• Loose laws threaten Australia's wildlife

    Kookaburras, koalas and kangaroos—Australia is well known for its charismatic animals and vast, seemingly untamable, wild spaces. But throughout the country, the national parks and reserves that protect these unique animals and ecosystems have come under increasing threat. New rules and relaxed regulations, which bolster immediate economic growth, are putting pressure on Australia's already-threatened biodiversity. Legislation allowing recreational shooting has been introduced in New South Wales. In Victoria, developers will be allowed to build hotels in national parks. New laws have been passed by the Queensland government to allow the feeding of livestock in national parks during droughts, and a scientific trial of grazing in several national parks and reserves has been re-instated after previous unsuccessful attempts. According to some, these examples point to a disturbing trend towards ecological irresponsibility within state legislature. >> Read the Full Article
  • Europe importing more palm oil for biofuels, raising risks for rain forests

    Palm oil imports into Europe for use as car fuel increased by more than three-fold since 2006, raising concerns than renewable fuels targets may be contributing to deforestation, displacing marginalized communities, and driving greenhouse gas emissions in Southeast Asia, finds a new study published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). >> Read the Full Article
  • Snake Fungal Disease Hits U.S.

    A fungal outbreak in the eastern and Midwestern United States is infecting some populations of wild snakes. Snake Fungal Disease (SFD), a fungal dermatitis consistently associated with the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, is showing recent spikes in occurrence according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) and other diagnostic laboratories. So far, the diseased snakes submitted by Wildlife Monitors to the NWHC are attributed to wild populations from nine states, including Florida, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ground Level Ozone Linked to Cardiovascular Disease

    The ozone is a protective layer in the upper atmosphere, which helps absorb UltraViolet-B (UVB) from the sun. However, when greenhouse gases are released from ground level, they move up into the ozone layer and essentially damage this layer. Reductions in stratospheric ozone levels lead to higher levels of UVB reaching the Earth's surface. Consequently, laboratory and epidemiological studies demonstrate that UVB can cause nonmelanoma skin cancer and can also play a major role in the development of malignant melanoma. Holes in the ozone layer have been linked to increased cases of skin cancers for some time now, and according to a new study lead by University of California, Berkeley, chronic exposure to ground level ozone itself is now being linked to cardiovascular disease and even premature death. >> Read the Full Article
  • Invasive species threaten Europe's towns and cities

    Europe's towns and cities are particularly vulnerable to the threats posed by invasive alien species, and experts say that action needs to be taken to control them. Invasive alien species are plants or animals that are not native to an area and which therefore lack natural predators, meaning they are able to spread rapidly. Urban areas are at high risk from invasive species because of their large number of transport links, with many non-native animals and plants arriving accidentally at ports and airports. Some species also arrive through the plant and pet trades. >> Read the Full Article
  • Two new Species of Octocorals Discovered in the Pacific Ocean

    The vast expanse of the Earth's oceans makes finding a new species like finding a needle in a haystack. In fact, finding a needle in a haystack may be easier than finding a new species of octocoral in the Pacific Ocean. But Gary Williams with the California Academy of Sciences has recently found not only one but two new species, including a new genus of octocoral. In a recent paper published in the journal Zookeys, Williams provides a taxonomic assessment of two new colorful species of soft coral and a new genus to accommodate a bright red sea fan. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hawaii Coastlines on Track to Lose 100 Feet of Beach

    Hawaii is known for it's pristine beaches and it's 750 miles of coastline. However with looming sea water rise due to melting ice caps and climate change, a new study by the University of Hawaii shows the state is on pace to lose 100 feet of beach in the coming decades. According to the study, Maui beaches are most at risk as the sea-level rise is approximately 65% higher compared to the island of Oahu. While many beaches have been faced with erosion for years, predictions show that beaches will start to disappear even faster. >> Read the Full Article
  • Train or Pipeline, the Answer is the Same

    The catastrophic crash of an oil-carrying train in the province of Quebec last month, which devastated the town of Lac-Mégantic and killed dozens, has brought the Keystone XL pipeline into the headlines again. For many environmentalists, the train crash is just one more reminder of the risks of fossil fuel production – that the train was carrying tar sands oil was, as it were, the icing on the cake. Conversely, for many supporters of the pipeline, the train crash proves that we need Keystone. But first a word on tar sands and the other unconventional oil sources now being extracted such as shale oil. Unlike conventional oil wells, shale and tar sands do not contain liquid oil. Oil must be extracted from them in a process that is quite similar to mining. The development of Canadian tar sands requires vast deforestation in order to dig up and process the sands, and shale oil extraction requires that massive amounts of rocks be mined and processed. >> Read the Full Article
  • World's biggest owl depends on large old trees

    The Blakiston fish owl (Bubo Blakistoni) is the world's largest – and one of the rarest – owl species, with an impressive 6 foot (2 meter) wingspan. The giant owl, found exclusively in northeast Asia, shares its habitat with a menagerie of endangered and impressive animals, including Amur tigers, Amur leopards, Asiatic black bears and wild boars. Now, a recent study in Oryx, led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has discovered that these owls rely on threatened old trees for nesting and foraging sites. >> Read the Full Article
  • Red Spruce Resurgence

    Historically, the red spruce (picea rubens) has been an important timber species in the United States. However, many natural and human actions have led to its decline. Not only has acid rain and land use changes resulted in the loss of many red spruce trees, but damaging winters also play a role in limiting tree growth as heavy snow can break branches. In the course of studying the lingering effects of acid rain and whether trees stored less carbon as a result of winter injury, U.S. Forest Service and University of Vermont scientists came up with a surprising result for the species' decline. >> Read the Full Article