UNITED STATES: Campaign
to Save the Hubble
SAN FRANCISCO - Scientists responsible
for the Hubble space telescope are seeking a reversal
of the decision by NASA (U.S. National Aeronautics
and Space Administration) to cancel maintenance missions
to prolong the useful life of the telescope-satellite
by four to five years.
An independent study has been requested to evaluate
the NASA decision, says Steven Beckwith, director
of the Space Telescope Science Institute, head of
scientific operations of the Hubble, considered one
of the most valuable tools of modern science.
When NASA made the announcement on Jan. 16, the dangers
that astronauts face during maintenance missions was
mentioned. The crew of the space shuttle Columbia,
which exploded during its return to Earth in 2002,
was the last to visit the telescope.
The issue should be discussed with the astronauts,
Beckwith told Tierramérica. "The performance of the
Hubble has been exceptional. Without maintenance,
it will stop producing scientific data between 2006
MEXICO: Dolphins Out of
MEXICO CITY - The International
Fund for Animals Welfare accused the Mexican authorities
of dragging its feet in responding to reports of the
import of 28 dolphins from the Salomon Islands and
their shipment to an area where the introduction of
non-native species is prohibited.
Six months have passed since the importation of the
dolphins, which violated international law, Beatriz
Bugeda, spokeswoman for the Fund in Latin America,
told Tierramérica. They are being kept in a sea cove,
separated from native dolphins only by a mesh screen.
These sea mammals were imported for the Parque Atlántica,
a tourist attraction near the eastern resort of Cancún,
in a protected area of Mexico's Caribbean coast.
"We made the denunciation last year to the Federal
Environmental Prosecutor of Mexico, but strangely
they have delayed in their investigation and the implementation
of measures, which is why we are demanding immediate
action so there is no precedent for impunity," Bugeda
ARGENTINA: Attorneys for
BUENOS AIRES - The Argentine
Network of Lawyers for the Defense of the Environment
will begin operating in March to facilitate, promote
and strengthen access to justice and the development
of effective strategies in environment-related cases.
The idea for the network was discussed in late 2003
at a meeting convened by the Center for Human Rights
and Environment and by the Environment and Natural
Resources Foundation, with the participation of attorneys
with experience in defending the environment or people
whose health has been affected by contamination.
The network, which extends to environmental and human
rights groups, will respond to consultations and denunciations
made by individuals or communities, but above will
aims to development communications and exchange mechanisms
to establish common strategies.
for the Reefs
GUATEMALA CITY - Environmental
authorities from Guatemala and Belize installed a
plant on the Sarstún River aimed at protecting the
portion of the Mesoamerican Reef System (SAM) that
corresponds to those two countries.
It is the third such installation for protecting the
SAM, which extends from Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula
south to the Bay of Honduras, biologist Carlos Baldeti
"The SAM includes the second most extensive reef in
the world, after Australia's (Great Barrier Reef).
Given its length, the composition of reef types and
the opulence of coral, it is unique in the western
hemisphere," he said.
"The reef system serves as a reproduction site and
as a source of food for mammals, reptiles, fish and
marine invertebrates, as well as for land animals
and numerous bird species," Baldeti said.
Associated with the SAM coral reefs are vast extensions
of coastal marshes, lagoons, marine grasses and mangroves,
which hold threatened species like manatees, crocodiles,
jaguars and tapir.
to Save Unique Ecosystem
TEGUCIGALPA - Local residents
and officials have begun planting 52,000 trees in
order to save the ecosystem surrounding Lake Yojoa,
a tourist destination and home to 10 percent of flora
and fauna species found in Honduras.
"Every day I see with sadness how our lake is being
exhausted. This winter the lakebed has not filled,"
Ubaldo Enamorado, of the Santa Bárbara region, told
Tierramérica. "If we don't do something, the lake
is going to die, and we will too."
Nearby communities are taking part in the rescue mission,
with the aim of sowing more than a million plants.
The project will take at least three years because
most of the watershed is dry or extremely deforested,
says Jorge Betancourt, of the Yojoa Lake Association
As a result of deforestation, "the 13 main sources
of water that supply the lake are seeing their flows
decline dramatically," he explained.
NICARAGUA: Titanium Discovered
MANAGUA - A layer of chromium
and titanium has been found in a Caribbean region
of Nicaragua, holding some 200,000 tons, according
to the calculations of the National Geological Resources
Titanium is a rare mineral, resistant to high temperatures.
It is used in the bodies of spaceships, aircraft engines,
missiles, computer components, electrical equipment
and dental prostheses. Chromium is also very useful,
such is in the manufacture of tools.
"Detailed geological studies must be conducted to
determine whether the reserves in Nicaragua can be
exploited," ADGEO director Jorge Prendiz told Tierramérica.
The metallic layer was found 20 km south of the mining
city of Siuna, in the autonomous region of Atlántico
Norte, as part of an exploratory study begun three
years ago, he said.
Also found were gold, silver, iron, magnetite and
"a large body" of calcium carbonate, which is used
in making cement.