Environmental Policy

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.

Atmosphere locked in time
November 18, 2013 11:23 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Amber has long been appreciated for its ability to preserve a moment in time as it encapsulated plant matter, bugs and other organisms. As a tool for ecosystem reconstruction, scientists have learnt a great deal. But recently researchers led by Ralf Tapper of the University of Innsbruck, have begun using amber and other fossil plant resins to reconstruct the composition of Earth's atmosphere from the last 220 million years. The results suggest that atmospheric oxygen was considerably lower in the Earth's geological past than previously assumed.

Children's Congenital Heart Defects Linked to Environmental Toxins
November 18, 2013 11:06 AM - Editor, ENN

Approximately 8 out of every 1,000 newborns have congenital heart defects — abnormalities in the heart's structure that happen due to incomplete or irregular development of the fetus' heart during the first stages of the mother's pregnancy. While some are known to be associated with genetic disorders, the cause of most of these heart defects is unknown. However, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013, heart defects in children may be associated with their mothers' exposure to specific mixtures of environmental toxins during pregnancy. Researchers examined patterns of congenital heart defects incidence and presence of environmental toxicants in Alberta, Canada. The ongoing research seeks to determine if pregnant women's proximity to organic compounds and metals emitted in the air impacts the risk of heart defects in their children.

2012 death toll for bats reaches 600,000 due to wind turbines
November 18, 2013 09:14 AM - Editor, ENN

Efforts to promote and develop new forms of sustainable energy have pushed wind power to the forefront. However, this type of power comes with a cost — as it often interferes with birds' and bats' migration, killing hundreds of thousands of these winged species. According to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver, more than 600,000 bats were killed by wind energy turbines in 2012. This has serious environmental repercussions as bats help pollinate crops and help control harmful insect pests.

Do drivers appreciate all the advantages of electric vehicles?
November 18, 2013 07:17 AM - BOB SHETH, Electric Forum

If we take a look at the electric vehicle market today and compare it with that of just 10 years ago the differences are enormous. This is an industry which has come on in leaps and bounds and while great progress has been made there is still more improvement in the pipeline. We have seen lighter cars introduced, we have seen better battery capacity and we have seen an array of innovative ideas to reduce the costs of running your electric vehicle. Even though there has been a major increase in the number of electric vehicles sold around the world, is there now a need to educate gasoline/petrol drivers about the benefits of electric vehicles? In many ways the electric vehicle sector has spent so much time improving technology that it has forgotten to educate the wider driving public about the benefits of this new mode of transport. When we say "new mode of transport" many people will not be aware that electric vehicles have been around in some shape or form for over 100 years!

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