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Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

NASA awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts to Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft for carrying astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017.

The US space agency hailed the decision as another step toward ending America's reliance on Russian vehicles for access to low-Earth orbit.

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Study: Rising Sea Levels to Cost Australia Billions

Rising sea levels could threaten infrastructure worth more than Aus$226 billion (U.S.$205 billion) in Australia if climate change is left unchecked, a study warned Wednesday.

The Climate Council report said the most serious consequences of rising seas would be an increase in the frequency of coastal flooding and the retreat of shorelines.

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NASA Inspector Blasts Asteroid Protection Program

NASA's effort to identify potentially dangerous space rocks has taken a hit.

On Monday, the space agency's inspector general released a report blasting NASA's Near Earth Objects program, which is meant to hunt and catalog comets, asteroids and relatively large fragments of these objects that pass within 28 million miles of Earth. The purpose is to protect the planet against their potential dangers.

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Indonesia to Ratify ASEAN Haze Agreement

Indonesia's parliament on Tuesday voted to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in the west of the country, choking neighboring Singapore with hazardous smog.

Officials in Singapore and Malaysia have responded furiously to Indonesian forest fires, which have intensified and become more frequent in recent years.

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Season's First Dolphins Killed in Japan, Say Activists

The first dolphins of the season were slaughtered on Tuesday in the small Japanese town of Taiji, campaigners said, commencing an annual cull repeatedly condemned by animal rights groups.

Activists from the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd have been monitoring a bay in Taiji, southwestern Japan, since the six-month dolphin hunting season began earlier this month.

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Study Urges 15-Year Plan for Low-Carbon Growth

The world can save both financial and environmental costs by shifting toward a low-carbon economy over the next 15 years, a high-level panel said Tuesday ahead of a UN summit.

The commission co-chaired by former Mexican president Felipe Calderon called for greater global action on renewable power, deforestation and clean technologies as part of the fight against climate change.

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Brazil Builds Giant Tower in Amazon to Monitor Climate

Brazil is building a giant observation tower in the heart of the Amazon to monitor climate change and its impact on the region's sensitive ecosystem, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) is a project of Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research and Germany's Max Planck Institute, O Estado de Sao Paulo said.

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State Media: Wild Chinese Sturgeon on Brink of Extinction

The wild Chinese sturgeon is at risk of extinction, state media reported, after none of the rare fish were detected reproducing naturally in the polluted and crowded Yangtze river last year.

One of the world's oldest living species, the wild Chinese sturgeon are thought to have existed for more than 140 million years but have seen their numbers crash as China's economic boom brings with it pollution, dams and boat traffic along the world's third-longest river.

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Singapore Air Pollution Soars Due to Indonesian Forest Fires

Air pollution in Singapore rose to unhealthy levels Monday, blanketing the city-state's skyline with clouds of smog from fires raging across giant rainforests in the neighboring Indonesian island of Sumatra, officials said.

Singapore's National Environment Agency said the pollutant standards index (PSI) reached a high of 111 at 7:00 am (2300 GMT) before easing to 80 a few hours later.

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Environmentalists Criticise Australia Reef Protection Plan

Environmentalists criticized a new Australian government plan released Monday to protect the Great Barrier Reef in the face of U.N. concerns, saying it will not do enough to halt the marine park's decline.

The draft plan, now open for consultation, comes after UNESCO threatened to put the reef on its World Heritage "in danger" list and gave Canberra until February 1, 2015 to submit a report on what it was doing to protect the natural wonder.

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