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Figures & Facts
World’s marine fisheries losing $50 billion each year due to poor management, inefficiencies, and over-fishing
The world's fishing fleets are losing billions of dollars each year through depleted stocks and poor management, according to a UN report. The World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calculate the losses at $50bn per year. Half the world's fishing fleet could be scrapped with no change in catch.
The report was launched at World Bank headquarters in New York and has been debated here at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Entitled The Sunken Billions: Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform, it argues that reforming the way fisheries are managed could restore stocks and build profits. "There are two reasons why we are experiencing the huge loss," said Rolf Willman, a senior fisheries planning officer at FAO and one of the report's authors. "One is that global fish stocks are much lower than they could be, so it is harder to catch the amount of fish that we could. "If stocks were higher we could catch the same amount at lower cost. The second reason is that where fishing is poorly regulated, we have much greater harvesting capacity than we need," he told BBC News. read more »
Turning out the lights - light pollution squanders energy, raises cancer risks, disturbs wildlife and ecosystem
The night is not what it was. Once, the Earth was cast perpetually half in shadow. Man and beast slept beneath inky skies, dotted with glittering stars. Then came fire, the candle, and the light bulb, gradually drawing back the curtain of darkness and giving us unprecedented control over our lives. But a brighter world, it is becoming increasingly clear, has its drawbacks. A study finding that breast cancer is nearly twice as common in brightly lit communities as in dark ones only added to a growing body of evidence that artificial light threatens not just stargazing but also public health, wildlife, and possibly even safety.
Those findings are all the more troubling considering that an estimated 30 percent of outdoor lighting - plus even some indoor lighting - is wasted. Ill-conceived, ineffective, and inefficient lighting costs the nation about $10.4 billion a year, according to Bob Gent of the International Dark-Sky Association, a nonprofit that aims to curtail light pollution, and it generates 38 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. read more »
37th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta marks 225th anniversary of first manned balloon flight
Launched in 1972, the Albuquerque balloon festival draws enthusiasts from all over the world. This year marks the 225th anniversary of hot air balloon flights, with participants representing 42 states and 24 countries. Ballooning has come a long way from the first "flying machines" in France in 1783, which flew a duck, a rooster and a lamb in a smoke-filled balloon. The first human passengers were carried 3,000 feet on November 21, 1783.
Amongst the most popular events is a mass ascension, in which all participants rise into the sky in two waves. During the Dawn Patrol, above, pilots take off before sunrise and appraise wind conditions for the others. The festival lasts nine days. This year it runs from October 4 through October 12. Albuquerque has a long association with ballooning, going back more than a century.
Because of a local wind phenomenon known as the "Albuquerque Box," the area is ideally suited to a balloon festival. In October of every year, the wind follows a predictable pattern, blowing northerly at higher altitudes and southerly at lower altitudes, allowing for a smooth navigation.
US national debt clock in Times Square runs out of digits for the first time as debt exceeds $10 trillion
The US government's debts have ballooned so badly the National Debt Clock in New York has run out of digits to record the spiraling figure. The digital counter marks the national debt level, but when that passed the $10 trillion point last month, the sign ran out of digits for the first time.
The clock, located in Times Square, shows the amount of money owed by the US government. It was created by the late Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst, who put the sign up in 1989 to call attention to what was then a $2.7 trillion debt. The clock's owners say two more zeros will be added, allowing the clock to record a quadrillion dollars of debt.
For the time being, the Times Square counter's electronic dollar sign has been replaced with the extra digit required. For its part, the digital dollar symbol has been supplanted by a cheaper version - perhaps a sign of the times for the American economy.
Some economists believe the $700bn bail-out plan for ailing US financial institutions could send the national debt level to $11 trillion.
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Extinction "Red List": half of mammals in decline, 1 in 4 faces extinction; conservation can bring species back
BARCELONA, Spain, October 6, 2008 (ENS) - The world's mammals are in the grip of an extinction crisis, with almost one in four at risk of vanishing forever, according to the latest scientific assessment revealed at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress, which opened Sunday in Barcelona.
The new study conducted for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for the first time assessed all of the 5,487 mammals on Earth and found that at least 1,141 of them are known to be threatened with extinction. At least 76 mammals have become extinct since the year 1500.
The real situation could be much worse as 836 mammals are listed as Data Deficient. With better information, scientists may classify even more species as being in danger of extinction. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN director general. read more »
Work of legendary portraitist Yousuf Karsh celebrated at Boston exhibit - Churchill, Hepburn, Picasso, and more
The work of the legendary portraitist is celebrated at a centenary exhibit at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Among the portraits -
Audrey Hepburn, 1956
"The French novelist Colette picked her out of a ballet lineup to play Gigi on stage, and her career was launched. When I photographed her in Hollywood and commented on her quality of sophisticated vulnerability, she told me of her harrowing experiences during the Second World War. Years later, in the Kremlin, Chairman Brezhnev agreed to sit for me only if I made him as beautiful as Audrey Hepburn."
Winston Churchill, 1941 read more »
Victims of global warming & pollution - lost penguins stranded on Brazilian beaches get lift home from air force
In between the bronzed bodies in skimpy thongs soaking up the rays on Copacabana beach, a tiny black and white bundle of feathers struggles to emerge from the surf. Exhausted and emaciated, its bones poking through the blubber, the young penguin finally collapses on the sand. It has strayed thousands of miles from home, one of more than 1,000 penguins to have washed up on the Brazilian coast this year, some of which have died along the way.
They have come ashore further north than ever before, with some making landfall just 400 miles from the Equator. Brazilian coastguards have found themselves acting as penguin first-aiders, protecting them from an over-enthusiastic public whose first instinct is often to stick the birds in an ice bucket. Hundreds of penguins have been returned to their native territory in the south Atlantic ocean by an air force plane after being found along Brazil's coast.