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Growth should not be at the cost of environment: Jairam Ramesh

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 29 Oktober 2014 | 22.33

CHENNAI: While India venerates and respects its biodiversity on one hand, the other hand it treats it with neglect and disdain by destroying it, said former environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the CP Ramasami Aiyar Foundation, he said there was an urgent need to set the paradox right and conserve the biodiversity of the country.

"Environment education will play a crucial role in the coming days and teachers should be an active part of it, encouraging children to conserve nature," he said."There certainly needs to be development but never at the cost of our environment. If we do not protect our ecosystem, our entire existence will be at risk," he said.

The foundation gave the 'Green Teacher' award to G Prabhakar of Keshav Memorial Boys High School, Hyderabad, for encouraging students of the school to take up civic issue around their house, immediate neighbourhood and brainstorm for solutions. The 'Green School' award was given to NSN Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chitlapakkam as the school was known for striving to become a zero-waste campus and has compost pits set up in the premises. The students are encouraged to plant trees, save water and promote rainwater harvesting.

Ministry of environment secretary Ashok Lavasa, said that keeping the environment clean should not viewed as a challenge. "There needs to be a balance in achieving growth and protecting nature," he said.

There is a significant need to start environmental education at school level, said Dr M S Swaminathan. 'We need to catch them young teach them about sustainable development," he said.

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Global meet on climate change in Kerala in February

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tackling climate change, disaster management are among the issues set to be discussed at an international conference to be held here in February next year.

Nearly 500 scientists and policy makers, including 200 from abroad, would attend the three-day conference being hosted by Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) from February 26.

The event is being held in association with International Academy of Astronautics and the International Institute of Space Law, KSCSTE Executive Vice-President V N Rajasekharan Pillai and former chairman of ISRO G Madhavan Nair told reporters here on Wednesday.

The conference proposes to address issues related to sharing of knowledge and data between countries with advanced resources and the emerging countries, Nair said.

Though India had a strong mechanism for disaster management using space technology in predicting natural calamities like cyclone, more studies were required for landslide and earthquake, he said.

"One of the objectives of the conference is to help narrow the knowledge and resource gap between developed and developing nations," he added.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=ISRO G Madhavan Nair,International Institute,International Academy of Astronautics

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'Salt invasion in Indo-Gangetic basin has led to more health problems'

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 28 Oktober 2014 | 22.33

LONDON: Large areas of rich irrigated and fertile land in the Indo-Gangetic basin is being lost daily to salt damage, confirms the UN.

Crop yield losses on salt-affected lands for wheat, rice, sugarcane and cotton grown on salt-affected lands could be 40%, 45%, 48%, and 63%, respectively.
Employment losses could be 50-80 man-days per hectare, with an estimate 20-40% increase in human health problems and 15-50% increase in animal health problems in India's Indo-Gangetic Basin.

Scientists have now confirmed that salt-spoiled soils worldwide is 20% of all irrigated lands, an area equal to France.

According to the UN University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, every day for more than 20 years, an average of 2,000 hectares of irrigated land in arid and semi-arid areas across 75 countries have been degraded by salt.

Today an area the size of France is affected, about 62 million hectares (20%) of the world's irrigated lands, up from 45 million hectares in the early 1990s.

Salt-degradation occurs in arid and semi-arid regions where rainfall is too low to maintain regular percolation of rainwater through the soil and where irrigation is practiced without a natural or artificial drainage system.

Irrigation practices without drainage management trigger the accumulation of salts in the root zone, affecting several soil properties and reducing productivity.

"To feed the world's anticipated nine billion people by 2050, and with little new productive land available, it's a case of all lands needed on deck," says principal author Manzoor Qadir, assistant director at the Institute. "We can't afford not to restore the productivity of salt-affected lands".

Zafar Adeel, director of UNU-INWEH, notes the UN Food and Agriculture Organization projects a need to produce 70% more food by 2050, including a 50% rise in annual cereal production to about 3 billion tonnes.

"Each week the world loses an area larger than Manhattan to salt-degradation. A large portion of the affected areas in developing countries have seen investments made in irrigation and drainage but the infrastructure is not properly maintained or managed. Efforts to restore those lands to full productivity are essential as world population and food needs grow, especially in the developing world". Well known salt-degraded land areas include Aral Sea Basin, Indus Basin, Yellow River Basin, Euphrates Basin, Murray-Darling Basin, Indo Gangetic Plain and San Joaquin Valley.

The estimated cost of crop losses was drawn from a review of more than 20 studies over the last 20 years in Australia, India, Pakistan, Spain, Central Asia and the USA.

Globally, irrigated lands cover some 310 million ha, an estimated 20% of it salt-affected (62 million ha). The inflation-adjusted cost of salt-induced land degradation in 2013 was estimated at $441 per hectare, yielding an estimate of global economic losses at $27.3 billion per year.

