Man Caught Smuggling Over 10% of Tortoise Species’ Population

On Friday, March 15th Thai authorities arrested a 38-year-old man attempting to collect a bag containing 54 ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) and 21 radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) in Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Found only in Madagascar both species are listed as Critically Endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but have become lucrative targets for the black-market pet trade given their scarcity and beauty.

Triassic End Times

The End Triassic extinction event was an extinction event that occurred over 200 million years ago. At least half of the species known to have been living on Earth at that time went extinct. This event vacated terrestrial ecological niches, allowing the dinosaurs to assume the dominant roles in the Jurassic period. This event happened in less than 10,000 years and occurred just before Panagea started to break apart. Scientists examining evidence across the world from New Jersey to North Africa say they have linked the abrupt disappearance of half of earth’s species 200 million years ago to a precisely dated set of gigantic volcanic eruptions. The eruptions may have caused climate changes so sudden that many creatures were unable to adapt—possibly on a pace similar to that of human-influenced climate warming today. The extinction opened the way for dinosaurs to evolve and dominate the planet for the next 135 million years, before they, too, were wiped out in a later planetary cataclysm. This study provides the tightest link yet, with a newly precise date - 201,564,000 years ago, exactly the same time as a massive outpouring of lava.

Verizon Introduces ‘MAGIC’ Buses to Reduce Carbon Footprint

To help reduce traffic congestion and carbon dioxide emissions in New York City, and better serve customers, Verizon has rolled out a fleet of 25 buses that will pick up company technicians at central locations throughout the city and then transport them to local job sites. The fleet - known as MAGIC, which stands for Mobile Area Garage Installation Center - removes approximately 250 Verizon trucks from the city's roads and frees up the same number of parking spots.

Solar Cell Power Breakthrough

Scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institut, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have shown that a single nanowire can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity. The results are surprising and the potential for developing a new type of highly efficient solar cells is great. Due to some unique physical light absorption properties of nanowires, the limit of how much energy we can utilize from the sun's rays is higher than previous believed. These results demonstrate the great potential of development of nanowire-based solar cells, says PhD Peter Krogstrup on the surprising discovery that is described in the journal Nature Photonics.

Achieving a Sustainable Food System with Organic Farming

Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds.

Iron and Life and Volcanic Ash

In 2010, there was a large volcanic eruption spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere and into the sea. The ash caused major flight delays as well as posing potential health hazards. Nevertheless, the Icelandic volcano's ash plume resulted in the oceans absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than usual, say scientists. In about a third of the global ocean, the abundance of life is limited by a lack of biologically available iron. The supply of iron to a region that is depleted in this important nutrient can stimulate algal productivity, and can result in a temporary boom in biological activity. For much of the surface ocean, the wind-borne transport of iron-rich dust and the upwelling of nutrient-filled water are the normal major sources of iron.

Happy World Water Day!

All across the globe, communities are celebrating International World Water Day and according the UN's World Water Day website, over 450 events have been planned this year! This year's theme is in part a reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation. The day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation that is emphasized concerning using water as a resource. Not only is the environment heavily dependent on water, but as a basic human need, good management of water sources is crucial to our own livelihood. In correlation with this environmental holiday, we are encouraged to promote water cooperation and do our part in protecting one of Earth's most valuable resources as this year marks the 10th anniversary of the celebration that was recommended during the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development. So in celebration of today, we are urging our readers to limit your water use!

Climate Change and Giant Sequoias

The world’s largest living species, native to California's Sierra Nevada, faces a two-pronged risk from declining snowpack and rising temperatures. The threat to sequoias mirrors a growing danger to trees worldwide, with some scientists saying rapid warming this century could wipe out many of the planet's old trees. Few living things seem as permanent as the giant sequoia trees of California's Sierra Nevada. The largest species of flora or fauna on Earth, these towering redwood trees have held sway for millions of years in a narrow band of their native mountain habitat. With heights reaching 300 feet and girths as large as 150 feet, some sequoias can live in excess of 3,000 years before being naturally toppled by a combination of weather and gravity.

Tectonic Plate Lubricant

Tectonic plates are composed of oceanic lithosphere and thicker continental lithosphere, each topped by its own kind of crust. Tectonic plates are able to move because the Earth's lithosphere has a higher strength and lower density than the underlying asthenosphere. Plate movement is thought to be driven by a combination of the motion of the seafloor away from the spreading ridge (due to variations in topography and density of the crust, which result in differences in gravitational forces) and drag, downward suction, at the subduction zones. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have found a layer of liquefied molten rock in Earth's mantle that may be acting as a lubricant for the sliding motions of the planet's massive tectonic plates. The discovery may carry far-reaching implications, from solving basic geological functions of the planet to a better understanding of volcanism and earthquakes. The scientists discovered the magma layer at the Middle America trench offshore Nicaragua

Cloning Brings Back Extinct Frog That Gives Birth Through Mouth

Scientists in Australia have successfully cloned embryos of a unique but extinct species of frog that gives birth through its mouth.