Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Stories: Amazonian Drought and Biodiversity Politics

 Two stories that have implications for the loss of squamate diversity and the protection of squamates, as well as the rest of the flora and fauna are on the web this morning:

Jeff Tollefson on Nature's web site (October 29, 2010) is reporting on the second Amazonian drought in five years, data from terrestrial weather stations as well as satellites suggest the 2010 drought is broader but less intense than the 2005 drought.The current drought has affected a large area in the northwest, central and southwest Amazon, includes parts of Columbia, Peru and northern Bolivia. Fewer clouds and less rain also translate into higher temperatures, and the maximum temperatures in September are 1 °C higher than 2005, and 2–3 °C higher than average. Water levels in the primary tributary Rio Negro — or Black River — are at historic lows. Deforestation in Brazil has decreased by 85% since 2004, but there have been reports of increased fire activity. that may be related to the drought. Forest fires are generally associated with deforestation, but drought amplifies the impact of fires that are set in order to clear land.

The AAAS web site is carrying a story (October 29, 2010) that negotiators at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya have agreed to take action on the loss of biodiversity. The CBD has representatives from 179 countries and they want to try to ensure the resilience of ecosystems by 2020.They also adopted agreements to generate financing to support these efforts and to share the proceeds of the commercialization of genetic materials with the countries of origin. The strategic plan sets 20 specific targets to achieve by 2020. Key targets include conserving in protected zones at least 17% of the world's terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of coastal and marine areas, halving the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, and preventing the extinction of known threatened species. As well as eliminating subsidies harmful to biodiversity, managing fisheries sustainably, and minimizing anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs.

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