Environmental Policy

World Population Growing Fast & Unevenly
July 20, 2013 07:40 AM - Population Matters from International Business Times

It's no secret that the world's population growth is heavily skewed by region — so much so that the changes expected for the next century will radically change the world as we know it. But according to projections recently revised by the United Nations Population Program, those changes will come even faster than we thought. The UN has dispensed with the old estimate that Africa's population will triple within 90 years — instead, it could very well quadruple.

Volta River and Climate Change
July 19, 2013 11:44 AM - Editor ENN

A new study released today finds that so much water may be lost in the Volta River Basin due to climate change that planned hydroelectric projects to boost energy and food production may only tread water in keeping up with actual demand. Some 24 million people in Ghana, Burkina Faso and four other neighboring countries depend on the Volta River and its tributaries as their principal source of water. Specifically, the researchers with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and their partners concluded that the combined effects of higher temperatures and diminished rain could mean that by the year 2100, all of the current and planned hydroelectric projects in the basin would not even generate as much power as existing facilities do now. Meanwhile, there would only be enough water to meet about a third of irrigation demand.

Using the free market to fight climate change looks like a winner!
July 17, 2013 07:11 AM - ScienceDaily

The best way to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change is through the use of market forces, according to a new study. Researchers who monitored the effectiveness of the European Climate Exchange (ECX) -- the world's biggest carbon trading platform -- found it to be as efficient as Europe's two biggest exchanges, the London Stock Exchange and the Euronext Paris. Using free market platforms like the ECX to combat climate change could provide the basis for the introduction of a mandatory emissions cap and trade scheme worldwide.

Sea level rise may be underestimated by models
July 16, 2013 07:25 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Think sea levels will rise only a bit in response to an increase in global temperature of one degree? Think again! A new study estimates that global sea levels will rise about 2.3 meters, or more than seven feet, over the next several thousand years for every degree (Celsius) the planet warms. This international study is one of the first to combine analyses of four major contributors to potential sea level rise into a collective estimate, and compare it with evidence of past sea-level responses to global temperature changes. Results of the study, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, are being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study finds Loggerhead turtles depend on broader range of habitat than previously thought
July 15, 2013 04:51 PM - Editor, ENN

A new US Geological Survey study suggests that the threatened loggerhead sea turtle may require broader habitat protection during the nesting season. "This is the first study to locate and quantify in-water habitat use by female loggerheads in the Northern Gulf of Mexico subpopulation during their reproductive periods," said lead author Kristen Hart, a USGS research ecologist. "Our tracking results show they depend on a much broader range of habitat during this critical part of their lives than was previously thought to be required."

Satellite monitoring of ice sheets
July 15, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Data from satellites have been used a lot recently to monitor the loss of ice from ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Having these data is relatively recent, however. It would be better if the data existed for a longer period so more accurate predictions of future rates of ice loss or accretion could be made. The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study led by Dr Bert Wouters from the University of Bristol. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, underscore the need for continuous satellite monitoring of the ice sheets to better identify and predict melting and the corresponding sea-level rise.

The Penobscot River will flow to the sea once more!
July 14, 2013 07:29 AM - Editor, Justmeans

On Monday, July 22, contractors will begin to remove the Veazie Dam from Maine’s Penobscot River, reconnecting the river with the Gulf of Maine for the first time in nearly two centuries. The 830-foot long, buttress-style Veazie Dam spans the Penobscot River at a maximum height of approximately 30 feet, with an impoundment stretching 3.8 miles. Breaching the Veazie Dam—the dam closest to the sea— marks a monumental step in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, among the largest river restoration projects in our nation’s history. Combined with Great Works Dam removal in 2012 and additional fish passage improvements at dams in the upper watershed, the Veazie Dam removal is a key component of the historic effort to greatly improve access to 1000 miles of spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad and river herring, and benefits the entire suite of native sea-run fish. Once removed, endangered shortnose sturgeon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass, rainbow smelt and tomcod will be able to access 100% of their historic habitat.

Global Population Keeps on Increasing
July 13, 2013 07:47 AM - Population Matters from Portland Press Herald

The African population could increase fourfold by 2100, making poverty and hunger issues more severe. In advance of World Population Day, United Nations demographers have once again revised official projections — upward. This meticulous band of number crunchers doesn’t mean to be alarmist, but its statistics can be startling: ” Nigeria, the West African nation slightly larger than Texas, is on track to surpass the United States as the world’s third-most populous country by 2050. The size of its population may rival that of China by the end of the century, unless something dramatic happens.

Discovering Lake Vostok: Antarctica's Largest Subglacial Lake
July 12, 2013 07:46 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Looking for a trip to the lake this summer? Thinking about Lake Powell, Lake George, or maybe Lake Tahoe? What about Lake Vostok? Heard of it? Maybe. But you're probably not going to plan your next vacation here - this sugblacial lake lies 4000 meters below the ice in East Antarctica! Confirmed in 1993 by satellite-based laser altimetry, this lake is not only the largest subglacial lake on the continent, but this body of water has been isolated underground with limited nutrients and complete darkness and has become an interesting topic for researchers and scientists worldwide. So here's the million-dollar question: is there life in Lake Vostok? First, it is important to note that scientists have only been able to gain access to the lake in the past year when a team of Russian scientists finally reached the surface of the lake after decades of drilling- a tedious and formidable engineering task. It will take the team about a year to analyze those samples collected earlier this yea, however, hints that there may be previously unidentified species of bacteria in the lake have leaked.

Huge Marine Preservation Area Being Considered for Antarctica
July 12, 2013 06:24 AM - Richard Harris, NPR

The area of ocean set aside as a nature preserve could double or triple in the coming days, depending on the outcome of a meeting in Germany. Representatives from 24 countries and the European Union are considering setting aside large portions of ocean around Antarctica as a protected area. And the deal may hinge on preserving some fishing rights. There are two proposals on the table: One would set aside huge parts of the Southern Ocean around East Antarctica; the other would focus on the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand. "The total size of the marine protected area we are proposing is roughly 3 1/2 times the size of Texas," says Ambassador Mike Moore, the former prime minister of New Zealand, who was talking up the joint U.S.-New Zealand proposal in Washington this spring. "So to misquote the vice president of the United States, 'this is a big deal.' "

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