May 4, 2012
Aerial picture of the Amazon

Aerial picture of the Amazon     Photo: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture/Flick

Brazil Goes After Criminals in Amazon

Military hunts loggers, drug traffickers

The Brazilian military this week launched an 8,500-soldier strong effort to stop illegal logging, mining, and drug trafficking in the Amazon rainforest. The operation will target Brazil's 3,000-mile border with Suriname, Venezuela, and Guyana, a sparsely populated region that is home to a growing trade in drugs and minerals. On Thursday, the operation uncovered 10 airstrips likely used for cocaine trafficking. Brazil's government is also hoping to signal its commitment to biodiversity in the area as it prepared to host a UN summit on sustainability next month. "The Amazon is Brazil’s No. 1 priority from a strategic viewpoint, given its importance to humanity as a source of water, biodiversity and food production," operation chief General Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Boas said.

Read more at The New York Times



Walrus     Photo: claumoho/Flickr

Ivory-Smuggling Case Turns Up Stolen Art

Alaska officials find paintings lost in '05

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service are hoping to return a cache of stolen art uncovered last year during an investigation into a major ivory-smuggling operation in Alaska. Prosecutors say Jesse Leboeuf and Loretta Sternbach, who were found with poached ivory taken from some 100 walruses, also planned to sell five stolen paintings worth as much as $1 million. Investigators believe the paintings were taken from a collector named Nicolette Wernick in 2005. It is the first known case in USFWS history involving stolen art. "There's been things like jewelry from overseas made from parts of endangered animals, but as far as pieces of fine art, that's never happened, as far as I can remember," said spokesman Bruce Woods.

Read more at Reuters


A glacier in Greenland

A glacier in Greenland     Photo: Basheer Tome/Flickr

Greenland Glacial Melt Slows in Areas

Sea-level rise could be less dramatic

A new study by researchers from the University of Washington's Polar Science Center suggests that Greenland's glaciers are melting significantly slower than previously believed. Ian Joughin and colleagues analyzed radar images of 200 Greenland glaciers that revealed dramatic inconsistencies in ice flow. Melt on the Jakobshavn glacier abruptly doubled its rate a few years ago, suggesting a possible six-foot rise in ocean levels by the end of the century. "Some people feared if they could double their speed over two or three years, they could keep doubling," Joughin said. He now estimates a sea level rise of three feet or less. Greenland's glaciers hold enough water to raise the sea level by 20 feet.

Read more at NPR


Black Bear

Black Bear     Photo: Rick Cooper/Flickr

Famous 'Falling Bear' Killed by Car in CO

Tranquilized-bear photo went viral

A black bear famously photographed falling from a tree while tranquilized last month was struck and killed by cars near Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday. The 280-pound bear, which had been relocated to a wilderness 50 miles west of Boulder, attempted to cross U.S. 36 near Boulder when it was hit by two cars. Wildlife officials say the bear was likely trying to return due to food scarcity. "It's a bummer. It's so hard to go through this and not be able to give these bears a good place to live," said spokesperson Jennifer Churchill. "The community sees relocating bears as a kind of perfect solution, and unfortunately it's a really difficult proposition."

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera