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Environmental Policy

Greening the Airline Industry
May 28, 2015 11:06 AM - EurActiv

The airline sector is trying to lessen its carbon footprint. In mid-June, the Paris Air Show will host the COP21 seen from the sky conference. Boeing and Airbus are concentrating their commercial efforts on the environment, which is now a selling point. “CO2 affects our ability to grow," said Jonathon Counsell, Head of Environment for British Airways, during a day dedicated to the environment organised by Airbus at its Toulouse site. Airlines make up 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions. But the doubling of passengers every 15 years has made it a growing source of greenhouse gases. 

Montreal Protocol Leads to Better Ozone
May 27, 2015 07:53 AM - University of Leeds

We are already reaping the rewards of the Montreal Protocol, with the ozone layer in much better shape than it would have been without the UN treaty, according to a new study in Nature Communications. Study lead author Professor Martyn Chipperfield, from the School of Earth & Environment at the University of Leeds, said: “Our research confirms the importance of the Montreal Protocol and shows that we have already had real benefits. We knew that it would save us from large ozone loss 'in the future', but in fact we are already past the point when things would have become noticeably worse.”

European Union moves closer to banning cadmium in TV's
May 26, 2015 06:33 AM - EurActiv.

The European Parliament voted last week to re-assess the use of cadmium in TV sets sold across Europe, saying safer alternatives to the toxic and carcinogenic substance were now widely available.

Cadmium is widely used in illumination and display lighting applications such as LCD screens used in television sets or desktop computers.

Agricultural practices to reduce runoff
May 23, 2015 07:27 AM - South Dakota State University via ScienceDaily.

The same spring rains that lessen producers' concerns about drought can also lead to soil erosion and nutrient runoff. Keeping soil and fertilizers where they belong -- in the field -- benefits producers and the environment.

No-till farming, cover crops and rotational grazing will help producers reduce surface runoff to improve soil and water quality, according to South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Sandeep Kumar, an assistant professor in the SDSU plant science department.

Climate change and human rights
May 22, 2015 07:15 AM - Eniko Horvath, Triple Pundit

Last month, a Peruvian farmer called on German energy company RWE to pay its fair share to protect his home from imminent flooding caused by a glacial lake melted by global warming.  “For a long time, my father and I have thought that those who cause climate change should help solve the problems it causes,” Saul Luciano Lliuya told the Guardian. He holds that RWE, one of Europe’s largest emitters of carbon, has contributed to the greenhouse effect causing glacial melting that endangers his home, along with many others in the city of Huaraz.

Lliuya’s story illustrates the tangible human impacts of climate change, which can easily be forgotten amidst high-level debates over carbon emissions reductions. This is a key year for climate action by both governments and companies.

National-scale effort addresses pollinator declines
May 20, 2015 03:51 PM - Puneet Kollipara, Science/AAAS

A new White House plan to promote the health of bees and other pollinators calls for boosting research into ongoing population declines—and potential solutions. The plan, released yesterday, also recommends numerous measures to address growing concerns about the threat that bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators face from multiple factors, including pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss. By addressing scientific knowledge gaps, the research should make the plan’s suggested measures much more effective, the report says.

Recycling electronics is getting more difficult as devices get smaller and smaller
May 19, 2015 06:53 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

The last several decades have brought a global explosion of electronics with a huge impact on quality of life and communications, as well as the world economy.

But, like most big human-induced changes, there were unintended consequences, primarily in the form of the mountains of waste that resulted as products quickly became obsolete and tossed out only to be replaced by others with an equally short lifespan. (One study showed that 25 percent of electronic devices were used less than 500 hours before being discarded.) This is exacerbated by the fact that electronic waste can contain dangerous materials including lead, mercury and cadmium.

Happy Endangered Species Day!
May 15, 2015 08:43 AM - Editor, Population Matters

Started in 2006, Endangered Species Day is “a celebration of wildlife and wild places” intended to promote the “importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions people can take to help protect them”. Every year on the third Friday in May — and throughout the month — zoos, aquariums, parks, botanical gardens, wildlife refuges, museums, schools, community centers, conservation groups and other organizations hold tours, speaker presentations, exhibits, children’s activities and more to commemorate the Day.

Urban development causes damage and loss of valuable ecosystems
May 14, 2015 06:29 AM - Harvard University

All land is not created equal. Some ecosystems do triple duty in the benefits they provide to society. Massachusetts forests, for example, filter public drinking water while also providing habitat for threatened species and storing carbon to combat climate change. 

Ecologists and conservation groups single out the hardest-working ecosystems – called “hotspots” – for their exceptional conservation value. A new study published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology reports that the number of ecosystem hotspots has increased in Massachusetts over the past decade, with more and more hotspots popping up in metro Boston. 

But, the study authors say, more hotspots may not be a good thing.

New study examines the air quality impacts of fracking wells
May 13, 2015 03:34 PM - Oregon State University

People living or working near active natural gas wells may be exposed to certain pollutants at higher levels than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for lifetime exposure, according to scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Cincinnati.

The researchers found that hydraulic fracturing – a technique for releasing natural gas from below-ground rock formations – emits pollutants known as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), including some that are linked with increased risk of cancer and respiratory ailments.

“Air pollution from fracking operations may pose an under-recognized health hazard to people living near them,” said the study’s coauthor Kim Anderson, an environmental chemist with OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

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