Environment Correspondent
Deborah's Feed
Apr 12, 2011

Is it torture? Those who decide have not felt it

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Those who approve “enhanced interrogation techniques” probably have a flawed idea of whether this constitutes torture, because few have felt the pain these methods can cause, researchers reported Monday.

A new study that gave its subjects a mild taste of such interrogation methods as solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and extreme cold found most respondents characterized what they felt as torture.

Apr 11, 2011

Fewer penguins survive warming Antarctic climate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two of the most well-known penguin species in Antarctica — chinstraps and Adelies — are under pressure because a warmer climate has cut deeply into their main food source, shrimp-like creatures called krill.

Fewer of the juvenile penguins survive what scientists call their “transition to independence” because there isn’t enough krill to go around, according to a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences.

Apr 6, 2011

Biodiversity vital to streams as extinctions rise

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Earth enters a period of mass extinction, a study released on Wednesday offers a new reason to preserve biodiversity: it’s an effective, natural pollution scrubber in streams.

Environmental activists have long warned that waning biodiversity means the loss of such ecological services as stream-cleaning, control of pests and diseases and increased productivity in fisheries.

Apr 3, 2011

Mangroves excel at storing climate-warming carbon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tropical mangrove trees are better at storing climate-warming carbon than most other forests, so cutting them down unleashes far more greenhouse gas than deforestation elsewhere, scientists reported on Sunday.

Mangroves are so efficient at keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere that when they are destroyed, they release as much as 10 percent of all emissions worldwide attributable to deforestation — even though mangroves account for just 0.7 percent of the tropical forest area, researchers said.

Mar 29, 2011
via Environment Forum

Amazon’s drought, seen from space


How green is the Amazon?

Not as green as it used to be, as shown in an analysis of satellite images made during last year’s record-breaking drought.

Because greenness is an indication of health in the Amazon, a decline in this measurement means this vast area is getting less healthy — bad news for biodiversity and some native peoples in the region.

Mar 29, 2011

Erin Brockovich pushes for disease cluster law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Erin Brockovich, a U.S. consumer health advocate whose life story was the basis for an Academy Award-winning film, urged senators Tuesday to pass a law to document disease clusters in the United States.

A disease cluster is an unusual number of health events, such as reports of cancer, grouped together in a time and location, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Mar 28, 2011

U.S. experts: significant water contamination in Japan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Groundwater, reservoirs and sea water around Japan’s earthquake damaged nuclear plant face “significant contamination” from the high levels of radiation leaking from the plant, a worrying development that heightens potential health risks in the region.

Nuclear and environmental scientists in the United States darkened their assessment of the risks markedly on Monday after operators at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant said that highly radioactive water has entered underground concrete tunnels extending beyond the reactor.

Mar 24, 2011
via Environment Forum

Appropriately enough, it’s National Tsunami Awareness Week


The U.S. government has announced this as National Tsunami Awareness Week, starting just days after a disastrous tsunami powered over Japan’s northeast coast. Not that anyone necessarily needed reminding.

This week’s advisory, which urges U.S. residents to be prepared for a damaging series of waves, was scheduled before the March 11 Japanese catastrophe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the second annual observance of Tsunami Awareness Week. It’s too soon to tell if there might be a pattern emerging: last year’s observance came not long after a giant wave hit the Chilean port of Talcahuano following an 8.8 magnitude quake along Chile’s coast.

Mar 21, 2011

US reactors vulnerable in event of Japan-scale crisis

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) – U.S. nuclear plants that
share design features with Japan’s stricken Fukushima plant
would be vulnerable if a comparably sweeping disaster hit the
United States, nuclear experts said on Monday.

The design of the reactors, with spent fuel pools at the
top of the building that contained them, is only one factor
adding to the risk, said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at
the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Mar 15, 2011
via Environment Forum

Suspected smuggler of rare Sumatran tigers arrested in Indonesia


Indonesian wildlife officials have arrested a suspected smuggler of critically endangered Sumatran tigers after a two-day stakeout, World Wildlife Fund reports. There are believed to be fewer than 400 of these rare big cats in the wild.

The arrest was made by Indonesia’s Natural Resource Conservation Agency in Riau and West Sumatra provinces, with support from World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia’s Tiger Protection Units. The authorities also seized the skin of a Sumatran tiger they believed was poisoned.

    • About Deborah

      "I started with Reuters in 1986 in New York City, moving to Washington DC two years later. I've covered the Winter Olympics in Calgary and Salt Lake City, a couple wars, the State Department, White House, Pentagon, several long trials and a presidential sex scandal. Since 2006, I've been reporting on the environment and climate change."
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