Environmental Policy

Earth Hour 2013 Inspires Many Around the World
March 24, 2013 06:13 AM - WWF

WWF's Earth Hour has just concluded another record sweep around our planet from Samoa on one side of the International Date Line to the Cook Islands on the other, with hundreds of millions again uniting to send a clear message - we are determined to create a sustainable future for our planet. The event was observed in more than 7000 cities, towns and municipalities in more than 150 countries and territories, with many of the world's best known human and natural landmarks going dark as the backdrop to a multitude of "beyond the hour" activities and initiatives generating outcomes for the movement and the planet on which we live. "What is most important is the ever increasing extent to which Earth Hour's supporters are participating in or taking actions themselves," said Earth Hour CEO and Co-Founder, Andy Ridley.

Dams and Levees
March 22, 2013 03:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees (also known as dikes) are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the US is 52 years old. The nation’s dams are aging and the number of high-hazard dams is on the rise. Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old. The nation’s dams are aging and the number of high-hazard dams is on the rise. Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. Both are in sad shape and rated a D for dams and a D- for levees by the American Society of Civil Engineers who are the engineers who build them. If they go, homes and vast stretches of land will be flooded and the environment literally drenched.

The Importance of Aircraft Emission in Climate Change
March 21, 2013 06:50 AM - EarthTalk, Global Warming is Real

While air travel today accounts for just three percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants that come out of jet exhaust contribute disproportionately to increasing surface temperatures below because the warming effect is amplified in the upper atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the United Nations (UN) to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of the risk of human-induced climate change, reports that CO2 emitted by jets can survive in the atmosphere for upwards of 100 years, and that its combination with other gas and particulate emissions could have double or four times the warming effect as CO2 emissions alone.Modern jet engines are not that different from automobile engines—both involve internal combustion and burn fossil fuels. But instead of gasoline or diesel, jet fuel is primarily kerosene, a common home heating fuel used around the world. Just like car engines, jets emit CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and soot.

German Research Institute Drops Canadian Tar Sands Project
March 19, 2013 12:57 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The Helmholtz-Association of German Research Centres has just backed out of a CAN$25 million research project funded by the Canadian government that would study sustainable solutions for tar sands pollution. Canada is home to the world's third largest crude reserves in the form of tar sands. Tar sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit and are considered part of the world's oil reserves as new technology can extract oil from these sands.

The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end
March 19, 2013 08:51 AM - Batir Wardam, SciDevNet

The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

Celebrate World Water Day by Reducing Your Water Use
March 18, 2013 01:36 PM - Guest Contributor, Danielle Nierenberg, Co-founder of Food Tank

The United States is one of the world's biggest users of water—many Americans use as much water as approximately 900 Kenyans. As a result, water resources in the U.S. are shrinking. In the last five years, there have been water shortages in almost every part of the country, including the worst drought in at least 25 years, which hit 80 percent of the country's farmland in 2012. Even worse, the damaged land won’t fully recover this year, and at least 36 states are expecting local, regional, or statewide water shortages, even without drought. The Natural Resources Defense Council expects water scarcity to affect the American South, West, and Midwest the most. Fourteen states in these regions already have "extreme" or "high" risk of water scarcity. Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, and Texas face the most danger because they are expected to see some of the largest increases in population by 2030. Water scarcity is about more than lack of water, it's about lack of drinkable water.

Solar Power close to Cost Parity with other Energy Sources
March 18, 2013 06:00 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

They said it couldn’t be done. They tried to tell us that renewable energy could only survive if it were propped up with government subsidies. Never mind that our whole system of economic development, beginning with the patent office, is predicated on the idea that fledgling, underfunded industries need special protection for a limited time until they are strong enough to go it alone. Never mind that the fossil fuel industry, which can hardly be considered fledgling or underfunded, is still receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies. But like the little engine that could, or the middle aged rock star that, after twenty years of struggling in sleazy dives has suddenly become an overnight sensation, solar power, having now surpassed the 100 GW threshold, has finally arrived and is good to go, in many places, without subsidies.

Salt Marshes are great Carbon Sinks
March 16, 2013 07:40 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online

Allowing farmland that's been reclaimed from the sea to flood and turn back into salt marsh could make it absorb lots of carbon from the atmosphere, a new study suggests, though the transformation will take many years to complete. Scientists looked at one of the oldest such places in the UK, Tollesbury in Essex. Originally a salt marsh, the site was claimed for farming in the late 18th century, but eventually relinquished in 1995 when the bank separating it from the sea was deliberately breached. Since then it's been reverting to its natural state, though this is very slow process. 'People want quick results, but these things take time,' says lead author Annette Burden, a wetland biogeochemist based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Bangor. 'You can't expect a piece of land that's been farmed for a century to turn overnight into something like a saltmarsh that has been there for thousands of years. But the evidence is that this will eventually happen, and this study suggests that the land starts absorbing carbon very quickly after its flood defences are breached.'

World Water Day in the Middle East
March 15, 2013 06:27 AM - Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet

With the region getting drier 'at an alarming rate', what is there to celebrate this World Water Day? In the lead up to World Water Day which will take place next Friday, I have gathered some interesting water-based facts on the issue. The Middle East and North Africa region is famously one of the driest regions in the world and things don't look like they are getting better. So what is there to actually celebrate? Read on for the bad news and also some rather great news. Firstly, the bad news. According to the latest statistics gathered by IRIN, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is getting drier at an alarming rate. And whilst trading and importing food brings in 'virtual water', it also makes the region extremely vulnerable to trade disruptions caused by dwindling supplies, higher prices or lack of money to pay for the imports. As a report on the issue of climate change and the Arab Spring points out, a winter drought in China contributed to global wheat shortages and skyrocketing bread prices in Egypt, which is the world's largest wheat importer.

Tribe rejects payment from electricity company behind destructive Amazon Dam
March 14, 2013 10:53 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Leaders of more than two dozen KayapĆ³ indigenous communities have rejected a $9 million offer from Brazilian state energy company Eletrobras to fund development projects in their region due to the the firm's involvement in the construction of the Belo Monte dam, reports Amazon Watch, an activist group fighting the hydroelectric project.

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