Environmental Policy

Arctic 'Ice Refuge' Envisioned As Region Warms Rapidly in 21st Century
December 18, 2010 10:22 AM - Yale Environment 360

As the Arctic rapidly warms in the 21st century and Arctic sea ice largely disappears in summer, a strip of year-round ice is likely to remain to the north of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic archipelago, providing a refuge for some sea-ice dependent wildlife, such as polar bears and ringed seals, according to researchers. A panel of scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco said the remaining band of ice could provide a haven for some iconic Arctic creatures, although the disappearance of the vast majority of summer sea ice, probably by mid-century, will undoubtedly be bad news for polar bears, which use the ice as a feeding platform to hunt ringed seals. The remnant strip of summer sea ice will likely exist because prevailing winds blow sea ice away from the shores of Russia and toward Canada, according to Stephanie Pfirman of Barnard College. She and colleagues from Columbia University, McGill University, and the U.S. government said it is important to protect this ice refuge from the oil drilling and mineral exploration that is likely to spread through other parts of the Arctic as summer sea ice disappears and the Arctic Ocean becomes navigable for part of the year.

California Carbon trade plan approved
December 17, 2010 07:05 AM - Peter Henderson, Reuters, SACRAMENTO

California on Thursday approved rules for a multibillion-dollar carbon market, in what proponents hope and detractors fear will be a turning point for the United States toward building a national program to address global warming. After Congress failed to pass a climate change law last year, California is the vanguard of the nation's effort to address global warming and its bid to build alternative energy and related industries. California has mandated that a third of its electricity come from renewable sources like solar and wind. It is also encouraging "low carbon" auto fuels, like some biofuels and natural gas, and on Thursday approved rules for the carbon market.

Which Should Live?
December 15, 2010 02:17 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Ecology is the branch of science that studies the distribution and abundance of living organisms, and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Any ecological group is always in a dynamic equilibrium. If you change one part, some other part will change in response to that change. Changes may come from man, climate, pollution or any other change. In this case conservationists have been so successful at protecting endangered birds in a Spanish nature reserve that the birds are now killing the reserve's ancient cork oak forest. This may mean some bird colonies will have to be moved to protect the trees, some of which date back to the seventeenth century. Move is one method. In other cases (for example New Jersey) bears and deers are periodically hunted and killed because the alternative is that they will starve because of a lack of natural predation and food supply as a result of burgeoning populations. In order for ecology to work, it must be balanced.

White House to Host First-Ever Forum on Environmental Justice
December 15, 2010 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Today, December 15, the Obama administration will be hosting the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice. Major members of the cabinet will be featured during the summit as well as environmental leaders from throughout the country. The forum can be watched live online and will be accepting questions from the public (see links below).

Finland forest protected: 80,000 hectares of green cover rescued from industrial logging
December 15, 2010 08:25 AM - Ashley Hobbs, MONGABAY.COM

Metsahallitus, a forest enterprise controlled by the Finnish government, have agreed to preserve 80 percent of 107,000 hectares of pine forests in northern Finland. The area, which serves as a grazing land for the reindeer, includes tracts of old growth forest.

Rabbits named Britain's most costly invasive species
December 15, 2010 08:17 AM - James Meikle, Ecologist

They were introduced to Britain by the Romans, are hated as pests and celebrated in children's books. Britain's estimated 40 million rabbits cost the economy more than £260m a year including damage to crops, businesses and infrastructure, a report says today.

Tidal Power
December 14, 2010 02:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) started operation in 1966. Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration project planned for Puget Sound will be the first tidal energy project on the west coast of the United States, and the first array of large-scale turbines to feed power from ocean tides into an electrical grid. University of Washington researchers are devising ways to site the tidal turbines and measure their environmental effects. Brian Polagye, UW research assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will present recent findings this week in an invited talk at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco.

EPA and Bed Bugs
December 10, 2010 04:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Bedbugs or bed bugs are small parasitic insects of the family Cimicidae. The term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. The name bedbug is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bedbugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. Bedbugs have been around as long as humankind had beds. Recently there has been an upsurge in their nocturnal attacks in the US. To help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem, the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup is convening a second national summit set for February 1-2, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The summit is open to the public and will focus on ways the federal government and others can continue to work together on management and control of these pests. The first federal bed bug summit was held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2009. Since then, EPA has helped organize the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup, which consists of EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.

Impacts of Bottom Trawling on Fisheries, Tourism, and the Marine Environment
December 9, 2010 11:19 AM - Editor, Oceana

Fishing is one of the most important employers and sources of protein for coastal communities in Belize. Yet bottom trawls and other kinds of unselective fishing gear cause harm to other fisheries and to the marine environment by catching juvenile fish, damaging the seafloor, and leading to overfishing.

Renewable Energy Incentives Future in Danger
December 8, 2010 09:04 AM - Richard Levangie, Triple Pundit

Political rancor seems likely to derail a vitally important piece of legislation affecting the renewable energy sector. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) grant scheme was introduced as part of the 2009 U.S. stimulus package, and it was considered a key piece of legislation by the green sector because it supported the industry during an economic recession when venture capital all but dried up.

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