Environmental Policy

Rutgers University study looks at climate change and interrelated variables
December 17, 2013 07:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The changing climate is more complicated to model than we assumed. There are interrelated variables that work together to amplify the effects. For example, as summer sea-ice and snow shrink back in the Arctic, the number of summertime "extreme" weather events in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere is increasing, according to research published recently in Nature Climate Change by two Chinese scientists and their Rutgers colleague. "It's becoming increasingly clear, I think, that the loss of sea ice and snow cover is setting up the conditions that jump-start summer," said Jennifer Francis, research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "The soil dries out earlier and that allows it to get hotter earlier. This phenomenon is also changing circulation patterns in the atmosphere."

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Must we drink bottled water?
December 16, 2013 04:10 PM - Alyson Leppla, Earth Science Education, Class of 2015, University of Delaware

More than 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water, two and a half times the population of the United States. More than half of all Americans drink bottled water, yet almost every U.S. household has access to safe drinking water.

EU asks the U.S. to share the energy wealth
December 16, 2013 03:56 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Taking note of the United States recoupment of natural gas, most specifically from shale, the EU is pressing its Washington counterparts to include energy exports in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP) trade pact currently being negotiated. The pact will account for half of the world's economy covering goods and services to include everything from agriculture to finance.

Human values and coral reef management
December 16, 2013 11:12 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

"Human values need to be considered in decision-making to improve long-term coral reef management," says Dr. Christina Hicks, research fellow from Stanford. Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) at James Cook University and Stanford University are linking social science to ecology in order to improve the environmental problems in these sensitive ecosystems. Currently little thought is given to the human community's needs including food and wellbeing for the more powerful economic interests, such as tourism, which drives coral reef management.

Good news for European rivers
December 16, 2013 08:12 AM - fred pearce, Yale Environment360

From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains. For a continent that long viewed rivers as little more than shipping canals and sewers, it is a striking change. From the industrial cities of Britain to the forests of Sweden, from the plains of Spain to the shores of the Black Sea, Europe is restoring its rivers to their natural glory. The most densely populated continent on earth is finding space for nature to return along its river banks.

Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood
December 14, 2013 08:25 AM - ELIZA BARCLAY - NPR

We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury. But mercury is just one of a slew of synthetic and organic pollutants that fish can ingest and absorb into their tissue. Sometimes it's because we're dumping chemicals right into the ocean. But as a study published recently in Nature, Scientific Reports helps illuminate, sometimes fish get chemicals from the plastic debris they ingest.

Shanghai air quality crisis
December 13, 2013 06:48 AM - Matthew Currell, Ecologist

Shanghai is experiencing unprecedented levels of pollution. Last week fine particulate levels reached almost 20 times WHO guidelines, and they are still at dangerous levels. Matthew Currell reports on China's pollution crisis. The huge economic and health costs of pollution are estimated to consume approximately 5% of China's gross domestic product. The current "airpocalypse" emergency in Shanghai - which has seen schoolchildren ordered indoors to protect them from the polluted air, flights grounded and companies ordered to cut production - comes at the end of a year in which China's environmental crisis reached a tipping point.

EU trawling ban only partially succeeds
December 11, 2013 07:33 AM - Science

The European Parliament today agreed to curb fishing practices deemed destructive for deep-sea ecosystems. But it narrowly rejected calls for a complete ban, to the dismay of many scientists and environmental campaigners. Last month, the Parliament's Fisheries Committee approved a report to restrict bottom trawling and gillnetting in the northeast Atlantic, but rejected the initial proposal to ban them altogether, an idea put forward by the European Commission in July last year.

Good News for African Elephants
December 8, 2013 07:03 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Representatives from 30 countries came together to discuss the poaching crisis and potential measures to save Africa’s elephants at the African Elephant Summit. As the summit convened, new numbers were released by the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which found that if poaching continues at its current rate, Africa will likely see at least a fifth of its elephants disappear in the next ten years. Heartbreaking stories of entire elephant families dying continue to make the news, while poachers continue to sink to ruthless new lows to take them out, including using cyanide to kill them. The level of horror caused by poachers was recently highlighted by a gut-wrenching recording from the Wildlife Conservation Society that accidentally captured the sounds of elephants being killed as they tried to escape from their killers.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: State boundaries based on watersheds
December 6, 2013 02:56 PM - Catherine Manner, University of Delaware, class of 2015

In 1872, John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the Colorado River to explore unknown canyons. In his report he spoke about potential for water resources development and stated that irrigation would be the key factor to settlement of the western U.S. He promoted the idea that the western state boundaries should be made around watersheds, preventing interstate water arguments.

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