Is the world moving backwards on protected areas?

Protected areas are undoubtedly the world's most important conservation success story, and recent research shows that protected areas are effective—housing more biodiversity and greater abundances of species inside rather than out. But, despite this, progress on protected areas is stalling and in some cases even falling behind. According to a sobering new paper today in Nature, only 20-50 percent of the world's land and marine protected areas are meeting their goals, while the rest are hampered by lack of funding, poor management, and government ambivalence. The paper arrives just a few days before the opening of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, a global event that happens once a decade. "Protected areas offer us solutions to some of today's most pressing challenges, but by continuing with 'business as usual,' we are setting them up for failure," said lead author James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland. "A step-change in the way we value, fund, govern and manage those areas is neither impossible nor unrealistic and would only represent a fraction of what the world spends annually on defense." 

Better Management of Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna Needed

As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) opens its 19th special meeting in Genoa, Italy on Monday 10 November, WWF calls on delegates to stay cautious regarding the management of Mediterranean bluefin tuna. Despite recent indications that the stock is recovering, substantial shortcomings still undermine traceability of the fishery, allowing for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) bluefin tuna to reach global markets.

The mysteries of what Comets actually are is getting closer to being solved

Man has been amazed by comets for millenia. What are they, these beautiful wanderers?  There have been many theories, the most popular being that they are balls of ice.  Now we are actually getting data.  The photographs taken by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft show comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko to be more rocklike than a ball of ice. After sailing through space for more than 10 years, the Rosetta spacecraft is now less than a week shy of landing a robotic probe on a comet. The mission's Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 7:35 a.m PST/10:35 a.m. EST. A signal confirming the landing is expected about 8:02 a.m. PST/11:02 a.m. EST. If all goes as planned with this complex engineering feat, it will be the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet.

30-year study reveals startling decline in European birds

Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, according to the findings of a new study. However, the research conducted by the University of Exeter, the RSPB and the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS), found numbers of some less common birds have risen.

New Mechanism Behind Arctic Warming Revealed

We all know that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, but new research identifies a new mechanism that could turn out to be a major contributor to melting sea ice, specifically in the Arctic region. Scientists from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have studied a long-wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum called far infrared. Far infrared is a region in the infrared spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. While it is invisible to our eyes, it accounts for about half the energy emitted by the Earth’s surface. 

Urban Farming proving successful in Wheeling, West Virginia

In 2008, Danny Swan was a junior at Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia. The town was a shadow of its former self as a thriving hub for the coal and steel industries. As America turned to more green energy and offshore production, jobs and people abandoned the town. Left behind were abandoned buildings, crime and a depressed community.Danny Swan spent his time between classes gardening in the backyard of the university residence he lived in and volunteering at an after-school program for inner-city kids. He was in search of a way to expand the concrete urban world of the children he worked with. His solution was found right across the street from the chapel that housed the program, underneath a highway overpass.  

Can ocean acidification have a positive effect on corals?

A majority of recent reports highlights the negative effects of warmer water temperatures on corals. Because of increasing numbers of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae, corals become stressed and can starve to death if the condition is prolonged. However, researchers from Northeastern University's Marine Science Center and the University of Chapel Hill have found some slightly positive effects that moderate ocean acidification and warming can have on coral.

Good job: were using less water!

Water use across the country reached its lowest recorded level in nearly 45 years. According to a new USGS report, about 355 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/d) were withdrawn for use in the entire United States during 2010.This represents a 13 percent reduction of water use from 2005 when about 410 Bgal/d were withdrawn and the lowest level since before 1970.“Reaching this 45-year low shows the positive trends in conservation that stem from improvements in water-use technologies and management,” said Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior.  “Even as the U.S. population continues to grow, people are learning to be more water conscious and do their part to help sustain the limited freshwater resources in the country.”

The complicated relationship between ice sheets and climate

Heinrich events, in which large masses of icebergs rapidly broke free from ice sheets during the last ice age, are thought to have influenced global climate by interrupting ocean circulation patterns with a large influx of freshwater. However, new research from the University of Bristol suggests the variations in the height of the ice sheet that happen in these events might also influence global climate. In a study published today in PNAS, Dr William Roberts of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences and colleagues use computer models to simulate a Heinrich event in Hudson Bay, Canada, adjusting the models to consider freshwater influx only, changing ice sheet height only or both factors together.