Environmental Policy

Once, men abused slaves. Now we abuse fossil fuels
February 6, 2012 04:51 PM - Andy Gryce, Population Matters

Pointing out the similarities (and differences) between slavery and the use of fossil fuels can help us engage with climate change in a new way, says Jean-Fran├žois Mouhot, visiting researcher at Georgetown University, USA. In 2005, while teaching history at a French university, I was struck by the general disbelief among students that rational and sensitive human beings could ever hold others in bondage. Slavery was so obviously evil that slave-holders could only have been barbarians. My students could not entertain the idea that some slave-owners could have been genuinely blind to the harm they were doing. At the same time, I was reading a book on climate change which noted how today's machinery — almost exclusively powered by fossil fuels like coal and oil — does the same work that used to be done by slaves and servants. "Energy slaves" now do our laundry, cook our food, transport us, entertain us, and do most of the hard work needed for our survival.

Donna Resevoir and Canal
February 6, 2012 08:12 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

During the week of February 6-12, 2012, representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) will be in the area of South Alamo, Texas, to speak with residents about the contamination in the Donna Reservoir and Canal. This effort is being made to provide local residents with information about the health risks of consuming fish taken from the Donna Reservoir and Canal. The possession of contaminated fish taken from the reservoir is prohibited by the TDSHS and has been since 1993.

Nuclear Power - environmental advantages
February 5, 2012 07:55 AM - CHARLES CHAVES/ecoRI News contributor

Renewable energy and nuclear power increasingly factor into the evolving American energy equation to replace polluting coal. Even some environmentalists acknowledge that nuclear is a viable emissions-free option to dirty coal while renewable-energy technologies continue to advance. Nuclear fission reactors generate electrical power by splitting the atomic nuclei of uranium. This process creates a massive amount of heat — thermal energy — and radiation. The resultant heat is in turn utilized to make steam from water that then moves turbine blades to drive generators to produce electricity.

A Turtle Success Story in the Philipines
February 4, 2012 07:30 AM - Kathryn Pintus, Species Text Author, ARKive.org

In 2011, green sea turtles laid a staggering 1.44 million eggs on just one island in the Philippines thanks to conservation efforts, breaking all previous records. The graceful and enigmatic green turtle faces a variety of threats globally, and as a result is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Yet there is some good news for this marine reptile, as Conservation International (CI) announces that the species has laid a record number of eggs on a small island in the Philippines.

The Super Green Bowl
February 3, 2012 07:20 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit

For the past 18 years, the NFL has been working to decrease the environmental footprint of the largest annual sporting event in the U.S. — the Super Bowl. Two years ago, we wrote about several initiatives aimed at reducing the events’ impacts. Last year, we covered how Super Bowl XLV was slated to be the greenest NFL championship game in history. This year, the NFL is trying to outdo itself yet again by working with the Green Mountain Energy Company and the Indianapolis community to make Super Bowl XLVI the greenest yet. I talked with Jack Groh, Director of the NFL’s Environmental Program, to get the details on this year’s efforts.

Carbon Source or Carbon Sink: Greenhouse Gases in the Tropics
February 2, 2012 09:47 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The lush vegetation wrapping the center of the globe is one of the most important features for regulating a stable climate in the world. Much excess CO2 emissions from industrialized regions find their way to the equator to be absorbed by abundant CO2-consuming plant life. However, as large tracts of tropical rainforest are cut down in the Amazon, Congo, and Southeast Asia, worries have grown that this vital region may turn from a carbon sink to a carbon source. Those worries can be put at ease somewhat thanks to a recent study from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). Their report suggests that carbon storage of forests, shrublands, and savannas in the tropics are 21 percent higher than previously believed.

Europe to target pharmaceutical pollution with new water quality rules
February 2, 2012 07:27 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

The European Commission has unveiled a new set of water pollution rules, which will for the first time include certain pharmaceutical products. The Commission is proposing to add 15 chemicals to the list of 33 pollutants that are currently monitored and controlled in EU surface waters. The popular pain-relieving drug Diclofenac is one of three pharmaceuticals to be put on the European water watch-list, which law-makers say is another step towards improving the quality of rivers, lakes and coastal waters. The 15 substances include industrial chemicals as well as compounds used in biocides and plant protection products. They have been selected on the basis of scientific evidence that they may pose a significant risk to health.

UPS Foundation Donates $6M To Champion Diversity
February 2, 2012 06:04 AM - Editor, ENN, Justmeans

It's good news for the human environment. The UPS Foundation today announced almost 120 grants totaling more than $6 million to non-profit organizations around the world that champion diversity and support diverse communities. For more than 60 years, UPS's philanthropic arm has funded organizations that support under-served and under-represented members of society. This year’s grants will support a wide range of programs, including those for wounded veterans, the hearing and visually-impaired, women and girls and culturally distinct populations.

UN Calls Sustainable Development a Top Priority
February 1, 2012 11:21 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

The UN High-Level Panel Global Sustainability released its report in Addis Ababa yesterday entitled Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing. The panel’s 99-page report, which will serve as an input to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June, (otherwise known as the Rio+20 Summit) is a call to action, "to address the sustainable development challenge in a fresh and operational way." This document is incredibly rich, beautifully written and filled with a tremendous amount of good thought, clear vision, careful analysis, sober assessment, and useful suggestions for ways to move sustainable development from an abstract concept to the core of mainstream economics.

Canada Uranium and Other Mines: The Future
January 31, 2012 03:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Canada was the world's largest uranium producer for many years, accounting for about 22% of world output, but in 2009 was overtaken by Kazakhstan. Production is expected to increase significantly from 2013 as the new Cigar Lake mine comes into operation. Canada is also a large producer of many other mineral products. The problem is that many mining operations produce significant amounts of waste in an environment with a fragile ecosystem and limited resources to deal with environmental issues. While the government of Canada has introduced legislation to ensure that at least some of the costs associated with reclamation are accounted for in future developments, critics believe there are still serious risks.

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