THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Australasian gannets not so monogamous after all...

Australasian Gannets not so monogamous after all...

An Auckland University researcher has found "monogamous" gannets actually have a break-up rate similar to humans.

Australasian gannets once thought to pair-bond for life have a divorce rate similar to humans.

Steffi Ismar from Auckland University says it has always been assumed the birds are monogamous, and they have been held up as an example of fidelity for humans, however, her research shows that the divorce rate from one breeding season to the next is around 40 percent.

Ms Ismar says the novelty of this finding may say as much about how humans view the world as about the birds themselves.

"In the past people have projected their values onto other species and assumed that some species form lifelong partnerships, but as our society has become more liberal our approach to research has changed and we are starting to challenge some of these assumptions."

The study also showed that individuals who divorced and found a new mate were less likely to successfully raise a chick in their first breeding season compared with those who kept the previous year's partner.

Ms Ismar says this may be due to the common phenomenon of breeding failure in newly-formed couples, followed by success at subsequent attempts, amongst species that require teamwork to raise their young.

She says data from the upcoming breeding season and further analyses will give further insight into why pairs separate, whether the same individuals repeatedly divorce, and whether new pairs really do have greater breeding success in their second year.

Acknowledgemnts: NZCity, NewsTalkZB

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mass Extinctions Underway - Majority of Biologists are convinced

Mass Extinction Underway - Majority of Biologists Are Convinced...

A majority of the nation's biologists are convinced that a "mass extinction" of plants and animals is underway that poses a major threat to humans in the next century, yet most Americans are only dimly aware of the problem, a poll says.

The rapid disappearance of species was ranked as one of the planet's gravest environmental worries, surpassing pollution, global warming and the thinning of the ozone layer, according to the survey of 400 scientists commissioned by New York's American Museum of Natural History.

The poll's release yesterday comes on the heels of a groundbreaking study of plant diversity that concluded than at least one in eight known plant species is threatened with extinction. Although scientists are divided over the specific numbers, many believe that the rate of loss is greater now than at any time in history.

"The speed at which species are being lost is much faster than any we've seen in the past -- including those [extinctions] related to meteor collisions," said Daniel Simberloff, a University of Tennessee ecologist and prominent expert in biological diversity who participated in the museum's survey. [Note: the last mass extinction caused by a meteor collision was that of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.]

Most of his peers apparently agree. Nearly seven out of 10 of the biologists polled said they believed a "mass extinction" was underway, and an equal number predicted that up to one-fifth of all living species could disappear within 30 years. Nearly all attributed the losses to human activity, especially the destruction of plant and animal habitats.

Among the dissenters, some argue that there is not yet enough data to support the view that a mass extinction is occurring. Many of the estimates of species loss are extrapolations based on the global destruction of rain forests and other rich habitats.

Among non-scientists, meanwhile, the subject appears to have made relatively little impression. Sixty percent of the laymen polled professed little or no familiarity with the concept of biological diversity, and barely half ranked species loss as a "major threat."

The scientists interviewed in the Louis Harris poll were members of the Washington-based American Institute of Biological Sciences, a professional society of more than 5,000 scientists.

Acknowledgements: Washington Post

Mass Extinctions

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Greenwashing - An explanation...

Greenwashing - An explanation:

More and more companies are trying to hop on the "green" bandwagon to try and increase sales. As more people begin to live greener lifestyles, the marketing firms have caught on and are doing what they can to market their products as organic, green, recycled and even environmentally friendly. The environmental marketing claims are every where as companies try to greenwash more consumers. With all of the green claims, how does the eco-buyer know what is true and what’s now?

Greenwashing is the term used to bust companies who make false claims in an effort to appeal to the eco-friendly marketplace. These companies hide unpleasant facts and make green claims to get consumers to think their products are really environmentally friendly, when in fact, they are not. Many companies spend a fortune on advertising and marketing instead of really trying to minimize their environmental impact. These same companies claim to have organic cotton, recycled contents or even claim they are in deed an eco-friendly company. Notice I said they "claim". Greenwashing breaks down to the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Companies that claim to be green are even going as far as to use fake labeling to give the consumer the impression of third-party endorsement, when in fact there is none. When greenwashing ocures, well-intentioned consumers are misled into purchases that do not deliver on their environmental promise or claims.If you have been fooled by green claims in the past, don’t worry, many of us have at some point.

Some common claims are "all natural", "biodegradable", "green", "recycled material" and even "organic". Now, I am not saying that all companies who use these terms are greenwashing consumers, but many are! Knowing what to look for will help you select the real environmentally friendly products.

Here are some great tips to help you sniff out false green claims and spot greenwashing every time!

A credible eco-label is a great way to find genuinely greener products. Look for EcoCert, EcoLogo, Energy Star, Green Seal, GREENGUARD, SFI, USDA Organic or WaterSense logos on product packaging. These are the most common credible eco-labels in North America.

If no eco-label is present, look for products that offer transparency, information and education.

Think about the environmental impacts of your product across its entire lifecycle. If you are unsure of a products impact, simply visit the EcoLogo website and view their list of accredited truly green products.

GreenWashing Index is also another great resource for finding greenwashing claims.This site allows registered users to rate products and submit products for reviews from others. GreenWashing Index helps evaluate environmental marketing claims of advertisers.

So now you know what "greenwashing" is.

Acknowledgements: Green Company News.

The problem of greenwashing

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Guardian article attack on New Zealand's green image totally unfair...

