Environmental Policy

Hope on reducing air pollution in South East Asia
April 19, 2014 07:50 AM - NELLY STRATIEVA, Worldwatch Institute

Smoke from land clearing fires in Indonesia causes hazardous haze pollution in South East Asia every year. Record high levels of air pollution caused by haze were reached in June 2013 in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In response to regional pressure after the latest haze crisis, Indonesia has finally agreed to adopt the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution from 2002. However, given the pact's weak compliance provisions, will the ratification really be a game-changer in South East Asia’s struggle with haze? In June 2013 South East Asia was suffocating in a cloud of record-breaking haze pollution. The haze, toxic smog caused by fires to clear land for agriculture in Sumatra, Indonesia, exceeded almost three times the hazardous limit for air quality. For a week the most affected areas of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia resembled a post-apocalyptic scene — people only dared go out with face masks, schools were closed, the economy took a hit as businesses suspended work, events were cancelled, tourists stayed clear of the area and hospitals faced a surge of respiratory illnesses. The fires also impact climate change because they produce large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the burning of carbon-rich peatland and forests. To illustrate the magnitude of the problem: the land-clearing fires which cause transboundary haze are also the biggest contributor to Indonesia's overall GHG emissions. 2013 may have been the worst haze crisis in the region's recorded history, but similar occurrences are the norm during 'haze season' every year since the 1980s.

The Atlantic Cup looks to raise awareness on Rhode Island’s increasingly polluted shorelines
April 18, 2014 11:32 AM - Guest Contributor, Jeff Pomeroy

The 2014 Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing, now entering its fourth year as the United States premiere class 40 yacht race, continues to lead the way in clean sailing and increasing ecologically awareness in the sailing community. In 2012, the Atlantic Cup became the first carbon-neutral sailing race in the country by offsetting an estimated 23,030 pounds (10.45 metric tons) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Last year, in partnership with 11th Hour Racing and Green Mountain Energy Company, the Atlantic Cup was chosen as the first event to meet all the requirements to earn Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta Platinum Level Status. The Atlantic Cup will once again maintain its commitment to being the most environmentally responsible sailing race in the U.S. by using biodiesel hydro generators, solar panels and fuel cells to limit the use of fuel during competition, recycling waste, and becoming a plastic water bottle free event.

Greenland was green
April 18, 2014 08:55 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Greenland the second largest body of ice on Earth was actually green at one point in history. Researchers, including a scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, have unearthed cryogenically frozen ancient dirt previously buried under nearly two miles of ice.

Saving money with wasted heat
April 18, 2014 08:18 AM - Megan Fellman, Northwestern University

Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.

Scenario development yields environmental success story
April 17, 2014 03:37 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

With so much scenario modeling currently available, we are able to better predict our future and anticipate the outcomes of various habits and activities. While invaluable in the area of prediction, how has that information transformed our environmental status? Is our environmental future optimistic or dismal? Will we be able to celebrate Earth Day in the future knowing that we have responded appropriately to the bleak prophecies?

Weather throws a curve
April 16, 2014 07:14 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Apparently the intense curve of the jet stream can predict the variability of an entire season and it is part of a 4,000 year pattern. Last winter's curvy jet stream in North America resulted in mild western temperatures and harsher cold temperatures in the east. University of Utah researchers reveal that a similar pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, suggesting that it may worsen as Earth's climate warms.

IPCC concludes: Renewable energy shift is a must
April 15, 2014 10:34 AM - ENN Editor

Conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's are simple: rapid shifts to renewable energy are needed to avert catastrophic global warming. The IPCC's report was produced by 1250 international experts and approved by each major government in the world. The report documented increases in human-caused greenhouse gases, the source of those gases, and their climatic effect. The most significant conclusions resulting from IPPC report are: - Current efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are not enough. - Energy supply is not the only thing driving emission increases. - Big changes will be needed to avoid disaster scenarios.

To bee or not to bee
April 15, 2014 09:33 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Bumblebees are among the most loved and familiar of garden insects. The sight and sound of them buzzing from flower to flower is a quintessential part of summertime, but sadly these charismatic creatures are now struggling to survive. In our modern world of paved gardens and intensive agriculture our bumblebees find themselves hungry and homeless.

Climate Change: We have met the enemy and they are us
April 14, 2014 09:35 AM - ENN Editor

According to McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy, we have no one to blame but ourselves for global warming in the industrial era. Lovejoy and his research team have just completed an analysis of temperature data covering more than 500 years. This study all but rules out the possibility that global warming is just a natural fluctuation in the earth's climate.

Largest Cleanup in EPA History Proposed
April 14, 2014 08:14 AM - ENN Staff

In an historic action that will protect people's health and the environment, and benefit riverfront communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a plan to remove 4.3 million cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from the lower eight miles of the Passaic River in New Jersey. The sediment in the Passaic River is severely contaminated with dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants from more than a century of industrial activity. Ninety percent of the volume of contaminated sediments in the lower Passaic are in the lower eight miles of the river.

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