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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."
Arctic Vegetation Changing in response to warming
June 17, 2012 08:03 AM - ScienceDaily
Recent years' warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research by biologists from the University of Gothenburg and elsewhere published in the journals Nature Climate Change and Ecology Letters. The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs. "We've managed to link the vegetation changes observed at the different sites to the degree of local warming," explains researcher and biologist Robert Björk from the University of Gothenburg. Shrubs and plants more widespread Comparisons show that the prevalence of vascular species, such as shrubs and plants, is increasing as temperatures rise. The degree of change depends on climate zone, soil moisture and the presence of permafrost. Researchers working on the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) have been gathering data for almost 30 years.
A New Global Architecture for Sustainability Governance
June 15, 2012 02:34 PM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute
At the upcoming Rio+20 summit from June 20 to 22, political leaders will embark on new measures to achieve sustainability by enhancing institutional capacity. In particular, the summit will seek to improve the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other institutions in order to enhance the global community's ability to achieve sustainable development. In "A New Global Architecture for Sustainability Governance," Chapter 8 in the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity, author and assistant professor of global governance at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria Ivanova, examines steps that can be taken to improve UNEP's effectiveness as an environmental institution.
New Global forum to collate research on sustainable consumption, production
June 14, 2012 07:11 AM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet
A new global forum, meeting for the first time this week (13—15 June), will gather scattered research on sustainable consumption and production from countries across the world, as well as from journals, reports and grey literature, to consolidate existing findings and discuss the agenda for future research. The Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production also hopes to forge new research partnerships to help tackle difficult issues relating to consumption and production. "There's a lot of science, technology and innovation to be researched on sustainable production and consumption," said Philip Vergragt, professor emeritus of technology assessment at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Israel's Secret Project: Super-Battery To Reduce World's Oil Thirst
June 12, 2012 03:57 PM - Alexandra Mann, NoCamels
Quietly and with little media coverage, it seems that Israel has made it its national goal to develop a battery that can provide enough power for a 500 kilometer-drive with a single charge.
Global Warming over last 50 yrs caused primarily by human activity
June 12, 2012 07:11 AM - ScienceDaily
The oceans have warmed in the past 50 years, but not by natural events alone. New research by a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and international collaborators shows that the observed ocean warming over the last 50 years is consistent with climate models only if the models include the impacts of observed increases in greenhouse gas during the 20th century. Though the new research is not the first study to identify a human influence on observed ocean warming, it is the first to provide an in-depth examination of how observational and modeling uncertainties impact the conclusion that humans are primarily responsible.
Increase in Groundwater Use and Sea-Level Rise
June 10, 2012 09:04 AM - Richard Lovett for National Geogrpahic
As aquifers are pumped out around the world, the water ultimately makes it to the oceans. Groundwater depletion will soon be as important a factor in contributing to sea-level rise as the melting of glaciers other than those in Greenland and Antarctica, scientists say. That's because water pumped out of the ground for irrigation, industrial uses, and even drinking must go somewhere after it's used—and, whether it runs directly into streams and rivers or evaporates and falls elsewhere as rain, one likely place for it to end up is the ocean. To find out how much of an effect this has on sea level, a team of Dutch scientists led by hydrologist Yoshihide Wada, a Ph.D. researcher at Utrecht University, divided the Earth's land surface into 31-by-31-mile (50-by-50 kilometer) squares on a grid to calculate present and future groundwater usage.
Open Ocean protection and Rio+20
June 9, 2012 08:37 AM - Prime Sarmiento, SciDevNet
Promises made at previous summits have not delivered enough protection for the oceans — campaigners are pushing for better results from Rio+20, writes Prime Sarmiento. This month, scientists, campaigners and many developing nations are optimistic they will set in motion a deal on the conservation of the high seas at Rio+20 (UN Conference on Sustainable Development) in Brazil. They argue that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), agreed 30 years ago, does not address the welfare of the vast areas of ocean that are 'beyond national jurisdiction'.
June 8, 2012 12:21 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
What is green? What is a viable economic alternative? What is reasonable and will do more bad than good? Welcome to Biofuels. Two scientists are challenging the currently accepted norms of biofuel production. A commentary published today in GCB Bioenergy reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels.