Belief and butchery: how lies and organized crime are pushing rhinos to extinction

Few animals face as violent, as well organized, and as determined an enemy as the world's rhinos. Across the globe rhinos are being slaughtered in record numbers; on average more than one rhino is killed by poachers everyday. After being shot or drugged, criminals take what they came for: they saw off the animal's horn. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which claims that it has curative properties, rhino horn is worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market. However, science proves all this cash and death is based on a lie.

Book Review: Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Notorious Butterfly Thief

When I first picked up Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of The Worlds Most Notorious Butterfly Thief by Jessica Weart, I wasn't very excited. A book about butterfly collectors, how exciting can that be? When I think butterfly collectors, I think of an uptight old man, passively smoking a pipe, listening to classical music, nothing exciting. Turns out lepidopterists, butterfly collectors, aren't the boring types I thought they were. Butterfly collecting can become a passionate, expensive obsession. Some rare butterflies are valued over 30,000 dollars, and there have been instances where collectors have risked it all in order to obtain a unique butterfly for their collection. Actually, I found out there are famous lepidopterists, including the controversial writer of Lolita, Vladimir Nabakov. In Winged Obsession, Weart attempts to explore this obsession, by following the true story of the "capture" of the world's most infamous butterfly dealer, Yoshi Kojima. The story is the epitome of cat and mouse, (or should I say butterfly and net), starring United States Fish and Wildlife agent Ted Newcomer and butterfly master smuggler Yoshi Kojima. Kojima considers himself the Indiana Jones of butterflies, and had been able to elude wildlife protection for years due his ability to create an elaborate web of lies, mind the bug pun.

What makes humans special? The Power of communication. New from BBC Earth

A human's need to communicate, can be observed from the first moments of life. The intuitive reaction of a newborn to cry, lays the stepping-stone for a process which at its heart, will enable every human to successfully communicate their experience of being alive. It has been said that words are man's greatest achievement. With the first utterances of symbolic language emerging 2.5 million years ago, slowly evolved by the first Homo sapiens – the solid foundations of modern articulation have decidedly been set. Yet many would argue that speech and language was developed not out of want, but out of need. Therefore in what ways do humans communicate…without using words? Music has long been a way of communicating for necessity as well as pleasure. Such as the use of a lullaby to sooth, a folk song to warn and a chant to call to arms! But in what ways do we use rhythm and melody to communicate with nature itself?

Chimps Are Self Aware

Chimpanzees are self-aware and can anticipate the impact of their actions on the environment around them, an ability once thought to be uniquely human, according to a study released Wednesday. The findings, reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, challenge assumptions about the boundary between human and non-human, and shed light on the evolutionary origins of consciousness, the researchers said. Earlier research had demonstrated the capacity of several species of primates, as well as dolphins, to recognize themselves in a mirror, suggesting a fairly sophisticated sense of self.

Climate change has spurred food prices

Climate change cut global wheat and corn output by more than 3 percent over the past three decades compared to growth projections without a rise in temperatures, a study found on Friday. The impacts translated into up to 20 percent higher average commodity prices, before accounting for other factors, according to the paper published in the journal Science. Crop yields rose over the period for example as a result of improvements in practices and plant breeding, and the isolated, negative impact of climate change was equivalent to about one tenth of those advances. But that varied widely between countries with Russia, Turkey and Mexico more affected for wheat, for example. The isolated impact of climate change on wheat and corn was a warning of the future food supply and price impact from an expected acceleration in warming, the paper said.

Comet Elenin

A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma (a thin, fuzzy, temporary atmosphere) and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet. Comet nuclei are themselves loose collections of ice, dust, and small rocky particles, ranging from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers across. Comet Elenin is coming to the inner-solar system this fall of 2011. Comet Elenin (also known by its astronomical name C/2010 X1), was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin, an observer in Lyubertsy, Russia, who made the discovery using the ISON-NM observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. At the time of the discovery, the comet was about 647 million kilometers (401 million miles) from Earth. Over the past four-and-a-half months, the comet has – as comets do – closed the distance to Earth's vicinity as it makes its way closer to perihelion (its closest point to the sun). As of May 4, Elenin's distance is about 170 million miles. It is scheduled to come as close as 22 million miles.

Study Finds Sea-Level Rise Likely on West Coast

For the last few decades, sea levels of the eastern North Pacific Ocean along the west coast of North America have remained remarkably steady as other sea levels rise around the world. That is due to the dominance of cold surface waters along the coast. According to a new study from the University of California (UC) San Diego, the cold waters on the coast will give way to warmer waters beginning this decade, which will lead to accelerated sea-level rise. The change in water temperature is related to the climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

Araucarias gauge ancient levels of carbon dioxide

Knowing the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere today is easy – you just go outside and measure it – but gauging levels of CO2 from millions of years ago is not so simple. Now scientists have found how araucarias can help to solve the problem.