Daily Archives: 09/02/2012

Um elefante e o seu tratador na floresta Ulu Masen, na província de Aceh, no âmbito do programa Conservation Response Unit. Foto: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP

O elefante de Sumatra, na Indonésia, perdeu 69% do seu habitat nos últimos 25 anos e poderá extinguir-se em menos de 30, alerta a WWF. A UICN classificou-o nesta terça-feira como espécie Criticamente em Perigo, a um passo da extinção.

Em apenas uma geração, as populações de elefantes de Sumatra (Elephas maximus sumatranus) diminuíram para metade. “Os cientistas afirmam que, se esta tendência continuar, os elefantes de Sumatra poderão estar extintos na natureza em menos de 30 anos”, diz a organização World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), em comunicado.

Em 1985, um censo concluiu que existiam entre 2800 e 4800 elefantes de Sumatra, em 44 populações, a maior das quais na província de Riau. Os últimos dados dão conta de cerca de 900 animais: 210 em Riau, 498 no Parque Nacional Bukit Barisan Selatan e 180 no Parque Nacional Way Kambas, ambos na província de Lampung.

Hoje, a União Internacional para a Conservação da Natureza (UICN) alterou a classificação deste elefante, de Em Perigo para Criticamente em Perigo, a última classificação antes de Extinto. De momento, o elefante de Sumatra vive apenas em sete províncias.

Perda de habitat

A perda de habitat é uma das principais razões para esta decisão. Mas o que preocupa a UICN é que “as forças que estão a causar esta perda de habitat continuam sem ser fiscalizadas”. A organização considera que a maior ameaça é a conversão das florestas para fins agrícolas e de expansão de povoações, o que tem levado a conflitos entre elefantes e pessoas. Além disso, estes animais têm sido alvo do abate ilegal por causa do marfim.

A WWF apelou hoje a uma moratória imediata à destruição do habitat e pediu ao Governo da Indonésia para proibir o abate da floresta até que seja definida uma estratégia de conservação.

As populações de elefantes asiáticos estão fragmentadas e com tendência para uma diminuição. Já as populações de elefante africano estão estáveis ou a registar um ligeiro aumento desde os anos 90 do século passado.

Autor: Helena Geraldes
Fonte: Ecosfera / Público



Brand X / Getty Images

As I got off the plane in the Vermont town of Burlington on Sunday, I felt something new: cold. It wasn’t that cold — high temperatures in Burlington were hovering around the freezing mark, a little warmer than average for this city of eager ski bums. But after more than a month of unusually mild weather in New York City — where Januarys can sometimes be nothing short of brutal — it was almost a treat to feel a hazy hint of winter.

That’s because 2012 is shaping up to be the year that winter forgot in the U.S. December and the first week of January have seen atypically mild temperatures throughout much of the country — especially in the usually harsh states of the far north and parts of the plains. Fargo, N.D. — which probably exists in most Americans’ minds as a big white blur of snow — saw temperatures of 55°F on Jan. 5, breaking a more than century-old record for the warmest day in January. High temperatures in Nebraska at the end of last week were more than 30°F above normal, and in December at least half the U.S. had temperatures at least 5°F above normal.

Nor is the unseasonable warmth confined to the U.S.; Europe has had mild temperatures so far as well. When cold goes missing, snow does too and it’s been an unusually green (or brown) winter. At the end of 2011, less than 20% of the continental U.S. was covered with snow, compared with more than 50% at the end of 2010. Ski resorts from California to Vermont are panicked about the possibility of a dry, warm winter leaving slopes bare and skiers looking into beach vacations.

The unseasonable weather is doing weird things to nature too. As Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears reported in a piece for the Washington Post at the end of December, early spring flowers are responding to the warmth and blooming months early in the National Arboretum. New England lost most of its fall foliage, as heavier than usual rain and unusually warm nights kept trees green until the leaves suddenly fell. “It’s a weird kind of fall blending right into spring,” Scott Aker, the head of horticulture at the National Arboretum, told Eilperin and Fears.

This, of course, brings us to the point in any column of this kind at which I remind you — just in case you thought otherwise — that one season does not in itself make a trend, and the warm temperatures of the past month and a half aren’t solely driven by climate change. The winter of 2012 may see precious little snow, but the winters of 2011 and ’10 saw unusually heavy snowfall — record-breaking in some parts of the U.S. Britain experienced some of the coldest temperatures in its history last winter — and just last fall, parts of the U.S. were hit by the celebrated October Snowmageddon, leading people to predict a ferocious winter was coming.

The fact that things have, so far, been so mild is due in part to some extenuating circumstances. As the meteorologist Jeff Masters wrote last week on the blog Weather Underground, the jet-stream pattern in December was the most extreme on record, which kept cold Arctic air from pushing into the U.S. Those kinds of factors can — and do — change fast, so say it with me now: weather is what happens day to day, but climate is what happens over years and even decades.

Still, even such a big-picture perspective does indicate that truly cold temperatures are becoming less and less common in the U.S. To take one example, since 1996, there have been 48 high-temperatures records set in New York City’s Central Park — and one just one record low. Since 1980, nearly every year in the U.S. has seen annual average temperatures higher than the long-term average. Confusion and uncertainty still exists over the exact impact of climate change on extreme-weather events like hurricanes or tornadoes, but there’s one thing we can be pretty sure of: it will be less cold.

