Environmental Policy

How ocean acidification is affecting marine life
June 16, 2014 05:39 AM - University of Bristol

A new study by researchers at the University of Bristol and Plymouth Marine Laboratory has shed light on how different species of marine organisms are reacting to ocean acidification. Since the Industrial Revolution, nearly 30 per cent of all the carbon dioxide produced by manmade emissions has been absorbed by the ocean, causing a drop in pH of ocean surface waters: ocean acidification.

The promise of Waterless Dyeing
June 13, 2014 07:56 AM - Lydia Heida, Yale Environment360

One of the world's most polluting industries is the textile-dyeing sector, which in China and other Asian nations releases trillions of liters of chemically tainted wastewater. But new waterless dyeing technologies, if adopted on a large scale, could sharply cut pollution from the clothing industry. Each year, one global industry gulps down trillions of liters of fresh water, together with massive amounts of chemicals. The wastewater from that industry is then dumped, often untreated, into rivers that bring its toxic content to the sea, where it spreads around the globe.

Brazilian Courts order lower electromagnetic pollution
June 12, 2014 02:09 PM - Elza Boiteux

The Brazilian Judiciary determined to reduce the level of electromagnetic pollution generated by power lines to standard adopted by Swiss law (1.0 microtesla). Two associations of residents in São Paulo — the largest city of Brazil — proposed the action. The plaintiff has pleaded to not be exposed to electromagnetic fields incompatible with the human health. The electromagnetic fields generated by power lines that cross these areas is 10 times greater than the level determined by the court. The judgment of the Court of State of São Paulo (Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo) has determined that the concessionaire of electric power reduces the electromagnetic field generated by power lines that pass through these neighborhoods.

Hope for the Indian rhino
June 12, 2014 09:02 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The world's stronghold for Indian rhinos—the state of Assam—has seen its population leap by 27 percent since 2006, despite a worsening epidemic of poaching that has also seen 156 rhinos killed during the same period. According to a new white paper, the population of Indian rhinos in Assam hit 2,544 this year up from a nadir of around 200 animals in the early 1900s.

Wasted heat from air conditioners causes warmer nighttime temperatures
June 12, 2014 08:01 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

With summer temperatures fast approaching, households across the country are installing and prepping air conditioning units in anticipation of hot, sticky weather. However, a potentially brutal cycle may be in store if summertime extreme-heat days are projected to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. According to a new study conducted in Phoenix by Arizona State University researchers, so much wasted heat is emitted by air conditioning units that it actually raises the city's outdoor temperature at night by 1-2.7 degrees! Consequently, these warmer temperatures may encourage individuals to further their demands and energy use of their air conditioners. The research, published last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research, investigates the effects of air-conditioning systems on air temperature and examines their electricity consumption for a semiarid urban environment.

Using too much fertilizer is bad for crops AND bad for climate!
June 12, 2014 06:30 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Using too much fertilizer is a very bad idea. It doesn't help crops, and in fact can be harmful to them. Excess fertilizer runs off and contributes to river and stream contamination and a new study shows that it is bad for the climate too! But farmers sometimes think that if some is good, more MUST be better! Helping farmers around the globe apply more precise amounts of fertilizer nitrogen is a great objective that can improve crop yields, reduce pollution, and combat climate change. That's the conclusion of a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the paper, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) provide an improved prediction of nitrogen fertilizer's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields.

FDA and EPA issue updated draft advice for fish consumption
June 10, 2014 10:32 AM - US EPA Newsroom

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued updated draft advice on fish consumption. The two agencies have concluded pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children should eat more fish that is lower in mercury in order to gain important developmental and health benefits. The updated draft advice is consistent with recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Playing God with plants!
June 9, 2014 02:55 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Plants make and store energy from the sun using a process called photosynthesis. This process has evolved on planet earth over millions of years. How can we mess with plant DNA to improve on what nature has evolved? Three research teams--each comprised of scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom--have been awarded a second round of funding to continue research on news ways to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis. The ultimate goal of this potentially high-impact research is to develop methods to increase yields of important crops that are harvested for food and sustainable biofuels. But if this research is successful, it may also be used to support reforestation efforts and efforts to increase the productivity of trees for the manufacture of wood and paper and thousands of other products that are derived from wood and chemicals extracted from trees. Another reason why photosynthesis is an important research topic: It has made the Earth hospitable for life by generating food and oxygen.

Good news for rivers in Britain
June 8, 2014 11:11 AM - Cardiff University via ScienceDaily

Scientists from Cardiff University have found that Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they've been in over two decades. The 21-year study of over 2,300 rivers measured the presence of clean-river invertebrates - a yardstick for river health - which during the days of heavy industry and poor sewage treatment had declined considerably, but now appear to be making a comeback. Although climate change has warmed British rivers by around 1-2 degrees over recent decades, the findings suggest that improved pollution control has managed to offset its damaging effects on river ecosystems. This indicates that society can prevent some undesirable climate change effects on the environment by improving habitat quality.

World Cup mascot helps score for Brazilian three-banded armadillos
June 6, 2014 09:01 AM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet

A call by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, seems to have been heeded by the Brazilian government. On 22 May, the Brazilian government published an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil. The document proposes increasing the protected areas where the armadillo lives, enhancing financial incentives to prevent three-banded armadillo hunting and increasing education about the importance of protecting this species.

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