Environmental Policy

Sea Level Rise on US Atlantic Coast 3-4 Times Faster than Global Average
June 25, 2012 10:16 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The East Coast of the United States is home to many of its major population centers. While some of the early colonizers migrated west, many stayed and built up some of America's great cities, including Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Charleston, and Miami. Now this region is facing an unprecedented challenge caused by the changing climate. The sea level is rising, and due to a variety of oceanographic and topographic factors, it is rising faster on the US Atlantic Coast than it is globally. The greatest increase will be felt in the "hot zone", from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to north of Boston, Massachusetts.

Los Angeles to Heat Up an Average 4 to 5 Degrees by Mid-Century
June 25, 2012 06:10 AM - ScienceDaily

A groundbreaking new study led by UCLA climate expert Alex Hall shows that climate change will cause temperatures in the Los Angeles region to rise by an average of 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of this century, tripling the number of extremely hot days in the downtown area and quadrupling the number in the valleys and at high elevations. Released June 22, "Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region" is the first study to provide specific climate-change predictions for the greater Los Angeles area, with unique predictions down to the neighborhood level. The report, the most sophisticated regional climate study ever developed, was produced by UCLA with funding and support from the city of Los Angeles, in partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC).

Climate change threatens Botswana's main tourist attraction
June 23, 2012 06:18 AM - Justice Kavahematui, SciDevNet

Botswana urgently needs policies to facilitate climate change adaptation to protect the Okavango Delta, the country's most lucrative tourist attraction, according to a new study. Recent statistics from the Bank of Botswana show that tourism is the country's second largest source of income, contributing US$753 million to GDP in 2011. The Delta is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to the country. Wame L. Hambira, from the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, warned that unless government policies take account of current and forecasted climate shifts, the tourism sector could be badly damaged, with serious implications for the wider economy.

Rio+20 closing statement - opportunity to act on a sustainable future lost
June 22, 2012 06:35 AM - WWF

With negotiations at an end, WWF Director General Jim Leape today issued the following closing statement about the Rio+20 summit: "This was a conference about life: about future generations; about the forests, oceans, rivers and lakes that we all depend on for our food, water and energy. It was a conference to address the pressing challenge of building a future that can sustain us. Unfortunately, the world leaders who gathered here lost sight of that urgent purpose. With too few countries prepared to press for action, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff chose to drive a process with no serious content — to the planet’s detriment."

Will UN Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio make anyone happy?
June 21, 2012 06:43 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

As world leaders head to Rio de Janeiro for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, environmental and poverty groups are denouncing the last-minute text agreed on by dignitaries as "pathetic," (Greenpeace), a "damp squib" (Friends of the Earth), "a dead end" (Oxfam), and, if nothing changes, "a colossal waste of time" (WWF). "We were promised the 'future we want' but are now being presented with a 'common vision' of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests,“ the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said. "This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, it’s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model."

How to help to poorer Nations on Environment
June 20, 2012 06:15 AM - EurActive

World Bank President Lewis Preston called on rich donors to back a $5-billion (€4 billion) fund to help the world's poorest nations protect their environment and make economic development more sustainable. The year was 1992, just six months after the collapse of the Soviet Union and when the ink was barely dry on the European Union treaty. Preston’s "Earth increment" — unveiled at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that June - was to provide low-cost environmental loans through the bank's International Development Association, a complement to the billions in aid promises made to help heal the economic and environmental rifts left by the Cold War. But Preston's plan would — like other commitments to help the ecology of disadvantaged nations in the two decades since the Earth Summit — never saw the light of day.

OECD launches 'green economy' consultation with developing countries
June 19, 2012 09:14 AM - Aisling Irwin, SciDevNet

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has launched a consultation with developing countries on green growth — just as these countries have been criticising the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) negotiations for being disproportionately dominated by the idea.

Can Making Rum be Sustainable? Serrallés thinks so!
June 19, 2012 07:22 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

Rum production produces rather nasty wastewater which needs to be disposed of some how. The Serrallés Rum Distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico produces DonQ, its main brand of rum, which is the most popular rum in Puerto Rico. It is one of the largest rum distilleries in the Caribbean with an annual output capacity of 15 million proof gallons. The company has spent a decade and $16 million on a new filtration system. Serrallés used to dump its wastewater into nearby fields, but during rainy season the waste would run off and the distillery would have to shut down when flooding starting which cost the company $200,000 a year. A Fast Company article claims that Serrallés has turned the "$75 million distillery into one of the cleanest in the world."

Very Fine Particulates
June 18, 2012 05:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just proposed updates to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, including soot (known as PM2.5). These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been potentially linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children. A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on best available science. The current proposal, which meets that requirement, builds on steps already taken by the EPA to slash dangerous pollution in communities across the country. Thanks to these steps, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the proposed standard without any additional action.

Indonesia aims to lead in Sustainable Forestry
June 18, 2012 07:12 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Indonesia "has reversed course" from a forest policy that drove deforestation in previous decades and is poised to become a leader in "sustainable forestry", asserted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a speech on Wednesday at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor. "Our forestry policy [in the 1970s and 1980s] was to allow anyone to cut our forests so long as it gave benefits to development," he said. "It seemed the logical thing to do back then. We had lots of forests; we had to reduce poverty; we needed to grow our economy. As a result, there was a time when we experienced very serious deforestation." "Today, such a policy is no longer tenable. Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster. That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry."

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