Coral Reefs ‘Will Be Gone By End Of The Century’

They will be the first entire ecosystem to be destroyed by human activity, says top UN scientist

Coral reefs are on course to become the first ecosystem that human activity will eliminate entirely from the Earth, a leading United Nations scientist claims. He says this event will occur before the end of the present century, which means that there are children already born who will live to see a world without coral.

The claim is made in a book published tomorrow, which says coral reef ecosystems are very likely to disappear this century in what would be “a new first for mankind – the ‘extinction’ of an entire ecosystem”. Its author, Professor Peter Sale, studied the Great Barrier Reef for 20 years at the University of Sydney. He currently leads a team at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. [Read more...]

Car Sales Slow Down For Second Month Running

Fewer buyers drove out of showrooms in new cars for the second successive month in August, following the central bank’s serial intervention aimed at easing demand in the economy to tame inflation. Production cuts at two of the bigger carmakers, coupled with high fuel prices, compounded the challenge for the auto industry, dragging down car sales 10%, even as two-wheelers posted a 16% growth.

Passenger car sales declined 10% to 1,44,156 units, a month after the industry reported a 16% slowdown in July. Market leader Maruti Suzuki, which sells every second car in the Indian market, posted a 19.21% decline in sales, to 63,296 units, as it continued to face labour unrest at its factory in Manesar. Referring to Maruti’s labour problems and a two-week maintenance shutdown of a Tata Motors plant in Sanand in Gujarat, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ Director General Vishnu Mathur said, “Production has also been affected with large players not able to churn out optimum production in August.” [Read more...]

Forest Expert Turns Butterfly Man

He spent his entire life protecting animals and vegetation in Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and Godavari districts roaming along with dangerous beasts. But, only after his retirement did Yerneni Gouthama Siddhartha take a liking to butterflies.

It was his little Pomeranian puppy that drew his attention to these dainty beings. “The puppy always went after them and played with them when I took it out for a morning walk,” Mr. Siddhartha told The Hindu. As a nature lover he soon became interested in them and started photographing them. [Read more...]

Small Trees Can Put On A Big Show

The importance of small trees in gardens of any size simply can’t be measured.

Large trees are magnificent monuments in the landscape, but small trees can be equally significant landmarks in your own backyard. Big trees take your eyes to the sky; small trees shade a space, such as a patio, without dominating it. They define the flow of the eye and the feet through a garden, and punctuate the views. Small trees have a way of keeping the experience of a garden intimate and inviting.

“Most people want to look at things that are in scale with them, at their eye level, and if you choose the right small tree with the right form, you can create a great sense of place,” says Brian Kissinger, a garden designer and the director of horticulture at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. [Read more...]

World Stocks Up As Gloom Fades, Bargains Sought

World stock markets rebounded Wednesday as investors looked past bleak U.S. jobs data and Europe’s debt crisis to scoop up bargains following a steep sell-off.

Oil prices rose above $87 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

European shares jumped in early trading, boosted by a German court decision to back the country’s involvement in bailouts for troubled European countries.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.8 percent to 5,250.26. Germany’s DAX added 2.5 percent to 5,316.93 and France’s CAC-40 climbed 2.2 percent to 3,029.70. [Read more...]

Customizing Homes

Many build an independent house, rather than buy an apartment, because it allows them to sit down with the architect and decide on the minutest of details, so that it ultimately becomes the home they’ve always dreamed of.

Providing for such levels of customization in a large apartment complex is so complicated that no developer thinks of it. One exception – and he says he may be the only exception in the world – is Kamal Sagar. This architect-cum-developer and an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus has customized many of the apartment complexes he’s built over the years and, more recently, has made his boldest move – providing for a level of customization that even he has not done before, and doing it for large complexes, going over 400 apartments. [Read more...]

Gold Rises Above $1,900/oz On Euro Zone Debt Worries

Gold rose on Monday, breaking back above $1,900 an ounce, as speculation grew that the United States may implement a further round of monetary easing after Friday’s weak payrolls data, and concerns over the euro zone debt crisis resurfaced.

Stock markets fell, with European bank shares sliding to a 29-month low, while the euro shed nearly 1 percent versus the dollar and oil prices slipped as investors sold assets seen as higher risk in favour of havens like gold and Bunds.

Spot gold was up 0.9 percent at $1,900.10 an ounce at 1540 GMT, having earlier touched a high of $1,902.70. It is one of this year’s best-performing commodities, up by around a third in 2011 to date. [Read more...]