In the Indus Basin in Pakistan, wheat grain yield losses from salt-affected lands ranged 20-43% with an overall average loss of 32%. For rice, the crop yield losses from salt-affected lands ranged 36-69% with an overall average loss of 48%.

"These costs are expected to be even higher when other cost components such as infrastructure deterioration (including roads, railways, and buildings), losses in property values of farms with degraded land, and the social cost of farm businesses are taken into consideration. In addition, there could be additional environmental costs associated with salt-affected degraded lands as these lands emit more greenhouse gases, thus contributing to global warming".

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Chimps plan for a good early breakfast

WASHINGTON: Chimpanzees plan ahead, and sometimes take dangerous risks, to get a good breakfast, scientists say.

Researchers found that chimpanzees will find a place to sleep en route to breakfast sites and risk travel in the dark when predators are active to obtain more desired, less abundant fruits such as figs.

"As humans we are familiar with the race against birds for our cherries, or against squirrels for our walnuts and pecans but this race is carried out amongst competitors of all kinds of species in locations all over the world," said study co-author Leo Polansky, an associate researcher in the University of California, Davis.

The study provides evidence that chimpanzees flexibly plan their breakfast time, type and location after weighing multiple disparate pieces of information.

"Being able to reveal the role of environmental complexity in shaping cognitive-based behaviour is especially exciting," Polansky said.

"Long-term, detailed information from the field can reveal the value of high levels of cognition and behavioural flexibility for efficiently obtaining critical food resources in complex environments," he said.

Researchers recorded when and where five adult female chimpanzees spent the night and acquired food for 275 days during three fruit-scarce periods.

The research took place in the Tai National Park in Cote d'Ivoire, led by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where Polansky was a postdoctoral researcher.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Butterfly survey in Periyar Tiger Reserve records 246 species

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 27 Oktober 2014 | 22.34

THEKKADY: A recent butterfly survey carried out in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Kerala has come out with quite interesting information as the volunteers recorded 246 species of butterflies - 95 % of 32 butterfly species endemic to the Western Ghats.

A total of 152 volunteers, including scientists, naturalists and students, participated in one of the largest butterfly surveys in the tiger reserve held from October 23 to 26.

The volunteers also recorded a rare species of the Baby Five Ring. The Baby Five Ring has been recorded only three times in the past 100 years.

This species was recorded from the Eravangalar section of the PTR.

The 925 km sq tiger reserve with its varying altitude and habitats was covered by strategically identified 26 base camps.

"The butterfly survey will help in assessing the eco-system and to chart out conservation measures", said Sanjayan Kumar, deputy director of the PTR.

The last survey was held 22 years ago in 1992 when volunteers recorded 167 species.

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Earth's largest shark, Megalodon, disappeared 2.6 million years ago

PTI | Oct 26, 2014, 07.31PM IST

Most Megalodon fossils date back to the middle Miocene Epoch (15.9 million to 11.6 million years ago) and the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago).

Page 1 of 4

NEW YORK: An ancient shark, the largest to ever live, likely went extinct about 2.6 million years ago, scientists have found.

While researchers do not know why giant, 60-foot-long Megalodon sharks went extinct, scientists now have a better estimate for when it happened.

Most Megalodon fossils date back to the middle Miocene Epoch (15.9 million to 11.6 million years ago) and the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago).

The researchers in the new study identified 42 of the most recent fossils after sorting through the Paleobiology Database - a large online compilation of fossil data.

The team used the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) technique to estimate when the Megalodon died out, 'Live Science' reported.

Each of the 42 fossils was entered into the database with an upper and lower date estimate for when it appeared. The researchers ran 10,000 simulations, and each simulation selected a date for each fossil somewhere between the upper and lower boundary.

The technique doesn't pinpoint the exact date when a species went extinct, but instead gives the date by which, statistically, it can be assumed that a species has gone extinct, said Chris Clements, a research assistant at the University of Zurich, who worked on the study.

"We get 10,000 estimates for the time the species has gone extinct by, and then we look at the distribution of those estimates through time," Clements said.

The idea is to identify the point where most of the estimates cluster. The results for the Megalodon fossils placed that point for this species at 2.6 million years ago.

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What led to extinction of the giant shark

Written By kom nampultig on Minggu, 26 Oktober 2014 | 22.33

LONDON: By analysing dozens of Megalodon fossils, researchers estimated that the ancient shark, the largest to ever live, is likely to have gone extinct about 2.6 million years ago.

While researchers are still not clear as to why these giant, 60-foot-long sharks (Carcharocles megalodon) went extinct, scientists now have a better estimate for when it happened.

"We get 10,000 estimates for the time the species went extinct and then we look at the distribution of those estimates through time," Live Science quoted Chris Clements, research assistant at the University of Zurich, as saying.

