Environmental Policy

Man, not climate change, linked to extinctions in Australia
March 24, 2012 08:10 AM - Yale 360 and Scientific American

The disappearance roughly 40,000 years ago of dozens of large mammals in Australia — including rhinoceros-sized wombats and tapir-like marsupials — was caused by human hunting and not by climate change, according to a new study by Australian scientists. Researchers at the University of Tasmania reached that conclusion after analyzing two mud core samples dating back as far as 130,000 years. By examining the cores for the Sporomiella fungus — which only releases its spores when in the dung of plant-eating animals — the scientists concluded that megafauna survived periods of climate change over the last 100,000 years. But when humans arrived in sizeable numbers, the presence of the spores dropped "almost to zero" around 41,000 years ago, indicating that hunting was the main reason for the extinction of these large animals, according to the paper, published in Science.

Greenpeace calls for zero deforestation globally by 2020
March 22, 2012 05:10 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Greenpeace reiterated its call for an end to deforestation in Brazil by 2015 and globally by 2020 during its launch of an awareness-raising expedition down the Amazon River aboard the Rainbow Warrior.

Climate Leadership Continues in the European Union
March 21, 2012 10:44 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

The European Union might be going through a lot of financial turmoil at the moment, however they are still leading the way when it comes to environmental policy. Their carbon targets have consistently been higher than any other country in the world and they have also actually met and exceeded them. At the Durban Climate Summit last year, the EU environment ministers were noted for their progressive and constructive role they played in coming up with a new international agreement. The EU strategy has always been to lead with vision and to generate economic and environmental benefits. Since the EU has set binding emissions and renewable energy targets, many countries have followed suit.

Native Wildflowers are good for bees and biodiversity!
March 21, 2012 07:00 AM - Hazel Sillver, The Ecologist

Filling your garden with wildflowers helps honeybees and butterflies, and creates a relaxed mood. And, from the Easton Walled Garden to Sissinghurst, there's plenty of inspiration Many of the wildflower areas that provide food for pollinating insects (such as honeybees and butterflies) have shrunk over the past few decades. So far, we have lost 97 per cent of lowland semi-natural grassland, 20 per cent of chalk grassland and thousands of miles of hedgerow. This is the effect of intensive agriculture and, in urban areas, an obsession with neatness.

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.

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