Environmental Policy

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill - Good Coastal Policy?
January 8, 2013 06:12 AM - Rob Young, from YALE Environment360

Next week, the U.S. Congress is expected to vote on the bulk of $60 billion in emergency spending to provide for recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Clearly, significant aid is needed to repair the damage left by the storm and to help many people put their lives back together. But the bill before Congress includes provisions authorizing spending that would be fiscally irresponsible and environmentally damaging and would set a very bad precedent as we plan for long-term adaptation to rising sea levels and climate change. The bill goes far beyond the immediate need for emergency assistance by funding a massive coastal engineering effort that is not based on science or wise planning. As currently proposed, the bill would give the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers roughly $4.5 billion to spend on coastal construction projects related to "flood control and risk reduction." Most troubling, the bill requires the Corps to attempt to rebuild the New Jersey and New York beaches to their "design profile." In other words, the Corps will work to put the beaches back exactly as they were before the storm, ignoring the reality of rising sea levels and intensifying storms as the world warms.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Biofuel Credits
January 7, 2013 08:51 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

By now the New Year's fiscal cliff deal has received quite a bit of press. We have already discussed the significance of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit here earlier. Less well known is the inclusion of measures included in the deal to revive tax credits for advanced biofuels. It is well worth a moment to examine these to understand what impact these actions might have on both our future energy and food supply.

Sea level rise of more than 3 feet plausible by 2100
January 7, 2013 06:17 AM - John Roach, Science on NBC News

Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science. Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides.

Carbon Dioxide Concentrations and Sea Level
January 6, 2013 08:03 AM - Science Daily

By comparing reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and sea level over the past 40 million years, researchers based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton have found that greenhouse gas concentrations similar to the present (almost 400 parts per million) were systematically associated with sea levels at least nine metres above current levels. The study determined the 'natural equilibrium' sea level for CO2 concentrations ranging between ice-age values of 180 parts per million and ice-free values of more than 1,000 parts per million.

Oil is Still World's Largest Energy Source, But Coal and Natural Gas are Gaining
January 5, 2013 08:03 AM - Matt Lucky & Reese Rogers , Worldwatch Institute

Oil remains the world's leading energy source - for now. In recent years, coal and natural gas have proven themselves increasingly important resources across the globe. Global consumption of coal increased 5.4 percent in 2011, to 3.72 billion tons of oil equivalent, while natural gas use grew 2.2 percent, to 2.91 billion tons of oil equivalent. Both are primary fuels for the world’s electricity market, and because they are often used as substitutes for one other, their trends need to be examined together. The bulk of coal use is for power generation, with smaller amounts being used in steelmaking. Spurred mainly by rising demand in China and India, coal's share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since the International Energy Agency began keeping statistics in 1971. Although the United States remains one of the world's largest coal users, just over 70 percent of global demand in 2011 was in countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including China and India. Consumption in non-OECD countries grew 8 percent in 2011 to 2.63 billion tons of oil equivalent.

You Can't Buy a Single-Serve Plastic Bottle of Water in Concord Massachusetts
January 4, 2013 05:31 AM - MSNBC News

Concord is the first town in the nation where the sale of plastic water bottles is prohibited. A new year brings a controversial new law into effect in Concord: no one can sell single-serving plastic water bottles. “I think Concord, you know, they have a good point about the plastic. I really do and I think other towns might follow,” one woman said. The new law is the talk of the town.

Addressing Climate Change Will Cost Less if Done Sooner
January 3, 2013 06:22 AM - EurActive

An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, a new report says. Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed UN limit of 2o Celsius above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels. "If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2º target," said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of the report at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.

Geo-Engineering
January 2, 2013 02:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

With policymakers and political leaders increasingly unable to control global climate change, more scientists are considering the use of other engineering approaches other than control at the source to reduce warming impact. The problem is whatever you do, it will have some impact somewhere and somehow. The impact may be good but it also may be bad. U University of Iowa law professor believes the legal ramifications of this kind of geo-engineering need to be thought through in advance and a global governance structure put in place soon to oversee these efforts.

Climate Change Finally Getting Our Collective Attention
January 2, 2013 07:02 AM - Gia Machlin, Triple Pundit

It's that time of year when we look back and reflect on the past year and make silly lists. ENN Affiliate, TriplePundit has assembled a Top Five list of the reasons that Climate Change is finally getting more attention. This list is far from silly — it is quite sobering news for many of us to accept. In 2012, climate change came to the forefront. Here are 5 reasons why: 5) 2012 was the hottest year on record. A December 2012 report by the independent non profit organization Climate Central states: "There is a 99.99999999 percent chance that 2012 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the continental 48 states, based on our analysis of 118 years of temperature records through Dec. 10, 2012." Not that we won't see more days with below freezing temperatures and chilling winds, but those days are becoming less frequent. While this is good news for those that hate the cold, it is bad news for the planet, as sea levels rise and arctic habitats disappear.

Antibiotics or Oregano to Keep Chickens Healthy?
December 30, 2012 08:31 AM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet

It’s za'atar season in the Middle East and though we don't really need it, there's another reason to love this versatile spice: it could be useful as an alternative to antibiotics. Both a perennial herb and a spice mixed with other ingredients, za’atar livens up a host of dishes throughout the Gulf, Levant and Mediterranean. Now a small handful of farmers in the United States are feeding their poultry and livestock an oregano oil mixture in lieu of increasingly ineffective antibiotics, The New York Times reports. And they insist it keeps the animals disease free. Though the numbers are compelling, scientists caution there is insufficient data to substantiate their claims.

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