Environmental Policy

Cost of U.S. Solar Drops 75 percent in Six Years, Ahead of Federal Goal
September 13, 2017 04:41 PM - Yale Environment 360

The Trump administration has announced that a federal goal to slash the cost of utility-scale solar energy to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020 has been met early. The goal, set by the Obama administration in 2011 and known as the SunShot Initiative, represents a 75 percent reduction in the cost of U.S. solar in just six years. It makes solar energy-cost competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels.

Latin America Could Lose Up to 90 Percent of its Coffee-Growing Land by 2050
September 13, 2017 09:47 AM - Yale Environment 360

Studies have previously estimated that the amount of land worldwide suitable for growing coffee could shrink by an estimated 50 percent by 2050 as global temperatures rise, rain patterns change, and ecosystems shift due to climate change. But a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts a far worse situation for Latin America, the world’s largest coffee supplier: The region could lose nearly 90 percent of its coffee-growing land by mid-century.

Hatching an idea
September 13, 2017 08:01 AM - University of Saskatchewan

Backyard chickens are permitted in a number of Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse and some boroughs of Montréal.

Wanda Martin would like to see Saskatoon on that list.

New Model of Climate-Change Effects on Coffee Availability and Bee Pollinators
September 12, 2017 10:21 AM - Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Areas in Latin America suitable for growing coffee face predicted declines of 73-88 percent by 2050. However, diversity in bee species may save the day, even if many species in cool highland regions are lost as the climate warms. The research, co-authored by David Roubik, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, will be published in an early online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences edition between Sept. 11-15.

Taking the Long View: The 'Forever Legacy' of Climate Change
September 12, 2017 09:36 AM - Yale Environment 360

A century or two from now, people may look back at our current era — with its record-breaking high temperatures year after year, rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and gradually rising sea levels — as part of a much cooler and far more desirable past. The spate of extreme weather events in the past month — which have devastated America’s fourth-largest city, Houston; spawned a massive hurricane that tore through the Caribbean and Florida; and swamped large swaths of India and Bangladesh — may well be a prelude to more monster hurricanes, Biblical rain events, and coastal inundations brought about by extreme weather and vastly higher sea levels.

Air pollution cuts three years off lifespans in northern China
September 11, 2017 03:54 PM - University of Chicago

There are currently an estimated 4.5 billion people around the world exposed to levels of particulate air pollution that are at least twice what the World Health Organization considers safe. Yet the impact of sustained exposure to pollution on a person’s life expectancy has largely remained a vexingly unanswered question—until now.

Fishing in the Arctic
September 11, 2017 08:14 AM - NOAA

As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the range and distribution of at least some fish stocks found in places like the Bering Sea will likely extend northward. That could bring some big changes to the region. More than 60 percent of all seafood caught in the United States comes from the waters off Alaska and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

As previously ice-covered areas of the Arctic become seasonally ice-free, there will be pressure to expand US fishing north of the Bering Strait. That can’t happen under the Arctic Management Plan, established in 2009, which prohibits commercial fishing until scientists and fisheries managers understand what’s going on with the ecosystem.

Fishing in the Arctic
September 11, 2017 08:14 AM - NOAA

As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the range and distribution of at least some fish stocks found in places like the Bering Sea will likely extend northward. That could bring some big changes to the region. More than 60 percent of all seafood caught in the United States comes from the waters off Alaska and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

As previously ice-covered areas of the Arctic become seasonally ice-free, there will be pressure to expand US fishing north of the Bering Strait. That can’t happen under the Arctic Management Plan, established in 2009, which prohibits commercial fishing until scientists and fisheries managers understand what’s going on with the ecosystem.

Your Tap Water Probably Contains Plastic Fibers
September 8, 2017 02:26 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

Plastic pollution remains a major issue around the world, and now a new study suggests that microplastics have invaded our drinking water.

An investigation conducted by Orb Media and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health examined over 150 water samples from 14 countries across five continents — all in search of microfibers.

Mercury convention raises heat on producers
September 8, 2017 10:05 AM - MarĂ­a Elena Hurtado, SciDevNet

A global commitment to reduce health risks and environmental damage from mercury pollution came into effect last month (16 August), when the so-called Minamata Convention on Mercuryentered into force.

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