 650 endemic vertebrates. However, only around 11 percent of these forests now remain. The quality of what remains is also a concern: 32 to 40 percent of remnants are small areas of secondary forest.
Fisheries Commission Ignores Advice for Ending Overfishing
December 11, 2012 09:01 AM - Prime Sarmiento, SciDevNet
A five-day meeting on fisheries ended last week (6 December) amid complaints that big fishing nations have blocked efforts to curb tuna overfishing and ignored scientific advice. The accusations were made following the ninth regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which is the governing body for an international fisheries agreement that seeks to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish, such as tuna, in parts of the Pacific Ocean.
Uncontacted Tribes in Peru at Risk
December 11, 2012 06:51 AM - David Hill, The Ecologist
Peru is set to embark on a major expansion of gas operations in the Camisea region in the Amazon - a move which could decimate Indigenous peoples, both those in 'voluntary isolation' and others in the early stages of contact. Operations in Camisea - in a concession known as Lot 88 in the Cusco region in south-east Peru - are run by a consortium headed by Pluspetrol and including Repsol-YPF and Hunt Oil. The bulk of this Lot (74% ) overlaps the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve, which was created in 1990 for ”˜isolated’ peoples and in a bid supposedly intended to prohibit companies from operating there.
Global Decline of Big, Old Trees Impacts Forest Ecosystems
December 10, 2012 01:48 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Trees can live hundreds, even thousands of years. But the problem is that these trees aren’t making it to old age and according to a new study, big, old trees are in decline throughout the world which can have detrimental impacts to forest ecosystems. Old trees are crucial organisms for many ecosystems: they provide homes for animals, provide space for other plants to grow, and they produce seeds, leaves, and nuts that serve as food. They also store large amounts of carbon and continue to sequester it as they grow, said study co-author David Lindenmayer, a researcher at Australian National University.
Improvements in Air Quality add Years to Life Expectancy in US
December 8, 2012 09:05 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Are all the environmental laws and regulations accomplishing anything? Sometimes progress is not apparent, so it is good news that a new study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has found an association between reductions in fine particulate matter and improved life expectancy in 545 counties in the U.S. from 2000 to 2007. It is the largest study to date to find beneficial effects to public health of continuing to reduce air pollution levels in the U.S. The study appears in the December 3, 2012 online edition of the journal Epidemiology. "Despite the fact that the U.S. population as a whole is exposed to much lower levels of air pollution than 30 years ago—because of great strides made to reduce people’s exposure—it appears that further reductions in air pollution levels would continue to benefit public health," said lead author Andrew Correia, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biostatistics at HSPH".
100 Million Electric Miles: Chevy Volts Reach Milestone
December 7, 2012 09:00 AM - Editor, Justmeans
Chevrolet Volt owners collectively have driven more than 100 million all-electric miles since the vehicle went on sale two years ago this month. The average Volt owner travels more than 65 percent of the time in pure electric mode as the car was designed — only using the gasoline-powered generator for longer trips. By charging regularly, Volt owners drive approximately 900 miles, or a month and a half, between fill-ups. However, many Volt owners quickly exceed that average, based on an EPA-estimated 98 MPGe that puts electric-only range at 35 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway.
Climate Change Update: Reports Show Growing Risks
December 7, 2012 06:34 AM - Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDevNet
As the UN climate change talks continue in Doha, Qatar, several reports over the past month have highlighted a sombre picture of the Earth's changing climate, raising alarm bells in particular for the world's poorest regions. A report from the World Bank launched last month (18 November) warns that the planet "is on track for a four degrees Celsius warmer world" by 2100, marked by extreme heat waves, declining food stocks, loss of biodiversity and life-threatening sea level rise. This is double the generally accepted two degrees Celsius threshold beyond which catastrophic climate change impacts are expected.
The Race for Developing Plant-based Renewable Plastics
December 6, 2012 10:00 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
The 20th century marked the great space race between Russia and the United States for domination in space exploration. Now the 21st century marks a new race: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo competing for leadership on plant-based renewable plastics. In March of 2010, PepsiCo announced the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable plant-based resources ensuring production of a new 100% recyclable bottle in 2012. PET plastics are typically labeled with the #1 code near the bottom of the containers and are commonly used for soft drinks, salad dressings, water, etc.
Apple Brings Some Manufacturing Jobs Back to US
December 6, 2012 06:23 AM - Raz Godelnik, Triple Pundit
When President Obama sat down for dinner with Silicon Valley's top executives in February 2011, he asked Steve Jobs what would it take to make iPhones in the U.S. According to reports, Jobs replied, "Those jobs aren't coming back." So, while it looks like Jobs was right, at least for now, about the iPhones, it might be that some jobs do come back to the U.S. as Apple is shifting its assembly of some of the new, ultra-thin iMacs to the U.S. The news came up after a new 21.5-inch iMac owner reported to Fortune that instead of the usual marking “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China,"the iMac was marked "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in the USA." It's not clear yet why the company decided to take this step and what it means for Apple. The only thing we know for sure right now, is that some jobs did come back to the U.S.
Doha Climate talks: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
December 5, 2012 06:31 AM - Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter, via WWF
Developing and developed countries reached a stalemate over how to verify carbon emissions from forests in Saturday's talks on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation at the annual U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar. Represented by Brazil and Norway, respectively, poor and wealthy nations were unable to agree on how high to set the standard to verify emissions reductions at the 37th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the group that dispenses scientific advice to the delegates to the conference.