Power plant rules unveiled: Higher bills, cleaner air
December 22, 2011 09:10 AM - Editor, MSNBC.com: Environment
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday unveiled rules for coal-fired power plants that mean costly investments passed on to consumers, but also health benefits. Hundreds of older plants — which together make up the largest remaining source of unchecked toxic air pollution in the United States — will have to cut emissions or shut down.
Great Lakes wolves to lose federal protection
December 22, 2011 07:01 AM - John Rondy, Reuters, MILWAUKEE
Thousands of gray wolves in the Midwest will soon be stripped of federal safeguards under the Endangered Species Act, the government said on Wednesday, in a move that could open the animals to state-licensed hunting. An estimated 4,000 wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and parts of adjacent states are due to lose their status as either endangered or threatened species on January 27, 2012 under the newly issued U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule. Some environmental groups criticized the action as likely to jeopardize the wolf's recovery, but federal wildlife managers said the animal's population had grown robust enough to hand control of the iconic predator back to the states. A review of the Great Lakes wolf population found the species has exceeded its recovery goals in recent years, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. The agency estimates there are now 2,921 wolves in Minnesota, 687 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 782 in Wisconsin.
Chevrolet Carbon Stories: San Juan National Forest tree planting
December 16, 2011 02:59 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Whenever you take a breathe, you are breathing in 1/3 more carbon dioxide than your grandparents did. That's a significant increase in just two generations. Now imagine a forest. In one year, an acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and emits 4 tons of oxygen. In 2003, the San Juan National Forest suffered a major fire that effectively destroyed and deforested large sections of land in Colorado. The US Forest Service does not plan to replant the burned areas, and this land is not likely to be naturally reforested. In conjunction with the US Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and local activists with the help of Chevrolet have actively begun to reforest a portion of the burned land with newly planted trees. Along with replanting the forest, this is a great project for its ecological benefits such as restoring habitat, as well as for the local economy.
UN: Canada, out of Kyoto, must still cut emissions
December 14, 2011 08:41 AM - Editor, Reuters, LONDON
Canada still has a legal obligation under United Nations rules to cut its emissions despite the country's pullout from the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. climate chief said on Tuesday. Christiana Figueres also said the timing of Canada's move, a day after a deal to extend the protocol was clinched at a U.N. summit in South Africa, was regrettable and surprising.
International Sustainability Standards: Pros and Cons
December 13, 2011 03:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Sustainability is an economic, social, and ecological concept. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society and its members are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals indefinitely. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire globe. With that said how do you specifically define what is sustainable? Economic needs are fairly easy to figure out; ultimately it is do you make a profit or not. Social needs will depend on the society involved and every society is different. There is a difference between urban and rural needs for example much less North Africa, China, and the US. Ecological standards will also vary because it is far from clear how much resilience that an ecosystem has and as a result there will be constant and shifting debate on those standards.
Green Christmas suggestions from IzzitGreen
December 13, 2011 09:55 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Just in time for our readers' last minute Christmas Shopping, our friends from IzzitGreen have come up with five great eco-friendly Holiday gifts. As an additional eco-incentive 50% of the proceeds earned for any purchase of the Get to Know Nature bag will go directly to the Get to Know organization and help support their mission to keep the National Parks of the U.S. and Canada vibrant. Enjoy! Get to Know NatureBag The NatureBag is packed full of fun activities designed to support Get to Know's main mission to connect kids with the great outdoors. The all-weather activity booklet and other accessories encourage exploration and natural awareness through lead experiential activities. Pack up all the eco-friendly tools made from recycled materials into the unique fair trade, organic cotton shoulder bag and away you go! Last year the Get to Know NatureBag received the Gold Medal Award from Parent’s Choice as an eco-friendly and socially sound choice. http://www.gettoknow.ca/store/naturebagGrowBottles Everything you need to grow fresh herbs and gain the culinary respect (or envy) of your friends is packaged into these beautiful recycled GrowBottles, and they're made completely with sourced and re-purposed materials. With a little water and love the GrowBottles can continue to produce year after year with your own seeds or one of the refill kits. Thanks to brilliant design and the power of hydroponics, growing fresh herbs indoors has never been so easy. Available in Oregano, Chives, Basil, Parsley and Mint certified organic seed varieties.
Canada first nation to pull out of Kyoto protocol
December 13, 2011 08:35 AM - David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer, Reuters, OTTOWA
Canada on Monday became the first country to announce it would withdraw from the Kyoto protocol on climate change, dealing a symbolic blow to the already troubled global treaty. Environment Minister Peter Kent broke the news on his return from talks in Durban, where countries agreed to extend Kyoto for five years and hammer out a new deal forcing all big polluters for the first time to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Canada, a major energy producer which critics complain is becoming a climate renegade, has long complained Kyoto is unworkable precisely because it excludes so many significant emitters.
Geo-engineering: a bad idea whose time has come?
December 10, 2011 02:11 PM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON
The mainstream approach to climate change does not seem to be working so some scientists and policymakers say it may be time to look into something completely different: re-engineering Earth's climate. Variously called geo-engineering, climate remediation and planet hacking, the idea is to do on purpose what industry and other human activities have done inadvertently, which is to change the amount of climate-warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and as a result, cool it down. The concept has been around for nearly a century, from about the same time scientists and engineers noted the warming effect carbon dioxide emissions had on climate. Until quite recently, the notion has been relegated to the fringes of debate. Global climate talks have focused instead on curbing future emissions of greenhouse gases, known as mitigation. But in the lead-up to the latest round of U.N. climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, there have been serious examinations of what it might take to start countering the effects of increasing carbon dioxide in the air.
UN Climate deal reached in Durban
December 9, 2011 10:59 AM - Nina Chestney and Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, DURBAN
Climate negotiators agreed a pact on Sunday that would for the first time force all the biggest polluters to take action on greenhouse gas emissions, but critics said the action plan was not aggressive enough to slow the pace of global warming. The package of accords extended the Kyoto Protocol, the only global pact that enforces carbon cuts, agreed the format of a fund to help poor countries tackle climate change and mapped out a path to a legally binding agreement on emissions reductions. But many small island states and developing nations at risk of being swamped by rising sea levels and extreme weather said the deal marked the lowest common denominator possible and lacked the ambition needed to ensure their survival. Agreement on the package, reached in the early hours of Sunday, avoided a collapse of the talks and spared the blushes of host South Africa, whose stewardship of the two weeks of often fractious negotiations came under fire from rich and poor nations.
Climate talks mean life or death for island states
December 9, 2011 06:46 AM - Agnieszka Flak, Reuters, DURBAN
So while climate change delegates haggle over deadlines, binding targets and finance, some of the world's poorest states are warning that rising sea levels and storms will sweep them away unless the world agrees to tackle global warning. "We will be one of the first countries to go under water," said Foua Toloa, a senior politician on Tokelau, an island half-way between Hawaii and New Zealand that is no more than five meters above sea-level. "We are a small and fragile nation very susceptible to environment and climate developments." Grenada's Foreign Minister Karl Hood, chairman of the 43-nation Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), whose members are in the frontline of climate change, was even more blunt: "If we don't act now, some of us will die." Many low lying nations can already calculate the cost of rising greenhouse gas emissions in lives lost, economies shattered and landscapes transformed. "By 2025, rising sea levels could lead to the displacement of at least 10 percent of the population", Comores Vice President Fouad Mohadji told delegates at climate change talks in the South African port city of Durban.