Environmental Policy

CO2 Emissions higher in use than European Makers Claim
May 28, 2013 06:25 AM - EurActiv

The gap has widened between the fuel-efficiency that carmakers declare for their models and the reality for drivers, with luxury German vehicles showing the biggest divergence, a study has found. The research by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found "real-world" carbon emissions for new cars based on fuel consumption are about 25% higher on average than carmakers say, compared with 10% a decade ago.

Chilean Sea Bass?
May 26, 2013 06:12 AM - KYLE HENCE/ecoRI News contributor

Who knew? Chilean sea bass is not from Chile, nor is it a bass. Since 1996, fishing vessels from a dozen nations have traversed the world’s most remote sea to catch the Antarctic toothfish. The fishery lands 3,000 tons annually, selling much of it as "Chilean sea bass," deceiving customers of high-end restaurants and supermarket chains around the world and threatening "the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth," according to the filmmakers behind "The Last Ocean," which was recently screened at the Casino Theater.

The Bonn Declaration
May 24, 2013 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Long before nations fought over oil, they fought over water and food. A conference in Bonn Germany of 500 leading water scientists from around the world today issued a stark warning that, without major reforms, "in the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute. This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable."

Memorial Day Travel will Cost Americans over $1 Billion on Gasoline
May 24, 2013 10:48 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Memorial Day not only marks the day we pay tribute to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, but it also marks the first unofficial weekend that kicks off the summer. With that said, tens of millions of Americans are expected to get away this weekend and according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Americans will spend more than $1.4 billion filling up their tanks! The new analysis utilizes newly released data from the American Automotive Association (AAA), which estimated that 89 percent of Memorial Day weekend travelers (about 31.2 million Americans) will travel by vehicle.

Free Range Milk?
May 24, 2013 06:17 AM - Lorna Howarth, The Ecologist

Free-Range Dairy is a new initiative that could reverse the trend towards industrialised mega-farms. The Ecologist office is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Hartland peninsular is dotted with steep, wooded valleys where bluebells, early purple orchids and woodpeckers abound.The hills afford breathtaking views across the Bristol channel to Lundy Island, itself a nature reserve with a no-fish zone that is having a beneficial effect on marine ecology, and looking south-west down to Cornwall, on a clear day, one can see to Boscastle and Bodmin moor beyond. But something is missing from this bucolic scene - one notices it first whilst walking the country lanes on a warm spring evening. There is no rhythmic munching of grass on the other side of the hedge; no bovine belching or contented sighing as the cows enjoy the sun on their backs after a long winter in the cattle yard. For here in Hartland, as elsewhere in the country, the trend is towards carbon-intensive, 'industrialised' farming where huge herds of 1,000 cows or more are kept indoors all year long, with only a concrete yard for exercise.

Mercury Thermostats
May 23, 2013 09:50 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Most home thermostats contain a few grams of mercury. Although they only contain small quantities of mercury and do not by themselves exceed any regulatory threshold, they contain enough mercury to potentially cause a significant health risk. The state of California has issued new rules that will greatly reduce the amount of dangerous mercury sent to landfills and incinerators each year due to the improper disposal of old mercury-laden thermostats. The new rules will require thermostat manufacturers to collect and recycle the vast majority of discarded mercury thermostats in California. Over the next five years, this will keep nearly 2 tons of the toxin out of garbage trucks, landfills and incinerators where the mercury can be released from crushing or burning, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California Product Stewardship Council, and the California Sierra Club.

African soil diversity mapped for the first time
May 22, 2013 10:19 AM - Bernard Appiah, SciDevNet

A team of international experts has drawn up the Soil Atlas of Africa — the first such book mapping this key natural resource — to help farmers, land managers and policymakers understand the diversity and importance of soil and the need to manage it through sustainable use. They say that despite soil's importance, most people in Africa lack knowledge about it, partly because information about it tends to be confined to academic publications read only by scientists.

Texas Legislature Passes Commercial and Industrial PACE Bill
May 21, 2013 01:29 PM - Editor, Clean Techies

The Texas House and Senate passed Senate Bill 385 in May. If Governor Rick Perry approves the bill, the state will break new ground by developing plans for commercial and industrial property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. This bill will redesign Texas's approach to PACE, focusing on the commercial and industrial sectors rather than on residential programs. The legislation covers both energy efficiency and water efficiency. To facilitate local decision making, cities and local areas will partner with businesses and nonprofits to set up their own PACE programs. These programs will allow businesses to borrow money from private lenders and repay it yearly via an assessment on their property taxes.

Aquifers in US Depleting, Contributing to Sea-Level Rise
May 21, 2013 10:24 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

The High Plains (also known as Ogallala) aquifer underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the United States. Aquifers are water storage areas that are made up of bodies of permeable rock that contain and transmit groundwater. The High Plains aquifer serves as the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in the Great Plains, serving over two million people. However, substantial pumping of the aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines. Depleting aquifers of groundwater can lead to serious consequences as pumping water out of the ground faster than it can be replenished can permanently dry up wells, reduce water in lakes and streams, and deteriorate water quality.

Fishing the Gulf of Maine: Tradition at a Crossroads
May 20, 2013 11:41 AM - Michael Sanders, The Ecologist

Lobster fishing remains big business off the coast of Maine but even with new regulations and new gadgets can it ever be sustainable? Michael Sanders investigates the real costs of the crustacean on your plate... When most of us go down to the coast, whether to walk or swim or fish or sail, we take for granted what we see before us. We see the lobster boats and the colorful buoys marking the strings of traps, the bobbing green and red cans marking safe passage, the gulls and other seabirds. In the larger working harbors like Portland and Stonington and Port Clyde, there might be draggers tied up, unloading fish they've caught far out in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. What we don't realize is that this seemingly unchanging marine world is in fact always changing in ways both large and small. What we think of as "the coast of Maine" - those 3,000 vaunted miles of rocky shoreline punctuated by seaside villages and docks and lobster pounds and fishing fleets - was largely built on the backs of the fishermen and lobstermen who are there, however picturesque or authentic to the eye, for a single purpose: to harvest the sea in order to feed us.

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