Environmental Policy

Antarctic Rescue
January 2, 2014 10:16 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

A Chinese helicopter has successfully rescued 52 scientists, tourists and journalists in groups of 12 from research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy lodged in deep ice 100 nautical miles east of Dumont d’Urville the French Antarctic base on Île des Pétrels.

New worries about Fukushima
December 31, 2013 02:53 PM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist

Unexplained plumes of radioactive steam have been rising from Fukushima's Reactor Building 3, Could a major meltdown be on the way? Fukushima's Reactor Building 3 exploded on 13th March 2011 as a result of a hydrogen buildup, breaching the building's containment and emitting a huge plume of radiation. The reactor itself is in meltdown. And now fresh plumes of steam have been seen coming out the structure.

Coping in a harsh desert environment
December 31, 2013 01:15 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Far from being devoid of life, deserts are home to numerous plants and animals. In the desert, plants and animals often compete for limited resources: especially water. To cope, plants will adopt different strategies to compete with their neighbors for this precious resource.

Impacts of climate change in the deep sea
December 31, 2013 12:30 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Even the most remote deep-sea ecosystems are affected by climate change according to a study conducted by the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, UK. According to the study, seafloor dwellers will decline by up to 38% in the North Atlantic and over 5% globally over the next century because of a reduction in the ocean's surface plants and animals.

Water year round in the land of ice
December 30, 2013 10:00 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

In Greenland where three quarters of the land mass is covered by the earth's only inhabited ice sheet, water is not so easy to obtain. University of Utah researchers however, have discovered a new reservoir/aquifer in Greenland's ice sheet. The reservoir is known as a "perennial firn aquifer" and covers 27,000 square miles an area larger than the state of West Virginia. Called a firn because water persists within layers of snow and ice that doesn't melt for at least one season, researchers believe the discovery will aid in the understanding of snowmelt and ice melt as it relates to rising sea levels.

Amazon forest loss and water supply are linked
December 30, 2013 07:05 AM - Paul Brown, Ecologist

Water, food supplies and energy production are all in jeopardy as the Amazon forest is felled for profit. And as Paul Brown writes, the damage is spreading well beyond Amazonia itself. The combination of industrial and agricultural pollution and droughts is creating a once unthinkable vulnerability for the five countries of Amazonia. The continued destruction of the Amazon to exploit its resources for mining, agriculture and hydro-power is threatening the future of the South American continent, according to a report by campaigning groups using the latest scientific data. Five countries - Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru - share the Amazon, and for all of them the forest area occupies more than 40% of their territory. All face threats to their water supply, energy production, food and health.

Florida citrus at risk
December 28, 2013 09:04 AM - Gregg Allen, NPR

It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year. The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California. Back in the 1950s and '60s, the Florida Citrus Tower was one of the Orlando area's most important tourist attractions. "You could go up and see thousands and thousands acres of trees," says citrus grower Benny McLean. "And you could buy fresh-squeezed orange juice, or you could buy a bag of navels. So it was a big deal back then."

Intelligent disaster relief
December 27, 2013 11:46 AM - Kieran Dodds/Panos, SciDevNet

The "fragmented" coordination between relief actors in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan last month underscores the need for artificial intelligence to streamline disaster response, says a team behind such an effort. The ORCHID project, a consortium of UK universities and private firms, aims to make this possible by combining human and artificial intelligence into an efficient complementary unit known as a Human Agent Collective (HAC).

Smart is at a whole new level for homes
December 27, 2013 10:13 AM - Editor, ENN, Sierra Club Green Home

Smart homes have gone to a whole new level with Panasonic's showcase center in Tokyo, Japan. Panasonic's new technologies feature hydroponics, air ventilation, color customization, and energy consumption. The energy consumption specifically is integrated into a grid of other smart homes that share excess energy; respond to energy needs, and track community usage trends. The resultant home is a zero-emission smart house combining with nature’s elements.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: The Benefits of Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater Systems
December 26, 2013 04:28 PM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Class of 2015, Environmental Studies

Approximately 30% of household water use is for outdoor use in the form of garden irrigation. Outdoor water usage is very seasonal, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and outdoor water usage is highest when water availability is the lowest due to drought conditions and heat. The top three uses of water in the household are for landscaping, sewage, and laundry. Yet a simple laundry-to-landscape system could reduce one of these high water wasters. A laundry-to-landscape system might not be the only step to make the garden water neutral; approximately 15% of household water use is for laundry, which could at least reduce outdoor water usage by 50% if a laundry-to-landscape system were installed.

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