Environmental Policy

West African Lion Faces Extinction
January 10, 2014 09:04 AM - ENN Staff

To many, the mighty lion is the face of African wildlife and one of the most recognized predators across the world. But despite sitting on top of the food chain, the lion is a vulnerable species and a new report concludes that the African lion is facing extinction across the entire West African region. The new study reveals that the West African lion is down to a population estimated at 250, and these individuals are restricted to four isolated populations.

Spitting Sulfates!
January 9, 2014 10:41 AM - Nicole Jones, Yale 360

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in one of the largest volcanic blasts of the 20th century. It spat up to 20 million tons of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, shielding the earth from the sun's rays and causing global temperatures to drop by nearly half a degree Celsius in a single year. That's more than half of the amount the planet has warmed due to climate change in 130 years.

Giant wave of understanding in South China Sea
January 8, 2014 03:43 PM - David L. Chandler, MIT

Their effect on the surface of the ocean is negligible, producing a rise of just inches that is virtually imperceptible on a turbulent sea. But internal waves, which are hidden entirely within the ocean, can tower hundreds of feet, with profound effects on the Earth's climate and on ocean ecosystems. Now new research, both in the ocean and in the largest-ever laboratory experiments to investigate internal waves, has solved a longstanding mystery about exactly how the largest known internal waves, in the South China Sea, are produced. The new findings come from a team effort involving MIT and several other institutions, and coordinated by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Annual home checkup should include a radon test
January 8, 2014 12:49 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Because 21,000 Americans die each year from radon related lung cancer the EPA recommends an annual testing of radon in the home. By making January “Radon Action Month” homeowners can protect their family from this leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and DIY test kits are as low as $10.

Renewables Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels in Australia
January 8, 2014 07:35 AM - Celsias, Clean Techies

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in Australia has discovered that renewable energy is cheaper to produce than the old conventional fossil fuel sources, and that is without the subsidies. The study shows that electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AUD 80/MWh (USD 83), compared to AUD 143/MWh from a new coal plant or AUD 116/MWh from a new baseload gas plant, including the cost of emissions under the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme. However even without a carbon price (the most efficient way to reduce economy-wide emissions) wind energy is 14% cheaper than new coal and 18% cheaper than new gas.

Global warming debate rages on
January 7, 2014 03:15 PM - Stephen Lewandowsky, The Ecologist

Harsh summer weather that maroons researchers in the Southern Ocean near the South Pole feeds the global warming debate. With the group of global warming doubters on one side and the believers on the other, some say it is ironic imagery juxtaposed with some rather convincing scientific graphs. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by now you might have seen dramatic images of passengers on stranded icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy being rescued by helicopter last Friday after becoming lodged in Antarctica sea ice on Christmas Eve. Another type of picture - the graph - plays a major role in science. No one could look at the graph below, which shows the extent of arctic ice during the past 1,450 years, without realizing that the polar ice cap has been melting at a rapid and wholly unprecedented rate over the past few decades.

U.S. Coast Guard Polar Star to the Rescue!
January 6, 2014 04:09 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Maritime drama in the Southern Ocean continues! Maritime rescue teams have been getting a great deal of practice lately; this time the U.S. Coast Guard is attempting the rescue of the Russian research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy and now the Chinese icebreaker, Xue Long aka Snow Dragon in Chinese.

Tracking tracks yields old story
January 6, 2014 03:21 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Scientists in the UK have dated a set of footprints found in 1961 in the Chihuahuan desert in northeastern Mexico helping us understand the climate conditions in this area more than 7,000 years ago. The footprints were excavated while workman were building a road and placed in the Museo del Desierto in Saltillo, Coahuila. The age of the footprints piqued the interest of researchers at the John Moores University in Liverpool. In 2006 their curiosity yielded a second set of prints in a Cuatro Ciénegas quarry.

Stink Bugs: Friend or Foe
January 6, 2014 10:07 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Stink bugs are fierce prehistoric looking bugs. Some are indeed quite fierce and others stink more than they bite! In many parts of the world including their native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is considered an agricultural pest. Yet other genera of stink bugs, specifically the Podisus nigrispinus (Dallas), are considered an important biological control agent for other insect pests in the cotton, soybean, tomato, corn, and kale fields.

EPA adopts ASTM E1527-13 Standard
January 6, 2014 09:35 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

EPA finalized a rule last week adopting the revised ASTM E1527-13 "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process" as a standard by which parties may comply with the "All Appropriate Inquiries" Rule, 40 CFR Part 312. In the United States, the Phase I ESA is a report prepared for a piece of property that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. Phase I ESAs assess risks of ownership and are conducted in order to determine if a site may be contaminated from past spills, leaking underground storage tanks, or historical uses of the site, to name a few.

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