Environmental Policy

Stagnant Air, Emissions Contribute to Poor Air Quality in New England
May 31, 2013 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Much of New England is experiencing poor air quality that is expected to continue for another day or two. USEPA reports that unhealthy air quality, due to ground-level ozone, is expected for most of Conn., R.I., central and southern Mass. (including Springfield, Worcester, Cape Cod and the Islands), coastal N.H. and most of coastal Maine for Friday, May 31, 2013. Elevated smog levels are expected to continue through Saturday. "We expect Friday to be another unhealthy air quality day in many parts of southern and coastal New England," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity. Further, everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher." The ozone standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level.

New Study Predicts Significant Global Warming
May 30, 2013 02:57 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

A new study by Australian scientists projects that the world will likely warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels by 2100. The study published in Nature Climate Change finds that exceeding the 2-degree threshold is very likely under business-as-usual emissions scenarios even as scientists have long warned that passing the 2-degree mark would lead to catastrophic climate change. "This study ultimately shows why waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy," lead author Roger Bodman from Victoria University said. "Some uncertainty will always remain, meaning that we need to manage the risks of warming with the knowledge we have."

E.O. Wilson on Protecting a Biodiversity Hotspot in Mozambique
May 28, 2013 04:45 PM - EO Wilson, Guest Contributor

If you fly over the Great African Rift Valley and follow it south to the very end, you will arrive at Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique. Plateaus on the eastern and western sides of the park flank the lush valley in the center. Dramatic limestone cliffs, unexplored caves, wetlands, vast grasslands, and a patchwork of savanna and forest contribute to the incredible diversity of this park. What makes this place truly unique, however, is Mount Gorongosa — a towering massif that overlooks the valley below. The mountain is topped with lush tropical rainforest that is home to some species that can be found nowhere else on earth.

CO2 Emissions higher in use than European Makers Claim
May 28, 2013 06:25 AM - EurActiv

The gap has widened between the fuel-efficiency that carmakers declare for their models and the reality for drivers, with luxury German vehicles showing the biggest divergence, a study has found. The research by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found "real-world" carbon emissions for new cars based on fuel consumption are about 25% higher on average than carmakers say, compared with 10% a decade ago.

Chilean Sea Bass?
May 26, 2013 06:12 AM - KYLE HENCE/ecoRI News contributor

Who knew? Chilean sea bass is not from Chile, nor is it a bass. Since 1996, fishing vessels from a dozen nations have traversed the world’s most remote sea to catch the Antarctic toothfish. The fishery lands 3,000 tons annually, selling much of it as "Chilean sea bass," deceiving customers of high-end restaurants and supermarket chains around the world and threatening "the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth," according to the filmmakers behind "The Last Ocean," which was recently screened at the Casino Theater.

The Bonn Declaration
May 24, 2013 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Long before nations fought over oil, they fought over water and food. A conference in Bonn Germany of 500 leading water scientists from around the world today issued a stark warning that, without major reforms, "in the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute. This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable."

Memorial Day Travel will Cost Americans over $1 Billion on Gasoline
May 24, 2013 10:48 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Memorial Day not only marks the day we pay tribute to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, but it also marks the first unofficial weekend that kicks off the summer. With that said, tens of millions of Americans are expected to get away this weekend and according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Americans will spend more than $1.4 billion filling up their tanks! The new analysis utilizes newly released data from the American Automotive Association (AAA), which estimated that 89 percent of Memorial Day weekend travelers (about 31.2 million Americans) will travel by vehicle.

Free Range Milk?
May 24, 2013 06:17 AM - Lorna Howarth, The Ecologist

Free-Range Dairy is a new initiative that could reverse the trend towards industrialised mega-farms. The Ecologist office is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Hartland peninsular is dotted with steep, wooded valleys where bluebells, early purple orchids and woodpeckers abound.The hills afford breathtaking views across the Bristol channel to Lundy Island, itself a nature reserve with a no-fish zone that is having a beneficial effect on marine ecology, and looking south-west down to Cornwall, on a clear day, one can see to Boscastle and Bodmin moor beyond. But something is missing from this bucolic scene - one notices it first whilst walking the country lanes on a warm spring evening. There is no rhythmic munching of grass on the other side of the hedge; no bovine belching or contented sighing as the cows enjoy the sun on their backs after a long winter in the cattle yard. For here in Hartland, as elsewhere in the country, the trend is towards carbon-intensive, 'industrialised' farming where huge herds of 1,000 cows or more are kept indoors all year long, with only a concrete yard for exercise.

Mercury Thermostats
May 23, 2013 09:50 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Most home thermostats contain a few grams of mercury. Although they only contain small quantities of mercury and do not by themselves exceed any regulatory threshold, they contain enough mercury to potentially cause a significant health risk. The state of California has issued new rules that will greatly reduce the amount of dangerous mercury sent to landfills and incinerators each year due to the improper disposal of old mercury-laden thermostats. The new rules will require thermostat manufacturers to collect and recycle the vast majority of discarded mercury thermostats in California. Over the next five years, this will keep nearly 2 tons of the toxin out of garbage trucks, landfills and incinerators where the mercury can be released from crushing or burning, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California Product Stewardship Council, and the California Sierra Club.

African soil diversity mapped for the first time
May 22, 2013 10:19 AM - Bernard Appiah, SciDevNet

A team of international experts has drawn up the Soil Atlas of Africa — the first such book mapping this key natural resource — to help farmers, land managers and policymakers understand the diversity and importance of soil and the need to manage it through sustainable use. They say that despite soil's importance, most people in Africa lack knowledge about it, partly because information about it tends to be confined to academic publications read only by scientists.

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