Environmental Policy

The linkage of CO2 to long term climate change
November 25, 2013 06:07 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Carbon dioxide is known to contribute to climate. When levels of CO2 increase, the atmosphere reacts with rising temperatures. The linkage here is well understood, and accepted as a proven hypothesis. It follows that if we reduce our emissions of CO2 that atmospheric levels will gradually reduce and the impacts to global temperatures will also be reduced. New research by Princeton University has shed light on this and indicates that there is a lingering effect of CO2 that could have long term consequences. The study suggests that it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe. The Princeton researchers simulated an Earth on which, after 1,800 billion tons of carbon entered the atmosphere, all carbon dioxide emissions suddenly stopped. Scientists commonly use the scenario of emissions screeching to a stop to gauge the heat-trapping staying power of carbon dioxide. Within a millennium of this simulated shutoff, the carbon itself faded steadily with 40 percent absorbed by Earth's oceans and landmasses within 20 years and 80 percent soaked up at the end of the 1,000 years.

Warsaw climate talks end with tepid agreement
November 24, 2013 06:36 AM - Union of Concerned Scientists

Delegates from more than 190 nations at the annual U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiation in Warsaw, Poland today reached agreement on a pathway to Paris in 2015, where they have committed to adopt a new, comprehensive, post-2020 agreement to address the climate crisis. Countries also agreed to pursue limited near-term actions to reduce emissions. Overall, the collective impact of these decisions in reducing emissions is less than what is needed, but some progress was achieved. "We came to Warsaw hoping to see agreement on a process that will provide the right footholds on the climb to a post-2020 climate agreement in 2015, and we’re leaving with a mixed bag," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "Negotiators provided the bare minimum to move forward on the climate deal, but the talks made gains on the international technology mechanism and hit it out of the ballpark with REDD+."

Plastic Bags - Recycle them or ban them?
November 23, 2013 07:25 AM - Margaret Badore, Care2

California has become an interesting test-case for both approaches to one plastic problem. Back in 2006, California passed a law that mandated a system for recycling plastic shopping bags. Today, supermarkets and other large stores have receptacles where plastic bags can be returned for recycling. However, a recent report from the Associated Press found that it’s difficult to measure how successful this program has been. They found that the data collected by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery has not been analyzed since 2009, when about 3 percent of bags made it to recycling. The department did provide reporters with the raw data: “Retailers reported purchasing 62.3 million pounds of bags in 2012, down from 107.4 million in 2008. They reported 4 million pounds of bags and 27 million pounds of mixed bags and plastic film were returned for recycling in 2012.

Innovation in EV technology from BMW
November 22, 2013 08:20 AM - Move Forward, Electric Forum

In years gone by it seemed that EV manufacturers, EV retailers and recharging network providers were happy to be at loggerheads with each other rather than working together. We saw an array of charging technologies hit the market with different protocols and different companies decided to go in very different directions. Slowly but surely, as the electric the industry continues to develop, recharging network providers are now looking to work with electric vehicle manufacturers. The latest such deal involves the BMW i3 which is the company's first all-electric production vehicle. So, what will BMW i3 owners have access to and why do many believe it is a revolutionary deal for not only BMW but the electric vehicle market?

Japan pledges to raise carbon emissions, not cut them
November 21, 2013 09:00 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In 2009, Japan pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 25 percent based on 1990 levels within 11 years. Four years later—including a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima—and Japan has reset its goal with a new target to cut emissions by 3.8 percent based on 2005 levels at the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw, Poland. But, the new target, which received widespread condemnation when announced on Friday, actually results in a 3.1 percent rise in emissions when viewed from the widely-accepted 1990 baseline. "The new target is based on zero nuclear power in the future. We have to lower our ambition level," said Hiroshi Minami, Japan's delegate at the 19th annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

EPA Incentivizes Retrofitting and Replacing Diesel Construction Engines
November 20, 2013 02:17 PM - ENN Staff

Construction vehicles and equipment are major sources of diesel pollution and unfortunately can pose as serious public health threats since diesel exhaust contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants, carcinogens, and fine particular matter. In an effort to reduce this harmful air pollution and improve air quality in local areas, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a program which incentivizes replacing or retrofitting older diesel construction engines. The EPA has set aside $2 million in funding for rebates to help public and private construction owners make this switch.

Carbon emissions set to hit new record high in 2013
November 20, 2013 10:21 AM - Jeremey Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere in 2013 is expected to hit a new high of 36 billion tonnes, according to a Carbon Budget released today by the Global Carbon Project (GCP). This is a 2.1 percent rise from 2012 based on data from the same group.

Plug up the COAL; keep it in the ground!
November 19, 2013 12:43 PM - reprint from UNEP Climate Change Conference

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary UNFCCC, Speaks to the World Coal Association in Warsaw: invest in renewables and leave most of your coal underground. The path forward begins in the past, recognizing that coal played a key role in the history of our economic development. From heating to transportation to the provision of electricity, coal has undoubtedly enabled much of our progress over the last 200 years.

Study estimates 400,000 seabirds are killed by gillnets
November 19, 2013 08:57 AM - Jordanna Dulaney, MONGABAY.COM

A recent study from the Biological Conservation journal brings shocking news: every year across the globe, an estimated 400,000 seabirds are killed by gillnets. Gillnets, a common term for any net used to entangle and catch fish, are used all over the world, and at any depth. These nets, whether used in subsistence or commercial fishing, trap anything that swims through them. When unintended marine wildlife, or "bycatch," is caught in these nets, the results can be significant.

Fukushima fallout
November 19, 2013 07:08 AM - Chris Busby, The Ecologist

A new study finds that radioactive Iodine from Fukushima has caused a significant increase in hypothyroidism among babies in California, 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California. A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.

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