Environmental Policy

Global Conference Discusses Biodiversity Loss
October 10, 2012 05:40 AM - Andrew Burger, Global Warming is Real

Representatives from more than 170 countries are meeting in Hyderabad, India this week to discuss progress, problems and challenges in implementing the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), one of three historic international environmental agreements produced at the UN Earth Summit on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. All 193 UN member governments have signed and ratified the CBD, meaning they're a party to it. As stated in the convention, the objectives of the CBD "are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding."

New Treatment for Wastewater Discharge
October 9, 2012 09:04 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

The number and extent of so-called marine "dead zones" -areas of coastal ocean waters where nearly all forms of marine life have been snuffed out due to lack of oxygen—has been on the rise for decades now, posing increasing threats to commercial and subsistence fisheries, recreational fishing and human health. Terrestrial runoff containing relatively high levels of phosphorous, primarily from agricultural fertilizers, has been identified as one of the main culprits. Wastewater discharge from cities and urban centers is also to blame.

Why wasn't climate change a big topic at the Presidential debate?
October 9, 2012 06:09 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The hour-and-a-half long debate between President Barack Obama and ex-governor Mitt Romney last night ended without a single reference to climate change. Frustrated with the lack of discussion on the issue from both candidates, environmental activists sent a petition with over 160,000 signatures to debate moderator, Jim Lehr, urging him to ask a question about climate change. The petition fell on deaf ears. "Although Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sprinkle their speeches with mentions of energy and climate, they have remained stubbornly silent on the immediate and profound task of phasing out a carbon-based economy," reads the website at Climate Science, which hosted the petition. "Their failure to connect the dots and do the math imperils our nation and prevents the development of a national and global plan to respond to the most urgent challenge of our era."

Stop the trade in Bear Bile!
October 7, 2012 07:43 AM - Miguel Llanos, NBC News

Two brother bear cubs rescued from suspected smugglers in Vietnam have become poster children for a campaign against the use of capturing and harvesting bears for their bile. The two men arrested said "they bought the cubs for $1,500" and were "going to sell them for a much higher price," most likely to a farm that harvests bear bile, Tuan Bendixsen, the Vietnam director for the nonprofit charity Animals Asia, told NBC News. "To get the cubs they would have to kill the mother," Bendixsen added, "and the mother's body parts would be sold" for the trade in purported medicinal cures from bear parts. The body parts most in demand are gallbladders and paws.

Watch Out Urbanites, Here Come the Carnivores
October 5, 2012 12:58 PM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Raccoons, skunks, possums and certain other animals have long been city dwellers, but now larger wild carnivores are moving into urban areas, according to a symposium presented today at EcoSummit 2012, an international conference held in Columbus, Ohio. Leading the way are coyotes, which have established a territory just five miles from Chicago O'Hare International Airport. They appear to be paving the way for other large mammalian carnivores. "Mountain lions are already living in the outskirts of Los Angeles, Denver, and other western cities," Stanley Gehrt, who led the research, told Discovery News. "Black bears are living in a variety of cities in the West and in the East. Wolves have yet to make a regular appearance, but they are getting closer. In Europe, there are urban brown bears that act much like raccoons over here."

Diaz Superfund Site
October 4, 2012 01:44 PM - Editor, ENN

Diaz Chemical was a manufacturer of specialty organic intermediates for the agricultural, pharmaceutical, photographic, color and dye, and personal care products industries. The Diaz Chemical product line varied over the years of operation but primarily consisted of halogenated aromatic compounds and substituted benzotrifluorides. The Diaz Chemical facility has a long history of spills, releases and discharges of various materials to the environment that dates back to about 1975. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the Diaz Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Holley, New York. The soil and ground water are contaminated with volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, which can cause serious damage to people’s health. The EPA’s cleanup plan uses a technology to treat six areas of soil and ground water that continue to cause contamination of ground water in a broader area.

The Fight for Renewables Rages On, Despite Drought
October 4, 2012 07:31 AM - Adam Johnston, Triple Pundit

Has renewable fuel development in the U.S. hit a brick wall, or at least a fork in the road? After all, recent developments seem to point in that direction. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking at waiving the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) due to the recent harsh drought conditions in the mid-western U.S. this summer, which have driven up corn prices.

Polar Ice Update, Record lows in the Arctic, Record Highs in the Antarctic
October 4, 2012 06:53 AM - ScienceDaily

This September, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean fell to the lowest extent in the satellite record, which began in 1979. Satellite data analyzed by NSIDC scientists showed that the sea ice cover reached its lowest extent on September 16. Sea ice extent averaged for the month of September was also the lowest in the satellite record. The near-record ice melt occurred without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007. In 2007, winds and weather patterns helped melt large expanses of ice. "Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still reached a new record low," said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier. "This probably reflects loss of multi-year ice in the Arctic, as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable." Multi-year ice is ice that has survived more than one melt season and is thicker than first-year ice.

Inuit Face Tensions with Outside World as their environment melts away
October 2, 2012 06:35 AM - Ed Struzik, Yale Environment360

With Arctic summer sea ice rapidly disappearing, the native Inuit of Canada are encountering not only unsettling changes in their subsistence way of life, but also a growing number of outsiders who will further transform their once-isolated homeland. Sakiasiq Qanaq has seen a lot of changes on the north coast of Baffin Island in recent years as the retreat of summer sea ice has continued unabated. But the Inuit hunter has never seen anything quite like this year, when sea ice loss in the Arctic hit a record low. First, the community's spring narwhal hunt, which usually yields roughly 60 of the tusked whales, produced only three. The sea ice was so thin that the Inuit couldn’t safely stand on it and shoot the narwhal as they migrated into Arctic Bay from Greenland through channels in the ice. Then an unprecedented number of killer whales, or orcas — rarely seen in heavy ice — showed up in the largely ice-free water, with Inuit hunters in nearby Pond Inlet observing three pods of orcas that reportedly killed some of the narwhals and scared off the others.

Norwegian Arctic Summers Warmest in 1,800 Years
September 30, 2012 10:13 AM - Yale Environment360

Summer temperatures on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic are now higher than during any time over the last 1,800 years, including a period of higher temperatures in the northern hemisphere known as the Medieval Warm Period, according to a new study. In an analysis of algae buried in deep lake sediments, a team of scientists calculated that summer temperatures in Svalbard since 1987 have been 2 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 4.5 degrees F) warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from roughly 950 to 1250 AD. Scientists say this year's record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences.

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