Chile creates largest marine preserve in the Americas

 Photo courtesy Enric Sala/National Geographic

A new marine park off the coast of Chile will help protect important ocean resources. Photo courtesy Enric Sala/National Geographic.

‘A gift to the world …’

Staff Report

The creation of the world’s largest marine park in the Americas could help rebuild fish stocks off the coast of South America, ocean experts said this week, hailing Chile’s announcement that it will protect 297,518 square kilometers as a no-take zone. With the formation of Nazca-Desventuradas, Chile will now protect 12 percent of its marine surface area

 “Chile is one of the world’s primary fishing countries,” said Alex Muñoz, vice president for Oceana in Chile. “With the creation of this large marine park, Chile also becomes a world leader in marine conservation.” Continue reading

Grassroots support leads to proposal for new marine sanctuaries

Shipwreck areas in Wisconsin and Maryland eyed for protection


NOAA is seeking comments on its proposal to designate two areas in Wisconsin (left) and Maryland (right) as national marine sanctuaries. (Credit: NOAA).

Staff Report

Two historic shipwreck sites could be designated as National Marine Sanctuaries under a proposal outlined by President Barack Obama at an international ocean conference today.

In a press release, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it’s the first time since 2000 that the agency has identified new sites for that designation. NOAA is taking public comment on the proposal. Continue reading

Web commerce speeds invasive plant threat

himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam was introduced as an ornamental and quickly spread throughout the northern hemisphere where it’s considered an invasive plant that displaces native flora in some areas. Photo courtesy Royal Horticultural Society.

Swiss study tracks online sales of potential invaders

Staff Report

Online commerce is accelerating the invasive species threat worldwide, Swiss reasearchers said last week after taking a close look at at the unbridled market for buying and selling plants on the internet.

These days, all it takes is one click to spread potentially invasive plants from continent to continent – and unintentionally encouraging biological invasions, the researchers said, referring to invaders like goldenrod, Himalayan balsam and the Chinese windmill palm — all of which now threaten native biodiversity in the Alpine republic.

The assess the extent of the problem, ETH Zurich researchers monitoried online trades of about two-thirds of the world’s flora on eBay plus nine other online trading platforms for 50 days, tracking which plant species were offered for sale in various countries, and how often. Continue reading

Energy: Are fusion reactors ready for prime time?


Will fusion reactors be part of our energy future? Schematic courtesy ITER.

Advances in superconductor technology could help spur economic viability of fusion energy

Staff Report

Recent advances in superconductor technology could bring fusion reactors online within the next few decades, energy researchers said in a new study, advising policy makers to start making plans for replacing nuclear power plants.

The analysis compared building, running and decommissioning fusion power stations to traditional fission nuclear power, showing that fusion is close to being economically viable.

“Obviously we have had to make assumptions, but what we can say is that our predictions suggest that fusion won’t be vastly more expensive than fission,” said Professor Damian Hampshire, of the Centre for Material Physics at Durham University, who led the study. Continue reading

Study eyes hotel industry ‘greenwashing’

How green is your hotel really?

How green is your hotel really?

Consumers catching on to self-serving industry practices

Staff Report

Environmentally savvy travelers aren’t necessarily buying the hotel industry’s green claims, according to a trio of Washington State University researchers, who said there’s growing skepticism that towel re-use programs and other superficial measures are truly a sign of sustainable hotel operations.

The study, published in the Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, suggests that some of those practices are nothing more than greenwashing, referring to the “deceitful practice of promoting environmentally friendly programs while hiding ulterior motives.” Continue reading

Feds finalize plan to save country’s most endangered toad


Wyoming toads are listed as extinct in nature by the IUCN. Photo via USFWS.

Wyoming toad has been on endangered species list since 1984

Staff Report

After more than a quarter century on the Endangered Species List, Wyoming toads may have a chance at recovery under a new plan that sets specific targets and requires long-term monitoring.

The once-common toads died off in massive numbers starting in the 1970s, succumbing to a deadly fungal disease that has afflicted amphibians around the world.

Listed as endangered in 1984, the Wyoming toad is considered one of the four most endangered amphibian species in North America and is currently classified as “extinct in the wild” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Approximately 500 individuals are currently held in captivity for breeding and reintroduction efforts. Continue reading

Report says U.S. lags on offshore wind energy


Can the U.S. take advantage of its enormous potential for offshore wind energy? Photo courtesy Andy Dingley/University of Delaware.

University of Delaware study identifies key policy hurdles

Staff Report

The U.S. has fallen way behind on developing its potentially huge offshore wind energy potential, according to University of Delaware researchers, who identified some of the obstacles in a recent study.

According to their paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. is farther from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005.

“As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, it is disheartening to see that while land-based wind and solar have reached new heights, U.S. offshore wind has remained a missed opportunity,” the paper’s lead author, Jeremy Firestone, said in a release that summarized the study findings. Continue reading


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