The real disappointment of the Rio+20 Conference
July 3, 2012 07:12 AM - EurActiv
World leaders attending the recent Rio+20 conference agreed to promote sustainable consumption and production, but analysts say getting businesses and buyers to do just that will require far more than words on paper. To the immense disappointment of environmental groups and even some multinational corporations, Rio+20 failed to produce binding commitments or a plan on how to strike a balance between consumer demand and the availability of natural resource. "The current deal on the Rio table is really scraping the barrel — with woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines," said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns. "It doesn’t come close to solving the planetary emergency we're facing."
Los Angeles City Council OKs Plastic Bag Ban
July 1, 2012 08:58 PM - Scott Sincoff, ENN
The "City of Angels" is now taking a larger step in environmentalists’ fight against the United States’ plastic usage. Los Angeles, California has become the biggest city in the U.S. to implement a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout counters. The legislation—approved 13-1 by Los Angeles City Council on May 24th—was a victory for environmentalists and was the government’s way to tell city residents that they need to do their part in the effort to protect the environment. Los Angeles will also start charging ten cents per paper bag in supermarkets as well. The plan will be phased over a 16-month period in L.A.’s approximately 7,500 supermarkets.
The Story of Fair Trade Tea - Why it's so important
July 1, 2012 06:30 AM - Fair Trade USA, Triple Pundit
Pour a cup of tea, let it steep, and then take a sip as you ponder this fact: After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world, with 15,000 cups drunk per second. Tea is everywhere — in our cafes, our kitchens, our offices, schools and stores — but how many of us really know the story of each leaf as it travels from field to cup? The tea supply chain is a complex trade network with many different players. Each and every farmer, worker, exporter, importer, processor, auctioneer, buying agent, retailer, café worker and tea drinker in the chain played an important role in bringing you the world’s favorite beverage.
New Environmentally Themed Sci-Fi Novel "Sowers of God:The Holes of Mare Frigoris" Explores Dark Future
June 28, 2012 05:53 PM - Maddie Perlman-Gabel
What does the future entail when it comes to the environment and the energy crisis? Will we come up with a sustainable method of procuring energy that has no negative repercussions to the Earth or will we continue to use up our resources and be forced to rely on resources outside of our planet? In Glenn K. Graham's first novel "Sowers of God: The Holes of Mare Frigoris", Graham imagines the latter. "Sowers of God" takes place in the near future when global warming has wreaked havoc on the Earth. Many of Earth’s resources have been used up. For energy, Earth now relies on moon mines for Helium-3, which is then taken down by space elevator to Earth’s fusion reactors to be processed and used. Not everyone is happy about the mining of the moon. The religious eco-terrorist group Sowers of God, whom the book is named after, believes no world should have dominion over any other planet and are willing to do anything to stop it. While this was the most compelling plot in the book, there are several other story lines going on.
Would more trees in the Arctic absorb carbon, or cause more to be released?
June 27, 2012 05:55 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online
Trees colonising formerly open tundra as the climate warms could cause Arctic ecosystems to release vast amounts of stored soil carbon into the atmosphere, a new paper argues. Many climate models have assumed that trees taking over the Arctic, and the enormous increase in plant biomass this would bring, would cause these landscapes to absorb much more carbon than they did before, helping restrain the effects of climate change. But this study suggests that's far from certain. In Scandinavia at least, when tundra heath turns into birch woodland it seems it could release much of the carbon stored in the soil into the air. This will more than counterbalance the fact that a forest holds around twice as much carbon in its biomass. So far from holding climate change in check, accelerated tree growth, and colonisation of treeless landscapes, could speed it up.
June 26, 2012 11:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. Cement is made by heating limestone with small quantities of other materials to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix. The resulting substance is then ground to make "Portland Cement". Portland cement is a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar and most non-specialty grout. The most common use for Portland cement is in the production of concrete. In response to a federal court ruling and data from industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing changes to its 2010 air standards for the Portland cement manufacturing industry. The proposal would continue the significant emission reductions from the 2010 standards while providing industry additional compliance flexibilities, including more time to implement the proposed updates by extending the compliance date for existing cement kilns from September 2013 to September 2015.
Sea Level Rise may continue for Centuries
June 26, 2012 04:35 AM - Staff, ClickGreen
Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several meters in coming centuries, if global warming carries on, according to new research. The study is the first to give a comprehensive projection for this long perspective, based on observed sea-level rise over the past millennium, as well as on scenarios for future greenhouse-gas emissions. "Sea-level rise is a hard to quantify, yet critical risk of climate change," says Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics and Wageningen University, lead author of the study. "Due to the long time it takes for the world's ice and water masses to react to global warming, our emissions today determine sea levels for centuries to come."
Small farmers cause substantial damage in the Amazon rainforest
June 25, 2012 03:52 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Small farmers are less likely than large landowners to maintain required forest cover on their property in the Brazilian Amazon, worsening the environmental impact of their operations, reported a researcher presenting at the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) in Bonito, Brazil. Fernanda Michalski, an ecologist with the University of São Paulo and the Pro-Carnivores Institute, analyzed forest cover trends on properties of various sizes in Alta Floresta in the southern Amazon and conducted interviews with farmers on the presence of wildlife on their holdings. She found that small properties (under 440 ha) tend to have less forest cover. Riparian zones are less likely to be maintained, reducing the connectivity of what forest patches do survive, making it more difficult for wildlife to move. Smaller forest blocks were affected by edge effects, leaving them without the cool, dark, stable conditions of the forest interior that some species require. Accordingly large-bodied mammals, birds, and reptiles are scarce on smallholder properties.
Sea Level Rise on US Atlantic Coast 3-4 Times Faster than Global Average
June 25, 2012 10:16 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The East Coast of the United States is home to many of its major population centers. While some of the early colonizers migrated west, many stayed and built up some of America's great cities, including Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Charleston, and Miami. Now this region is facing an unprecedented challenge caused by the changing climate. The sea level is rising, and due to a variety of oceanographic and topographic factors, it is rising faster on the US Atlantic Coast than it is globally. The greatest increase will be felt in the "hot zone", from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to north of Boston, Massachusetts.
Los Angeles to Heat Up an Average 4 to 5 Degrees by Mid-Century
June 25, 2012 06:10 AM - ScienceDaily
A groundbreaking new study led by UCLA climate expert Alex Hall shows that climate change will cause temperatures in the Los Angeles region to rise by an average of 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of this century, tripling the number of extremely hot days in the downtown area and quadrupling the number in the valleys and at high elevations. Released June 22, "Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region" is the first study to provide specific climate-change predictions for the greater Los Angeles area, with unique predictions down to the neighborhood level. The report, the most sophisticated regional climate study ever developed, was produced by UCLA with funding and support from the city of Los Angeles, in partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC).