Playing God with plants!
June 9, 2014 02:55 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Plants make and store energy from the sun using a process called photosynthesis. This process has evolved on planet earth over millions of years. How can we mess with plant DNA to improve on what nature has evolved? Three research teams--each comprised of scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom--have been awarded a second round of funding to continue research on news ways to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis. The ultimate goal of this potentially high-impact research is to develop methods to increase yields of important crops that are harvested for food and sustainable biofuels. But if this research is successful, it may also be used to support reforestation efforts and efforts to increase the productivity of trees for the manufacture of wood and paper and thousands of other products that are derived from wood and chemicals extracted from trees. Another reason why photosynthesis is an important research topic: It has made the Earth hospitable for life by generating food and oxygen.
Good news for rivers in Britain
June 8, 2014 11:11 AM - Cardiff University via ScienceDaily
Scientists from Cardiff University have found that Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they've been in over two decades. The 21-year study of over 2,300 rivers measured the presence of clean-river invertebrates - a yardstick for river health - which during the days of heavy industry and poor sewage treatment had declined considerably, but now appear to be making a comeback. Although climate change has warmed British rivers by around 1-2 degrees over recent decades, the findings suggest that improved pollution control has managed to offset its damaging effects on river ecosystems. This indicates that society can prevent some undesirable climate change effects on the environment by improving habitat quality.
World Cup mascot helps score for Brazilian three-banded armadillos
June 6, 2014 09:01 AM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet
A call by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, seems to have been heeded by the Brazilian government. On 22 May, the Brazilian government published an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil. The document proposes increasing the protected areas where the armadillo lives, enhancing financial incentives to prevent three-banded armadillo hunting and increasing education about the importance of protecting this species.
China and Coal
June 6, 2014 06:56 AM - Alex Kirby, The Ecologist
Coal consumption in China is likely to dwindle rapidly, writes Alex Kirby, leaving its own mining sector and foreign coal exporters in serious trouble. Australia and Indonesia are at greatest risk as China may soon stop importing any coal at all. Investors need to dispel any belief that Chinese coal demand is insatiable, and integrate this transition into their decision-making. Analysts believe that China - the world's largest producer and consumer of coal, accounting for almost half of global consumption - could be close to making an abrupt, drastic change of track.
CO2 emissions in EU down significantly
June 5, 2014 03:47 PM - EurActiv
The European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 19.2% compared to 1990s levels, according to the European Environment Agency. EU emissions dropped 1.3% in 2012, reaching their lowest level ever recorded, according to data reported to the United Nations by the EEA. The bloc's greenhouse gas output decreased by 1082 megatonnes since 1990, more than the combined emissions of Italy and United Kingdom in 2012.
Boreal forests and Climate Change: Better management practices needed
June 5, 2014 12:28 PM - Paul Sutherland, MONGABAY.COM
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity have caused global air and sea surface temperatures to rise approximately 0.8 Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century, contributing to a plethora of problems worldwide from rising sea levels to desertification. A new study published in Conversation Letters finds that global temperatures may start to increase even faster if more is not done to protect Earth’s boreal forests.
UN urges action on World Environment Day
June 5, 2014 08:00 AM - UNEP
Barbados, a small Caribbean island at the cutting edge of the fight against climate change, will be hosting this year's World Environment Day, leading United Nations-wide efforts to draw attention to the plight of the world's small islands potentially in peril of being lost to sea-level rise. "On World Environment Day, millions of individuals, community groups and businesses from around the world take part in local projects —from clean up campaigns to art exhibits to tree-planting drives," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, marked every year on 05 June.
Climate change and nutrition
June 4, 2014 10:32 AM - Karin Kloosterman, GreenProphet
Researchers now say in a revealing Nature paper that the most significant health threat from climate change has started to happen. Crops that provide a large share of the global population with most of their dietary zinc and iron will have significantly reduced concentrations of those nutrients at the elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 anticipated by around 2050, according to research by Israeli scientists published in Nature this month.
EU reacts to Obama's Clean Power Plan
June 3, 2014 10:11 AM - Editor, ENN
After the US EPA announced their plan to cut US power plant emissions 30% by 2030, the European Union (EU) reacts, praising the Emission Performance Standard (EPS) for its vision while serving as a "positive signal" to other countries. "This proposed rule is the strongest action ever taken by the U.S. government to fight climate change," the EU's climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard said in a reaction statement. "If implemented as planned, this measure will help the country meet its 2020 emissions target."
US EPA Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal
June 2, 2014 01:27 PM - Editor, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is releasing the Clean Power Plan proposal today. This is the first attempt to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. According to the EPA, power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are already standards for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.