Environmental Policy

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.

Two Arctic Ice Seals Gain Endangered Species Act Protection - Warming Climate a Key Factor
December 29, 2012 09:41 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

Responding to a 2008 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government today finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by melting sea ice and snowpack due to climate change. Ringed seals and bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats. "Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change," said Shaye Wolf, the Center's climate science director. "The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can't save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears."

EPA Proposes Ambitious Plan to Clean the Gowanus Canal
December 28, 2012 09:40 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The Gowanus is one of the United States' most polluted waterways, bisecting Brooklyn and emptying into Upper New York Harbor. Many years ago, it was a major industrial transportation route, servicing manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries, and chemical plants. At the time stormwater runoff and discharges from these facilities were constantly being absorbed into the canal. The Gowanus was added to the EPA superfund list of sites, and numerous potentially responsible parties have been identified including National Grid and the City of New York. After thorough environmental investigation, EPA has finally proposed a plan to conduct the cleanup, which will include the removal of contaminated sediment, capping dredged areas, and preventing further land-based contaminated outflows. The expected cost of the project is between $467 and $504 million. The EPA will be taking public comments on the plan from now until March 28, 2013.

Lisa Jackson Departs EPA
December 28, 2012 07:04 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

EPA chief Lisa Jackson announced yesterday that she will be leaving her position as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. She said she has discussed her departure with the President and will step down after the January inauguration.

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