Egypt's Plans for Science
July 11, 2012 06:48 AM - Hazem Badr, SciDevNet
Egypt's newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has ambitious plans for science and is committed to linking research to local needs and boosting private sector science funding, officials say. "Morsi's main strategy is to 'localise' science," Mohamed Sharet, deputy director of the Education and Scientific Research Committee at the Egyptian parliament's lower house, and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), told SciDev.Net. This will require engaging researchers in solving public problems and linking science closely to the needs of local industry.
Long term temperature record reconstructed
July 10, 2012 06:36 AM - EurekAlert from Johannes Gutenberg University
Long term calculations prepared by Mainz scientists will influence the way current climate change is perceived. This important study is published in Nature Climate Change. An international team that includes scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has published a reconstruction of the climate in northern Europe over the last 2,000 years based on the information provided by tree-rings. Professor Dr. Jan Esper's group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC. In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling. "We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low," says Esper. "Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today's climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods." The new study has been published in the journal "Nature Climate Change".
Boreal Forest Conservation Spreads Throughout Ontario
July 9, 2012 01:57 PM - Editor, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
Forest company and conservation group signatories to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) welcome Ontario's support today of their approach and joint recommendations on an action plan for an area of the province’s boreal forest almost five times the size of Metro Toronto. The action plan recommendations aim to secure the future of the 3 million hectares of caribou range in the Abitibi River Forest to conserve Boreal woodland caribou and maintain hundreds of jobs in forestry. The proposed approach and recommendations are intended to produce over 800,000 hectares of critical habitat for Boreal woodland caribou that would be excluded from harvest. The remaining 2.2 million hectares would remain open to forestry, with high standards of sustainable forest practices in place to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems. "This proposed breakthrough plan for the Abitibi River Forest underscores that prosperity and conservation go hand-in-hand by recognizing that conservation is not at the expense of economic prosperity, but complementary to it. It is also a testament to the collective efforts of the environmental groups and companies that have been able to find common ground" said Janet Sumner, executive director of CPAWS-Wildlands League, one of Canada's leading conservation groups.
Canadian Forest Industry And Environmental Groups Sign World's Largest Conservation Agreement
July 9, 2012 09:51 AM - Editor, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
The 21 member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), and nine leading environmental organizations, have endorsed an unprecedented agreement — the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement — that applies to 72 million hectares of public forests licensed to FPAC members. The Agreement, when fully implemented, will conserve significant areas of Canada's vast Boreal Forest, protect threatened woodland caribou and provide a competitive market edge for participating companies. Under the Agreement FPAC members, who manage two-thirds of all certified forest land in Canada, commit to the highest environmental standards of forest management within an area twice the size of Germany. Conservation groups commit to global recognition and support for FPAC member efforts. The Agreement calls for the suspension of new logging on nearly 29 million hectares of Boreal Forest to develop conservation plans for endangered caribou, while maintaining essential fiber supplies for uninterrupted mill operations. "Do Not Buy" campaigns by Canopy, ForestEthics and Greenpeace will be suspended while the Agreement is being implemented.
Copenhagen wins 'European Green Capital"
July 9, 2012 08:57 AM - Editor, Green Traveler Guides
The Danish city of Copenhagen has won the European Green Capital Award for 2014. Copenhagen was chosen for its achievements in "eco-innovation and sustainable mobility," for being a role model for the green economy in Europe and for engaging its citizens to feel they are part of the green solution.
Organic Tomatoes ARE More Nutritious!
July 9, 2012 06:30 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit
The debate about whether organic food has more nutrients might be finally settled, at least in the case of tomatoes. The latest research from the University of Barcelona shows that organic tomatoes have higher levels of antioxidants than chemically-grown ones. The research team studied and analysed the chemical structure of the Daniela variety of tomato. According to The Daily Mail: "They detected 34 different beneficial compounds in both the organic and conventional version... However they found that overall the organic tomatoes contained higher level of the polyphenols. The scientists says this difference between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used to grown them."
Arctic Sea Ice Continues its Summer Retreat
July 7, 2012 08:28 AM - THOMAS SCHUENEMAN, Global Warming is Real
A rapid decline for Arctic sea ice extent briefly hit daily record lows in June, led by extensive ice loss in the Bering, Kara, and Beaufort Seas, as well as Hudson and Baffin Bay. Snow extent was unusually low for both May and June, reinforcing the continuing pattern of rapid spring snow melt of the past six years. Average Arctic sea ice extent for June was 4.24 million square miles (10.97 million square kilometers), 456,000 square miles below the 1970-2000 average sea ice extent. Sea ice extent for June 2010, 2011, and 2012 has been the lowest in the satellite record.
Greenhouse Gases Focus
July 6, 2012 09:00 AM - Editor, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it will not further revise greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting thresholds under the Clean Air Act. Today’s final rule is part of EPA’s common-sense, phased-in approach to GHG permitting under the Clean Air Act, announced in 2010 and recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The final rule maintains a focus on the nation’s largest emitters that account for nearly 70 percent of the total GHG pollution from stationary sources, while shielding smaller emitters from permitting requirements. EPA is also finalizing a provision that allows companies to set plant-wide emissions limits for GHGs, streamlining the permitting process, increasing flexibilities and reducing permitting burdens on state and local authorities and large industrial emitters.
Fukushima Daiichi Meltdowns Could Have Been Avoided
July 6, 2012 07:28 AM - SCIENCEDaily
A report from a high-powered commission today blasted the government, regulators, and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for not anticipating and preventing the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Multiple reactor meltdowns and massive radiation releases forced authorities to evacuate 150,000 people from around the plant and shattered confidence in Japan's nuclear industry and in the government's capacity to respond to a disaster. "The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'manmade,' " states the report from the panel, chaired by Kiyoshi Kurokawa, former president of the Science Council of Japan. "We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual."
Concentrating Solar Power - No Resource Constraints
July 5, 2012 07:38 AM - ScienceDaily
A recently published study confirms that solar thermal power is largely unrestricted by materials availability. There are, however, some issues that the industry needs to look into soon, like replacing silver in mirrors. In the wake of Chinese export restrictions on rare earth metals, the dependence of some renewable technologies on scarce materials has gained attention. Several players in the wind and PV industry are struggling to get away from excessive use of restricted elements, such as indium or rare earth metals. Meanwhile, there has been a shared notion amongst solar scientists and industry that Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) should "probably" be less restricted, being built mainly on commonplace commodities like steel and glass.