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Environmental Policy

Turn ON the dark!
August 28, 2013 06:14 AM - Paul Bogard, Yale Environment360

As evidence mounts that excessive use of light is harming wildlife and adversely affecting human health, new initiatives in France and elsewhere are seeking to turn down the lights that flood an ever-growing part of the planet. Last month, France — including the City of Light — grew darker late at night as one of the world's most comprehensive lighting ordinances went into effect. From 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., shop lights are being turned off, and lights inside office buildings must be extinguished within an hour of workers leaving the premises. The lighting on France’s building facades cannot be turned on before sunset. Over the next two years, regulations restricting lighting on billboards will go into effect. These rules are designed to eventually cut carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000 tons per year, save the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of 750,000 households, and slash the country’s overall energy bill by 200 million Euros ($266 million).

New report calls for immediate action to tackle aviation emissions
August 27, 2013 08:56 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A new scientific report released today highlights the critical importance of taking early action when implementing measures to reduce the climate impact of rapidly increasing emissions from aviation. With a decision expected shortly on how and when to tackle international aviation emissions, today's report increases the pressure on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (the United Nations agency responsible) not to defer a decision on the adoption of a market-based measure (MBM).

Clean up at site contaminated by dry cleaners advances
August 27, 2013 06:19 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Dry cleaners seem to be everywhere. We all use them, and couldn't imagine keeping our non-washable garments in top shape. Unfortunately, some of these businesses experience leaks of cleaning solution which can cause serious soil and groundwater contamination. One such site in New Jersey is being remediated under the federal Superfund program. This happens when those responsible for the contamination are no longer in business, and can't be made to fund the clean up. This site is estimated to cost more than 18 million dollars to remediate! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the site (White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site) in Wall Township, Manasquan Borough and Sea Girt, New Jersey. Previous dry cleaning operations in Wall Township caused the contamination of the soil and ground water with volatile organic compounds, including perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). Exposure to these chemicals can have serious health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer. The plan proposed will require the excavation and treatment of contaminated soil and the treatment of some ground water.

The Promise of Fusion Power - update
August 26, 2013 02:43 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Wouldn't it be great to have abundant, clean power that doesn't contribute to climate change? That is the promise of fusion power. Practical fusion power remains elusive, but advances in creating self-sustaining fusion reactions and harnessing its power continue to occur. In the early morning hours of Aug.13, Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility (NIF) focused all 192 of its ultra-powerful laser beams on a tiny deuterium-tritium filled capsule. In the nanoseconds that followed, the capsule imploded and released a neutron yield of nearly 3x1015, or approximately 8,000 joules of neutron energy -- approximately three times NIF's previous neutron yield record for cryogenic implosions. The primary mission of NIF is to provide experimental insight and data for the National Nuclear Security Administration's science-based stockpile stewardship program. The experiment attained conditions not observed since the days of underground nuclear weapons testing and represents an important milestone in the continuing demonstration that the stockpile can be kept safe, secure and reliable without a return to testing.

Planting trees in deserts to fight climate change
August 26, 2013 06:16 AM - Earth System Dynamics, SciDevNet

Planting trees in coastal deserts could capture carbon dioxide, reduce harsh desert temperatures, boost rainfall, revitalise soils and produce cheap biofuels, say scientists. Large-scale plantations of the hardy jatropha tree, Jatropha curcas, could help sequester carbon dioxide through a process known as 'carbon farming', according to a study based on data gathered in Mexico and Oman that was published in Earth System Dynamics. Each hectare of the tree could soak up 17-25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, they say, at a cost of 42-63 euros (about US$56-84) per tonne of gas, the paper says. This makes the technique competitive with high-tech carbon capture and storage.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
August 25, 2013 08:56 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN, Electric Forum

Electric vehicles will catch on when there are enough charging stations to make their widespread use really practical, and manufacturers will offer more EV's for sale when there is a market for them! I love driving my Tesla Model S, but have to admit that for some overnight trips I take an older internal combustion engine powered car since it is still hard to find a hotel with a charging station that I can plug in to for a battery top-off. So which comes first, more electric cars, or more charging stations? There has been a massive increase in the number of electric vehicles and complimentary products released into the marketplace over the last few weeks. There is now growing suspicion that a number of EV manufacturers, and electric car charging companies, have been holding back products and services until they deemed the market was open to new ideas and new products. This may seem a little bizarre when you consider that the EV businesses will want to see as quick a return as possible or on their investments but every day now we see new products and new services being released. While the Tesla Model S certainly caught the headlines when released earlier this year we have also seen BMW introduce its first mainstream electric vehicle, Chevrolet look to reduce the headline cost of its vehicles and earlier this week we saw the introduction of a foldaway electric car. At this moment in time there is a constant flurry of new innovations and new products to the marketplace and while they are catching the headlines today we can only hope the industry does not run out of steam.

Sea Levels dropped in 2010 -2011, why?
August 22, 2013 06:21 AM - ScienceDaily

In 2011, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of Colorado at Boulder reported that between early 2010 and summer 2011, global sea level fell sharply, by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimeter. Using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft, they showed that the drop was caused by the very strong La Nina that began in late 2010. That La Nina changed rainfall patterns all over our planet, moving huge amounts of Earth's water from the ocean to the continents. The phenomenon was short-lived, however. A unique and complex set of circumstances came together over Australia from 2010 to 2011 to cause Earth's smallest continent to be the biggest contributor to the observed drop in global sea level rise during that time, finds a new study co-authored and co-funded by NASA.

Plans to Remap Coastal Areas after Hurricane Sandy Announced this week
August 21, 2013 08:57 AM - Editor, ENN

Preliminary U.S. damage from Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast in October of last year is estimated to be near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone to hit the United States since 1900. Full recovery from Sandy will take years, but plans for remapping altered seafloors and shorelines were announced yesterday by a joint collaboration between the USGS, NOAA, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The project includes acquiring data to update East Coast land maps and nautical charts by conducting a new survey of coastal waters and shorelines.

Warning Labels for Gasoline Pumps?
August 20, 2013 01:28 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

Tobacco packaging warning messages have recently been required on cigarettes and other tobacco products in many countries worldwide in an effort to enhance the public's awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. In a similar fashion, a Canadian campaign is calling for all gasoline pumps to have warming labels on nozzles to inform consumers on the effects fuels have on climate change. Michelle Reeves at Our Horizon, the non-profit executing the campaign, states, "It's a cheap, simple idea that has the potential to change the way we think about, and address, climate change. They are modeled after cigarette package warning labels, which have been proven to work. Some people's behavior might change, but our ultimate goal is to create a shift in the political will to demand for alternatives, and create a space in the market for affordable alternative mobility solutions."

Light Ordinance in France has Benefits for Wildlife
August 19, 2013 11:56 AM - Editor, ENN

Last month, France implemented one of the world's most comprehensive "lights out" ordinances. Conditions include turning off shop lights between 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., shutting off lights inside office buildings within an hour of workers leaving the premises, and waiting only until sunset before turning lights on, on building facades. Over the next two years, regulations restricting lighting on billboards will also go into effect. These rules are designed to eventually cut carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000 tons per year, conserve energy consumption, and cut the country's overall energy bill by 200 million Euros ($266 million).

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