Environmental Policy

Keystone Pipeline application resubmitted with route that bypasses Nebraska's Sand Hills
May 5, 2012 06:44 AM - Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com

The energy hot potato known as the Keystone XL pipeline was back to the State Department, which announced Friday that it had received a new application from developer TransCanada that includes a reworked route through Nebraska. Environmental groups and industry quickly lined up on opposite sides, while the Obama administration said a final decision is not likely before next year. In Nebraska, Republicans had joined Democrats in objecting to an initial proposal of routing the $7 billion natural gas pipeline from Canada through the sensitive Sandhills region and over the Ogallala Aquifer.

Greenland's Ice Melting Overestimated
May 4, 2012 07:32 AM - Richard Harris, NPR

A new study has some reassuring news about how fast Greenland's glaciers are melting away. Greenland's glaciers hold enough water to raise sea level by 20 feet, and they are melting as the planet warms, so there's a lot at stake. A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland really caught people's attention. In short order, this slow-moving stream of ice suddenly doubled its speed. It started dumping a whole lot more ice into the Atlantic. Other glaciers also sped up. "Some people feared if they could double their speed over two or three years, they could keep doubling and doubling and doubling and reach very fast speeds," says Ian Joughin of the University of Washington's Polar Ice Center.

Are there toxic chemicals in your gardening equipment and supplies?
May 4, 2012 06:45 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

Spring time is here and a lot of people are indulging in gardening. But did you know that there are a lot of chemicals that may be harmful to your health in your gardening supplies? According to Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, high amounts of lead, phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after it sat outside in the sun for just a few days.

GMO Labeling to Go Before Voters in California
May 3, 2012 01:34 PM - Georgina Gustin, Strait to the Source, Organic Consumers Association

It doesn't take an agricultural expert to know that you can't grow vegetables without water. So it wasn't surprising that after hundreds of people marching under the banner "Occupy the Farm" took over a University of California (UC) agricultural testing station on April 22, UC officials responded by shutting off water to the site. The next day, a late-season storm brought a half-inch of rain to the San Francisco Bay Area, irrigating the thousands of vegetable starts in the ground and lifting the spirits of the urban farming activists who are determined to save the site from development. Score: Occupiers, 1 - UC administrators, 0. Social change activists in Berkeley, Calif., have always been ahead of the curve. Today, May Day, is the spring reemergence for the Occupy movement as activists around the United States engage in work stoppages, street marches, and various forms of civil disobedience to press their demands for a more equitable economy. The folks with Occupy the Farm got started early. On Earth Day, they marched from Berkeley's Ohlone Park to a five-acre plot of land in the adjacent bedroom community of Albany. They cut the locks on the gates of the UC-Berkeley and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) field trial plot, pulled up nearly an acre of thick mustard growing there, and got busy working the soil with a pair of rented rototillers. Then, scores of volunteers planted 150-foot rows of lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and leafy greens. By the end of Earth Day, the Bay Area had a new urban farm.

Biodiversity loss significant impact on ecosystems
May 3, 2012 07:16 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

Loss of biodiversity appears to affect ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to results of a new study by an international research team. The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the effects of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes. The results, published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, highlight the need for stronger local, national and international efforts to protect biodiversity and the benefits it provides, according to the researchers, who are based at nine institutions in the United States, Canada and Sweden.

Australia lists koalas as 'vulnerable'
May 2, 2012 06:19 AM - Editor, ARKive.org

The koala has been listed as a threatened species in parts of Australia due to its shrinking population, according to officials. One of Australia's most iconic marsupials, the koala is facing a range of threats, including habitat loss, urban expansion, dog attacks, vehicle collisions and disease. Its specialised diet of eucalyptus leaves confines it to quite specific habitats, while increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be reducing the nutrient content of the leaves it eats. Climate change is also increasing the risk of drought and fires, with koalas being particularly vulnerable to bushfires as their slow movements and tree-dwelling lifestyle make it difficult for them to escape.

Ford to EV Dealers: Meet Environmental Requirements
May 1, 2012 08:55 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

An environmentally friendly car dealership? Like "responsible drinking," or "Walmart organic food," that term at first may sound like an oxymoron. Ford Motor, however, is not only rolling out new electric vehicles (EVs), but has committed to greening its entire supply chain. This is just one example of the changes Detroit is undergoing as the Big Three rack up impressive quarterly numbers. For now, EVs are only a small part of the auto industry's resurgence as they slowly win acceptance from skeptical commuters. To that end, Ford is requiring its dealerships selling EVs to resemble businesses that would sell...EVs.

Caribbean biodiversity and the Mongoose
May 1, 2012 06:55 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In a single paper in Zootaxa scientists have rewritten the current understanding of lizard biodiversity in the Caribbean. By going over museum specimens of skinks, scientists have discovered 24 new species and re-established nine species previously described species, long-thought invalid. The single paper has increased the number of skinks in the Caribbean by 650 percent, from six recognized species to 39. Unfortunately, half of these new species may already be extinct and all of them are likely imperiled. "Now, one of the smallest groups of lizards in this region of the world has become one of the largest groups," co-author Blair Hedges with Penn State University said in a press release. Hedges and his team determined the new species through morphological research as well as DNA studies.

Wind Turbines found to create local warming
April 30, 2012 06:37 AM - Sid Perkins, Science

Large wind farms can substantially influence local climate, most notably by boosting nighttime temperatures, a new study suggests. Utilizing the same analytical techniques used to discern temperature trends in urban heat islands, researchers scrutinized satellite images of a 10,000-square-kilometer area of west-central Texas, home to four of the world's largest wind farms (turbines near Fluvanna, Texas, shown). The team's analyses revealed that in the 9-year period from 2003 through 2011, when more than 95% of the turbines in the area were erected, the average nighttime land-surface temperature during summer months in areas where wind farms were located increased by 0.65°C more than did temperatures in nearby areas without wind turbines.

Rio+20 Sustainable Development Talks too Focused on Technology?
April 28, 2012 08:07 AM - Aisling Irwin, SciDevNet

The conviction that new technologies will solve the world's environmental and social problems has overly dominated early negotiations leading up to the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in June, a UN General Assembly meeting has heard. Mentions of technology were "almost endless" in the first draft of the outcome document, known as the 'zero draft', according to Pat Mooney, executive director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), a non-governmental organisation based in Canada.

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