Environmental Policy

China’s Growing Arctic Presence
June 4, 2013 12:20 PM - Ed Struzik, Yale Environment360

China's recent admission to the Arctic Council under observer status reflects a new reality: the world's economic powers now regard development of natural resources and commerce in an increasingly ice-free Arctic as a top priority. When China — along with Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India, and Italy — was granted permanent observer status in the Arctic Council last month, it left many experts wondering whether a paradigm shift in geopolitics is taking place in the region. Until recently, security issues, search and rescue protocols, indigenous rights, climate change, and other environmental priorities were the main concerns of the intergovernmental forum, which includes the eight voting states bordering the Arctic and several indigenous organizations that enjoy participant status. But the admission of China and other major Asian economic powers as observer states is yet another strong sign, experts say, that the economic development of an increasingly ice-free Arctic is becoming a top priority of nations in the region and beyond.

What poses the greater risk, traffic accidents or air pollution?
June 4, 2013 06:20 AM - EurActiv

When a London anti-pollution organisation polled British lawmakers about the greatest risks to public health, most MPs were wrong, ranking traffic accidents or heavy drinking ahead of air pollution as a leading killer of Britons. "The vast majority of over 100 members of Parliament responding to our survey displayed a shocking level of ignorance about the health impact of air pollution," said Simon Birkett, head of Clean Air in London, an advocacy group. “"n particular, over two-thirds of Conservative MPs responding said air pollution has less impact than road traffic accidents," he said on releasing the survey results on 23 May.

Indigenous Knowledge
June 3, 2013 01:38 PM - Suman Sahai, SciDevNet

It is time to stop discounting traditional expertise and make use of this vast and valuable resource, argues Indian scientist Suman Sahai. Science and technology have always been an important part of growth and development plans. But accepted 'scientific expertise' is Western, standardised and homogenous. From this viewpoint, the vast body of scientific expertise developed in diverse societies and cultures is discounted and ignored. Referred to as indigenous or traditional knowledge, this is a knowledge system distilled from generations of scientific work anchored in rural and tribal communities. It is different to the Western system of empirical, lab-based science — but is equally valid and efficacious.

Ending Poverty, Environmental Protection Strongly Linked
June 2, 2013 08:07 AM - WWF

Taxes, incentives, regulations, subsidies, trade and public procurement need to be realigned to favour sustainable consumption and production patterns if the world wants to end poverty, according to the UN High Level Panel charged with setting the new direction for global development. "Without environmental sustainability we cannot end poverty," said the UN's High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The report of the 26-member panel, which included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Queen Rania of Jordan and Unilever CEO Paul Polman, has the potential to influence over USD 25 trillion of development spending and marks a clear break from the practice of treating development and sustainability as separate topics.

Stagnant Air, Emissions Contribute to Poor Air Quality in New England
May 31, 2013 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Much of New England is experiencing poor air quality that is expected to continue for another day or two. USEPA reports that unhealthy air quality, due to ground-level ozone, is expected for most of Conn., R.I., central and southern Mass. (including Springfield, Worcester, Cape Cod and the Islands), coastal N.H. and most of coastal Maine for Friday, May 31, 2013. Elevated smog levels are expected to continue through Saturday. "We expect Friday to be another unhealthy air quality day in many parts of southern and coastal New England," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity. Further, everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher." The ozone standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level.

New Study Predicts Significant Global Warming
May 30, 2013 02:57 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

A new study by Australian scientists projects that the world will likely warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels by 2100. The study published in Nature Climate Change finds that exceeding the 2-degree threshold is very likely under business-as-usual emissions scenarios even as scientists have long warned that passing the 2-degree mark would lead to catastrophic climate change. "This study ultimately shows why waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy," lead author Roger Bodman from Victoria University said. "Some uncertainty will always remain, meaning that we need to manage the risks of warming with the knowledge we have."

E.O. Wilson on Protecting a Biodiversity Hotspot in Mozambique
May 28, 2013 04:45 PM - EO Wilson, Guest Contributor

If you fly over the Great African Rift Valley and follow it south to the very end, you will arrive at Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique. Plateaus on the eastern and western sides of the park flank the lush valley in the center. Dramatic limestone cliffs, unexplored caves, wetlands, vast grasslands, and a patchwork of savanna and forest contribute to the incredible diversity of this park. What makes this place truly unique, however, is Mount Gorongosa — a towering massif that overlooks the valley below. The mountain is topped with lush tropical rainforest that is home to some species that can be found nowhere else on earth.

CO2 Emissions higher in use than European Makers Claim
May 28, 2013 06:25 AM - EurActiv

The gap has widened between the fuel-efficiency that carmakers declare for their models and the reality for drivers, with luxury German vehicles showing the biggest divergence, a study has found. The research by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found "real-world" carbon emissions for new cars based on fuel consumption are about 25% higher on average than carmakers say, compared with 10% a decade ago.

Chilean Sea Bass?
May 26, 2013 06:12 AM - KYLE HENCE/ecoRI News contributor

Who knew? Chilean sea bass is not from Chile, nor is it a bass. Since 1996, fishing vessels from a dozen nations have traversed the world’s most remote sea to catch the Antarctic toothfish. The fishery lands 3,000 tons annually, selling much of it as "Chilean sea bass," deceiving customers of high-end restaurants and supermarket chains around the world and threatening "the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth," according to the filmmakers behind "The Last Ocean," which was recently screened at the Casino Theater.

The Bonn Declaration
May 24, 2013 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Long before nations fought over oil, they fought over water and food. A conference in Bonn Germany of 500 leading water scientists from around the world today issued a stark warning that, without major reforms, "in the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute. This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable."

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