Environmental Policy

Salt Marshes are great Carbon Sinks
March 16, 2013 07:40 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online

Allowing farmland that's been reclaimed from the sea to flood and turn back into salt marsh could make it absorb lots of carbon from the atmosphere, a new study suggests, though the transformation will take many years to complete. Scientists looked at one of the oldest such places in the UK, Tollesbury in Essex. Originally a salt marsh, the site was claimed for farming in the late 18th century, but eventually relinquished in 1995 when the bank separating it from the sea was deliberately breached. Since then it's been reverting to its natural state, though this is very slow process. 'People want quick results, but these things take time,' says lead author Annette Burden, a wetland biogeochemist based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Bangor. 'You can't expect a piece of land that's been farmed for a century to turn overnight into something like a saltmarsh that has been there for thousands of years. But the evidence is that this will eventually happen, and this study suggests that the land starts absorbing carbon very quickly after its flood defences are breached.'

World Water Day in the Middle East
March 15, 2013 06:27 AM - Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet

With the region getting drier 'at an alarming rate', what is there to celebrate this World Water Day? In the lead up to World Water Day which will take place next Friday, I have gathered some interesting water-based facts on the issue. The Middle East and North Africa region is famously one of the driest regions in the world and things don't look like they are getting better. So what is there to actually celebrate? Read on for the bad news and also some rather great news. Firstly, the bad news. According to the latest statistics gathered by IRIN, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is getting drier at an alarming rate. And whilst trading and importing food brings in 'virtual water', it also makes the region extremely vulnerable to trade disruptions caused by dwindling supplies, higher prices or lack of money to pay for the imports. As a report on the issue of climate change and the Arab Spring points out, a winter drought in China contributed to global wheat shortages and skyrocketing bread prices in Egypt, which is the world's largest wheat importer.

Tribe rejects payment from electricity company behind destructive Amazon Dam
March 14, 2013 10:53 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Leaders of more than two dozen Kayapó indigenous communities have rejected a $9 million offer from Brazilian state energy company Eletrobras to fund development projects in their region due to the the firm's involvement in the construction of the Belo Monte dam, reports Amazon Watch, an activist group fighting the hydroelectric project.

Recent Supreme Court Decision May Affect Environmental Standing
March 13, 2013 09:05 AM - Devin McDougall, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

A recent decision by the United States Supreme Court has raised questions about the scope of plaintiffs' standing to bring suit in federal court, a critical issue for environmental litigants. Federal courts have long recognized that certain types of environmental harms can form the basis of standing under Article III of the United States Constitution, which requires plaintiffs to establish an "actual or imminent" injury that is "fairly traceable" to the challenged conduct and "likely to be redressed" by a favorable decision.

Quinoa Farming in Bolivia has significant impacts
March 13, 2013 06:08 AM - Cristina Pabón, SciDevNet

Bolivian scientists have warned that growing international demand for quinoa is endangering local farming practices and the environment, as well as denying access to local consumers. Their caution follows the UN's kick off last month (20 February) of a year-long series of cultural, artistic and academic activities — along with scientific research — to celebrate 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), a grain-like crop cultivated in the Andes for 7,000 years, has remarkable nutritional value and adapts well to a variety of growing environments.

Victory for Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises at CITES
March 12, 2013 09:00 AM - Kathryn Pintus, ARKive.org

Several freshwater turtle and tortoise species are to be afforded greater protection as a result of successful conservation talks at the CITES meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. At the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), proposals were put forward to restrict trade in 44 Asian turtle and tortoise species, as well as three North American pond turtle species.

Impacts of Global Warming on Rainforest Modeled
March 11, 2013 05:58 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Tropical forests may be less sensitive to global warming than previously thought, argues a new study published in Nature Geoscience. The research is based on computer simulations using 22 climate models for tropical forests in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It projects loss of forest biomass as a result of climate change only in the Americas. However the study is far from conclusive, with the authors listing several uncertainties about how tropical forests will respond to climate change.

Caribbean Nations Take Control of Their Collective Energy Future
March 8, 2013 01:24 PM - Katie Auth and Evan Musolino, Worldwatch Institute

In the face of the many challenges inherent in getting 15 countries—each with their own resources, priorities, and political complexities—to agree to anything, let alone a comprehensive regional energy policy, the Caribbean is now on the brink of taking a significant (and impressive) step forward. For the past half decade, a Draft Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Energy Policy—designed to address critical issues like energy security, affordability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy—has been circulating among CARICOM's 15 member states, continually being revised to reflect the concerns of individual members, but never finalized.

In the News: USA and Russia unite to protect the polar bear
March 7, 2013 12:17 PM - Kaz Armour, ARKive.org

As the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties continues, the USA and Russia have come together in an attempt to ban export trade in polar bear products. In a bid to provide polar bears with the highest level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the American-Russian proposal calls for a ban on any international commercial trade of skin, fur, fangs and other products made from polar bears.

The Smart Grid and Electric Car Charging
March 7, 2013 06:20 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Some are worried that the electric grid will be stressed leading to a decrease in its reliability. In related news today, Battelle and AeroVironment have a technology that will address this concern, and help EV's charge when the grid is most able to support charging. This technology is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners. Battelle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems.

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