Environmental Policy

Is War becoming less frequent?
September 6, 2013 06:27 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Nations have been going to war against other nations since before recorded history. There have been periods of peace, and then periods of war. As our societies become more advanced, do they become more civilized, does war decrease as less destructive ways are found to settle differences? Interesting research by Ohio State University sheds light on this. While some researchers have claimed that war between nations is in decline, a new analysis by Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University suggests we shouldn't be too quick to celebrate a more peaceful world. The study finds that there is no clear trend indicating that nations are less eager to wage war. Conflict does appear to be less common than it had been in the past, he said. But that's due more to an inability to fight than to an unwillingness to do so.

Train or Pipeline, the Answer is the Same
September 5, 2013 08:46 AM - Addison Del Mastro, Worldwatch Institute

The catastrophic crash of an oil-carrying train in the province of Quebec last month, which devastated the town of Lac-Mégantic and killed dozens, has brought the Keystone XL pipeline into the headlines again. For many environmentalists, the train crash is just one more reminder of the risks of fossil fuel production — that the train was carrying tar sands oil was, as it were, the icing on the cake. Conversely, for many supporters of the pipeline, the train crash proves that we need Keystone. But first a word on tar sands and the other unconventional oil sources now being extracted such as shale oil. Unlike conventional oil wells, shale and tar sands do not contain liquid oil. Oil must be extracted from them in a process that is quite similar to mining. The development of Canadian tar sands requires vast deforestation in order to dig up and process the sands, and shale oil extraction requires that massive amounts of rocks be mined and processed.

Wheat production would be reduced by rising temperatures
September 5, 2013 06:04 AM - ScienceDaily

Any producer will tell you, growing a healthy, high-yielding wheat crop takes skill and hard work. Quality drought-tolerant varieties that are resistant to pests and disease are important. And cooperation from Mother Nature in terms of temperature and precipitation doesn't hurt, either. To quantify the impact of genetic improvement in wheat, disease and climate change over a 26-year period, a team of researchers at Kansas State University examined wheat variety yield data from Kansas performance tests, along with location-specific weather and disease data. Their results showed that from 1985 through 2011, wheat breeding programs boosted average wheat yields by 13 bushels per acre, or 0.51 bushel each year, for a total increase of 26 percent.

Proof Clean Air Act Has Reduced Pollution
September 4, 2013 03:30 PM - Editor, ENN

Before 1970, there was no law in place regulating the amount of pollution that could be emitted by any single entity. However, in 1970, the Clean Air Act was passed and today there is clear evidence that it has indeed helped to reduce pollution.

A Tsunami in Philadelphia?
September 4, 2013 06:06 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Could the city of Philadelphia get hit by a Tsunami? It's not in a coastal environment, and even if it were, the eastern US is not exactly the earthquake capital of the world. Good thing that the US Geological Survey thinks about such things. A newly published paper concludes that a modest (one-foot) tsunami-like event on the East Coast was generated in the past by a large offshore earthquake. This result may have potential ramifications for emergency management professionals, government officials, businesses and the general public. Early in the morning of Jan. 8, 1817, earthquake shaking was felt along the Atlantic seaboard as far north as Baltimore, Md., and at least as far south as Charleston, S.C. Later that morning, a keen observer documented an abrupt rise in the tide on the Delaware River near Philadelphia, commenting on the earthquake felt earlier to the south, and remarking that the tidal swell was most likely "the reverberation or concussion of the earth operating on the watery element."

Children and the Environment: How gardening lessons impact positively on school kids
September 3, 2013 12:03 PM - Camilla Scaramanga, The Ecologist

Pending reforms to the UK's school curriculum mean that from September 2014, pupils aged 7-14 can expect to learn gardening skills. Camilla Scaramanga takes a look at some of the initiatives that are already taking the lead... Growing food in schools looks set to become part of the curriculum starting from September 2014, furthering the positive impacts of those very successful initiatives already working to promote gardening and 'grow your own' schemes in schools nationwide. There are currently 4,500 schools enrolled on the Food for Life Partnership plan (FFLP) and figures show that twice as many schools received an outstanding OFSTED rating after working with the Food for Life partnership. In addition, the uptake of free school meals in FFLP schools has risen by an average of 13%.

Rhode Island school sets an example in waste reduction
September 3, 2013 06:23 AM - KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News

Sophia Academy is an all-girls middle school on Branch Avenue with less than a hundred students. During the 2011-12 school year, the academy’s 62 girls sent 10,000 Styrofoam lunch trays to the landfill. "We did some simple 'tray math' in class," said Alyssa Wood, science teacher at the school. Wood had her students multiply the 180-day school year by the 62 students enrolled at Sophia Academy, almost all of whom receive a free or reduced lunch. The students were amazed by the result, she said.

Oceanic plume of radioactivity predicted to reach US by 2014
September 2, 2013 06:21 AM - JEREMY HSU, LIVESCIENCE.COM via Discovery News

A radioactive plume of water in the Pacific Ocean from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, will likely reach U.S. coastal waters starting in 2014, according to a new study. The long journey of the radioactive particles could help researchers better understand how the ocean’s currents circulate around the world. Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016. Luckily, two ocean currents off the eastern coast of Japan — the Kuroshio Current and the Kuroshio Extension — would have diluted the radioactive material so that its concentration fell well below the World Health Organization’s safety levels within four months of the Fukushima incident. But it could have been a different story if nuclear disaster struck on the other side of Japan.

EV Tax incentives can't last forever
August 31, 2013 07:31 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

At this moment in time there seems to be no stopping the electric vehicle industry which is going from strength to strength. Sales are increasing, more automobile manufacturers are joining the party and motorists seem more at ease with electric vehicles there than they ever have been. While one of the reasons the industry has been kick started over the last couple of years is tax incentives and financial incentives some governments around the world, would you still buy an electric vehicle with no tax incentives today? The likelihood is that the vast majority of EV enthusiast would not buy an electric vehicle today without the tax incentives and financial attractions offered by governments around the world. This is an industry which is still very much in its infancy, the technology is still developing and perhaps many people are still yet to fully appreciate the impact which petrol/gasoline vehicles have upon the environment.

Deadly effects of air pollution detailed in MIT study
August 29, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

We know that pollution is bad for us, don't we? And we guess that living in areas with high levels of pollution is probably not good for our health, but we need to live near our job, and populated areas offer more employment opportunity, recreational and cultural opportunities and other advantages. But at what cost? And what can we do to reduce the levels of pollution without significantly changing the life styles we have all become accustomed to? Before we consider draconian changes, we would like to know just how bad it is. Researchers from MIT's Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have come out with some sobering new data on air pollution's impact on Americans' health. The group tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States, and found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.

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