The article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, claiming that New Zealand's clean, green image is not up to its emission and environmental image has been attacked as being unfair and wrong because it failed to mention other important factors.

Writer Fred Pearce claimed NZ and othe countries "greenwashed" their images. When you make such extravagant statements as Mr Pearce, you need to do your homework carefully. While condemning other countries, Fred Pearce saved his vitriol for New Zealand. Quote: "My prize for the most shameless two fingers to the global community goes to New Zealand, a country that sells itself round the world as clean and green".

New Zealand's Environmental Minister, Nick Smith, said he hoped online information would be updated once the full picture of his country's emission targets were made available. He said New Zealand had no desire to be a leader in addressing climate change, but it would get its own house in order and hope critics from abroad did the same.

New Zealand was called a hypocrite because it allegedly preferred triumph of style over substance. Well, thats Fred Pearce's opinion. It is true a lot of forests have been felled in recent years, but sustantial replanting had also occurred. But Pearce's personal attacks of New Zealand society completely undermined whatever case he may thought he had against New Zealand.

65% of New Zealand's electricity is produced from renewable sources, which is the highest in the OCED countries bar Iceland. 600,000 hectares of additional trees were grown in the 1990's, which absorb carbon and offset new Zealand's emissions. If these are taken into account the country is projected to meet its Kyoto pledge not to increase emissions from 1990 levels. Under current estimates it could actually exceed its target by 8 million tonnes.

Half of New Zealand's emissions came from methane (produced by grazing animals) which does not stay in the atmosphere for as long as carbon dioxide, and is less harmful.

While its emissions have grown by 22%, its population has grown by 24% during the same period. The British population has been relatively static.

As for the reality of claims about New Zealand's damaged environment, 65% of overseas tourists interviewed said New Zealand's environment had exceeded their expectations and the other 35% said their expectations had been met.

&2% of international visitors to NZ in 2008 thought the environment was managed sustainably.

One would have to wonder where Fred Pearce got his information from? From a fiction book perhaps?

Read the facts

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posted by Unknown @ 6:22 PM 2 Comments

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stonefish - the world's most venomous fish...

Stonefish Synanceia verrucosa:

The stonefish is the world’s most venomous fish, and its sting is capable of killing a human. Each sharply tipped spine of the dorsal fin has a venom gland at the base from which a duct runs in a groove to the spine tip. Lying quietly on rocks or sediment in the shallows, the stonefish matches its color to its background and is easily stepped on. Its camouflage helps it to ambush passing fish, which are sucked into its cavernous mouth with lightening speed.

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posted by Unknown @ 6:37 PM 0 Comments

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Tidal Power conversion system - bioSTREAM...

New power generating systems: bioPOWER AND bioSTREAM systems.

The tidal power conversion system, bioSTREAM™, is based on the highly efficient propulsion of Thunniform mode swimming species, such as shark, tuna, and mackerel.

The bioSTREAM™ mimics the shape and motion characteristics of these species but is a fixed device in a moving stream. In this configuration the propulsion mechanism is reversed and the energy in the passing flow is used to drive the device motion against the resisting torque of an electrical generator.

Due to the single point of rotation, this device can align with the flow in any direction, and can assume a streamlined configuration to avoid excess loading in extreme conditions. Systems are being developed for 250kW, 500kW, and 1000kW capacities to match conditions in various locations.


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posted by Unknown @ 4:42 PM 0 Comments

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The freakist fish of 2009 is...the Hairy Angler...

The results are in and the freakiest fish is… the hairy angler! This deep-sea creature not only looks frightening, but has a scary big appetite. Due to its expandable stomach, it can eat prey as big, or even bigger, than itself. This certainly comes in handy in the food-scarce depths of the ocean.

Learn more about crazy creatures, interesting places, and ocean science in our brand new Explore section.

Though Halloween has passed, we should still be frightened for the future of the oceans. Visit our Act section on the new website, donate to support our work, and spread the word to your friends and family that the oceans need our help.

Acknowledgements: OCEANA. Protecting the world's oceans.

The hairy angler

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posted by Unknown @ 7:48 PM 0 Comments

Tell Congress to stop mercury pollution from chlorine plants...

For American bloggers:

Tell Congress to Stop Mercury Pollution from Chlorine Plants
The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act, H.R. 2190 in the House and S. 1428 in the Senate, would stop the "Foul Four" chlorine plants from emitting toxic mercury into our air and water.

The bill is currently up for consideration by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and recently moved to the House floor for consideration by the full House of Representatives.

Even though 95 percent of US chlorine is made without the use of mercury, four outdated plants continue to use old technology and collectively release hundreds of pounds of mercury into our air and water every year. When released to the environment, mercury ends up in our oceans, contaminating seafood.

Read here

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posted by Unknown @ 5:58 PM 0 Comments

Friday, November 6, 2009

Body of rare finback whale brought ashore in NZ...

Body of rare finback whale brought ashore in New Zealand...

A whale rarely seen in New Zealand's coastal waters has been brought into Lyttelton Harbour after its body became stuck on the bow of a cargo ship.

Its not known whether the 14m-long finback whale died at sea and was carried towards New Zealand on currents, or died in a collision with a ship.

The Department of Conservation is taking the whale to Christchurch for a necropsy which will determine how it died.

The finback whale is the second biggest whale species and can grow to a length of 26m.

Read here
Acknowledgements: Radio New Zealand

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posted by Unknown @ 1:24 AM 0 Comments