Environmental Policy

Stricter Standards are Needed for Cruise Ship Sewage Treatment
October 21, 2013 09:43 AM - Editor, ENN

Cruise ships are no doubt engineering marvels that are meant to provide vacationers a luxurious and entertaining vacation. In 2012, there were approximately 200-300 active cruise ships, and with most of these ships operating 24 hours/day year-round, one can imagine all of the resources that go into daily operations. From the endless buffets and drinks available to staff making sure guests have access to clean drinking water and amenities, these floating cities are faced with some other hidden issues — one being what to do with all that sewage. While cruise ships operating are required to discharge only treated wastewater within three miles of the shore, beyond that limit, pretty much anything goes in terms of sewage discharge. According to Friends of the Earth (FoE), the Environmental Protection Agency estimates an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces 21,000 gallons of sewage daily — and this is a conservative estimate, since some new ships can carry as many as 8,000 passengers and crew.

In the UK, fracking debate distracting public from energy efficiency
October 21, 2013 06:56 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Public debates such as fracking for shale gas is distracting the nation from focusing on energy efficiency, according to new research from the Energy Saving Trust. The findings of the new poll also reveal one in four households are worried about how the UK will generate enough energy in just FIVE years' time.

Suggestions for restaurants to reduce food waste
October 18, 2013 06:48 AM - Jacquelyn Ottman, Triple Pundit

People care about food waste for all kinds of reasons, starting with moral issues such as global hunger, environmental reasons including carbon footprint (food waste decomposes in landfills into methane, a potent greenhouse gas), and even health concerns like obesity. Despite all the attention traditionally given to leftovers, food scraps, uneaten crusts of bread, our consumers seem to be especially concerned about food waste away from home, and they are willing to take steps to deal with it that have implications for restaurant branding and practices, particularly regarding portion control and choice of doggie bags.

Lucky to Find a New Dragon Tree Species
October 17, 2013 01:25 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

The Dracaena kaweesakii, thought to bring luck to the Thai people who have them in their households, has recently been identified as a new species within the group Dracaena. These beautiful trees are often associated with Buddhist temples. Researchers led by Paul Wilken, of Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and Piyakaset Suksathan have identified the morphologically distinct element of the plant group from Thailand and Burma. An undifferentiated leaf sheath, the lack of a leaf blade central costa, free tepals and thickened filaments, characterizes the newly identified species.

Greece Considers Sacrificing Environment to Save Economy
October 17, 2013 10:37 AM - KATERINA BATZAKI, Worldwatch Institute

In crisis-hit Greece, government decisions taken in haste and despair to save the country from default, risk having a serious impact on the environment. A new bill seeks to relax restrictions on construction of public and private forestland even for those areas, which are considered protected.

Freshwater biodiversity
October 17, 2013 06:16 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The biodiversity of our rivers, lakes, and ponds has gone largely un-addressed in our efforts to predict the impacts of land development. Planners look at increased runoff and the potential for downstream flooding, and on pollutant discharges and contamination issues. The biodiversity of freshwater bodies is also impacted buy development and agricultural activities, but until now, there was no good way to predict what the impacts might be of land use changes. A team of UW-Madison researchers is hoping to help change that narrative and add a little ecology to economic decision making by forecasting how future policies regarding urban development and agricultural cultivation may impact aquatic ecosystems, which harbor astounding amounts of biodiversity and provide humans with vital goods and services. "The idea is to see what future land use changes may look like under different policies, and think about where potential threats to freshwater would be most severe," says Sebastián Martinuzzi, a post-doctoral researcher. "We are not trying to predict the 'true' future, but rather to visualize potential economic trends and their environmental consequences."

Dire warning about the health of the world's oceans
October 16, 2013 03:01 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The world's oceans are vast, containing massive amounts of water. Oceanic water is thought by some to be so vast that it can't be seriously impacted by man or by climate change. But a new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity — and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors. These biogeochemical changes triggered by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions will not only affect marine habitats and organisms, the researchers say, but will often co-occur in areas that are heavily used by humans.

France Upholds Nationwide Ban on Fracking
October 16, 2013 08:39 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

France's landmark ban on fracking has survived constitutional challenges lobbed by U.S.-company, Schuepbach Energy. On Friday, the nation's Constitutional Council decided that the ban did not violate France's constitution. Passed in 2011 under then President Nicolas Sarkozy, the ban has since been upheld by current President Francios Hollande. "This law has been contested several times," Hollande said on Friday as reported by the New York Times. "It is now beyond dispute." The ban was passed over concerns that fracking for shale gas could lead to polluted freshwater supplies, greenhouses gases, and even mini-earthquakes.

Air quality still not good in European cities
October 16, 2013 06:24 AM - EurActiv

More than 90% of Europeans living in cities are exposed to unsafe levels one of the most health damaging air pollutants, with Bulgaria having the dirtiest air among EU countries, says a new study by the European Environment Agency (EEA). Despite falling emission levels and reductions of some air pollutant concentrations over the past decades, EU air pollution is still far from being solved, according to the report, 'Air quality in Europe — 2013'.

Breaking Urban Ground for Community Gardens
October 15, 2013 05:15 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Community Gardens bring people together, builds relationships, improves quality of life and activates communities through its bounty, exercise, therapy, education, family budget augmentation, social interaction and neighborhood beautification. A community garden can be used for food, ornamental gardening, urban forestry, preservation and management of open space, memorial gardening and any other types of gardening that a community collectively values. But much goes into creating one especially if it's an urban garden.

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