Environmental Policy

Arctic warming confirmed to be unprecedented
October 26, 2013 09:43 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The earth's climate is changing. Temperatures are trending higher. Scientists want to know if this trend is part of a natural cycle, augmented by man's use of fossil fuels. The Arctic region is a good place to look for clues. Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study. The study is the first direct evidence that the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller, study leader. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth's last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.

India blocks progress on HFC emissions reductions
October 25, 2013 05:05 PM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist

The Indian Government has single-handedly blocked progress on an agreement to reduce emissions of the super-powerful greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The G20 - which includes India as the world's tenth largest economy - resolved in September to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty which has successfully slashed emissions of ozone eating CFCs. But in the 25th meeting of the Montreal Protocol in Bangkok, which ended today, India deliberately blocked detailed discussions of the HFC-reduction proposals.

The Abundance of Invasive Species
October 25, 2013 04:05 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Recognizing that invasive species are major catalysts for environmental change, researchers from the University of Wisconsin—Madison are relooking at how we account for invasive species populations. Instead of researching the behaviors and habits of the invasive species, researchers Gretchen Hansen and Jake Vander Zanden are considering abundance distributions of invasive species. They hypothesize that measuring abundance in an area is a more helpful determinate for defining the most optimal methods of prevention, containment, control and eradication.

Introduction to Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) Compounds in the Environment
October 24, 2013 05:03 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Global chemical contamination is a worldwide concern affecting every being on earth. Chemical exposure, whether it is through air, water, plants, soil or our modern living environment is unavoidable. But certain chemicals and compounds having Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) characteristics are more dangerous to our environment than others because of their inability to break down easily, are easily transferred throughout all forms of environmental media, and posing risks to human health and the ecosystem due to their toxicity at low concentrations.

Ecology: Life's Connections
October 24, 2013 04:41 PM - Glen Barry, Ecologist

Ultimately, all humanity and all life have is the biosphere, the thin layer of life just above and below Earth’s surface, composed of ancient, miraculously evolved natural ecosystems. The natural Earth is a marvel - a complex coupling of species within ecosystems, whereby life begets life. Ecology is far more than the study of life and its environment. The word is used here as a synonym for ecosystems - the vibrant connections that emerge between species across scales, which cumulatively make life on Earth possible.

Treaty to cut mercury pollution signed by 92 countries, will the US join them?
October 24, 2013 06:55 AM - Yojana Sharma, SciDevNet

A ground-breaking, legally-binding global treaty on reducing mercury pollution has been signed by 92 countries. The treaty spells "the beginning of the end of mercury as a threat to human health and the environment", UN Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner, told a diplomatic meeting in Japan earlier this month (10-11 October) where the treaty was signed. But much work remains to provide the funding and technical and scientific advice needed to implement the treaty, and to expand mercury monitoring capacity worldwide, experts say.

Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta
October 23, 2013 11:48 AM - Editor, ENN

Alberta is Canada's industry epicenter and home to more than 40 companies that produce industrial emissions. Recent studies conducted by the University of California and the University of Michigan have indicated higher levels of contaminants which can potentially be linked to spikes in the incidences of cancer in the region.

Green Building is Now the Law in Dallas
October 23, 2013 09:45 AM - Stuart Kaplow, courtesy Green Building Law Update via, Clean Techies

Dallas has now accepted the first building permit applications under its green building ordinance. Dallas is one of the first major cities in the nation to implement comprehensive mandatory green building standards for both all new residential and commercial construction. By Resolution 08-1070 adopted unanimously on April 9, 2008 Phase 1 of the law was effective in 2009 and Phase 2 (originally to be effective October 1, 2011) was fully implemented October 1, 2013.

Great Progress in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Remediation Efforts
October 23, 2013 08:27 AM - Editor, ENN

United Nation experts are encouraging the Japanese government to better communicate contamination goals with the public but are otherwise very positive about the progress that has been made in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident remediation efforts in Japan. The experts are from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a U.N. task force who oversees and reviews remediation efforts. They have been conducting ongoing reviews of the situation since the 2011 earthquake.

Red Smog alert chokes northern China
October 21, 2013 12:23 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

A red alert has been issued for several cities in northern China including Changchun and Harbin. A red alert is the highest level on the four-tiered alert system and is defined as serious air pollution for three consecutive days. According to Xinhuanet News, "the density of PM 2.5 -- airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter, exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday morning." Visibility is presently less than 50 meters in the downtown capital city of Harbin of Heilongjiang Province.

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