To many people that’s probably not a bad thing. Extreme cold isn’t just uncomfortable and inconvenient — it’s also dangerous, particularly for older or poorer people who can’t protect themselves from the elements as well as others. But warmer winters can change nature in dangerous ways as well. Western bark beetles — which have ravaged the pine trees of the west — are thriving because they’re no longer being knocked out by very cold winters. Dry warm weather can worsen the risk of forest fires, and short winters can end up intensifying the spring-allergy season. A decline in mountain snowpack in the west can mean less water for dry states that are accustomed to meltwater runoff in the spring.

And then there’s the less quantifiable, more lyrical value of winter — a cold, frozen, crystalline season that’s beautiful and punishing all at once. As the British poet Anne Bradstreet said, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Climate change disrupts the rhythm of the seasons, that regular passage of time and temperature we assumed was fixed. It turns out we may be wrong, and winter as we know it could one day be a season of the past. As we keep altering the climate, who can tell what else might follow it into unplanned obsolescence.

Author: Bryan Walsh
Source: TIME Science


O sedã ecológico da Toyota foi a o primeiro veículo híbrido a ser produzido em massa, em 1997. Desde então, pelo menos 1,2 milhão dessas máquinas já foram vendidas no Japão.

Em sua terceira geração, lançada em meados do ano passado, o Prius ficou espaçoso, equipado e econômico – ganhou painel solar usado para ventilar o carro, o que ajuda a reduzir o uso do ar condicionado, e lanternas LEDs mais eficientes.

Por ser híbrido, o veículo é composto por um motor 1.8 de 98 cavalos (mais potente que o 1.5 da geração anterior) e outro elétrico, alimentado por baterias de níquel que geram 80 cv. (ante os 67 cv do modelo de 2004). Combinados, os dois motores rendem potência de 134 cv. Segundo a Toyota, com as mudanças o modelo faz em média 21 km/l.

Autor: Vanessa Barbosa
Fonte: Exame


LAST OCTOBER, THAILAND suffered the worst flooding in its history. How bad? The damage was equivalent to 18 per cent of its GDP. That’s almost unbelievable – in percentage terms it makes it 25 times worse than Hurricane Katrina, my country’s worst natural disaster.

Journalist and author Bill McKibben is arrested protesting a pipeline to transport oil across America. Credit: Milan Ilnyckyj (tarsandsaction)

And since something similar happens in one country or another every few weeks now, it helps explain why the pace of climate activism is picking up. I’m a reasonable example – 23 years ago, when I wrote the first book for a general audience about global warming, I thought I’d done my part. Others would take care of the politics. But this past summer I found myself spending three days in Washington’s DC Central Cell Block with some amazing committed individuals from all walks of life.

I was part of the biggest civil disobedience action in the US in almost three decades, a two-week sit-in outside the White House designed to protest plans for a massive pipeline from the tarsands of Canada. Why were so many willing to be arrested over an obscure piece of pipe? Because those tarsands are the second-biggest pool of carbon on the planet. Tap them heavily, warned our premier climate scientist, NASA’s James Hansen, and “it will be essentially game over for the climate”.

Our months of protest in this case actually produced something – earlier this month President Obama denied the permit the pipeline would have required. It’s not certain his decision will stick – the oil-funded Republicans are doing everything they can to override the decision. And even if we do manage to slow the development of the tarsands, that won’t exactly halt global warming. The world’s nations poured record amounts of carbon into the atmosphere last year, from oil derricks and gas wells and coal mines. Already we’ve raised the planet’s temperature a degree – and we’re well on our way, the climatologists insist, to four or five degrees.

If we’re going to stop it, it will require more than simply changing things in our homes – there’s no way to make the math work one lightbulb at a time. In fact, it will require more than simply changing things in our nations. Australia’s landmark carbon pricing law was surely a boost to all of us working on global warming, but it didn’t tackle what may be the country’s greatest contribution to planetary destruction, its massive coal exports. Just as we Americans worked to oppose Canadian tarsands development, so citizens from around the world have a legitimate interest in how Australia, or any other country, disposes of its hydrocarbons, if only because there’s no wall that can separate one nation’s atmosphere from the next.

I think the best example may be the Amazon. At some point in the last couple of decades, the earth’s scientists recognised that we couldn’t make the globe work if that huge swath of trees was cut down; they truly were the “lungs of the planet”. So we’ve counted on Brazil and its neighbours to do the right thing – and, fitfully and in part, they’ve at least made the attempt. Deforestation has slowed – in fact, Brazil may have cut its carbon emissions more than any country on earth.

In much the same way, we need Canada and the US and Australia to leave their carbon in the ground. If we blow it into the air, then we will choke those lungs.

So far this kind of logic has been too painful for politicians to follow – the financial power of the world’s richest industry has simply been too much. That’s why those of us who reluctantly comprise the climate movement are having to do things we never imagined. We’re learning, since we lack the money to match the oil and coal barons, to use passion, spirit, creativity as our tools. And sometimes we have to spend our bodies. No fun going to jail, but it seemed like the right place to be at a time when there is so much to lose.

Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and founder of the global climate campaign

Author: Bill McKibben
Source: ABC Environment


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