Environmental Policy

Water Management Interventions Push Scarcity Downstream
June 15, 2017 04:48 PM - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Large-scale interventions to water resources, such as irrigation, dams and reservoirs, and water withdrawals, have been essential to human development. But interventions tend to solve water scarcity problems at a local level, while aggravating water scarcity downstream.  In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have now assessed the impacts of human interventions on water scarcity at a global scale.

Hydroelectric Dams May Jeopardize the Amazon's Future
June 14, 2017 04:46 PM - University of Texas at Austin

Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico. These findings, published in Nature, emerge from a multidisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers from 10 universities, led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin.

To meet energy needs, economic developers in South America have proposed 428 hydroelectric dams, with 140 currently built or under construction, in the Amazon basin — the largest and most complex network of river channels in the world, which sustains the highest biodiversity on Earth. The rivers and surrounding forests are the source of 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water and valuable ingredients used in modern medicine. 

Hydroelectric Dams May Jeopardize the Amazon's Future
June 14, 2017 04:46 PM - University of Texas at Austin

Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico. These findings, published in Nature, emerge from a multidisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers from 10 universities, led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin.

To meet energy needs, economic developers in South America have proposed 428 hydroelectric dams, with 140 currently built or under construction, in the Amazon basin — the largest and most complex network of river channels in the world, which sustains the highest biodiversity on Earth. The rivers and surrounding forests are the source of 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water and valuable ingredients used in modern medicine. 

Wireless charging of moving electric vehicles overcomes major hurdle in new Stanford research
June 14, 2017 02:16 PM - Stanford University

If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.

Now Stanford University scientists have overcome a major hurdle to such a future by wirelessly transmitting electricity to a nearby moving object. Their results are published in the June 15 edition of Nature.

“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the study. “We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more.”

World Coal Consumption Experienced a Record Drop in 2016
June 14, 2017 02:04 PM - Yale Environment 360

Global consumption of coal fell by a record amount last year, driven by a rise in natural gas, increasing deployment of wind and solar power, and a shift in China away from heavy industry, according to BP’s global review of energy trends.

World Coal Consumption Experienced a Record Drop in 2016
June 14, 2017 02:04 PM - Yale Environment 360

Global consumption of coal fell by a record amount last year, driven by a rise in natural gas, increasing deployment of wind and solar power, and a shift in China away from heavy industry, according to BP’s global review of energy trends.

Iqaluit could start running out of fresh water by 2024
June 13, 2017 08:02 AM - York University

Without action, the supply of fresh water in Iqaluit will begin to dwindle by 2024 due to climate change and increased demand, research led by York University has found. 

“Extreme climates make the management of fresh water difficult, but add climate change to the mix, along with too few financial and human resources, and northern cities, such as Iqaluit could run out of fresh water,” said Andrew Medeiros of York University who led the research.

Why Microplastic Debris May Be the Next Big Threat to Our Seas
June 9, 2017 03:53 PM - The California State University

Plastic, metal, rubber and paper are some of the materials that pollute the world's oceans, often in the form of soda cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles, and fishing gear.

Environmental and marine science specialists call it "marine debris," which, simply put, means anything in the ocean that wasn't put there by nature.

Recently, though, a new type of trash — microplastics — has become a focus for marine researchers, and they fear the impact of this type of debris may be especially dire. 

Why Microplastic Debris May Be the Next Big Threat to Our Seas
June 9, 2017 03:53 PM - The California State University

Plastic, metal, rubber and paper are some of the materials that pollute the world's oceans, often in the form of soda cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles, and fishing gear.

Environmental and marine science specialists call it "marine debris," which, simply put, means anything in the ocean that wasn't put there by nature.

Recently, though, a new type of trash — microplastics — has become a focus for marine researchers, and they fear the impact of this type of debris may be especially dire. 

Finding New Homes Won't Help Emperor Penguins Cope with Climate Change
June 7, 2017 04:58 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

If projections for melting Antarctic sea ice through 2100 are correct, the vanishing landscape will strip Emperor penguins of their breeding and feeding grounds and put populations at risk.  But like other species that migrate to escape the wrath of climate change, can these iconic animals be spared simply by moving to new locations?

According to new research led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), they cannot. Scientists report that dispersal may help sustain global Emperor penguin populations for a limited time, but, as sea ice conditions continue to deteriorate, the 54 colonies that exist today will face devastating declines by the end of this century. They say the Emperor penguin should be listed as an endangered species. The study was published in the June 6, 2017 edition of the journal Biological Conservation.

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