Environmental Policy

Are Large Dams Economical?
April 23, 2014 08:51 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

A study of 245 large dams carried out at Oxford University shows that big hydropower is uneconomic. Actual costs are typically double pre-construction estimates - and have not improved over 70 years. Researchers at Oxford University have found that planners and policymakers systematically underestimate the costs and time required to implement large dam projects.

Agencies and Regulators Step Up to Combat 'Pirate Fishing'
April 22, 2014 08:09 AM - ENN Staff

A new study shows that a surprisingly large amount of the seafood sold in U.S. markets is caught illegally. In fact, 90 percent of U.S. seafood is imported, and according to a new study in the journal Marine Policy, as much as a third of that is caught illegally or without proper documentation.

Narcotics + Deforestation = Narco-Deforestation
April 21, 2014 02:12 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Narco-Deforestation, a newly coined term for the destruction of sensitive forest ecologies in Central and South America has been identified as a greater threat to the South and Central American forests than other previously identified concerns such as legal logging and development. The drug traffickers are creating new autoroutes and airplane strips for greater access to and through the forests and jungles of the Central and South America. These new routes make it easier to transport drugs from Mexico to South America and vice-versa.

Turtle Trouble: 20-year study finds large decrease in green turtle catch rates
April 21, 2014 02:05 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

Sea turtle populations have been exploited for hundreds of years, and even though conservation efforts have increased substantially in modern times, populations still suffer across the globe. In fact, according to conservation scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Florida, over-fishing is to blame for more than 170,000 green turtles deaths between 1991 and 2011.

That sinking feeling on the Mississippi Delta
April 21, 2014 09:49 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Every engineering control has its drawbacks. As communities upstream of the Mississippi Delta continue to emplace dams and other flood control measures to prevent community flooding, less sediment is pulled from the lands upstream. Flood control measures have eliminated about half of the annual supply of marshland sediment to the Mississippi Delta. The existing soils continue to compact and sink without sediment replenishment. But researchers have found that the river’s supply of sand, the key ingredient used by engineers for rebuilding, will remain constant for many centuries.

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?

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