Environmental Policy

EV Range Anxiety Cure?
April 24, 2013 06:15 AM - Roger Greenway ENN and Bill DiBenedetto, Triple Pundit

As an electric vehicle fan, I can appreciate the range anxiety concern. I am driving a Chevy Volt which is great since it has a range extending gasoline engine. Since I enjoy driving in in EV mode so much, and that range is only 35 - 40 miles for me, I decided to go all electric and ordered a Tesla Model S. This will be EV all the time, but with no on-board back up generator, will not be usable for really long trips until the charging infrastructure improves a lot. So I am keeping an older internal combustion engine car for use on long trips! ENN Affiliate TriplePundit reports on an approach to ending range anxiety for people who don't want, or can't keep an internal combustion engine back up car around. Fiat and BMW feel your pain and have come up with a solution of sorts that might boost their EV sales: They will give customers free access to conventional gas-powered cars when they need them for long trips. BMW's i3 electric car is entering the U.S. market this year, and will come with a free loaner conventional car for trips that exceed its 80- to 100-mile range. Customers also will have the option of adding a gasoline generator to the i3 for about $4,000, which would double its range. The retail price for the i3 is estimated at $42,000 to $48,000.

Understanding AC Refrigerant Standards
April 23, 2013 09:13 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

Back in 1987, alarm about emissions of ozone layer-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and bromine gases led national governments worldwide to sign the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, a United Nations (UN) environmental agreement in which 197 countries and the European Union (EU) pledged to phase out production and use of CFCs, HCFCs and bromine gases. Though revised, more aggressive reduction targets for new refrigerant standards are being met, subsequent developments — rapid industrialization in large emerging market countries and the growing threats and costs of global warming — have complicated matters further.

UN Urges Member Nations Renew Pledges to Respect Earth
April 23, 2013 06:19 AM - United Nations News Service

Top United Nations officials today urged the 193 Member States to renew their pledges to honour and respect Mother Earth marking the day selected by the world body to promote harmony with nature and sustainable development. Today is a "chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature held to mark International Mother Earth Day. Noting this year's theme, Faces of Climate Change, Mr. Ban urged the UN General Assembly "to confront the hard truth that our planet is under threat."

Earth Day - Hollywood Style
April 22, 2013 03:14 PM - BILL KEITH, The Credits

For years, Hollywood has celebrated Earth Day in order to raise awareness about environmental issues and to strike up a memorable dialogue about sustainable practices. And the film studios’ embrace of Earth Day has only strengthened over time. From PSAs to Paramount’s new micro-turbines, we take a look at the industry’s dedication to spotlighting one of the most important advocacy dates on the calendar. In 1990, the holiday got a pretty big boost from Hollywood when Time Warner called on some of their favorite talent to hammer home proactive things Americans could do to reduce their footprint on the planet. (Our favorites? A pony-tailed Kevin Costner teaching Meryl Streep how to recycle and Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser giving a press conference about the health of his patient, "Mother Earth.") But in 2013, the film business's efforts have far exceeded PSA productions, and the good news is that a lot of progressive practices like electric car fueling stations, composting, a ban on plastic bags in commissaries, and required carbon emission reporting have become all but de rigueur on most major lots. As each of the main studios shoot to achieve "100% sustainable" status in the coming years, the pressure is on to determine creative ways to be the first to get there, and then some. In honor of Earth Day, we take a look at some of the ways Hollywood is committed to 'greening' up their practices:

A new tool against illegal logging: tree DNA technology goes mainstream
April 22, 2013 08:47 AM - Tanya Dimitrova, MONGABAY.COM

The role of tree DNA tracking is increasing in the fight against illegal logging as evidenced by prosecution cases in USA and Germany. Modern DNA technology offers a unique opportunity: you could pinpoint the origin of your table at home and track down if the trees it was made from were illegally obtained. Each wooden piece of furniture comes with a hidden natural barcode that can tell its story from a sapling in a forest all the way to your living room.

US Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Down
April 21, 2013 10:01 AM - ANDREW BURGER, Global Warming is Real

Anthropogenic US greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) amounted to a CO2-equivalent 6,702.3 million metric tons in 2011, down 1.6 percent from 2010 and 6.9 percent below 2005 levels. Longer term, US GHG emissions have increased at an annual average rate of 0.4 percent since 1990, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 18th annual US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks (Inventory) report, which was released April 15. A decrease in the carbon intensity of fuels used in electricity generation due to increased use of natural gas as opposed to coal, a "significant increase in hydropower" generation, and "relatively mild winter conditions, especially in the South Atlantic Region of the US" were the main factors underlying the drop in national GHG emissions in 2011, according to the EPA’s "The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2011."

Nitrogen Fertilizer Dangers
April 20, 2013 06:42 AM - Dan Charles, NPR

My first reaction when I heard details of this week's deadly fertilizer explosion in Texas was horror. My second thought was, "Maybe I shouldn't have pushed to change that headline." National Geographic magazine just published in its May issue my article about how nitrogen fertilizer has shaped our planet. The article, with Peter Essick's beautiful pictures, describes fertilizer's critical role in providing our food, but also its toll on water, air and wildlife. When the article went up online, the headline read, at first, "The Curse of Fertilizer." I didn't like it. It seemed only half of the story. I complained, and the headline soon changed to "A Mixed Blessing" — just as news broke that the West Fertilizer Co. plant had caught fire and exploded, destroying much of the small town of West, Texas. The blast killed at least a dozen people — including emergency workers who were trying to fight the fire — and injured more than 100 others.

Wildlife Sanctuaries Along Coasts and Sea Level Rise
April 19, 2013 06:18 AM - Science Daily

A new report on the potential effects of climate change on NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary uses existing observations and science-based expectations to identify how climate change could affect habitats, plants and animals within the sanctuary and adjacent coastal areas. It also outlines new management recommendations for the sanctuary, and sanctuary officials called it the first step toward addressing them. They also said the report issued by the sanctuary, Climate Change and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary: Interpreting Potential Futures, will provide a foundation of information and identify key issues facing the sanctuary.

Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil and Gas Threatens Marine Life and Coastal Economies
April 16, 2013 06:50 AM - Editor, Oceana

According to government estimates, 138,500 whales and dolphins will soon be injured and possibly killed along the East Coast if exploration companies are allowed to use dangerous blasts of noise to search for offshore oil and gas. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is considering allowing geophysical companies, working on behalf of oil and gas companies, to use seismic airguns to search for offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean, from Delaware to Florida. These airguns use compressed air to generate intense pulses of sound, which are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.

Is Ice Loss by Glaciers Abnormal?
April 15, 2013 06:36 AM - Science Daily

In the last few decades, glaciers at the edge of the icy continent of Antarctica have been thinning, and research has shown the rate of thinning has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise. New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. Previous work by Steig has shown that rapid thinning of Antarctic glaciers was accompanied by rapid warming and changes in atmospheric circulation near the coast. His research with Qinghua Ding, a UW research associate, showed that the majority of Antarctic warming came during the 1990s in response to El NiƱo conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

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