Environmental Policy

Why did the toad cross the road?
February 24, 2014 09:24 AM - Megan Drake, Care2

Have you given any thoughts to toads lately? They may not be the first creature that comes to mind when considering animal advocacy. Indeed, the mating ritual of amphibians is not usually a concern because most toads manage to travel from their wooded habitats to a body of water for mating all by themselves and without human intervention.

Report Finds 42,000 Turtles Harvested Each Year by Legal Fisheries
February 21, 2014 10:05 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Conservation awareness for sea turtles has made great progress recently, however the species are still under threat. Not only are hundreds of thousands of sea turtles killed each year from bycatch and illegal fishing but, in many coastal communities, sea turtles are considered a food source. Despite having spiritual or mythological importance, human populations consume both turtle eggs and meat. A new study conducted by Blue Ventures Conservation and staff at the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation has found that 42 countries or territories around the world still permit the harvest of marine turtles – and estimates that more than 42,000 turtles are caught each year by these fisheries.

New Tool Will Help Revolutionize Forest Monitoring
February 21, 2014 08:04 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

World Resources Institute (WRI) yesterday announced the release of a tool that promises to revolutionize forest monitoring. The platform, called Global Forest Watch and developed over several years with more than 40 partners, draws from a rich array of "big data" related to the word's forests and translates it into interactive maps and charts that reveal trends in deforestation, forest recovery, and industrial forestry expansion. Global Forest Watch is the first tool to monitors global forests on a monthly basis, allowing authorities and conservationists to potentially take action against deforestation as it is occurring.

Predicting forest canopy and species displacement
February 20, 2014 03:08 PM - David Orenstein, Brown University

Out of an effort to account for what seemed in airborne images to be unusually large tree growth in a Hawaiian forest, scientists at Brown University and the Carnegie Institution for Science have developed a new mathematical model that predicts how trees compete for space in the canopy.

Magma storage at Mount Hood compared to refrigerated peanut butter
February 19, 2014 09:10 AM - National Science Foundation

New research results suggest that magma sitting 4-5 kilometers beneath the surface of Oregon's Mount Hood has been stored in near-solid conditions for thousands of years. The time it takes to liquefy and potentially erupt, however, is surprisingly short--perhaps as little as a couple of months.

Fracking residual waters
February 18, 2014 09:40 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

As fracking amongst Marcellus Shale in the northeastern part of the United States increases so does the concern over its process. Fracking is done utilizing a hydraulic fracturing process, which pumps a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals and sand deep into the sedimentary formations to extract naturally occurring gas. The resultant wastewater is then stored in large impoundment ponds and closed container tanks until it can be piped to wastewater treatment plants. Once cleaned it is discharged into local streams or trucked to Ohio to be pumped deep down into another injection well or into another fracking operation.

Protect the deep ocean now!
February 17, 2014 09:09 AM - University of California, San Diego via EurekAlert

The deep ocean, the largest domain for life on earth, is also its least explored environment. Humans are now encroaching more vigorously than ever into the ocean's deep regions, exploiting the deep's resources and placing its wealth of vibrant habitats and natural services for the planet at risk. Lisa Levin, a biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, believes the vital functions provided by the deep sea—from carbon sequestration to nurturing fish stocks—are key to the health of the planet. As humans ramp up exploitation of deep-sea fish, energy, minerals, and genetic resources, a new "stewardship mentality" across countries, economic sectors, and disciplines is required, Levin says, for the future health and integrity of the deep ocean.

Microsoft Buys Madagascar Carbon Credits
February 16, 2014 02:26 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Technology giant Microsoft has bought the first carbon credits generated under a rainforest conservation project in Madagascar, reports Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which organized and backed the initiative. The deal, which WCS says represents the first sale of government-owned REDD+ credits in Africa, will help finance conservation efforts in Makira Natural Park, an area of rainforest in northeastern Madagascar that is renowned for its biodiversity but has been hard hit by illegal logging and poaching.

Predicting the Climate of the future
February 15, 2014 10:44 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Climate scientists rely on models to predict how the weather and climate will respond to changes in variable such as CO2 emissions, natural methane emissions, solar intensity and a host of other factors. No individual model can claim to accurately predict future climate. So it is very important to look at multiple models and compare their predictions. The Carnegie Institution for Science is a leader in this area. The pace of global warming over the last century has been about twice as rapid over land than over the oceans and will continue to be more dramatic going forward if emissions are not curbed. According to an analysis of 27 climate models by Carnegie's Chris Field, if we continue along the current emissions trajectory, we are likely facing the most rapid large climate change in the last 65 million years. This will clearly pose great challenges for a variety of terrestrial ecosystems.

Testing for environmental contaminants in wastewater biosolids
February 14, 2014 10:08 AM - Ken Kingery, Duke University

Every year waste treatment facilities in the United States process more than eight million tons of semi-solid sewage called biosolids -- about half of which is recycled into fertilizer and spread on crop land. The practice helps solve storage issues and produces revenue to support the treatment plants, but what else is being spread in that sludge?

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