Global warming imperils clouds that deter hothouse Earth

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Marine clouds that protect us from hothouse Earth conditions by reflecting sunlight back into space could break up and vanish if CO2 in the atmosphere triples, researchers warned Monday. “Our results show that there are dangerous climate change thresholds of which we were unaware,” Tapio Schneider, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and lead author of a study detailing the findings, told […]

Blue whales ‘hedge their bets’ in search for food: study

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Every spring, the largest animals in the world, blue whales, migrate from their winter breeding grounds off of Costa Rica to the coast of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. They are in search of their favorite food, the tiny crustaceans known as krill. Scientists have long tracked the migration of the behemoths, which can weigh well over 100 tons, but could not explain how they chose their itinerary. […]

Poachers kill elephant in Cambodia wildlife sanctuary

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP) — An elephant has been found dead with its tusks and tail sliced off in a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia, where wild elephant numbers have dwindled to just a few hundred due to poaching and deforestation. The Southeast Asian nation has emerged in recent years as a key transit hub for the multi-billion dollar illicit wildlife trade, with demand for products made from tusks, pangolin scales and rhino horns high in […]

‘Flying bulldog’: world’s largest bee refound

PARIS, France (AFP) — The world’s largest bee — a giant insect roughly the size of a human thumb — has been rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia in its first sighting in nearly 40 years, researchers said Thursday. Despite its conspicuous size, no one had observed Wallace’s giant bee — discovered in the 19th century by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and nicknamed the “flying bulldog” — in the wild since 1981, the […]

Vanuatu moves to ban disposable diapers to significantly reduce plastic waste

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — The Pacific nation of Vanuatu has announced plans to ban disposable diapers in a move it says will significantly reduce pollution. Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu announced the ban at a conference in Port Vila this week, saying plastic cutlery, polystyrene cups, plastic drinks stirrers and types of food packaging would also be outlawed. He said research showed disposable diapers — or nappies as they are known outside North America — […]

Swedish teen leaves adults trailing with global school strikes for climate

by Amélie BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — “Strike for climate”. With that simple plea, 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg has inspired children worldwide to boycott classes under the anxious gaze of adults who don’t quite know how to react. Every Friday since August, Greta, as she is known to all, has staked out a spot in front of parliament in Stockholm, demanding that her government step up the fight against climate change. In […]

Scientists discover two new bat species in Europe, North Africa

MADRID ,Spain (AFP) — A new species of bat has been discovered in wooded areas of Europe, an international team of researchers said on Tuesday, as well as another “very rare” species that lives in caves in North Africa. The findings add to the family of roughly a thousand species of bats, an order of mammals which are capable of transmitting and receiving ultrasound, allowing them to fly and navigate in total darkness. The new […]

Aussie rodent becomes first ‘climate change extinction’

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia officially declared a Great Barrier Reef rodent extinct on Tuesday, making it the first mammal believed to have been killed off by human-induced climate change. The rat-like Bramble Cay melomys — whose only known habitat was a small sandy island in far northern Australia — has not been spotted in a decade. Researchers from Queensland determined a key factor in its disappearance was “almost certainly” repeated ocean inundation of the […]

Tasmania fires may ‘wipe out’ ancient species

HOBART, Australia (AFP) — Tasmania’s ancient rain-forest and alpine flora species face an uncertain future, scientists have warned, after out-of-control bush-fires consumed vast tracts of wild bush land. As authorities downgraded emergency warnings Friday, with wetter weather — and even some snow — bringing respite from more than a month of rolling fires, scientists warned they are still assessing the damage to the island’s unique environment. Wildfires have scorched over 205,000 hectares (500,000 acres) in […]