Environmental Policy

Fires and deaths from deforestation linked
February 22, 2012 07:15 AM - R Greenway, ENN

A new study links smoke from the burning of wood waste from deforestation to deaths from the effects of breathing all that smoke. Worldwide, smoke from these fires (called landscape fires) contributed to an average of 339,000 deaths per year between 1997 and 2006, according to new research published in Environmental Health Perspectives and released today during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia were the hardest hit by fire-smoke deaths, with an estimated annual average of 157,000 and 110,000 deaths, respectively, attributable to fire smoke exposure, said researcher Fay Johnston, who represented a global team at the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

The Quiet Clean Mining Revolution
February 21, 2012 10:56 AM - Guest Author, Clean Techies

Few industries have got the black eye, literally and metaphorically, of mining. After centuries of environmental effects ranging from toxic emissions to unsightly tailings ponds, acid mine drainage, massive energy consumption and other impacts, mining is slowly cleaning up its act. Why? Mostly because new clean technologies are increasing industrial efficiencies. They're lowering mining companies' power needs. And they're even helping reduce water requirements, and/or remediating the produced water and mines of years past that are now leaching toxins. And that's translating into cost savings for mining companies, which are being held increasingly accountable for their environmental impacts and are looking for ways to minimize the expenses of both the production phase of their operations, and reclamation.

Republic of Congo Expands National Park to Protect Great Apes
February 21, 2012 10:39 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The Nouabale-Ndoki National Park is a lush rainforest park within the equatorial nation of the Republic of Congo (ROC), not to be confused with the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo to the south and east. The ROC has followed through on its commitments to expand the NNNP by 8 percent, from about 1,500 square miles to about 1,630 square miles. The newly included area holds a unique ecosystem known as the Goualougo Triangle. The Goualougo is a very dense, swampy forest that is home to a nearly pristine and untouched great ape population that was first discovered in 1989 by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists.

National Defense and President Obama's 2013 Clean Energy Budget
February 21, 2012 08:31 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

As far as clean energy and green jobs go, President Obama's 2013 budget includes a Christmas-in-July package of initiatives that are designed to help pull the U.S. out of recession while transitioning the economy to cleaner, safer, more reliable and less price-spikey forms of energy. Those last two items — price and reliability of supply — are especially important to the Department of Defense, which will see its rate of growth slow dramatically under the new budget.

World Meteorological Organization launches new weather data system
February 21, 2012 07:01 AM - Alecia D. McKenzie, SciDevNet

An international information system designed to improve and expand the exchange of data on weather, climate and water will help boost food security around the world, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The UN agency, which launched the system last month (31 January), said it would improve access to meteorological observations and products for stakeholders including the research and disaster risk reduction sectors.

High Productivity Farms may be Greener than Organic
February 18, 2012 08:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

While organic farms are great, new research finds that farms that aim for high food production using environmentally-friendly practices could be better for the environment than both organic and conventional farms. A new study, led by Oxford University scientists, compared the environmental impact of different farming systems. They found that 'integrated' farms that maximized crop yields while using environmentally-friendly techniques — such as crop rotation, organic fertilisers, over winter cover crops, and minimal use of pesticides — would use less energy and generate lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production than both organic and conventional farms.

Science Spending
February 17, 2012 08:19 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Science has changed the world. It has created new products and ease of service. What the future will bring is, of course, always uncertain. "It’s not every day you have robots running through your house," Barack Obama quipped last week at the White House science fair, a showcase for student exhibitors that also gave the US president a chance to reiterate a favourite theme. Science and technology, he said, "is what’s going to make a difference in this country, over the long haul".

Fracking impacts reviewed in major study
February 17, 2012 07:01 AM - Erik Stokstad, from Science

A controversial method of drilling for natural gas, called fracking, has boomed in recent years—as have concerns over its potential to cause environmental contamination and harm human health. But a major review of the practice uncovered no signs that it is causing trouble below ground. "We found no direct evidence that fracking itself has contaminated groundwater," said Charles Groat of the University of Texas, Austin, who led the study. The report, released at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW), doesn't give this form of natural gas extraction a clean bill of health.

Europe and US sign trade agreement over organic products
February 16, 2012 08:56 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The European Union and the United States has announced that organic products certified in Europe or in the United States may be sold as organic in either region. This partnership between the two largest organic-producers in the world will establish a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale.

Organic Brown Rice and Arsenic
February 16, 2012 06:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

A new study by Professor Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth has found alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice and Brown Rice Syrup. This is particularly alarming since Brown Rice Syrup is being sought by health conscious consumers as a "healthy" alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Dartmouth researchers and others have previously called attention to the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice, and organic brown rice syrup may be the latest culprit on the scene. With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the health conscious consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the potential danger, Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.

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