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Wednesday, Apr 16th

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Inquiry: Climate data not manipulated

The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world's leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved.

The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee said they had seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming — two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues.

In their report released Wednesday, the committee said that, as far as it was able to ascertain, "the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact," adding that nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mails, or the controversy kicked up by their publication, challenged scientific consensus that "global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity."

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Oil conglomerate 'secretly funds climate change deniers'

Koch Industries, which is owned and run by two Kansas-based brothers and has substantial oil and chemicals interests, spent the sum between 2005 and 2008 to finance "organisations of the 'climate denial machine'", claims the environmental campaign group Greenpeace.

Despite the relatively small size of the conglomerate, the sum is three times that spent by ExxonMobil, the western world's biggest oil company, in the same period. A Greenpeace investigation also claimed that between 2006 and 2009, the company and its owners - Charles and David Koch - spent £25.3 million ($37.9 million) on direct lobbying on oil and energy issues.

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Death of coral reefs could devastate nations

Coral reefs are dying, and scientists and governments around the world are contemplating what will happen if they disappear altogether. The idea positively scares them.

Coral reefs are part of the foundation of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide - by some estimates, 1 billion across Asia alone - depend on them for their food and their livelihoods.

If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue. "Whole nations will be threatened in terms of their existence," said Carl Gustaf Lundin of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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Whaling: the great betrayal

The moratorium on commercial whaling, one of the environmental movement's greatest achievements, looks likely to be swept away this summer by a new international deal being negotiated behind closed doors.

The new arrangement would legitimise the whaling activities of the three countries which have continued to hunt whales in defiance of the ban – Japan, Norway and Iceland – and would allow commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary set up by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1994.

Conservationists regard it as catastrophic, but fear there is a very real chance of its being accepted at the next IWC meeting in Morocco in June, not least because it is being strongly supported by the US – previously one of whaling's most determined opponents.

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World Water Day: Dirty water kills more people than violence, says UN

Dirty water is killing more people than wars and other violence, the United Nations announced on World Water Day. Almost all dirty water produced in homes, businesses, farms, and factories in developing countries is washed into rivers and seas without being decontaminated.

And up to 60 percent of supplies that have been purified to the point that they are potable are lost through leaky pipes and ill-maintained sewage networks, according to a report released today. Saving half of these lost supplies could give clean water to 90 million people without the need for costly new infrastructure, says the UN.

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Internet threatens rare species, conservationists warn

The internet has emerged as one of the biggest threats to endangered species, according to conservationists who are meeting in Doha, Qatar. Campaigners say it is easier than ever before to buy and sell anything from live baby lions to polar bear pelts on online auction sites and chatrooms.

The findings were presented at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). Several proposals to give endangered species more protection were defeated.
Delegates will vote on changes to the trade in ivory later this week.

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Tuna, polar bear protections rejected

Delegates gathered in Doha, Qatar for a global conference aimed at protecting imperiled species rejected a proposal Thursday that would have banned international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a coveted fish whose numbers have dropped steeply in recent decades.

The proposal, offered by Monaco and co-sponsored by the United States, failed by a margin of 20 in favor and 68 against, with 30 abstaining. The vote came just hours after the 175 countries assembled at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) rejected a U.S. proposal to limit the hunting of polar bears.

"This was a case of just plain ignoring the science for short-term economic gain," said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at the Pew Environment Group, in an interview from Doha.

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