Environmental Policy

Biodiversity loss from deep-sea mining will be unavoidable
June 26, 2017 04:49 PM - Duke University

Biodiversity losses from deep-sea mining are unavoidable and possibly irrevocable, an international team of 15 marine scientists, resource economists and legal scholars argue in a letter published today in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The experts say the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is responsible under the UN Law of the Sea for regulating undersea mining in areas outside national jurisdictions, must recognize this risk. They say it must also communicate the risk clearly to its member states and the public to inform discussions about whether deep-seabed mining should proceed, and if so, what standards and safeguards need to be put into place to minimize biodiversity loss.

Air Pollution Casts Shadow over Solar Energy Production
June 26, 2017 04:09 PM - Ken Kingery via Duke University

Global solar energy production is taking a major hit due to air pollution and dust.

According to a new study, airborne particles and their accumulation on solar cells are cutting energy output by more than 25 percent in certain parts of the world. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations: China, India and the Arabian Peninsula.

The study appears online June 23 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

"My colleagues in India were showing off some of their rooftop solar installations, and I was blown away by how dirty the panels were," said Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University and lead author of the study. "I thought the dirt had to affect their efficiencies, but there weren't any studies out there estimating the losses. So we put together a comprehensive model to do just that."

Rising seas could result in 2 billion refugees by 2100
June 26, 2017 11:20 AM - Lindsey Hadlock via Cornell University

In the year 2100, 2 billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to Cornell University research.

“We’re going to have more people on less land and sooner that we think,” said lead author Charles Geisler, professor emeritus of development sociology at Cornell. “The future rise in global mean sea level probably won’t be gradual. Yet few policy makers are taking stock of the significant barriers to entry that coastal climate refugees, like other refugees, will encounter when they migrate to higher ground.”

Look inside your own pantry or fridge to find the top culprit of food waste
June 26, 2017 08:36 AM - Iowa State University

There is a good chance there are fresh vegetables in your refrigerator that will end up in the garbage instead of on your dinner plate.

Not that anyone goes to the grocery store with the intention of later throwing the food in the trash, but we all do it more often than we probably realize. Ruth Litchfield, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, says we waste about 20 pounds of food each month. And that is per person.

University of Toronto anthropologist Malcolm Ramsay asks: Why didn't the lemur cross the road?
June 26, 2017 08:34 AM - University of Toronto

Something to Google today: mouse lemurs.

They weigh only about 50g and have big brown eyes. You may think you’re looking at a very cute rodent. You’re not.

Seismic Oil Exploration Kills Krill at Far Higher Rate, Study Finds
June 23, 2017 01:36 PM - Yale Environment 360

Seismic air guns commonly used in the search for undersea oil kill off far more zooplankton than once thought, according to a new study that raises questions about the effect of such seismic surveys on the health of ocean ecosystems.

Cut U.S. commercial building energy use 29% with widespread controls
June 23, 2017 10:47 AM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Like driving a car despite a glowing check-engine light, large buildings often chug along without maintenance being performed on the building controls designed to keep them running smoothly.

And sometimes those controls aren't used to their full potential, similar to a car at high speed in first gear. Instead of an expensive visit to the mechanic, the result for a commercial building is a high power bill.

A new report finds that if commercial buildings fully used controls nationwide, the U.S. could slash its energy consumption by the equivalent of what is currently used by 12 to 15 million Americans.

Can animal diet mitigate greenhouse emissions?
June 22, 2017 03:39 PM - Technical University of Madrid (UPM)

A research of UPM and UPV has shown that the inclusion of agroindustrial by-products in pig feed can reduce the nitrous oxide emissions (N2O) of the slurry used as manures up to 65%.

The aim of this study carried out by UPM researchers with the collaboration of Institute for Animal Science and Technology of UPV was to influence the ingredients of pig diet to modify the composition of slurry used as manures and to assess the possible variations on N2O emissions.

Can the tobacco and fossil fuel industries be compared?
June 22, 2017 08:21 AM - University of Calgary

Are there similarities between the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry when it comes to legal liability? Could, for example, energy companies that rely on fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases be held accountable for the damage caused by climate change? Two researchers in the Faculty of Law have set out to answer these important questions.

Warming temperatures threaten sea turtles
June 21, 2017 01:48 PM - Swansea University

The study by Dr Jacques-Olivier Laloë of the University’s College of Science and published in the Global Change Biology journal, argues that warmer temperatures associated with climate change could lead to higher numbers of female sea turtles and increased nest failure, and could impact negatively on the turtle population in some areas of the world.

The effects of rising temperatures

Rising temperatures were first identified as a concern for sea turtle populations in the early 1980s as the temperature at which sea turtle embryos incubate determines the sex of an individual, which is known as Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination (TSD).

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