New York State to Ban Fracking Due to Health Risks
December 19, 2014 12:09 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit
This week, New York state joined the growing list of states and communities to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within its boundaries. After years of contentious debate over the safety of fracking, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday that he would move to unilaterally ban fracking was not completely unexpected. Still, environmental groups are counting the Department of Health’s report that “[high volume hydraulic fracturing] should not proceed in NYS” as a victory.
New process turns biomass 'waste' into chemical products
December 17, 2014 03:13 PM - Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue University
A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets. A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. Lignin is a tough and highly complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure.
16 Major Companies and Agencies Say No to Chemical Flame Retardants
December 17, 2014 02:29 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit
The debate over chemical flame retardantsseems to be heating up. The Center for Environmental Health, which helped encourage a rewrite of California’s regulations regarding safety standards in furniture manufacturing, announced last week that 16 major furniture manufacturers have now sworn off chemical flame retardants.
Update on Climate Change talks in Lima, Peru
December 15, 2014 10:44 AM - JOHN UPTON, CLIMATE CENTRAL, via Discovery News
In the early hours of Sunday morning, bleary-eyed dealmakers from nearly 200 countries and the European Union set a framework for an agreement that would take an unprecedented approach to slowing climate change. Critically, however, they also delayed a host of decisions until next year, which could make reaching a landmark pact even more difficult.
With a large rally in New York to complement it, the United Nations held a Climate Summit in September. Tara explains what the gathering was really all about.
An app to save 400 million animals
December 15, 2014 09:57 AM - Alex Rodriguez, MONGABAY.COM
Brazilian biologist Alex Bager has been leading a crusade to raise awareness of a major but neglected threat to biodiversity in his country.
Every year over 475 million animals die in Brazil as victims of roadkill, according to an estimate by Centro Brasileiro de Ecologia de Estradas (the Brazilian Centre for the Study of Road Ecology) or CBEE, an initiative funded and coordinated by Bager. This means 15 animals are run down every second on Brazilian roads and highways.
"The numbers are really scary and we need people to know about them," Bager said.
To register cases of roadkill throughout the country, Bager came up with the idea of an app, now used by thousands of citizen scientists. And a national day of action in November saw hundreds of volunteers participate in events to highlight the impact of roadkill on biodiversity.
New EU-wide food labeling rules apply this weekend
December 12, 2014 01:31 PM - EurActiv
New EU food labelling rules will come into force on Saturday (13 December). The aim is to ensure that consumers receive clearer and more accurate information about what they buy and eat. The new rules will force restaurants and cafés to list 14 different allergens in the menus - including nuts, gluten, lactose, soy or milk. Displaying allergens was until then only mandatory for pre-packed foods. Nano components will also have to be included in the ingredients list. Oils will need to refer to the plants used in their production, such as sunflower, palm or olive. Fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry will need to carry a mandatory origin label, with a font size of at least 1.2 milimetres.
Do Wind Turbines Affect Property Values?
December 9, 2014 09:20 AM - University of Guelph
Wind turbine developments have no effect on property values of nearby homes and farms, according to new research from the University of Guelph. Published in a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, the study is believed the first peer-reviewed study on this issue in Canada.
New Technology Brings Temperatures Down
December 8, 2014 09:02 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2
Greek villages are famous for their glittering white walls and beautiful blue painted accents, which make them a dazzling sight whether you’re approaching the sea or looking out across them from the windows of your blessedly cool room — which stays cool even in the height of summer heat. If you look around, you might notice that there’s no air conditioning. The Greeks don’t need it, because their homes are specifically designed to control temperatures and keep people comfortable. Thick walls insulate rooms to keep temperatures stable, while those handsome white roofs and walls reflect heat.
How businesses can help preserve endangered species
December 5, 2014 08:24 AM - Sarah Clinton, Mizzou University
Raptors, or birds of prey, some of which are endangered species, typically live in environments that provide natural land cover, such as forests and grasslands. Protecting endangered raptor species helps maintain food chain balance and prevents overpopulation of common raptor prey, such as snakes and rodents. As more businesses are built on the edges of urban areas, land where raptors once lived becomes industrialized, which raises concerns about the consequences of habitat destruction on raptor populations. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that businesses can contribute to raptor preservation efforts by engaging in less development of lawn areas and increased planting or preservation of native grasslands and woodlots.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
December 3, 2014 10:18 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide The People’s Tree. This national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.
This year, the 88-foot-tall white spruce tree was harvested from the Chippewa National Forest in northeastern Minnesota by Jim Scheff who won the Logger of the Year award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI).
That begs the question how can a logger win an award from a sustainability group?