Environmental Policy

New Google Earth Technology Allows Tracking of Environmental Changes
December 6, 2010 06:31 AM - Yale Environment 360

Google has unveiled an online technology that allows scientists and researchers to track and measure changes to the environment using 25 years worth of satellite data. Google Earth Engine, introduced during climate talks in Cancun, utilizes "trillions of scientific measurements" collected by NASA's LANDSAT satellite, the company said. Google is already working on applications for tracking deforestation and mapping land use trends, including the creation of the most comprehensive scale map of Mexico's forest and water resources ever made.

Peak Oil, Then Coal
December 2, 2010 06:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

When will production of oil and coal peak? After the peak, production will decline because supplies are being depleted and no new sources are to be found. Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. Optimistic estimations of peak production forecast the global decline will begin by 2020 or later, and assume major investments in alternatives will occur before a crisis, without requiring major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations. These models show the price of oil at first escalating and then retreating as other types of fuel and energy sources are used. Pessimistic predictions of future oil production operate on the thesis that either the peak has already occurred, that oil production is on the cusp of the peak, or that it will occur shortly. The most recent edition of the respected science journal Nature contemplates the end of cheap coal with an analysis of the decline of global coal supplies by Post Carbon Institute Fellows David Fridley and Richard Heinberg. The estimates for global peak coal production vary wildly. Many coal associations suggest the peak could occur in 200 years or more, while scholarly estimates predict the peak to occur as early as 2010. Research in 2009 by the University of Newcastle in Australia concluded that global coal production could peak sometime between 2010 and 2048.

Governments around the World are Acting to Reduce their Footprints
December 1, 2010 05:49 PM - Richard Matthews, Global Warming is Real

The sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) in Cancun is the latest UN effort to get the international community to act on climate change. Although COP16 is not expected to produce a binding agreement, many governments have adopted initiatives to diminish their environmental impacts and carbon footprint.

Polluted Holidays in Iran
December 1, 2010 01:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A holiday is supposed to be a fun off day to enjoy life in some fashion. For the second time in a month, heavy air pollution in Iran's smog-filled capital has forced authorities to close government offices and schools and declare a two-day public holiday because of the health dangers of being outdoors. Yet this happened in July 2009 too when Iranian authorities declared public holiday in the capital Tehran after a sandstorm blotted out the already heavily polluted city. All of this is caused by several factors, some man made and some due to local climate and geological conditions. It is also not unique for Tehran though that city is suffering in the extreme.

Seoul: on course to be one of the world's greenest cities?
November 30, 2010 01:03 PM - Anna Sheldrick, Ecologist

Seoul, host of this year's G20, is well on the way to achieving its goal of becoming one of the world's most eco-friendly cities. But, as Anna Sheldrick reports, there may be room for improvement elsewhere in South Korea.

International Tiger Conservation Forum is over, now the hard work begins
November 26, 2010 08:54 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The International Tiger Conservation Forum concluded in St Petersburg this week, with the heads of governments of the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRC) adopting a declaration designed to help save the wild cats from extinction. The prime ministers declared that they will "strive to double the number of wild tigers by 2022." The worldwide tiger population has declined from 100,000 to just over 3,000 over the past century. The International Tiger Summit, hosted by the northwestern Russian city of St. Petersburg which ran from November 21-24 had heads of governments discussing a plan to double the animal's population in 12 years. The plan will require up to $350 million in funding from the international community.

Offshore Wind Power to Take Flight Off Atlantic Coast
November 24, 2010 11:33 AM - Brandi Colander, NRDC

On the heels of yesterday’s good news about progress for offshore wind energy in Massachusetts, today the Obama Administration announced a major new initiative to accelerate the development of clean, offshore wind power along the Atlantic Coast. The Interior Department, (DOI), Governor O’Malley of Maryland and the President of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, Jim Lanard, made this encouraging announcement for renewable energy in America today. The primary announcement - over the next 60 days the administration will identify wind energy areas, (WEA), that are most promising for potential offshore wind development. They have been working with many eastern states, state-based task forces and stakeholders to determine these areas and identify what they believe will be the best places for siting this renewable energy source.

Historic tiger summit closes with plans to secure more financial backing
November 24, 2010 09:11 AM - Editor, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

St. Petersburg, Russia: The historic International Tiger Conservation Forum ended today with crucial plans to discuss further financing options for the Global Tiger Recovery Programme approved at the meeting, kick-starting new efforts to double the number of wild tigers.

Air pollution exceeds safety limits in big Asian cities
November 23, 2010 06:46 AM - Reuters, SINGAPORE

Air pollution in major cities in Asia exceeds the World Health Organisation's (WHO) air quality guidelines and toxic cocktails result in more than 530,000 premature deaths a year, according to a new report issued on Tuesday. Issued by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute, the study found that elderly people with cardiopulmonary and other chronic illnesses were especially vulnerable and they tended to die prematurely when their conditions were exacerbated by bad air. "In general, those susceptible to air pollution are people who are older, who have cardiopulmonary disease, stroke, conditions often related to aging," the institute's vice president, Robert O'Keefe, said by telephone.

European Carbon Emissions
November 22, 2010 01:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The European Commission said on Monday a proposal to limit the use of some carbon credits from industrial gas projects in its emissions trading scheme might be unveiled during a United Nations climate summit in Mexico next week. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is the largest multi-national emissions trading scheme in the world. The trading Scheme currently covers more than 10,000 installations with a net heat excess of 20 MW in the energy and industrial sectors which are collectively responsible for close to half of the EU's emissions of CO2 and 40% of its total greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Trading scheme, large emitters of carbon dioxide within the EU must monitor and annually report their CO2 emissions, and they are obliged every year to return an amount of emission allowances to the government that is equivalent to their CO2 emissions in that year. In order to neutralize annual irregularities in CO2-emission levels that may occur due to extreme weather events (such as harsh winters or very hot summers), emission credits for any plant operator subject to the Trading Scheme are given out for a sequence of several years at once. Each such sequence of years is called a Trading Period. The 1st Trading Scheme Trading Period expired in December 2007. Since January 2008, the 2nd Trading Period is under way which will last until December 2012.

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