Sustainability

Meat DNA testing can help save species
March 11, 2013 09:36 AM - Linda Nordling, SciDevNet

African governments need to boost local efforts to protect endangered species by supporting DNA testing, argues Linda Nordling. The horsemeat scandal that recently hit Europe has shown how DNA testing can improve food monitoring and safety. Most African countries are yet to adopt the technology despite its huge potential - both in ensuring that food is correctly labelled and in policing the illegal trade in animal products.

Impacts of Global Warming on Rainforest Modeled
March 11, 2013 05:58 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Tropical forests may be less sensitive to global warming than previously thought, argues a new study published in Nature Geoscience. The research is based on computer simulations using 22 climate models for tropical forests in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It projects loss of forest biomass as a result of climate change only in the Americas. However the study is far from conclusive, with the authors listing several uncertainties about how tropical forests will respond to climate change.

Caribbean Nations Take Control of Their Collective Energy Future
March 8, 2013 01:24 PM - Katie Auth and Evan Musolino, Worldwatch Institute

In the face of the many challenges inherent in getting 15 countries—each with their own resources, priorities, and political complexities—to agree to anything, let alone a comprehensive regional energy policy, the Caribbean is now on the brink of taking a significant (and impressive) step forward. For the past half decade, a Draft Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Energy Policy—designed to address critical issues like energy security, affordability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy—has been circulating among CARICOM's 15 member states, continually being revised to reflect the concerns of individual members, but never finalized.

The Smart Grid and Electric Car Charging
March 7, 2013 06:20 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Some are worried that the electric grid will be stressed leading to a decrease in its reliability. In related news today, Battelle and AeroVironment have a technology that will address this concern, and help EV's charge when the grid is most able to support charging. This technology is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners. Battelle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems.

Warnings of global ecological tipping points may be overstated
March 6, 2013 08:50 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

There's little evidence that the Earth is nearing a global ecological tipping point, according to a new Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper that is bound to be controversial. The authors argue that despite numerous warnings that the Earth is headed toward an ecological tipping point due to environmental stressors, such as habitat loss or climate change, it's unlikely this will occur anytime soon—at least not on land. The paper comes with a number of caveats, including that a global tipping point could occur in marine ecosystems due to ocean acidification from burning fossil fuels. In addition, regional tipping points, such as the Arctic ice melt or the Amazon rainforest drying out, are still of great concern.

International Year of Water Cooperation
March 6, 2013 06:15 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

As organizations around the world search for ways to ensure that impoverished communities have dependable access to drinking water, a new concern has surfaced: Just who will own the rights to managing that water access in the years to come? In 2010, in what seemed at the time to be an awesome example of prescience, the United Nations labeled 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC). Of course, the branding wasn't intended to recognize accomplishments the world has made in sharing its water resources, but to spur countries and communities around the globe to acknowledge that the potential for a global water crisis is real and that according to the UN, challenges such as "water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks" need to be addressed.

In the News: 100 million sharks killed each year by commercial fishing
March 4, 2013 02:51 PM - Katrina Armour, ARKive.org

Ahead of the 16th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species that runs from the 3rd to the 15th of March this year, researchers are again warning that sharks are in need of better protection. A new report, published in the journal Marine Policy, estimates the annual number of sharks killed by commercial fishing to be around 100 million, although the actual number could be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million.

EU Hopes to Make Progress with Fishing Industry Reforms
March 4, 2013 09:22 AM - Christian Schwagerl, Yale Environment 360

Overfishing has been an important environmental issue recently as catching too many fish in one area can lead to food chain imbalances and the overall degradation of that system. Christian Schwagerl for YaleEnvironment360 discusses Europe’s over-subsidized fishing industry and what members of the European Union (EU) are doing to change and protect Europe’s marine environment.

Thailand Prime Minister Pledges to Take Steps to End Ivory Trade
March 3, 2013 06:41 AM - WWF

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today pledged to end ivory trade in Thailand, seizing a key opportunity to stem global wildlife trafficking. Her statement came after the call of nearly 1.5 million WWF and Avaaz supporters. Prime Minister Shinawatra said at the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok that Thailand would take steps to end ivory trade — the first time the Thai government has said this publicly. "As a next step we will forward amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end on ivory trade and to be in line with international norms," Prime Minster Shinawatra said. "This will help protect all forms of elephants including Thailand's wild and domestic elephants and those from Africa."

Cropland expansion the culprit in biodiversity loss, says study
March 1, 2013 08:55 AM - Clara Rondonuwu, SciDevNet

Rapid cropland expansion is the main cause of biodiversity loss in tropical countries, a study by UNEP's (the UN Environment Programme) World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative has found. The study, published in PLOS ONE last month (9 January), highlights maize and soybean as the most expansive crops and as the main drivers of biodiversity loss in tropical regions. Other crops that pose a major threat to habitats and wildlife are beans, cassava, cowpea, groundnut, millet, oil palm, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat, the study says.

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