Environmental Policy

Severe flooding in Colorado linked to global warming
September 15, 2013 08:17 AM - Beth Buczynski, Care2

I live in Denver, Colorado, and for the past few days, we've had nothing but rain. Three months of rain in 48 hours, to be exact. The surge of water has caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, drowning Boulder, Loveland, Longmont, Estes Park and many other towns along the Front Range under several feet of rushing water. Conditions were so bad, the National Weather Service felt compelled to use the words "biblical rainfall amounts" to communicate the risk to local residents. Any other time, extra precipitation is cause for rejoicing in Colorado. Ongoing drought has facilitated massive wildfires across the state for two years running. We'll take all the wet we can get, although as the past few days have shown, we'd prefer it doesn't all fall at once.

Scottish government to ban petrol and diesel cars from city centres
September 14, 2013 07:30 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

While many sceptics and supporters of the electric vehicle industry have been discussing aspects of a petrol and diesel car ban from city centres, few had expected this to emerge in the news in the short to medium term. However, the Scottish government has today announced plans to ban petrol and diesel vehicles from town and city centres across the country although the target date for this could be as far out as 2050. Even though the Scottish government has been one of the greatest supporters of green travel and renewable energy, even this is a major step forward for the Scottish National Party.

Adopting Healthy, Sustainable Diets
September 13, 2013 12:29 PM - Editor, ENN

Those who want to eat healthy tend to have a sustainable diet, and those who want to eat sustainably are often drawn to healthier foods. These two diet tracks go hand-in-hand as we are learning that the way we eat not only affects our health, but affects our environment as well. One of the clearest impacts of our food addiction is the destruction of forested areas for agricultural produce. This puts a heavy toll on our global CO2 output. For example, between 1990 and 2008 Europe imported and consumed about 9 million hectares of newly deforested land, (roughly three times the size of Belgium); and all this despite the fact that we throw away over one-third of the food we produce.

Time to Rethink Tax Policy for Diesel Fuel
September 12, 2013 12:49 PM - Walter Wang, Clean Techies

Paying for fuel to power our cars is never fun, especially when the price skyrockets quickly and comes back down oh so slowly. As we scan the different stations looking at the prices, taking in a momentary gasp, and then finally picking a station and filling up, we rarely think about the taxes that we pay on the fuel that are incorporated into the price at the pump. Well, it's time to think and rethink because those taxes have an effect on what type of car we buy.

New study of the Arctic Ocean finds alarming increase in acidity
September 12, 2013 06:35 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

If you ever had a marine aquarium (or a swimming pool) you know that it is very important to keep the level of acidity (ph) within a narrow range for optimum results. In the case of the pool, to minimize corrosion of the metal parts in a heater and to reduce damage to the pool lining or paint. In the case of the aquarium, the ph is directly related to the health of coral and fish. The ocean is no different. Acidity is an important parameter that relates to many other parameters including the health of marine animals and the rates at which corals and rocks grow or are dissolved. Globally, oceans are getting more acidic from CO2 emissions. Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem. Ocean acidification is the process by which pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans from the atmosphere. Currently oceans absorb about one-fourth of the greenhouse gas. Lower pH levels make water more acidic and lab studies have shown that more acidic water decrease calcification rates in many calcifying organisms, reducing their ability to build shells or skeletons. These changes, in species ranging from corals to shrimp, have the potential to impact species up and down the food web. The team of federal and university researchers found that the decline of sea ice in the Arctic summer has important consequences for the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean. As sea ice cover recedes to record lows, as it did late in the summer of 2012, the seawater beneath is exposed to carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of ocean acidification.

Organic September
September 11, 2013 03:59 PM - Emma Heesom, The Ecologist

The Soil Association's Emma Heesom talks to the Ecologist about what this year's Organic September campaign is all about and how everyone can make a small change and a big difference... There are lots of different reasons why people choose to buy Organic produce - from reduced chemicals and pesticides to concerns about animal welfare - but there are also lots of reasons and misconceptions that stop people from buying organic too. It is for this reason that this year's annual month-long focus on organic is a little bit of a break. The Small Changes, Big Difference campaign is asking people to make a small change to their shopping habits by switching one household item to organic, to create a big difference to our planet. For example, if just 12 families with an average bread consumption made the small change to swap their bread to organic, an area of land quarter of the size of the Wembley Stadium football pitch would become a pesticide-free haven for wildlife. What this campaign shows is how a small change will also make a big difference to the lives of farm animals. No other system of farming has higher animal welfare standards. Organic is free-range and encourages the animals' natural behavior.

US Forest Service Launches Fall Colors 2013 Campaign
September 11, 2013 10:04 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Let's face it- summer is over. While we still might have one or two days over 80 degrees, there's no denying that fall is coming. And the number one way we can tell that fall is coming is by that colorful foliage. In an effort to get people outdoors and enjoy nature's most colorful season, the U.S. Forest Service has launched its Fall Colors 2013 campaign. "America's public lands, particularly our national forests, are among the most spectacular venues to view the changes in fall colors," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "The Forest Service offers numerous resources to help you plan your experience. Nature is closer than you may think." The Forest Service has introduced an online map to help visitors see if and when trees are peaking in their state. The map is shaded in green (not peaking) to bright red (peaking) to brown (past peak).

Loose laws threaten Australia's wildlife
September 11, 2013 09:29 AM - Liz Kimbrough, MONGABAY.COM

Kookaburras, koalas and kangaroos—Australia is well known for its charismatic animals and vast, seemingly untamable, wild spaces. But throughout the country, the national parks and reserves that protect these unique animals and ecosystems have come under increasing threat. New rules and relaxed regulations, which bolster immediate economic growth, are putting pressure on Australia's already-threatened biodiversity. Legislation allowing recreational shooting has been introduced in New South Wales. In Victoria, developers will be allowed to build hotels in national parks. New laws have been passed by the Queensland government to allow the feeding of livestock in national parks during droughts, and a scientific trial of grazing in several national parks and reserves has been re-instated after previous unsuccessful attempts. According to some, these examples point to a disturbing trend towards ecological irresponsibility within state legislature.

U.S. to Crush 6 Tons of Ivory
September 10, 2013 02:16 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

Ivory poaching and trafficking crimes continue to be a major problem not only in the United States, but around the world. So much so that in July of this year, President Barack Obama issued an order to combat the killing of protected wildlife, stop the trafficking, and reduce demand for illegal rhino horns and ivory. In an effort to deal with this issue, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is lining up a public event that will crush nearly 6 tons of ivory which is currently being stored in a Denver, Colorado warehouse.

Fracking fight heats up in Ohio
September 8, 2013 07:21 AM - Nick Cunningham, Duncan Gromko, DC Beureau

What could make a former Marine, retired cop, and self-described "ultra-conservative" oppose fracking in his home state of Ohio? At a diner off of Route 22 near Steubenville, OH, Ed Hashberger had the answer. Dressed in a red polo shirt emblazoned with the U.S. Marine Corps logo and carrying a Marine Corps notebook, Hashberger first described his bona fides. He served three years in Panama. He recited half a dozen close relatives who served in World War II, the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His son was badly injured from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan and remains confined to a wheel chair as a result.

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