Earth Saving News > October 26, 2010

Pollution-eating super plants.

If you’ve been thinking about investing in some new plants and trees for your property, here’s some information that should clinch the decision for you: A new study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that vegetation does even more to absorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than we thought! Researchers recently determined that deciduous plants – meaning, plants that lose all of their leaves for part of the year – clean more than a third more of these common polluting chemicals from the air than previously predicted.

So where do VOCs come from and why do we want to get rid of them? VOCs are released into the atmosphere from natural and man-made sources including vehicles, forest fires and power plants, and can adversely affect human health and our environment. Scientists are also very interested in something called ‘secondary organic aerosols’ or SOAs, a by-product of certain VOCs, because they are a major cause of disease and death in urban areas. In fact, according to researcher Qi Zhang in a recent Discovery News article, “(SOAs) are more deadly than car accidents.”

These findings have huge implications for mapping and predicting global vegetation and pollution levels, and will allow researchers to better understand how aerosols affect global warming and our health.

The message here: Plant more trees! EarthShare member charities are here to help you learn more about the benefits, and offer easy ways to get involved in protection and re-planting efforts across the country and around the world.

 

A worldwide wake up call: placing a value on nature.

According to a new report released by the United Nations, our natural resources are vastly undervalued. The estimated price tag for the current rate of destruction of our environmental resources? In the trillions! The study is the result of an effort to make governments and private businesses around the world appreciate the value of nature and to encourage participation in global conservation efforts.

Analysts found that ecosystems such as coral reefs, oceans, and forests account for 47 to 89 percent of the income for rural and poor households. The study also notes that preserving our natural environments could have huge economic benefits for developing countries. One example states that merely conserving forests could prevent more than $3.7 trillion in damage related to climate change! Another jaw-dropping example: the report found that simply improving the management of fisheries could save more than $50 billion globally each year.

Researcher Pavan Sukhdev told the Washington Post that nature is “economically invisible,” and called this a “problem for human well-being.” According to Sukhdev, the U.S. is making no progress toward incorporating ecosystem benefits into public policymaking, although some other countries, including India and Brazil, have already announced plans to embrace the value of “natural capital.”

This year is the International Year of Biodiversity, and right now EarthShare member group Conservation International is at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, pushing for goals that include the protection of at least 25% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 15% of marine territories.

Learn more about what Conservation International is doing around the globe to preserve and protect healthy ecosystems, and check out what CI’s leadership and actor/conservationist Harrison Ford have to say about America’s lack of commitment to nature in their Huffington Post commentary.


Conservation groups give Gulf wildlife a voice in spill aftermath.

Last week, several conservation groups filed suit against BP for ongoing harm inflicted on endangered and threatened species in the Gulf of Mexico. The lawsuit is one of many filed against the oil giant in response to the spill, but unlike most of the cases pending so far, this one focuses primarily on endangered birds, manatees, whales and turtles.

Defenders of Wildlife, along with the Gulf Restoration Network and Save the Manatee Club, are asking the court to order BP to mitigate damages by setting up a fund to help restore Gulf wildlife over time. At least 27 endangered or threatened species called the Gulf of Mexico home. Concerns for the affected wildlife include both the immediate effects of oil and chemical exposure as well as long-term effects on reproduction and the potential side effects from a newly contaminated food chain.

As much as 650 miles of shoreline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida were impacted by the spill that dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the waters of the Gulf. “Our concern,” says Gregory Buppert, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, “is that the impact on threatened and endangered species is going to continue for a long time after the oil spill is in the news.”

Six months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf, Defenders of Wildlife continues to work to protect our coastlines from the dangers of offshore drilling. Take action today to help put an end to harmful drilling practices, and learn what you can do to support EarthShare charities working to restore Gulf habitats, communities, and wildlife.


 

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