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Tuesday, Nov 25th

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Brazil eyes microchips in trees for forest management

Amazon rain forestA chainsaw buzzes, branches snap, and an Amazon tree crashes to the ground. It could be just another of the thousands of trees felled each year in Brazil's portion of the world's largest forest except for one detail: a microchip attached to its base holding data about its location, size and who cut it down.

With a hand-held device, forestry engineer Paulo Borges pulls up the tree's vital statistics from the chip -- a 14-meter-high (46-foot) tree known as a "mandiocao" cut down in Mato Grosso state, the southern edge of the Amazon where the forest has largely been cleared to create farmland.

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Bee Mystery Unsolved? Lead Investigator Had Connections to Pesticide Maker

Yesterday's New York Times featured a heartwarming ending to the years-long murder mystery of what was causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) among honeybees. Experts suspected pesticides or genetically modified foods, but the article reported that the University of Montana's Bee Alert Team, working alongside the Army, found the cause: the combined effects of a virus and fungus. Data sharing! Chance discoveries! Honeybees live on to sting another day! But according to Fortune, there were a couple of details left out of the front-page story. The team's lead investigator, Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, may have previously dropped out of testifying in a class-action lawsuit after he received a significant research grant from the pharmaceutical giant Bayer. For years, beekeepers have tried to pursue legal action against Bayer Crop Science over their pesticides, in particular a type of neurotoxin that gets rids of insects by attacking their nervous systems. The beekeepers allege that the pesticides disoriented and killed their hives. One of the markers of CCD is a bee's tendency to fly off in a random direction before it dies.

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Toxic coal sludge pollutes Ky. town 10 years later

Coal sludge in KentuckyIn parts of eastern Kentucky, the pictures coming out of Hungary of the red sludge that roared from a factory's reservoir, downstream into the Danube River, are all too reminiscent of what happened a decade ago this week.

A layer of dark goo still sits under a creekbed on Glenn Cornette's land, the leftovers from when a coal company's sprawling slurry pond burst, blackening 100 miles of waterways and polluting the water supply of more than a dozen communities before the stuff reached the Ohio River.

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$5 trillion: The cost each year of vanishing rainforest

Vanishing rain forestsBritish scientific experts have made a major breakthrough in the fight to save the natural world from destruction, leading to an international effort to safeguard a global system worth at least $5 trillion a year to mankind.

Groundbreaking new research by a former banker, Pavan Sukhdev, to place a price tag on the worldwide network of environmental assets has triggered an international race to halt the destruction of rainforests, wetlands and coral reefs.

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The Big Secret Commercial Water Companies Hope You Never Discover…

Bottled water has been falling out of public favor for years now, once people began to realize just how detrimental all those plastic bottles are to the environment – and what a rip-off bottled water often is in terms of price and purity.

Now, instead of toting a plastic bottle of water everywhere, the “in” thing is to carry a refillable bottle of filtered tap water -- it’s better for you and the environment.

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Offshore ban stays as U.S. issues new drilling rules

Ken SalazarInterior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday unveiled new regulations aimed at reshaping the nation's offshore drilling industry in the wake of the BP oil spill.
"These new rules and the aggressive reform agenda we have undertaken are raising the bar for the oil and gas industry's safety and environmental practices on the Outer Continental Shelf," Salazar said.

He also defended his department's deepwater drilling ban. Salazar said he would lift the ban when he is "comfortable" that risks associated with drilling have been significantly reduced.

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Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity'

Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity'About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis.
Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution.

The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature.

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