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Eco-news archive: September-October 2005

hot sun
Europe study shows climate risks
(Oct 29, 2005)

Mediterranean and mountain regions of Europe will be hardest hit by the changes set to affect the continent's natural resources this century. That is the conclusion of a Europe-wide assessment that highlights the threat posed by climate change. The Mediterranean will be at increased risk of forest fires, water shortages, loss of agricultural land and from its tree species shifting northward. The study, by an international team, appears in the journal Science.

Read more. Source: BBC

deforestation in Brazil
Amazon 'stealth' logging revealed
(Oct 21, 2005)

Scientists from Brazil and the US say new research suggests deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has been underestimated by at least 60%. The team has completed a study using a more advanced technique of satellite imagery that can pick up more types of logging activity. These include selective logging, where loggers pick out trees of value but leave the surrounding forest intact. Brazil's government welcomed the report but said the figures were exaggerated.

Read more. Source: BBC

Beijing smog
China crisis: threat to the global environment
(Oct 20, 2005)

Western politicians queue up to sing its praises. Economists regard it with awe and delight. Other countries are desperate to imitate it. Yet there is another side to China's exploding, double-digit-growth miracle economy – it is turning into one of the greatest environmental threats the earth has ever faced. An ominous sign of the danger is given in a groundbreaking report from Greenpeace, published today, which maintains that China is now by far the world's biggest driver of rainforest destruction. The report documents the vast deforestation driven by the soaring demands of China's enormous timber trade – the world's largest – as the country's headlong economic development sucks in ever-more amounts of the earth's natural resources.

Read more. Source: Independent

Ocean warming threatens Antarctic wildlife
(Oct 17, 2005)

Scientists working in Antarctica have discovered an alarming rise in sea temperature that threatens to disrupt populations of penguins, whales, seals and a host of smaller creatures within a few decades. The new study shows the ocean west of the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by more than a degree since the 1960s – confounding computer models and experts who believed that a combination of ice, winds and currents would keep the water cool and shield fragile marine creatures from the effects of climate change. This is the first evidence that the key Southern Ocean is getting warmer: a finding with potentially severe implications for wildlife.

Read more. Source: Guardian

Sizewell B nuclear power plant
Analysis: Is nuclear power the answer?
(Oct 17, 2005)

Nuclear power looks as if it should be the answer to all our energy conundrums, and perhaps even to climate change. It provides a steady stream of energy, and does not depend on hydrocarbon supplies from unstable regimes. It is the nearest thing we have to a non-polluting energy source, apart from natural renewables. But it still engenders massive distrust, so much that many people say it can never be part of the way to avoid a disastrously warming world.

Read more. Source: BBC

Amazon river boat
Amazon area threatened by drought
(Oct 8, 2005)

Brazil has adopted emergency measures to deal with one of the Amazon region's worst droughts in decades. Scientists say water levels have fallen to a 30-year low, creating difficulties for river transport – in many cases the only way of moving people and goods. Many towns along the world's second longest river have declared alerts amid fears they could become isolated. Experts are blaming climate cycles, not global warming, for the drought, which has also led to enormous fires.

Read more. Source: BBC

London? Paris? New York? No, Vancouver is the best place in the world to live, says new survey
(Oct 5, 2005)

The university has a nudist beach. Whistler mountain ski resort is a quick drive from downtown. The climate is mild in winter and sunny in summer. Just some of the reasons why Vancouver has been nominated as the world's most liveable city, beating Melbourne into second place and leaving London far behind at 47th. Vancouver eclipsed 127 other cities in a new survey which looked at a wide range of criteria, including personal risk, healthcare, the availability of goods and services, and climate.

Read more. Source: Independent

ocean waves
Bobbing corks 'could give power'
(Oct 2, 2005)

A study based on the energy provided by a cork bobbing on the water could lead to wave power outperforming wind forms, scientists say. University of Manchester scientists have designed a rig that combines floats to turn waves into electricity. If put into full-scale use, the "Manchester Bobber" would be attached to a rig 65ft above the sea.

Read more. Source: BBC

Arctic ice 'disappearing fast'
(Sep 28, 2005)

The area covered by sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk for a fourth consecutive year, according to new data released by US scientists. They say that this month sees the lowest extent of ice cover for more than a century. The Arctic climate varies naturally, but the researchers conclude that human-induced global warming is at least partially responsible. They warn the shrinkage could lead to even faster melting in coming years.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cameroon lake
Gas threat grows from Cameroon's lethal lakes
(Sep 27, 2005)

Perched among the highlands of western Cameroon, bordered by green mountains and cliff faces, Lake Nyos is a scene of breathtaking beauty. But the picture is deceptive. A detailed study reveals that without emergency measures, the lake could release a lethal cloud of carbon dioxide, capable of wiping out entire communities around its shores. The warning, from a team of scientists, comes nearly 20 years after the lake belched an estimated 80m cubic metres of CO2 into the atmosphere. Heavier than air, the cloud of gas rolled down surrounding hillsides, engulfing villages.

Read more. Source: Guardian

global warming
Killer heatwave may have fuelled global warming
(Sep 22, 2005)

Europe's great heatwave of 2003, which claimed an estimated 35,000 lives and cost the continent's economies an estimated 7bn altogether, may also have fuelled further global warming. A team of more than 30 scientists reports in Nature today that the scorching temperatures and prolonged drought have stifled Europe's forest growth and released huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, to feed still warmer summers in future.

Read more. Source: Guardian

giant salamanders
Hunting threat to big amphibians
(Sep 19, 2005)

Illegal hunting is bringing the Chinese giant salamander, the world's largest amphibian, to the brink of extinction. Numbers of the salamander, which can grow to 50kg (110lb), have fallen sharply in recent decades. Ways to stem the decline of amphibians are being discussed at a meeting in Washington DC, which will end with the launch of a global action plan. Some experts think the giant salamander can become a flagship conservation species like the tiger and elephant.

Read more. Source: BBC

Hurricane Katrina
'Warming link' to big hurricanes
(Sep 16, 2005)

Records for the past 35 years show that hurricanes have got stronger in recent times, according to a global study. This fits with mounting evidence which suggests the biggest storms around the world – hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones – are intensifying. Some US scientists say that greenhouse warming may be driving the most severe events, such as Katrina, although more research is needed to be sure.

Read more. Source: BBC

ice melting in the Arctic
Global warming 'past the point of no return'
(Sep 16, 2005)

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years. They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

Read more. Source: Independent


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