Environmental Policy

Cold-Blooded species may adapt to climate change faster than thought
August 17, 2012 07:22 AM - ScienceDaily

In the face of a changing climate many species must adapt or perish. Ecologists studying evolutionary responses to climate change forecast that cold-blooded tropical species are not as vulnerable to extinction as previously thought. The study, published in the British Ecological Society's Functional Ecology, considers how fast species can evolve and adapt to compensate for a rise in temperature. The research, carried out at the University of Zurich, was led by Dr Richard Walters, now at Reading University, alongside David Berger now at Uppsala University and Wolf Blanckenhorn, Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Zurich.

Aquaculture Feeding World's Insatiable Appetite for Seafood
August 16, 2012 08:53 AM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute

Total global fish production, including both wild capture fish and aquaculture, reached an all-time high of 154 million tons in 2011, and aquaculture is set to top 60 percent of production by 2020, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org) for its Vital Signs Online service. Wild capture was 90.4 million tons in 2011, up 2 percent from 2010. Aquaculture, in contrast, has been expanding steadily for the last 25 years and saw a rise of 6.2 percent in 2011, write report authors Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden. "Growth in fish farming can be a double-edged sword," said Nierenberg, co-author of the report and Director of Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project. "Despite its potential to affordably feed an ever-growing global population, it can also contribute to problems of habitat destruction, waste disposal, invasions of exotic species and pathogens, and depletion of wild fish stock." Humans ate 130.8 million tons of fish in 2011. The remaining 23.2 million tons of fish went to non-food uses such as fishmeal, fish oil, culture, bait, and pharmaceuticals. The human consumption figure has increased 14.4 percent over the last five years. And consumption of farmed fish has risen tenfold since 1970, at an annual average of 6.6 percent per year. Asia consumes two thirds of the fish caught or grown for consumption.

Slipping Sustainability Through The Back Door
August 16, 2012 08:37 AM - Jennifer Schwab, Sierra Club Green Home

aguna Niguel, CA — America is going green, but not the way environmentalists had planned it. The unlikely hero is none other than Corporate America, which is giving consumers the green whether they realize it or not. Why? Because it's good for the customer, it's good business, and let's face it, as MGM Senior Vice President of Environment and Energy Cindy Ortega articulates, "It is also good for employee morale and retention — people want to work for companies who care about the world around them."

Challenges facing the future of Antarctica
August 15, 2012 10:32 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A century ago, Antarctica was one of Earth's last frontiers, but now the continent is under threat from human activity. An international team of experts, including scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), has set out the current and future conservation challenges facing the Antarctic in a Policy Forum article published this week in the journal Science. The team analysed the effectiveness of the existing Antarctic Treaty System for protecting the region from the threats of climate change and, as technology improves, increasing prospects of use of the Antarctic's natural resources.

Costco, the Genuine Retail CSR Leader
August 14, 2012 09:01 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Could Costco possibly be the most genuine leader when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and governance? Retailers across the country constantly crow about the achievements they have made on a bevy of issues from more sustainable fish (Safeway) to solar installations (Walmart). Other retailers are yanking the chains on pork producers to cease the cruel use of gestation crates and of course just about everyone is on the organic and local produce bandwagon. These shifts in business practices are great news for fish, pigs and of course, the environment and our health. But what about people who work in these stores, who stack, haul and crate the fish, pork and produce, whether they are free range, cruelty-free, duty free, or not?

Record Burmese Python found in the Florida Everglades
August 14, 2012 07:15 AM - Megan Gannon, MSNBC

A double record-setting Burmese python has been found in the Florida Everglades. At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home. "This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble."

Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is much greater than predicted
August 13, 2012 01:12 PM - EurActiv

Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps. Preliminary results from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 probe indicate that 900 cubic kilometres of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.

Black Carbon from Slash and Burn Practices Still a Problem in Brazil
August 13, 2012 06:44 AM - Rachel Nuwer, Science

Although nearly 40 years have passed since Brazil banned slash-and-burn practices in its Atlantic Forest, the destruction lingers. New research reveals that charred plant material is leaching out of the soil and into rivers, eventually making its way to the ocean. So much of this "black carbon" is entering the marine ecosystem that it could be hurting ocean life, although further tests will be needed to confirm this possibility. People have used fire to shape Earth's vegetation for millennia. In Brazil's Atlantic Forest, Europeans began burning trees to make way for settlements and agriculture in the 16th century. What once blanketed 1.3 million square kilometers and ranked as one of the world's largest tropical forests had shrunk to 8% of its former size by 1973, when protective laws were put in place.

Extreme Drought Impacting Crop Yields
August 11, 2012 07:32 AM - NBC News wire reports

Federal forecasters are predicting record prices for corn and soybeans, raising fears of a new world food crisis as the worst U.S. drought in half a century continues to punish key farm states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday said production of U.S. corn and soybeans is expected to be down 17 percent from its forecast last month of nearly 13 billion bushels, and 13 percent lower than last year. It was the second month in a row when the USDA has cut its production estimate. Corn prices briefly surged to a record on the USDA's forecast, but then retreated because the government said demand for the grain would fall due to its soaring cost.

Facing Environmental Issues on the US, Mexico Border
August 9, 2012 11:22 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

From reducing mobile source emissions, to connecting households to drinking water and wastewater services, to clean-up efforts of streams and canals, the United States and Mexico have made a joint effort to protect both human health and the environment in their shared 2,000 mile border region. The bi-national entities along with various stakeholders created the Border 2012 agreement to help identify and control environmental concerns and public health challenges. As the agreement expires this year, a new Border 2020 agreement was renewed and signed today by US EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Mexico’s Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources Juan Elvira Quesada.

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