Environmental Policy

Coastal management strategies in the age of climate change
September 4, 2015 05:52 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

Coastal decision-makers must move away from considering physical and economic forces in isolation to fully recognise and explain changes to coastlines, according to new research from Cardiff University.

The coastlines where we live, work and play have long been altered by people, but now researchers have investigated why developed coastlines change over time in ways that are fundamentally different from their undeveloped, natural counterparts.

Climate change mitigation needs more ambitious emissions reductions
September 3, 2015 05:44 AM - ClickGreen staff

The collective climate targets submitted by Governments to the UN will lead to global emissions far above the levels needed to hold warming to below 2°C, researchers at the Climate Action Tracker warned today.

The analysis by the consortium of four research organisations was released today in Bonn where Governments are meeting for the second to last week of negotiations ahead of the Paris summit on climate action.

MIT study looks at benefits of acting on climate change
September 2, 2015 07:25 AM - Mark Dwortzan | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT

Since the 1990s, scientists and policymakers have proposed limiting Earth’s average global surface temperature to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, thereby averting the most serious effects of global warming, such as severe droughts and coastal flooding. But until recently, they lacked a comprehensive estimate of the likely social and economic benefits — from lives saved to economies preserved — that would result from greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies designed to achieve the 2 C goal.

Now, a team of researchers from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has published a study in Climatic Change that provides scenarios that climate scientists can use to estimate such benefits. The study projects greenhouse gas emissions levels and changes in precipitation, ocean acidity, sea level rise and other climate impacts throughout the 21st century resulting from different global greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation scenarios. The scenarios include a business-as-usual future and one aimed at achieving significant GHG emission reductions limiting global warming since pre-industrial times to 2 C. Research groups convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have already begun using the MIT projections to evaluate the benefits of a 2 C emissions reduction scenario for agriculture, water, health, and other global concerns.

Even safe levels of air pollution found to have health impacts in European study
August 30, 2015 07:40 AM - EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF CARDIOLOGY via EurekAlert

Particulate matter and NO2 air pollution are associated with increased risk of severe heart attacks despite being within European recommended levels, according to research presented at ESC Congress today by Dr Jean-Francois Argacha, a cardiologist at University Hospital Brussels (UZ Brussel-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), in Belgium.1

"Dramatic health consequences of air pollution were first described in Belgium in 1930 after the Meuse Valley fog," said Dr Argacha. "Nowadays, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers air pollution as one of the largest avoidable causes of mortality. Besides the pulmonary and carcinogenic effects of air pollution, exposition to air pollution has been associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular mortality."

Carbon Credits Under Kyoto Protocol Actually Increased Emissions
August 27, 2015 07:28 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

At the end of November, governments will come together in Paris to hammer out agreements for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under the KP, there are two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions offsetting mechanisms: joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

JI allows countries with emissions-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to generate Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from GHG reduction projects and transfer them to other countries. Almost 872 million ERUs had been issued under JI as of March 2015, about a third of all Kyoto offset credits. In a nutshell, JIs are carbon credits and include things like reforestation projects.

Is fracking water safe to irrigate crops?
August 24, 2015 06:35 AM - Crystal Shepeard, Care2

The race to find cleaner energy sources has led to a boon in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in search of natural gas. Highly pressurized chemicals and water are pumped deep underground to break shale and release natural gas for harvesting. Residents and environmentalists have long been opposed to the process, which has seen an increase of health issues due to contaminated water. In drought stricken California, there is also concern about the amount of water being used in fracking operations, as well as what is done with the wastewater.

California farmers are frustrated with oil companies that have encroached on their areas. Fertile farm land is also filled with natural gas and there has been an increase in fracking operations. As the name implies, hyrdraulic fracturing is a water-intensive process. At the front-end, freshwater is infused with chemicals and is pumped into the shale. This has put farmers and oil companies in competition for the ever decreasing amount of water available.

MIT analysis improves estimates of global mercury pollution
August 21, 2015 07:26 AM - MIT News

Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called “grasshopper effect” keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as “legacy emissions” that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury for decades.

Now an international team led by MIT researchers has conducted a new analysis that provides more accurate estimates of sources of mercury emissions around the world. The analysis pairs measured air concentrations of mercury with a global simulation to calculate the fraction of mercury that is either re-emitted or that originates from power plants and other anthropogenic activities. The result of this work, researchers say, could improve estimates of mercury pollution, and help refine pollution-control strategies around the world.

China's carbon emissions may be lower than estimated
August 20, 2015 01:30 PM - Eliza Berlage, The Ecologist

The IPCC has over-estimated China's emissions since 2000 by 14%, almost 3 gigatonnes of carbon since 2000, while its energy consumption has been 10% higher than realised, writes Eliza Berlage. The country is far more carbon-efficient than we ever knew.

Air pollution in China is bad, REALLY bad!
August 20, 2015 08:28 AM - RP Siegel

There can be no question that the epic story of our time is our struggle to endure against the threatening demons of our own creation. In that story, China must be the sleeping giant. As the story opens, the giant awakens, searching for a way to improve the livelihood of his people, inadvertently trampling on a number of the Earth’s delicate structures in doing so. Realizing this, a second awakening occurs. But can the giant change direction quickly enough, before too much harm is done?

The damage that re-directed the giant was the realization that fossil fuel emissions, particularly from coal-fired power plants, are pushing atmospheric carbon levels to dangerously high levels. China’s emissions have grown 7 percent annually — far faster than the rest of the world, which is growing at 2.8 percent. Now that we all realize that emissions have to start decreasing, fast, China has pledged to achieve peak emissions by 2030, after which its emissions will begin to decrease.

Help the Monarch recover
August 19, 2015 06:42 AM - DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION via The ECRReport, ECOreport

Jode Roberts has spent a lot of the summer checking out ditches and fields along the sides of roads, railways and trails. At first, he didn’t like what he was seeing. Roberts, who is leading the David Suzuki Foundation’s effort to bring monarchs back from the brink, was searching for signs that the butterflies had visited patches of milkweed plants. Despite the bleak start, he recently hit the jackpot: a half-dozen eggs and a couple of monarch caterpillars, calmly munching on milkweed leaves.

Over the past millennium, eastern monarch butterflies have migrated northward from Mexico in spring, arriving in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes in early summer, where they lay eggs on the undersides of milkweed leaves. In the following weeks, their caterpillars hatch and eat a steady milkweed diet. In late summer, they form chrysalises and undergo the amazing transformation into butterflies. They then begin fattening themselves for the arduous return to the Mexican alpine forests where they overwinter.

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