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CTDL 220: Pile of Links again

Pile of excerpts and links from BBC articles I didn’t get around to making their own posts. Enjoy.

In January, the Brazilian government announced that the rate of deforestation in the Amazon jungle had soared in the last half of 2007, just months after officials had celebrated three years of steep falls.
It was an embarrassing admission for Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had said his government’s efforts to control illegal logging and introduce better certification of land ownership were working.

[From BBC NEWS | Americas | Amazon's future in delicate balance]

The 2008 Bird Red List warns that long-term droughts and extreme weather puts additional stress on key habitats.
The assessment lists 1,226 species as threatened with extinction – one-in-eight of all bird species.
The list, reviewed every four years, is compiled by conservation charity BirdLife International.
“It is very hard to precisely attribute particular changes in specific species to climate change,” said Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s global research and indicators co-ordinator.
“But there is now a whole suite of species that are clearly becoming threatened by extreme weather events and droughts.”
In the revised Red List, eight species have been added to the “critically endangered” category.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Climate 'accelerating bird loss']

Small-scale biomass power plants can have a greater environmental impact than other renewables, a study says.
UK researchers found that although the facilities offered carbon savings, they produced more pollutants per unit of electricity than larger biomass plants.
They suggested the way the feedstock was transported produced proportionally more pollutants than larger sites.
The findings challenged the view that such schemes offer an green alternative to grid-based electricity, they added.
Supporters of community biomass schemes say the power plants are sustainable because the fuel, such as wood chips, can be sourced from the local area.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Concern over small biomass option]

Scientists have long wondered why early primates inhabited forest canopies, given that climbing appears to consume more energy than walking.
US researchers studied primates climbing and walking on treadmills.
They say there was no difference in energy consumption for small primates, giving clues to how their ancestors entered the trees 65 million years ago.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Ancestors had leg-up to trees]

Between a quarter and a third of the world’s wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London.
Populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%, it says.
Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the “great extinction episodes” in the Earth’s history is under way, it says.
Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.

[From BBC NEWS | UK | Wildlife populations 'plummeting']

This NYT article on global food wastage is timely — just as the food riots have begun to break out around the world — and shocking.

[From US wastes "27% of food available for consumption" - Boing Boing]

Astronomers have been able to capture and record the first moments when a massive star blows itself apart.
After decades of searching, researchers have used the world’s top telescopes to observe the remarkable event.
Previously, scientists had only been able to study these “supernovas” several days after the event.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Exploding star caught in the act]


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