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One-fifth of world's plants at risk of extinction

One-fifth of world's plants at risk of extinctionOne-fifth of the world's plants - the foundation of life on Earth - are at risk of extinction, a study concludes. Researchers have sampled almost 4,000 species, and conclude that 22% should be classified as "threatened" - the same alarming rate as for mammals.

A further 33% of species were too poorly understood to be assessed. The analysis comes from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Natural History Museum and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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GM maize 'has polluted rivers across the United States'

maizeAn insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West.

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Natural Gas From Ruptured Gulf Well Remained Trapped in Deep Waters

Natural Gas From Ruptured Gulf Well Remained Trapped in Deep WatersA vast majority of the natural gas that billowed out of BP PLC's failed well in the Gulf this summer did not escape to the surface and atmosphere. Instead, the gas -- including its main component, methane -- remained trapped deep underwater, priming the bacterial response to the spill, according to research published online yesterday in Science.

Oil has long been the most visible component of the hydrocarbon rush that gripped the Gulf this summer, even when invisible, in the form of underwater mists of oiled water. Natural gas, billowing out from the Macondo well alongside oil at double the amount, often received scant attention from the public, press and government.

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Scientist Watches Glacier Melt Beneath His Feet

Scientist Watches Glacier Melt Beneath His FeetEarlier this summer, a group of scientists spent two weeks in Indonesia atop a glacier called Puncak Jaya, one of the few remaining tropical glaciers in the world. They were taking samples of ice cores to study the impacts of climate change on the glacier.

Lonnie Thompson, a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, led the team and what he witnessed shocked him: The glacier was literally melting under their feet.

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Bid to suspend California global-warming law gets $1 million from Koch brothers' firm

Koch Brothers The fight over a November ballot initiative to suspend California's global warming law has escalated sharply with the Koch brothers, oil billionaires and "tea party" backers, making a million-dollar entry into the fray.

The contribution to the campaign for Proposition 23 came Thursday from a subsidiary of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries, the nation's second-largest private company (after the agribusiness giant Cargill). A spokeswoman for the subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, said the company "may consider additional support." The Kochs' company has estimated annual revenues of $100 billion, owns refineries in Alaska, Texas and Minnesota, and controls about 4,000 miles of oil pipelines.

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Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination

Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contaminationA study released on Thursday finds that 39 sites in 21 states where coal-fired power plants dump their coal ash are contaminating water with toxic metals such as arsenic and other pollutants, and that the problem is more extensive than previously estimated.

The analysis of state pollution data by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to impose federally enforceable regulations for the first time. An alternative option would leave regulation of coal ash disposal up to the states, as it is now.

The EPA will hold the first of seven nationwide hearings about the proposed regulation Monday in Arlington, Va. A public comment period ends Nov. 19.

The electric power industry is lobbying to keep regulation up to individual states. Environmental groups say the states have failed to protect the public and that the EPA should set a national standard and enforce it.

"This is a huge and very real public health issue for Americans," said the director of the study, Jeff Stant of the Environmental Integrity Project. "Coal ash is putting drinking water around these sites at risk."

The Indian tribe that took on a mining giant – and won

The Indian tribe that took on a mining giant – and wonThey said they considered the mountain their god, a living deity that provided them with everything they required to sustain their lives. They said they would fight to the death before seeing the pristine mountain destroyed. Remarkably, they won their battle.

Last night, the tribal people of the Niyamgiri Hills in eastern India were celebrating after the authorities in Delhi ruled that a British-based company would not be permitted to mine there for bauxite.

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