Monarch Butterfly decline linked to genetically modified crops
March 20, 2012 06:37 AM - Yale Environment 360 and the Star Tribune
A new study suggests that the increased use of genetically modified (GM) crops across the Midwestern U.S. may be causing a decline in monarch butterfly populations. From 1999 to 2010, a period when GM crops became more common on U.S. farms, the number of monarch eggs in the Midwest declined by 81 percent, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University. The reason, according to the study, is the near-disappearance of milkweed, an important host plant for monarch eggs and caterpillars. The researchers attribute sharp declines in milkweed to widespread use of genetically modified corn and soybeans that are resistant to the herbicide, Roundup, which is then sprayed on fields, killing milkweed.
Northampton Massachusetts Struggles With Coca-Cola’s Waste
March 19, 2012 06:54 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
Northampton, a town of 29,000 people in Western Massachusetts, is home to a Coca-Cola plant that churns out several of Coke’s fruit juice lines. And that plant is also churning out wastewater that is becoming to expensive for Northampton’s wastewater treatment facility to process. Rising costs and the possibility of tensions increasing between a city and one of its largest employers is an example of how municipalities end up fronting and subsidizing the costs of a large company’s operations.
Two Affiliates to sever ties with paper company linked to endangered forests
March 18, 2012 08:14 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Two affiliates of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) have announced they are severing at least some ties with the beleaguered paper giant, according to the Northern Virginia Daily and Greenpeace, an environmental group whose recent undercover investigation found ramin, a protected species, at APP's pulp mill in Sumatra. Oasis Brands, a firm that handles sales, marketing, and contracting for Virginia-based Mercury Paper Inc., said it will "dissolve" ties to APP "in response to company goals and customer demand for sustainability assurance". Mercury Paper had been under fire for sourcing fiber from APP, which environmentalists have shown continues to produce pulp and paper from endangered natural forests in Indonesia. APP has been the only supplier for Mercury Paper and California-based Solaris Paper Inc.
Lyme Disease predicted to surge this year in Northeast US
March 17, 2012 08:07 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Lyme disease is becoming more common in the Northeastern US, and is spreading more broadly across the eastern US. Commonly thought to be spread by Whitetail deer since is is carried by deer ticks, it is actually carried as well by field mice, chipmunks, and other small mammals. A new study suggests that the northeastern U.S. should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring. And we can blame fluctuations in acorns and mouse populations, not the mild winter. So reports Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY.
Europe steps up challenge over China's rare metal restrictions
March 14, 2012 10:50 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen
The European Union today launched a second challenge of China's export restrictions on raw materials including 17 rare earths, as well as tungsten and molybdenum, that are critical in the development of green technology. Together with the US and Japan, the EU formally requested dispute settlement consultations with China in the World Trade Organization (WTO). This follows a successful EU challenge at the WTO on similar restrictions for other raw materials earlier this year. "China's restrictions on rare earths and other products violate international trade rules and must be removed. These measures hurt our producers and consumers in the EU and across the world, including manufacturers of pioneering hi-tech and green business applications" said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
Brazil's Growth Offers Wealth and Worry in The Northeast
March 13, 2012 09:57 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
Two years ago I predicted this would be the Brazilian Decade, and so far Brazil's stunning success has proven me correct. It is not just about the large international events like the World Cup and Olympics that are on the calendar in 2014 and 2016. Brazil has become a creditor nation; once a net food importer, it now feeds much of the world; and recently it surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world's sixth largest economy. For decades much of the growth was centered around São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, then stretched south towards the border with Uruguay. Industries such as aircraft, petrochemicals and automobiles anchored Latin America's largest economy. But now Brazil's economic might has extended to regions of the country that had long underperformed compared to the wealthy south.
White Roofs reduce urban heat island effect
March 11, 2012 07:30 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Black roofs have been the norm for commercial buildings for decades since early roofs used a tar-coated paper material and tar based coatings to provide water proofing. Black roofs also add heat which in the winter, is not a bad thing for the building. It turns out that black roofs contribute to the urban heat island effect. This effect, caused not only by black roofs, creates warmer temperatures in urban areas compared to the surrounding suburbs. A study by Stuart Gaffin of Columbia University in New York looked at the effect of roof color on temperatures. On the hottest day of the New York City summer in 2011, a white roof covering was measured at 42 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the traditional black roof it was being compared to, according to a study including NASA scientists that details the first scientific results from the city's unprecedented effort to brighten rooftops and reduce its "urban heat island" effect.
International Labor Organization raps Brazil over monster dam
March 8, 2012 09:04 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The UN's International Labor Organization (ILO) has released a report stating that the Brazilian government violated the rights of indigenous people by moving forward on the massive Belo Monte dam without consulting indigenous communities. The report follows a request last year by the The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the Brazilian government to suspend the dam, which is currently being constructed on the Xingu River in the Amazon.
D.C. Circuit Hears Challenges to EPA Climate Regulations
March 5, 2012 10:45 AM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.
On February 28 and 29, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a series of challenges to the [EPA's] regulation of [GHGs] under the Clean Air Act, far-reaching litigation spanning dozens of parties and at least four separate rules. Decisions from the panel of Judges David Sentelle, David Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown are expected later this year. The rare, two-day argument began with a challenge to EPA's December 7, 2009 finding that emissions of six GHGs, including carbon dioxide, "may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare." This "endangerment finding" is the cornerstone of all subsequent action by EPA.
Persistent Droughts Plaguing Much of the World
March 5, 2012 10:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Long dry spells have been a problem in various parts of the world including China, Africa, Russia, Australia, the southern and western United States, and Western Europe. Many are hoping that this is just a cyclical nuisance and not evidence of a permanent change in climate patterns. England in particular is used to being a damp and rainy island, but has been surprised now with three straight winters of drought-level precipitation. The first to notice and be affected by the changing levels of rainfall are the farmers. However, now public officials are beginning to worry about the long-term stability of their water supplies and the effects that lower rainfall will have on the environment as a whole.