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Down to 60: Scientists Contemplate Risky Captive Breeding for Endangered Vaquita – June 8, 2016

As the panda porpoise plunges toward extinction, scientists have a tough decision to make

Today, there are approximately 7.3 billion people on the planet — and only 60 vaquitas. The vaquita has seen its population drop by 92 percent in less than 20 years in Mexico’s Gulf of California as the tiny porpoises suffocate to death one-by-one in gillnets. Now, scientists with the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) are cautiously moving forward on a once unthinkable option: captive breeding.

photo of VaquitaPhoto by SEMARNATScientists are considering a once unthinkable option: captive breeding of vaquitas.

“We have no idea whether it is feasible to find, capture and maintain vaquitas in captivity much less… more

by: The Guardian

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Australia’s Censorship of Unesco Climate Report is Like a Shakespearean Tragedy – May 31, 2016

The iconic Great Barrier Reef is clearly at risk from climate change, so why would Unesco agree to censor its own report?

That quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet comes to mind: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

The lady in question is the Australian government, which some time in early January saw a draft of a report from a United Nations organization.

coral in the Great Barrier ReefPhoto by Tchami/FlickrLeaving the Great Barrier Reef out of the report is like writing about the risks of oil drilling without mentioning the Deepwater Horizon.

The report, provisionally titled “Destinations at Risk: World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”, outlined how many world heritage sites around the world were being compromised by the impacts… more

by: The Guardian

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Canada Approves Sale of Genetically Modified Salmon – May 20, 2016

Move could make it the first country to have GM salmon on grocery shelves

Health authorities in Canada have approved a fast-growing, genetically altered salmon as safe for consumption, paving the way for it to become the first genetically modified animal to be allowed on Canadian dinner plates.

Leaping Salmonphoto by Jake Khuon, on FlickrThe modified salmon is ready for market in 16 to 18 months rather than the up to three years needed for conventional salmon.

After four years of testing, Health Canada and the Canadian food inspection agency said on Thursday they had found the salmon developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies to be as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon.

The GM fish contains a growth… more

by: The Guardian

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Portugal Runs for Four Days Straight on Renewable Energy Alone – May 18, 2016

Zero emission milestone reached as Iberian country is powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours

Portugal kept its lights on with renewable energy alone for four consecutive days last week in a clean energy milestone revealed by data analysis of national energy network figures.

Electricity consumption in the Iberian country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday, the analysis says.

Windmills on a mountaintop on PortugalPhoto by André B/FlickrAs recently as 2013, renewables provided only about 23 percent of Portugal’s electricity. By 2015 that figure had risen to 48 percent.

News of the zero emissions landmark comes just days… more

by: The Guardian

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One in Five of World’s Plant Species at Risk of Extinction – May 10, 2016

But 2,000 new plant species are discovered every year, report reveals

One in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction, according to the first global assessment of flora, putting supplies of food and medicines at risk.

photo of DeforestationPhoto by CIFOR Agricultural land pushing up against the forest near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Habitat destruction is one of the biggest factors threatening plant species.

But the report also found that 2,000 new species of plant are discovered every year, raising hopes of new sources of food that are resilient to disease and climate change. New finds in 2015 included a giant insect-eating plant first spotted on Facebook and a 100-tonne tree… more

by: The Guardian

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