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The Uncertain Role of Extractive Reserves in Conservation

During the 1980s, Brazilian rubber tapper Chico Mendes was a prominent activist for the preservation of the Amazon region. He urged his government to set up reserves for rubber tappers and was instrumental in creating various organizations and unions for his peers. In 1988, Mendes was murdered by a rancher intent on logging the site of a future reserve. Partly in response to the international media outcry, Brazil created the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, consisting of 980,000 hectares of land protected for forest-dependent indigenous inhabitants. >> Read the Full Article

Initiative Raises Money to Keep Oil Companies out of Ecuador

The Yasuni-ITT Initiative has been called many things: controversial, ecological blackmail, revolutionary, pioneering, and the best chance to keep oil companies out of Ecuador's Yasuni National Park. But now, after a number of ups and downs, the program is beginning to make good: the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has raised $300 million, according to the Guardian, or 8 percent of the total amount needed to fully fund the idea. The program, which is the first of its kind, proposes to leave an estimated 850 million barrels of oil untouched in Yasuni National Park if donors worldwide compensate Ecuador for about half of the worth of the oil: $3.6 billion. The money would keep oil companies out of 200,000 hectares known as the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinin (ITT) blocs. >> Read the Full Article

New Study Reveals the Key to Maintaining Healthy Knees

The human knee is an extremely important joint. It holds the weight of the entire body, provides the strength needed to lift heavy objects, and bends and flexes to give us mobility. Since this crucial joint is under stress at almost all times (except when sitting or lying down), it is susceptible to wear over time. This is especially true for the cartilage which holds together all the bones in the knee. As we age, the knee ages and the cartilage can develop a number of ailments that could potentially prohibit mobility. A new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America found that both too much and too little physical activity can accelerate the degeneration of knee cartilage in middle-aged adults. >> Read the Full Article

New Development for Phytoremediation: Harvesting Collected Contaminants

A team of researchers led by the University of Warwick are about to embark on a research program called "Cleaning Land for Wealth" (CL4W), that will use a common class of flower to restore poisoned soils while at the same time produce platinum and arsenic nanoparticles that can be used in a range of applications. A "Sandpit" exercise organized by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council allowed researchers from the Warwick Manufacturing group (WMG) at five universities to share technologies and skills to come up with an innovative multidisciplinary research project that could "help solve major technological and environmental challenges." >> Read the Full Article

Type 1A Supernovas

A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. I Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. A Type Ia supernova is a sub-category of supernovae that results from the violent explosion of a white dwarf star. Supernova can be easily picked out and are often used as a way to measure distances. A study using a unique new instrument on the world’s largest optical telescope has revealed the likely origins of especially bright supernovae that astronomers use as easy-to-spot mile markers to measure the expansion and acceleration of the universe. >> Read the Full Article

Doha Climate Summit off to a Rocky Start

The EU will not commit to renew climate funding which runs out in 2013 ahead of talks at the Doha climate summit, which opens today (26 November). But new climate aid may be announced in the conference’s second week. Development NGOs reacted angrily to an EU statement on 23 November which said only that in Doha, the EU would "discuss with its developing country partners how major flows of EU climate finance can continue in 2013-2014". "If the EU and other developed countries are serious about making climate action a reality for the period 2013-2020, they can't afford to come to Doha empty handed," Lies Craeynest, Oxfam’s EU policy adviser told EurActiv. >> Read the Full Article

Climate Change Impacts in New England

In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, spread wildlife diseases and tree pests, and change timber resources. And, according to a new BioScience paper just released by twenty-one scientists, without long-term studies at the local scale -- we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects. Following an exhaustive review of more than fifty years of long term data on environmental conditions at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the paper's authors arrived at a sobering conclusion: current climate change models don't account for real life surprises that take place in forests. >> Read the Full Article

Forests worldwide near tipping-point from drought

Forests worldwide are at "equally high risk" to die-off from drought conditions, warns a new study published this week in the journal Nature. The study, conducted by an international team of scientists, assessed the specific physiological effects of drought on 226 tree species at 81 sites in different biomes around the world. It found that 70 percent of the species sampled are particularly vulnerable to reduction in water availability. With drought conditions increasing around the globe due to climate change and deforestation, the research suggests large swathes of the world's forests — and the services they afford — may be approaching a tipping point. >> Read the Full Article

Greenland becoming more green, thanks to Global Warming

I don't want to be told that thanks to Global Warming - now accepted by the majority (77%) of Americans and so therefore, in my opinion, a new Tipping Point - strawberry plants can now survive a Greenland winter. I don't want to see neat little rows of budding lettuce plants growing outside a polytunnel. OUTSIDE a polytunnel; over-wintering under the snow but come the Spring, still alive and sprouting new shoots; cabbage and potatoes to follow. And I don't want to hear a Greenlander livestock farmer telling me that (once again, thanks to Global Warming) he now has enough newly ice-free pasture land to double the size of his 20,000-strong flock of sheep. >> Read the Full Article

Last decade was warmest on record in Europe

European temperatures in the last decade were 1.3 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average – the warmest since records began – according to new research by the European Environment Agency (EEA), the EU’s climate advisory body. Their report finds that since 2002, rainfall has decreased in southern Europe, while increasing in the north, and there have been more extreme weather events. Meanwhile, the Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and many European glaciers are melting. "Climate change is a reality around the world, and the extent and speed of change is becoming ever more evident," said Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA's executive director. >> Read the Full Article