Environmental Policy

The Spread of Lionfish in the Atlantic
March 17, 2011 12:16 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

Normally, the abundance of a wild species is hailed as a sign of a healthy ecosystem. However, that is not the case for the lionfish, an invasive species which is rapidly multiplying in the waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the US Eastern Seaboard. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), it is the first documented case of an invasive species establishing a self-sustaining population in the region. Once confined to the Indo-West Pacific Ocean, lionfish are now spreading throughout the West Atlantic.

Serengeti road project opposed by 'powerful' tour company lobby
March 17, 2011 09:17 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Government plans to build a road through Serengeti National Park came up against more opposition this week as the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators (Tato) came out against the project, reports The Citizen. Tato, described as powerful local lobby group by the Tanzanian media, stated that the road would hurt tourism and urged the government to select a proposed alternative route that would by-pass the park. Tato's opposition may signal a shift to more local criticism of the road as opposition against the project has come mostly from international environmentalists, scientists, and governments.

EPA's Latest Superfund Nominees Reflect Trend Toward More Complex Cleanups
March 16, 2011 08:51 AM - Ashley S. Miller, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

On March 8, 2011 the EPA announced its latest round of potential Superfund sites — nominees to be listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund statute. The proposed sites included the New Cassel/Hicksville groundwater contamination site (NCH Site), located in Nassau County, New York. According to EPA records the NCH Site includes approximately 10 million square feet of aquifer contaminated by chlorinated compounds, including perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethelyne (TCE).

On the bear trail: eco-tourism in Slovakia
March 14, 2011 09:02 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

Slovakia's Tatras Mountains are home to some of Europe's last brown bears as well as the critically endangered Tatra chamois (mountain goat). Tourism hasn't always been kind to the furry inhabitants of destinations but that's changing, with holiday companies realising that their businesses depend on the wellbeing of their destination's animal attractions.

USGS launches Butterfly and Moth Website
March 13, 2011 08:07 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The United States Geologic Survey, and partners including Montana State University Big Sky Institute, National Biological Information Infrastructure, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, has launched a new website to help us understand, identify, and appreciate the rich diversity of butterflies and moths of North America. The heart of the web site is the Butterflies and Moths of North America database Why should we care about butterflies and moths? Thanks to butterflies, bees, birds, and other animal pollinators, the world's flowering plants are able to reproduce and bear fruit. That very basic capability is at the root of many of the foods we eat. And, not least, pollination adds to the beauty we see around us. Yet today, there is evidence of alarming pollinator population declines worldwide. Fortunately, science investigators of this crucial issue can use data collected and organized in the BAMONA database to monitor the health of our butterfly and moth population.

BP oil spill offers clues on air pollution
March 11, 2011 06:25 AM - Deborah Zabarenko & Cynthia Osterman, Reuters, Washington

The BP oil spill that sent 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico last year also created air pollution, and studying this pollution gave scientists clues into how these contaminants get into the atmosphere. BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people and spewing oil from the underwater well that rose to the surface. It also created a plume of air pollution downwind of the spill, researchers reported in the journal Science. The lightest chemicals in the oil evaporated within hours, as scientists expected them to do. What they didn't expect was that heavier compounds -- the ones with more carbon atoms per molecule -- in the oil took longer to evaporate, spread out much more widely and contributed most to the formation of air pollution particles.

Eco-farming can double food output in developing world
March 9, 2011 07:10 AM - Alister Doyle, Retuers Environment Correspondent OSLO

Many farmers in developing nations can double food production within a decade by shifting to ecological agriculture from use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, a U.N. report showed on Tuesday. Insect-trapping plants in Kenya and Bangladesh's use of ducks to eat weeds in rice paddies are among examples of steps taken to increase food for a world population that the United Nations says will be 7 billion this year and 9 billion by 2050. "Agriculture is at a crossroads," according to the study by Olivier de Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, in a drive to depress record food prices and avoid the costly oil-dependent model of industrial farming. "Agroecology" could also make farms more resilient to the projected impact of climate change including floods, droughts and a rise in sea levels that the report said was already making fresh water near some coasts too salty for use in irrigation.

Countries agree to manage fishing in Northeast Pacific
March 8, 2011 07:08 AM - Allan Dowd, Reuters, VANCOUVER

Countries bordering the North Pacific Ocean have struck a deal that environmentalists said on Monday will help protect 16.1 million square miles (41.7 million sq km) of ocean floor from a destructive technique called bottom trawl fishing. The agreement calls for the creation of an organization to manage sea bottom fisheries in the North Pacific, and puts an immediate cap on expansion of bottom trawl fishing in international waters stretching from Hawaii to Alaska. The deal was reached last week in Vancouver by the United States, Japan, Canada, China, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan after nearly five years of negotiations. Environmentalists have long complained about the damage done to sensitive ecosystems and marine life on the ocean floor by boats that use weighted nets and other fishing gear that drag along the seabed. Drag fishing can damage to seamounts, or undersea mountain ranges, that attract fish and are home to cold-water corals, deep-sea sponges and a wide range of other marine life, the United Nations warned in 2006 report.

Canada: Lead and asbestos in homes need tighter control
March 7, 2011 06:41 AM - Alister Doyle, Retuers Environment Correspondent, OSLO

The health risks from toxins such as lead in old paint or asbestos in walls are too often overlooked when homes are upgraded, according to a study on Sunday calling on governments to set tougher pollution rules. The report, by Canadian experts, said that retrofits of old buildings, such as insulation meant to save energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions, often released poisons that can be especially damaging to children. "Without sufficient care, retrofits...can increase the health risks," Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), told Reuters as she outlined a CELA project to limit health risks.

Iraq's Mesopotamian Marshlands recovering
March 5, 2011 08:15 AM - Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet

The Iraqi Marshlands, which were pushed to the brink of extinction under the Saddam era, are slowly being restored to their former glory For over 7,000 years the Iraqi Marshland- also known as the Mesopotamian Marshlands- played an important role in global ecosystems by supporting rare wildlife and rich biodiversity. Located in south Iraq, the marshlands stretched to over 6,000 square miles and are believed by many to be the location of the Garden of Eden. In the 1980's, however, Saddam drained the marshland to punish the Marsh Arabs who rebelled against him and turned their green lush wetlands into dusty deserts. Following the 2003 war in Iraq which had its own destructive impact on the environment, a unique opportunity emerged to restore the marshlands in what has since been dubbed as "the largest habitat restoration project in the world". At its peak the Iraqi Marshlands were considered to be the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East but after the devastating draining projects under Saddam, the Marshland shrunk to just 10 percent of its original size. The Marsh Arab population dropped from around quarter of a million to just a few thousand.

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