The team used the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) technique to estimate when the Megalodon became extinct.

"Though the technique does not give us the exact date when a species went extinct, it gives the date by which, it can be assumed that a species has gone extinct," Clements added.

They identified 42 of the most recent fossils after sorting through the Paleobiology Database - a large, online compilation of fossil data.

Each of the 42 fossils were entered into the database, with an upper and lower date estimate for when it appeared.

The researchers then ran 10,000 simulations and each simulation selected a date for the said fossils, somewhere, between the upper and lower boundary.

This date falls on the border between the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs, from the time when baleen whales began growing to their modern-day gigantic sizes.

Most Megalodon fossils date back to the middle Miocene Epoch (15.9 million to 11.6 million years ago) and the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago).

The timing of the Megalodon's extinction makes sense, since these ancient sharks fed on marine mammals, including whales and dolphins, the researchers said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=University of Zurich,Megalodon fossils,Giant shark

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Earth's largest shark, Megalodon, disappeared 2.6 million years ago

NEW YORK: An ancient shark, the largest to ever live, likely went extinct about 2.6 million years ago, scientists have found.

While researchers do not know why giant, 60-foot-long Megalodon sharks went extinct, scientists now have a better estimate for when it happened.

Most Megalodon fossils date back to the middle Miocene Epoch (15.9 million to 11.6 million years ago) and the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago).

The researchers in the new study identified 42 of the most recent fossils after sorting through the Paleobiology Database - a large online compilation of fossil data.

The team used the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) technique to estimate when the Megalodon died out, 'Live Science' reported.

Each of the 42 fossils was entered into the database with an upper and lower date estimate for when it appeared. The researchers ran 10,000 simulations, and each simulation selected a date for each fossil somewhere between the upper and lower boundary.

The technique doesn't pinpoint the exact date when a species went extinct, but instead gives the date by which, statistically, it can be assumed that a species has gone extinct, said Chris Clements, a research assistant at the University of Zurich, who worked on the study.

"We get 10,000 estimates for the time the species has gone extinct by, and then we look at the distribution of those estimates through time," Clements said.

The idea is to identify the point where most of the estimates cluster. The results for the Megalodon fossils placed that point for this species at 2.6 million years ago.

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Over 10,000 migratory birds arrive in Odisha

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 25 Oktober 2014 | 22.33

IANS | Oct 24, 2014, 06.07PM IST

About 3,000 birds have been sighted in Mangalajodi, a wetland located near the lake. 

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BHUBANESWAR: Over 10,000 migratory birds from Siberia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and across the Himalayas have arrived at Odisha's Chilika Lake for their winter sojourn, an official said on Friday.

The first batch of birds arrived earlier this month. The numbers are gradually going up, divisional forest officer BR Das told IANS.

About 3,000 birds have been sighted in Mangalajodi, a wetland located near the lake. The birds were sighted in and outer area of the lake, said Das.

The migratory birds which were spotted at the lake included northern pintail, shoveller, and gadwall, he said.

Chilika, about 100km south from Bhubaneswar, is the largest brackish water lake in Asia covering an area of over 1,100 sq km.

It is considered as one of the hotspots of biodiversity in the country and a great attraction for the tourists for fishing, bird watching and boating.

The lake is considered as the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere in the Indian sub-continent. About 10 lakh migratory birds visit the lake in October and return in March.

Das said 17 camps have been set up and at least 100 people including staffs and workers have been engaged for the protection of the birds.

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Ocean circulation a major factor in climate change

WASHINGTON: It isn't just the atmosphere, but the circulation of the oceans plays an equally important role in regulating the Earth's climate, new research shows.

The study revealed that the cooling of Earth and continental ice build-up in the Northern Hemisphere 2.7 million years ago coincided with a shift in the circulation of the ocean - which pulls in heat and carbon dioxide in the Atlantic and moves them through the deep ocean from north to south until it's released in the Pacific.

The ocean conveyor system changed at the same time as a major expansion in the volume of the glaciers in the northern hemisphere took place along with a substantial fall in sea levels.

It was the Antarctic ice, researchers argued, that cut off heat exchange at the ocean's surface and forced it into deep water.

This led to global climate change at the time and it could be said that the formation of the ocean conveyor cooled the earth and created the climate we live in now.

"We argue that it was the establishment of the modern deep ocean circulation - the ocean conveyor - about 2.7 million years ago, and not a major change in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that triggered an expansion of the ice sheets in the northern hemisphere," said Stella Woodard, lead author and a post-doctoral researcher at Rutgers University in the US.

The new findings, based on ocean sediment core samples between 2.5 million to 3.3 million years old, provide scientists with a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of climate change today.

The changes in heat distribution between the ocean basins is important for understanding future climate change, the team concluded.

The study was published in the journal Science.

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