Environmental Policy

Government Shutdown Leaves Farm Bill on Table
October 3, 2013 04:08 PM - Editor, ENN

By now, you've probably heard that the US government has shutdown, as members of Congress have not been able to agree on a spending plan for the fiscal year. While big media topics include healthcare and fiscal issues, another item on the table is the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill officially expired as of October 1 and there is no agenda to extend or reauthorize the bill because of the standoff. Ironically, a handful of low-cost Farm Bill programs that could improve the health of Americans and save taxpayers billions in health care costs are among the political casualties. Daniel Z. Brito, senior Washington representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Food & Environment Program further explains the situation for farmers and consumers.

Phasing Down HFCs with the Montreal Protocol
October 3, 2013 03:39 PM - Mark W. Roberts and Avipsa Mahapatra, Triple Pundit

On September 27, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss how to improve ties on a number of issues between the countries, including how to support efforts to phase-down the super greenhouse gases HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). HFCs, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam blowing, are extremely harmful to the climate as they are hundreds and thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

Running Hot and Cold in Iceland
October 3, 2013 02:19 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Iceland's economy runs hot and then cold—and then hot and cold again! And Icelanders like it that way. Created from a volcano more than 50million years ago, Iceland's environment is one of the harshest yet one of the kindest when it comes to energy. The island nation sits atop this natural heat pack and is, as a result, poised to become the first country in the world to run 100% on renewable energy. This is because the volcano is still active bubbling and ulcerating perpetually altering the landscape. The Icelandic people extract warm water and store it in tanks to provide an unlimited supply of free central heating. The heated water is extracted and placed into tanks where it is converted to steam. The pressurized steam then turns the turbines, which operate the country’s geothermal power stations providing electricity to the people and businesses of Iceland. This is very important for high tech companies that require an enormous amount of power to operate their equipment. In fact, more than half of the energy required to operate their computer servers and other high tech equipment is in the form of cooling equipment to temper the heat generated by the computers for their operation. Technology giants are beginning to get it. Facebook has relocated its server farm to Sweden and Google is operating out of Finland. This leaves other companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and IBM to speculate.

An "Uncanny" Hobby
October 3, 2013 09:01 AM - David Church, The Ecologist

We all know the benefits of aluminum cans; they are light, easily moldable and can be held in a soft grip. But are they always responsibly disposed of? Can we do more to safely protect our green spaces from these metal objects? This article explores how a small scale project can help protect the local environment through recycling in the most responsible way.

Land Use Study Commences at Patuxent River
October 2, 2013 03:27 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

An 18-month study funded through a grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) and the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland is now underway in the area in and around the Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. The Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) is being conducted in hopes of reducing conflict between the military installation and surrounding community while also supporting the missions and objectives of each. The Office of Economic Adjustment acknowledges that military bases and residents adjacent to military installations are often in conflict. Residents can be exposed to unacceptable noise levels and hazards and the warfighter’s training and readiness can be impaired by the normal activities of civilian life. Therefore joint planning efforts can help to resolve some of these inevitable conflicts.

Bugging Iran
October 2, 2013 01:13 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Up until now, on a scale of 1 to 10, practical pest control management ranks about a "1" with regard to the availability of information on scale insects in Iran! Yet even the most basic tool for pest control management in Iran has been unavailable jeopardizing crop yields. Dr. Masumeh Moghaddam of the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran has changed that by publishing the first ever detailed annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran.

Indonesia and EU sign deal to end illegal timber trade
October 2, 2013 09:14 AM - Diana Parker, MONGABAY.COM

Indonesian and the European Union signed a deal on Monday that aims to curb illegal logging by ending all trade in illegal wood products between Asia's largest exporter of timber to Europe and each of the EU's 28 member states. The deal marks Asia's first Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT-VPA) and is the product of six years of negotiations between EU and Indonesian officials as well as civil society groups and the private sector.

Are Sierra Nevada forest fires getting more severe?
October 2, 2013 06:12 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

A new scientific study finds that fire severity is not increasing in the forests of California's Sierra Nevada. The findings are contrary to claims by those who have tried to use recent fires in the region to justify more logging in the state's forests. The study, by Dr. Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project, and Dr. Dennis Odion of the Earth Research Institute at University of California, Santa Barbara, was published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. It found no trend of increasing fire severity in the Sierra Nevada management region in California over the past three decades. In fact, the study found that between 1984 and 2010, the amount of high-severity fire in the Sierra was lower than its natural level, before modern fire suppression.

Investment Biking in Portland
October 1, 2013 09:25 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

Bicycling's numerous and varied benefits — economic, social and environmental — have long been recognized, though given short shrift in the way of institutional value or support. That's changing. Public and private sector decision makers in cities and communities across the U.S. and around the world — spurred by persistent advocacy at the grassroots level and biking's near universal popularity — are factoring bicycling into integrated urban, suburban, and even rural transportation, development and sustainability plans.

Plastic constituent discovered on Saturn's moon Titan
October 1, 2013 06:25 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Seems like we are addicted to plastic on earth. We use it everywhere, and it has wonderful properties that make it ideal for may products. It is also a concern when used in food packaging and preparation and an issue in landfilles since some forms don't bio-degrade easily. I thought plastic was an invention of chemists and petrochemical companies. So it is a surprise that propylene, a key component of plastics, has been discovered on a moon of Saturn! This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth. A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS). This instrument measures the infrared light, or heat radiation, emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire.

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