Deforestation has risen exponentially after years of decline, with environmentalists attributing this change to the easing of laws in Brazil.
By Ananth Baliga | Nov. 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Deforestation in the Amazon has reached a new high after years of declining numbers, owing to the easing of environmental laws in Brazil.(CC/Alex Rio Brazil)
Nov. 15 (UPI) — Brazil has acknowledged a 28 percent rise in deforestation of the ecologically sensitive Amazon forest, between August 2012 and July 2013.The rise has been blamed on changes made to Brazil’s forest protection law. The country uses to sattelite imagery to track the decline of the country’s forest cover and is particularly shocking considering it recorded its lowest deforestation levels last year.
Initial statistics point to 2,255 sq miles of forest lost as compared to 1,765 sq miles lost in the previous 12 months. This rise ends a streak of declining deforestation which began in 2009 but does not come close to the loss in 2004 — nearly 10,500 sq. miles of forest were lost.
Environmentalists say the controversial reform of the forest protection law in 2012 is to blame for the trend in Brazil. The changes reduced protected areas in farms and declared an amnesty for areas destroyed before 2008.
Environment Minister Izabella Teixeir called the destruction of the Amazon “unacceptable” and a “crime,” but denied allegations that President Dilma Rousseff‘s administration was to blame.
“This swing is not related to any federal government fund cuts for law enforcement,” she said.
A majority of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions has been linked to the rapid deforestation of the Amazon. These figures undermine the pledge made by Brazil in 2009 to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% by the year 2020.
Japan agency finds unique granite mass off Brazil coast
RIO DE JANEIRO – A large mass of granite has been found on the seabed off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, suggesting a continent may have existed in the Atlantic Ocean, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the Brazilian government announced.
A Brazilian official said the discovery of the granite — which normally forms only on dry land — is strong evidence that a continent used to exist in the area where the legendary island of Atlantis, mentioned in antiquity by Plato in his philosophical dialogues, was supposedly located.
According to legend, the island, host to a highly developed civilization, sunk into the sea around 12,000 years ago. No trace of it has ever been found.
The finding was made using a Shinkai 6500 manned submersible operated by the Japanese agency. The seabed where the granite mass was discovered is estimated to have sunk into the sea several tens of million years ago. No man-made structures have been found there.
It is the first time such research using a manned submersible has been conducted in the South Atlantic. In late April, the agency used the device to explore the Rio Grande Rise, a seabed more than 1,000 km southeast of Rio de Janeiro. At a depth of 910 meters, it found a rock cliff around 10 meters in height and breadth.
After analyzing video data, the agency concluded it was granite. Also discovered in the area around it was a large volume of quartz sand — which is also not formed in the sea. The bedrock is believed to consist mainly of basalt rock.
The rise itself stretches around 1,000 km at the widest point, and is considered part of the continent left behind when South America and Africa split apart more than 100 million years ago. The agency said it assumes the area was above sea level until about 50 million years ago but became submerged over a period spanning several million years, based on fossils found in the nearby seabed and other data.
According to the agency, the Rio Grande Rise is the only plausible area that could possibly have been dry land in the past.
Despite the latest discovery, however, experts remained cautious about jumping to conclusions about Atlantis.
Shinichi Kawakami, a professor at Gifu University versed in planetary sciences, said the granite could have been a part of a big continent before it separated into what is now Africa and South America.
“South America and Africa used to be a huge, unified continent. The area in question may have been left in water as the continent was separated in line with the movements of plates,” he said.
Kawakami said researchers must look further into the composition of the granite and see if it matches the granite now found in Africa or South America.
“The concept of Atlantis came way before geology of the modern age was established. We should not jump to the Atlantis (conclusion) right away,” he said.
Deep very strong earthquake strikes the Peru – Brazil border area
We consider this earthquake to be harmless based on the (normal) deep hypocenter of 130 to 140 km.
These data are preliminary and have to be confirmed after manual recalculation.
32 km (20 miles) E (89°) from Pucallpa, Peru. In the case of deep earthquakes is the distance from the epicenter to the city less important than in the case of shallow earthquakes. The shaking will of course be stronger close to the epicenter but if you add the depth to this distance, you will immediately understand that even at a Magnitude of 6 the shaking will be max. MMI IV or light shaking. This light shaking will have been felt by 469000 people. 2.7 million people (also in the neighboring countries) will have felt a weak to very weak shaking.
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Biologists are investigating the deaths of hundreds of penguins that were discovered washed up on the beaches at Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state, various media outlets reported over the weekend.
Officials with the Center of Coastal and Marine Studies (Ceclimar) told AFP reporters on Friday that the 512 Magellanic penguin bodies were found on the coast between the towns of Tramandai and Cidreira.
They added that samples from the deceased birds had been taken to Porto Alegre University for further study. The results of that analysis were expected to be released in approximately one month’s time.
According to Nick Allen of the Telegraph, the penguins, which were migrating north from Argentina in order to find food in warmer waters, showed no signs of injury, hunger or oil stains. The massive amount of the dead birds coupled with the lack of injury or signs of exhaustion have veterinarians puzzled, he added.
“Autopsies are being conducted on some of the birds to determine the cause of death,” BBC News reported on July 13. “Similar incidents in the past have been blamed on shifting ocean currents and colder temperatures.”
“Last week dozens of young penguins were rescued from beaches in Rio de Janeiro after straying far beyond their normal range,” the British news organization added. “The birds delighted beach-goers, but scientists said their health was suffering in the tropical waters.”
Magellanic penguins are named after the Magallenes region in which they breed, and they typically mate in large colonies in southern Argentina and Chile, the AFP reported. Between March and September, they tend to migrate along the Rio Grande do Sul coast to head up to Sao Paulo, and their diet is made up mostly of tiny fish and marine crustaceans. Their primary foe, the French news agency said, is the southern sea lion.