Nature

Gaia’s Map of 1.3 Billion Stars Makes for a Milky Way in a Bottle

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Call it a galaxy in a bottle. Last Wednesday, astronomers in Europe released a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way. Dennis Overbye The New York Times It is the most detailed survey ever produced of our home galaxy. It contains the vital statistics of some 1.3 billion stars — about one percent of the whole galaxy. Not to mention measurements of almost half a million quasars, asteroids and other flecks in the night. Analyzing all these motions and distances, astronomers ... Read More »

Thailand protesters in rare rally over Chiang Mai development

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Protesters in Thailand have staged one of the country’s biggest demonstrations since the 2014 military coup as they campaign against a luxury housing development on forested land. BBC More than 1,000 people gathered in the northern city of Chiang Mai. They rallied against a housing project being built for judges and officials in the foothills of a sacred mountain. The march went ahead in defiance of a ban on public gatherings imposed by the junta, which seized power in 2014. ... Read More »

EU to ban bee-killing pesticides

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EU countries voted on April 27 for a near-total ban on insecticides blamed for killing off bee populations, in what campaigners called a “beacon of hope” for the winged insects. BRUSSELS – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world’s major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from “colony collapse disorder,” a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or a combination of these factors. The 28 European Union member states approved a ... Read More »

How can we communicate all that nature does for us?

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As a conservation professor I believe people need to understand why protecting nature matters to them personally. Julia P G Jones The Conversation Appealing to human self-interest has generated support for conservation in Switzerland, for example, where the government protects forests partly because they help prevent landslides and avalanches, or among communities in Botswana which conserve wildlife partly because of the… But this understanding risks being obscured by unhelpful arguments over terminology. The story starts in 2005, when the Millennium ... Read More »

Gaza now has a toxic ‘biosphere of war’ that no one can escape

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Gaza has often been invaded for its water. Every army leaving or entering the Sinai desert, whether Babylonians, Alexander the Great, the Ottomans, or the British, has sought relief there. Authors: The Conversation But today the water of Gaza highlights a toxic situation that is spiralling out of control. A combination of repeated Israeli attacks and the sealing of its borders by Israel and Egypt, have left the territory unable to process its water or waste. Every drop of water ... Read More »

Ancient Amazonians lived sustainably – and this matters for conservation today

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Our colleague, the archaeologist Santiago Rivas, recently made a remarkable discovery. Authors (4) The Conversation On a small plateau above the outskirts of Iquitos, a town in the northern Peruvian Amazon, he found a layer in the soil which contained small pieces of ceramic pottery, that were around 1,800-years-old. Digging deeper, he found another layer of soil, this time containing pottery that was about 2,500 years old. This is the archaeological site at Quistococha which has been occupied for at ... Read More »

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn

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How close the world is to a catastrophic collapse of giant ocean currents is unknown, making halting global warming more critical than ever, scientists say Damian Carrington The Guardian Serious disruption to the Gulf Stream ocean currents that are crucial in controlling global climate must be avoided “at all costs”, senior scientists have warned. The alert follows the revelation this week that the system is at its weakest ever recorded. Past collapses of the giant network have seen some of the ... Read More »

Madagascar’s vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation

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As the price of pods has soared so has violence – and forest defenders are increasingly risking their lives to protect precious wildlife habitat from being felled for profit Jonathan Watts The Guardian The vanilla thieves of Anjahana were so confident of their power to intimidate farmers they provided advance warning of raids. “We are coming tonight,” they would write in a note pushed under doors in this remote coastal village in Madagascar. “Prepare what we want.” But they either undervalued ... Read More »

Tasmanian regional forest agreement delivers $1.3bn losses in ‘giant fraud’ on taxpayers

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Forestry Tasmania’s total cash losses were $454m over 20 years, with a write-down of $751m in value of forest estate John Lawrence The Guardian The first Tasmanian regional forest agreement, signed between the state and the commonwealth in 1997, was supposed to start an era in which forestry was both ecologically and economically sustainable. In fact the last 20 years have been a financial disaster for forest management in Tasmania. According to my calculations, Forestry Tasmania’s total operating cash losses over the 20 ... Read More »

Time running out to save the Earth’s plants and animals

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Five new reports unveiled at a UN biodiversity summit in Colombia are sounding the alarm over the rapidly deteriorating state of biodiversity on our planet. Dave Keating DW But they also provide the tools to fight back. Delegates at a major international summit on biodiversity in Medellín, Colombia have been rattled after being presented with stark new evidence about the state of the world’s biodiversity. The 750 delegates from 115 countries are meeting for the sixth plenary of the Intergovernmental ... Read More »

Men fined $17,000 after dead green turtles, dugong found in boat

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Two men have been fined $17,000 after park rangers found two dead green turtles and a dead dugong in their boat off Hervey Bay last year. Amy Mitchell-Whittington Brisbane Times Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers found the dead turtles and dugong, both protected species, in a boat in the Great Sandy Marine Park in October. The men told rangers they had been given permission by Aboriginal elders to hunt and kill the animals for ... Read More »

UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment

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Formal recognition would help protect those who increasingly risk their lives to defend the land, water, forests and wildlife, says the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment Jonathan Watts The Guardian It is time for the United Nations to formally recognise the right to a healthy environment, according to the world body’s chief investigator of murders, beatings and intimidation of environmental defenders. John Knox, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said the momentum for such ... Read More »

To Help Save Our Oceans, Include Women In The Conversation

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Every other breath we take comes from our oceans ― and our oceans are dying. Climate change is warming their waters, leading to a disruption in migration patterns and increasing acidification. Farah Obaidullah HuffPost Overfishing is irreversibly altering marine ecosystems, with an estimated 60 to 90 percent of oceanic predators like tuna and swordfish already gone. Forecasts predict we may lose 90 percent of our glorious coral reefs by 2050, along with the vital nursery grounds and coastal protections they ... Read More »

We’ve officially found the world’s best prawns

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It’s official: the Aussie prawn – ethical, sustainable and delicious – is the best in the world. Specifically, the Spencer Gulf King Prawn. Anthony Huckstep takes to the high seas with chef Neil Perry to seek them out. Some swear it’s the mighty meat pie and sauce. Others point to the veritable Vegemite (or should it be avo?) on toast, but is there truly a more iconic, quintessentially Australian act than throwing a prawn on the barbie? In the ’80s, ... Read More »

Small-scale fisheries are throwing away fish that could feed those in poverty

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At least 7.3m tons of fish (usually dead or dying) are thought to be discarded each year from marine fisheries around the world. Benjamin L. Jones Leanne Cullen-Unsworth Richard K.F. Unsworth The Conversation But these estimates come mostly from observations of large-scale industrial fisheries. Limited attention has been paid to small-scale fisheries, which are assumed to have low discard rates – some estimate as little as 3.7% total catch, compared to more than 60% for some large-scale shrimp trawlers. Small-scale ... Read More »

The secret on the ocean floor

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A wave of pioneers is poised to scoop up treasure from the deep sea. But was this ocean mining boom sparked by a 1970s CIA plot? By David Shukman BBC In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California. It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves. Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in ... Read More »