Tracking Greenland's Ice Melt shows record melt area
July 25, 2012 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
NASA researchers studying data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite this month noticed that the ice melt area on Greenland covered almost the entire ice sheath. This is very unusual and means that melting was occurring over almost the entire surface of the ice sheath. In most summers, the melting occurs in portions of the ice sheath while other areas are not melting. Typically, less than half the ice sheath is melting at one time. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet, and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. This is unprecedented in 30 years of monitoring ice melt by satellite. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise.
Growth in Municipal Solid Waste Output Still a Major Challenge
July 24, 2012 03:17 PM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute
Growing prosperity and urbanization could double the volume of municipal solid waste annually by 2025, challenging environmental and public health management in the world's cities, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org) for its Vital Signs Online service. Although some of this waste is eventually recycled, the doubling of waste that current projections indicate would bring the volume of municipal solid waste—or MSW—from today's 1.3 billion tons per year to 2.6 billion tons, writes report author and Worldwatch Senior Fellow Gary Gardner. As defined in the report, MSW consists of organic material, paper, plastic, glass, metals, and other refuse collected by municipal authorities, largely from homes, offices, institutions, and commercial establishments. MSW is a subset of the larger universe of waste and typically does not include waste collected outside of formal municipal programs. Nor does it include the sewage, industrial waste, or construction and demolition waste generated by cities. And of course MSW does not include rural wastes. MSW is measured before disposal, and data on it often include collected material that is later diverted for recycling. MSW tends to be generated in much higher quantities in wealthier regions of the world. Members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 industrialized nations, lead the world in MSW generation, at nearly 1.6 million tons per day. By contrast, sub-Saharan Africa produces less than one eighth as much, some 200 million tons per day.
End of the last Ice Age - Close linkage between CO2 and temperature found
July 24, 2012 06:58 AM - Staff, ClickGreen
The greatest climate change the world has seen in the last 100,000 years was the transition from the ice age to the warm interglacial period. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that, contrary to previous opinion, the rise in temperature and the rise in the atmospheric CO2 follow each other closely in terms of time. In the warmer climate the atmospheric content of CO2 is naturally higher. The gas CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a green-house gas that absorbs heat radiation from the Earth and thus keeps the Earth warm. In the shift between ice ages and interglacial periods the atmospheric content of CO2 helps to intensify the natural climate variations.
Cleaner aviation depends on supplies of not so clean materials
July 23, 2012 12:52 PM - EurActive
From the flight deck to the wheel brakes, new generations of aircraft that produce far less pollution increasingly rely on imported raw materials which are themselves dirty to produce. EurActiv reports from the Farnborough International Airshow. China and Russia are dominant suppliers of some forms of titanium — a lightweight metal used in airframes and parts — while China holds the lock on production of rare earth metals. Dependable supplies of these resources are vital as European and American airplane manufacturers juggle backlogged orders and address forecasts of exponential growth over 20 years. "It's an area that is going to increasingly become a challenge in the industry," said Dr Andy Jefferson, programme director at the industry-financed Sustainable Aviation research organisation in the United Kingdom.
Did Deepwater Horizon Accident contribute to Dolphin Deaths?
July 23, 2012 06:28 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
In the first four months of 2011, 186 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were found dead in the Gulf of Mexico, nearly half of them dolphin calves many of whom were perinatal, or near birth. Researchers now believe a number of factors may have killed the animals. Writing in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, scientists theorize that the dolphins died a sudden influx of freshwater from snowmelt after being stressed and weakened by an abnormally cold winter and the impacts of the BP oil spill. According to researchers, oil leaking from the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon could have decimated the dolphin's prey base, leaving a larger than usual number of dolphins suffering from malnutrition.
Nighttime light exposure linked to health impacts, AMA encourages more study
July 22, 2012 09:16 AM - JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH, THE JERUSALEM POST, NoCamels
The American Medical Association has issued an official statement warning against the health hazards posed by exposure to artificial light for hours at work or during sleep. Prof. Abraham Haim of the University of Haifa’s Israeli Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Chronobiology has conducted research on the subject. "The fact that the AMA has taken this matter seriously and come to the conclusion that exposure to light at night is indeed a health hazard is a form of recognition for the various studies that experts such as Prof. Haim have been conducting over recent years," the university stated on Monday. The AMA’s policy announcement supports Haim's research conclusions, it said.
Women in Asia Need more Equality to Achieve Climate & Poverty Goals
July 21, 2012 07:52 AM - EurekAlert
New research released today by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) shows that despite more understanding, more resources, and policy recommendations, women continue to be largely marginalized and ignored or exploited in resource management processes throughout Asia — to the detriment of global climate and poverty reduction goals. This suite of analyses, released today at the International Workshop on Gender and Forest Tenure in Asia and Collective Forest Tenure Reform in China, demonstrate that exclusion and inequality on gender grounds are still rife and complicated by the intersection of cultural and social norms, economic pressures, and inadequate legal and institutional frameworks. Authors of the studies call for emerging programs and policies to combat climate change or encourage sustainable development to incorporate lessons learned.
Mobius Motors creates a car specifically for Africa
July 20, 2012 06:19 AM - Editor, Justmeans
Joel Jackson arrived in Kenya in 2009 and immediately had a social innovation idea—yet it had nothing to do with the not-for-profit farming organisation that he had come with. It wasn't farming that caught Joel's attention, it was the state of the African roads: the lack of appropriate transport that has affected many parts of rural Africa, keeping areas remote. Joel Jackson rolled up his sleeves and set about building a vehicle that would serve the African market; a $6,000 (£3,850) car called the Mobius One. Africa's poorest are largely immobile and do not have appropriate transport services. Every day millions of people often walk 10+ miles to get to basic amenities such as clean drinking water, schools, hospitals and jobs. Chronic government underinvestment in roads and public transit has restricted travel. Africa's most disadvantaged cannot afford to buy a car, yet need reliable transport services to prosper.
EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gases Survives Another Challenge
July 19, 2012 02:25 PM - Shakuntala Makhijani, Worldwatch Institute
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to regulate greenhouse gases have been under attack ever since the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court ruling that confirmed its authority to do so. In 2010, just before efforts to pass a cap-and-trade climate bill were abandoned in the Senate, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski sponsored failed legislation to nullify the Supreme Court decision and block EPA from moving forward with greenhouse gas regulations. Attempts to undermine EPA's regulatory authority were once again thwarted last month when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected several legal challenges and upheld EPA's 2009 endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.
Olympic Athletes facing London pollution, city accused of not following EU rules
July 19, 2012 06:18 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
With the Summer Olympics only days away, athletes are facing some of the worst air pollution in Europe. London's NOx and Ozone concentrations have the potential to adversely affect athletes, and the huge crowds that will be attending the games. Athlete performance is likely to be impacted, and attendees with health conditions should be aware to take care to not overdue their own exertion. Environmental lawyers are preparing to ask Britain’s highest civil court to force the government to comply with EU air quality standards. The ClientEarth legal organisation argues that the British government is breaching the 1 January 2010 EU deadline for complying with air quality plans for London and 16 other cities. The group contends that the government is neglecting its EU obligations to reduce emissions that contribute to urban smog and particulate pollution. "We've seen lots of headlines but very little action from the government," Alan Andrews, a ClientEarth lawyer in the case, told EurActiv in a telephone interview. Air quality, he said "just doesn’t get the attention it should deserve."