Top Stories

UK builds recyclable hotel

LONDON (Reuters) - A British hotel chain is building what is says is the first recyclable hotel constructed from pre-built, container-like crates imported from China, stacked on each other and bolted together. Budget hotel operator Travelodge said on Tuesday the steel modules could be dismantled if necessary at the end of the 120-room hotel's life and moved elsewhere -- and that the model could ultimately be used to build temporary hotels for sporting events or festivals. >> Read the Full Article

Italy's PM orders "trash tsar" to end crisis

NAPLES (Reuters) - Prime Minister Romano Prodi gave Italy's former police chief four months to clean up a garbage crisis in Naples where tons of rotting rubbish sparked clashes between police and residents on Tuesday. A neighborhood on the outskirts of Italy's third largest city has been sealed off since Saturday by protesters trying to stop truckloads of garbage being brought in for dumping. Police fired tear gas overnight to disperse protesters. >> Read the Full Article

Renewables supply 14 pct of German power: industry

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Renewable energy made up more than 14 percent of Germany's power consumption in 2007, up from almost 12 percent in 2006, with wind as the main contributor, the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) said on Tuesday. Energy derived from wind, solar, water, biomass and thermal heat accounted for 9 percent of Germany's total primary energy consumption last year, reducing the country's CO2 emissions by 115 million tones, the association said. >> Read the Full Article

Illegal logging and road building threatens tigers and tribes of the Heart of Sumatra

Field investigations in central Sumatra have found that the home of two tribes of indigenous people and endangered elephants, tigers and orang-utans faces “being split in half” by the construction of “a legally questionable highway” for logging trucks servicing one of the world’s largest paper companies. The investigation, by WWF Indonesia and other scientific and conservation groups, also found the crucial Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape threatened by illegal logging, clearing for plantations and other roadbuilding – much of it linked to operations of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and its partners. >> Read the Full Article

Corn... fuel... fire! U.S. corn subsidies promote Amazon deforestation

Amazon deforestation and fires are being aggravated by US farm subsidies, claims STRI’s staff scientist William Laurance. According to Laurance, whose findings are reported this week in Science (December 14), a recent spike in Amazonian fires is being promoted by massive US subsidies that promote American corn production for ethanol. The ethanol is being blended with gasoline as an automobile fuel. >> Read the Full Article

Administration Will Miss Deadline for Polar Bear Endangered Species

The administration is required by law to make its decision on the polar bear by Wednesday, but they have already postponed the announcement this week and we may not hear from them for up to another month. A government statement said analysis of scientific data and public comment will take more time. Every week it seems there is new evidence that the sea ice is melting and that the polar bear’s habitat is disappearing. The U.S. Geological Survey released a report this past September predicting that if current warming projections continue, two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will likely be extinct by 2050, including all of the polar bears in Alaska. With a timeline like that, it is hard to understand how the polar bears aren’t already protected. >> Read the Full Article

Scientists discover molecular basis of monarch butterfly migration

Since its discovery, the annual migration of eastern North American monarch butterflies has captivated the human imagination and spirit. That millions of butterflies annually fly a few thousand miles to reach a cluster of pine groves in central Mexico comprising just 70 square miles is, for many, an awesome and mysterious occurrence. However, over the past two decades, scientists have begun to unveil the journey for what it is: a spectacular result of biology, driven by an intricate molecular mechanism in a tiny cluster of cells in the butterfly brain. >> Read the Full Article

Carbon Credits to be Used to Fund GM Food Crops

US biotech firm Arcadia Biosciences has announced a plan to help fund the planting of genetically modified rice with carbon credits. The company will work with the Chinese government to give farmers who plant their crops carbon credits, which they can then sell on the global carbon trading market. >> Read the Full Article

China launches surprise crackdown on plastic bags

BEIJING (Reuters) - China launched a surprise crackdown on plastic bags on Tuesday, banning production of ultra-thin bags and forbidding its supermarkets and shops from handing out free carriers from June 1. China uses too many of the bags and fails to dispose of them properly, wasting valuable oil and littering the country, China's cabinet, the State Council, said in a notice posted on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn). >> Read the Full Article

Floods cause havoc in southern Africa

About 1.5 million Zambians may have to flee their homes because of floods in southern Africa that have cut off vast areas of Zimbabwe and killed six people in Mozambique. Zambian state television showed people carrying beds, chickens and goats above their heads as they moved through surging waters. Half of the country has been put on alert. >> Read the Full Article