ENN Weekly: May 7th - 11th

ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news May 7th - 11th: The shrinking Dead Sea, a new carbon-trading scheme, Wal-Mart tests solar, Uganda fights bulldozers, and much more.

Top Ten Articles of the Week
In the news May 7th - 11th: The shrinking Dead Sea, a new carbon-trading scheme, Wal-Mart tests solar, Uganda fights bulldozers, and much more.

1. Mideast Conflict Slows Dead Sea Rescue
Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians are slowly pushing through the tangle of their disputes and suspicions in a race to save a biblical and ecological treasure, the Dead Sea. The famously salty sea, which lies at Earth's lowest point, is shrinking. It has receded by some three feet a year for the past 25 years, and Jordan and Israel warn that if the trend continues, it will vanish by 2050 along with its unique ecosystem, defeated by river diversions, mineral extraction and natural reasons, like evaporation.

2. New Zealand Plans Carbon Trading Scheme that Won't Damage Economic Growth
New Zealand will introduce a carbon emissions trading system by mid-2008 that will have a "negligible" impact on economic growth, the government announced Tuesday. A "cap and trade" system will cover all emissions and apply to all sectors of the economy -- including key farming businesses, said David Parker, New Zealand's minister for climate change issues.

3. Wal-Mart Starts Solar Power Test Program
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Monday that it has launched a program to test the use of solar power at some of its operations in Hawaii and California. Wal-Mart is purchasing solar power equipment from BP Solar, SunEdison LLC, and PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corp. The equipment will be installed in California and Hawaii in 22 locations, including Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Club warehouse stores and a distribution center.

4. Uganda Forest Faces Bulldozers, Species at Risk
Uganda has suffered violent protests in recent weeks over government plans to give at least 7,100 hectares (17,500 acres) of Mabira Forest, a nature reserve since 1932, to a sugar cane company. Critics say razing it could devastate a fragile environment, sparking soil erosion, drying up the climate and removing a buffer against pollution for Lake Victoria.

5. Activists Want Chimp Declared a 'Person'
In some ways, Hiasl is like any other Viennese: He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys chilling out watching TV. But he doesn't care for coffee, and he isn't actually a person -- at least not yet. In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates are seeking to get the 26-year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."

6. Wildfire Forces Evacuations at LA's Griffith Park
Firefighters made progress early Wednesday against a wildfire blazing over Dante's View in the brush-covered hills behind the city's iconic Griffith Observatory. Animals at the nearby Los Angeles Zoo were moved indoors, and dozens of homes were evacuated. The 600-acre blaze in sprawling Griffith Park was just one firefighters were battling across the nation.

7. India State Accused of Putting Pride Before Lions
An Indian state housing the world's only natural habitat for the rare Asiatic lion is refusing to relocate the big cats despite calls from conservationists who say it is the only way to save the species. More than a dozen lions have died -- mainly due to increased poaching -- in the last two months in Gir National Park. Yet authorities in Gujarat in western India are resisting calls to shift some of the population to a neighbouring state.

8. Green Group Urges Hong Kong Ban on Energy-Wasting Light Bulbs
Hong Kong homes are lit up by an estimated 4.2 million energy-wasting light bulbs, a conservation group said Thursday, urging the government to compel residents to use more environmentally friendly fluorescent bulbs. Conventional incandescent light bulbs emit more heat than light, while fluorescent light bulbs last 10 times longer and consume only one-fifth of the electricity, Greenpeace said in a statement.

9. Green Groups Slam Investment Strategy of China Banks
Green groups have slammed Chinese banks for increasing investments in environmentally hazardous and controversial projects both in developing nations around the world and at home. Friends of the Earth and BankTrack, a network that monitors the financial sector, cite logging activities in Suriname and Indonesia, a controversial iron ore mine in Gabon and a potentially polluting nickel mine in Papua New Guinea as examples of projects funded by Chinese banks.

10. Scientists Work on Encyclopedia of Life
In a whale-sized project, the world's scientists plan to compile everything they know about all of Earth's 1.8 million known species and put it all on one Web site, open to everyone. The effort, called the Encyclopedia of Life, will include species descriptions, pictures, maps, videos, sound, sightings by amateurs, and links to entire genomes and scientific journal papers.

Photo: From the bank of a pond at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an alligator slides into the water, perhaps eyeing nearby prey. A protected species, alligators can be spotted in the drainage canals and other waters surrounding Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis.

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