Top Stories

Establishing marine protected areas to fight illegal fishing

Do you know how that tuna sashimi got to your dinner plate? Probably not—and chances are, the restaurant that served it to you doesn’t know, either. A new policy paper argues that illicit fishing practices are flying under the radar all around the world, and global society must combat them in order to keep seafood on the menu. According to the paper, published in Science, fishing practices that are illegal, unreported and unregulated (collectively referred to as IUU) are ubiquitous. They range from bottom trawlers scouring the seafloor—sometimes catching more illegal species than legal ones—to small boats simply not reporting their catch. 

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Climate change, species extinctions and tipping points

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created a model that mimics how differently adapted populations may respond to rapid climate change. Their findings demonstrate that depending on a population's adaptive strategy, even tiny changes in climate variability can create a "tipping point" that sends the population into extinction.

Carlos Botero, postdoctoral fellow with the Initiative on Biological Complexity and the Southeast Climate Science Center at NC State and assistant professor of biology at Washington State University, wanted to find out how diverse populations of organisms might cope with quickly changing, less predictable climate variations. 

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Hope for the Monarch Butterfly

When millions of monarch butterflies take to the sky and fly thousands of kilometres from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico, the view is breathtaking. But over the last few decades, their numbers have plummeted, and last year hit an all-time low. Illegal logging in Mexican forests, where the monarchs hibernate during winter, has traditionally been to blame. But large-scale logging by companies appears to have been halted. And now small-scale logging by local people for firewood and timber — a “growing concern in 2013” — has also stopped, according to a study published last month (27 October) in Biological Conservation.

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World Bank warns effects of warming climate now unavoidable

As the planet continues to warm, heat-waves and other extreme weather events that today occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, will become the “new climate normal,” creating a world of increased risks and instability, a new World Bank study warns. 

The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources shift, sea-levels rise, and the livelihoods of millions of people are put at risk, according to a new scientific report released today by the World Bank Group.

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Good News for the Black-Footed Ferret

When you hear about an animal becoming extinct, most assume that the species is gone for good, never to be seen again. That’s not the case for North America’s rarest mammal, the black-footed ferret. 35 years after being declared extinct, the adorable critter is re-emerging in the western U.S. and Canadian prairie land.

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Small farms the key to increasing food production

All over the world, small farmers are being forced off their land to make way for corporate agriculture, writes GRAIN - and it's justified by the need to 'feed the world'. But it's the small farmers that are the most productive, and the more their land is grabbed, the more global hunger increases. We must give them their land back!

The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. As part of the celebrations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its annual 'State of Food and Agriculture', which this year is dedicated to family farming.

 

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Can Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global Warming?

Small volcanic eruptions might eject more of an atmosphere-cooling gas into Earth’s upper atmosphere than previously thought, potentially contributing to the recent slowdown in global warming, according to a new study.

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If ladybugs move into your house this fall, make them welcome

During the warm months of the year, ladybugs are like adorable, bright-colored lapel pins. They land on us, accessorize our clothing in brilliant red or orange with stylish black spots, and are delightful to have around. Several cultures even think of ladybugs as good luck charms for anything from marriage to childbirth to the weather to a good harvest. Then fall arrives and the ladybugs need to find warmth, which is most available inside people’s homes – where they often descend in large numbers. Suddenly they’re not as cute to many people as they seemed outdoors. But Jessica Ware, an insect expert and assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University-Newark, says having ladybugs indoors serves a very useful purpose, and humans should welcome their temporary houseguests. 

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Not so fast: Planting trees might cause warming?

Afforestation (planting trees) to mitigate climate change could cause warming rather than cooling globally due to non-carbon effects of land use change, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Global land use change and its interaction with the climate system is recognised as an important component of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s future climate scenarios.

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Abrupt rise in greenhouse gases at end of last ice age may be because of permafrost

One of the most abrupt rises in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere at the end of the last ice age took place about 14,600 years ago. Ice core data show that the CO2 concentration at that time increased by more than 10 ppm (parts per million, unit of measure for the composition of gases) within 200 years. This CO2 increase, i.e. approx. 0.05 ppm per year, was significantly less than the current rise in atmospheric CO2 of 2-3 ppm in the last decade caused by fossil fuels. 

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