Environmental Policy

Record Arctic ozone hole appears
October 3, 2011 07:05 AM - Reuters, SINGAPORE

A huge hole that appeared in the Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic in 2011 was the largest recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, triggering worries the event could occur again and be even worse, scientists said in a report on Monday. The ozone layer high in the stratosphere acts like a giant shield against the Sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin cancers and cataracts. Since the 1980s, scientists have recorded an ozone hole every summer above the Antarctic at the bottom of the globe. Some years, the holes have been so large they covered the entire continent and stretched to parts of South America, leading to worries about a surge in skin cancers. During extreme events, up to 70 percent of the ozone layer can be destroyed, before it recovers months later.

New Zealand adjusts its CO2 trading program to address market distortions
September 30, 2011 06:35 AM - Reuters, WELLINGTON, NZ

New Zealand is looking to exclude the use of U.N. offsets from industrial gas projects in its emissions trading scheme from as soon as 2012, as these offsets threaten to distort the market, the government said on Friday. Climate change minister Nick Smith said he wanted to maintain the integrity of the emissions trading scheme, which is why the government is considering banning offsets from the potent greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbon-23 (HFC-23) and nitrous oxide credits. "The high value for destroying these gases creates perverse incentives in developing countries to manufacture more of them bringing into question the environmental gains," Smith said in a statement. The New Zealand scheme allows polluters and traders to import U.N. offsets called Certified Emission Reductions from clean energy projects in poorer nations. The CERs can help polluters meet their emissions reduction obligations. But about two-thirds of the nearly 745 million CERs issued to date have come from projects that destroy HFC-23 and nitrous oxide, leading to criticism that the owners of these projects, mainly in China and India, are enjoying massive windfall profits.

African Countries Struggle To Fight Overfishing
September 26, 2011 08:54 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Many countries in Africa are starting to turn the corner economically. With global economic powers looking for new sources of everything from minerals to food products, Africa has attracted heaps of investment in recent years. But the effects are not necessarily benefiting everyone in Africa, and there is mounting concern that many will not share in the riches.

WWF celebrates World Rhino Day
September 22, 2011 11:19 AM - WWF

On the occasion of the second annual World Rhino Day, WWF joins the residents of rhinoceros range countries in calling for an end to rhino poaching, which threatens the survival of rhino species. Officials in South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, have responded to the recent poaching crisis by increasing protection for rhinos, conducting more rigorous prosecutions, and imposing stricter sentences on wildlife criminals. This action must be met with a corresponding commitment by countries in Asia where consumer demand for rhino horn is inciting poachers. South Africa has lost at least 284 rhinos in 2011, including 16 or more critically endangered black rhinos. A majority of the poaching incidents have occurred in the world famous Kruger National Park, but privately owned rhinos have also been targeted. Law enforcement officials have made over 165 arrests so far during the year, and some convicted poachers have been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

Belgian Company Leads the Way In Landfill Mining
September 16, 2011 08:35 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

Landfill mining is a rapidly growing area of waste management that is proving to be extremely profitable. About 50 miles east of Brussels, at Houthalen-Hecteren lies the Remo Milieubeheer landfill which dates back to the 1960s. It consists of industrial waste, household garbage and other things that landfills normally have — basically 16.5 million tons of trash.

Famine in Africa: Can Reforestation Improve Food Security?
September 14, 2011 10:57 AM - Karimeh Moukaddem, MONGABAY.COM

Millions of people across the Horn of Africa are suffering under a crippling regional drought and tens of thousands have died during the accompanying famine. Refuge camps in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia are swelling with the hungry. The best hope in the short-term is food aid and logistical support, but in the longer term, dryland reforestation efforts may help improve food security, argues a new report from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which links human-caused land degradation, including deforestation, to intensified drought.

Team of International Marine Scientists Call for Ban on Deep Sea Fishing
September 9, 2011 09:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Fishing restrictions near the coast lines have been in place for many years, of which many local fishermen are well aware. These restrictions are understood to be vital in maintaining a stable population of wild fish for harvesting. In recent years, due to these restrictions, many industrial fishing vessels have ventured deeper into the open ocean which are unregulated. Their massive nets literally destroy benthic ecosystems and annihilate fish populations. According to the UN, the harvesting of deep sea fish has increased sevenfold between 1960 and 2004. In an article published in the journal, Marine Policy, scientists in the field of marine conservation have called for an outright ban on industrial deep sea fishing.

Jews, Muslims, Christians in Israel Unite for Planet Earth
September 9, 2011 08:21 AM - Karin Kloosterman, Green Prophet

They're doing in person and specifically in Israel what Green Prophet has been doing for the last four years: showing a faith based and cultural context in environmental action. Launched last year, meet the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Center working on issues like climate change.

White House Rejects EPA Proposal to Strengthen Smog Standards
September 7, 2011 12:49 PM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

On Friday, September 2, 2011, the White House directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw and reconsider a proposal to strengthen National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, the primary ingredient in smog. The announcement marked the first time that the Obama Administration formally returned one of its own agencies proposals, and it could indicate heightened executive scrutiny of forthcoming rules economic impacts. The heart of the Clean Air Act, NAAQS set maximum levels for six “criteria” pollutants at levels necessary to protect public health and welfare, implemented through State Implementation Plans covering a broad range of sources. The ozone NAAQS were last revised in 2008, when the Bush Administration set a primary standard of .075 parts-per-million (“ppm”) — more lenient than the .06-.07 ppm range recommended by EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.

2 tons of elephant ivory seized in Hong Kong
September 1, 2011 08:55 AM - Editor, MSNBC.com: Environment

Hong Kong customs officers have seized a large shipment of African ivory hidden in a container that arrived by sea from Malaysia. Hong Kong government officials said Tuesday that officers found 794 pieces of ivory tusks estimated to be worth $1.6 million.

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