Week in Review: December 11th - 15th

ENN rounds up the most compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news December 11th - 15th: Global warming guilt, airline industry waste, worldwide urbanization, new fuel economy standards, and much more.

Top Ten Articles of the Week

1. Two-Thirds of Congo Basin Forests Could Disappear
Two-thirds of the forests in the Congo River Basin could disappear within 50 years if logging and mineral exploitation continues at current rates, environmental group WWF said in a report.

2. For Ecologically Sensitive Americans, a Way to Pay the Way out of Global Warming Guilt
As anxiety over global climate change rises, a growing number of companies and nonprofit groups are offering eco-conscious consumers a chance to compensate the planet for the carbon emissions they generate when they drive, fly, use electricity or heat their homes.

3. Endangered Gorillas Prosper in Heart of Africa
A 2003 census showed a 17 percent increase from 1989 to 380 mountain gorillas living around the Virunga volcanoes in a series of three national parks. About 320 live in Bwindi. Dedicated anti-poaching and conservation efforts, which include close monitoring and working with locals to protect the habitat, have helped increase numbers.

4. Study Shows Airline Industry Could Save Thousands of Dollars by Recycling
The airline industry wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by discarding 4,250 tons of aluminum cans and other items that could be recycled, a new report says. The report found that the industry threw out 9,000 tons of plastic and enough newspapers and magazines to fill a football field to a depth of more than 230 feet.

5. Farm Sediment, Fertilizers Damaging Massive Coral Reef
Fertilizer and sediment runoff from sugarcane, banana and pineapple plantations are threatening tourism by damaging a coral reef stretching along the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, according to a report released on Tuesday.

6. Illegal Hunting 'Wiping Out Mongolia's Mammals'
Illegal hunting and trade is pushing some Mongolian animals like the snow leopard to the brink of extinction, conservationists warned on Tuesday. The saiga antelope, wild camel, and Gobi bear are also highly threatened, along with other mammals and 11 species of fish.

7. Scientist Says New Data Backs Sulphur Climate Plan
Nobel Prize laureate Paul Crutzen says he has new data supporting his controversial theory that injecting the common pollutant sulphur into the atmosphere would cancel out the greenhouse effect.

8. In Epochal Shift, Half Humanity to Become Urban
According to U.N. data, the world's urban population is poised to surpass the rural total for the first time in history. One U.N. estimate says Aug 16, 2008 will be the day the shift will happen, with the urban population expected to overtake the 3,349,383,005 estimated rural total.

9. EPA Changing Fuel Economy Estimates
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued new testing procedures that will cause fuel economy estimates on the stickers of new vehicles to drop an average of 12 percent for city driving on most 2008 model year vehicles, and 8 percent for highway driving.

10. Climate Change Threatens Alpine Resorts
Global warming poses a serious threat to Alpine ski resorts and the regional economies that depend on them, especially in Germany. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which carried out a study of ski areas across the Alps, said Wednesday the mountain chain was "particularly sensitive" to climate change.

Photo: The Ethiopian wolf faces extinction. Continuous loss of habitat due to high-altitude farming represents the major current threat to the Ethiopian wolf. Credit: IRIN.

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