Environmental Policy

Ten African countries unite to protect rainforests
September 4, 2012 02:43 PM - Apollinaire Niyirora, SciDevNet

Ten central African countries have come together to protect the Congo Basin rainforest — the world's second largest rainforest — from severe deforestation, through implementing improved national forest monitoring systems and boosting regional cooperation.

Atmospheric Methane Reductions Attributed to not Venting it!
September 3, 2012 08:51 AM - ScienceDaily

Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new UC Irvine research being published in the journal Nature. "We can now say with confidence that, based on our data, the trend is largely a result of changes in fossil fuel use," said chemistry professor Donald Blake, senior author on the paper. Methane has 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, although CO2 is filling the atmosphere in far larger amounts. After decades of increases due to worldwide industrial and agricultural activity, the tapering off of methane from the 1980s through 2005 was remarkable. Scientists have long wrestled with the cause.

Highway in Boliva would cut through National Park
September 2, 2012 09:16 AM - Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, Yale Environment360

Growing conflicts over development in South America have come to a head in Bolivia, where indigenous groups are resisting a highway project that would slice through a national park. How Bolivia resolves this showdown could point the way for other regions seeking to balance economic growth and the environment. Carmelo Aguilera steadies the dugout canoe as his 11-year-old son, Juan Gabriel, stands precariously and aims his bow and arrow toward the Secure River below. "Fish flesh makes better bait," says the boy, explaining why the dawn expedition begins with a hunter's weapon rather than a hook and line. Deep inside Bolivia's Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory, known as TIPNIS, the Aguileras live more than 30 hours by boat from the nearest city, surviving mainly on fish and a few homegrown crops. "The river is our lifeblood," says Aguilera, 62.

Incandescent Light Bulbs have served us well but now it is time to turn them off!
September 1, 2012 10:09 AM - EurActive

After more than a century lighting up the world, the switch will be flicked off across the EU for the final time on incandescent bulbs on Saturday as the phased ban on their sale is completed. From 1 September, an EU directive aimed at reducing the energy use of lighting means that retailers will no longer be allowed to sell 40W and 25W incandescent bulbs. Similar bans came into effect for 60W and 100W incandescent bulbs over the past three years. The restrictions are predicted to save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the EU annually by 2020. Earlier this year, the UK government said the ban would bring an "average annual net benefit" of £108m to the UK between 2010 and 2020 in energy savings. But the phase-out of incandescents has been met with resistance by some users who say replacement technologies, such as CFLs, halogens and LEDs, do not perform as well. Despite the substantial long-term financial savings promised, the higher upfront price of replacement bulbs has also been criticised by those opposing the ban.

American Meteorological Society confirms Climate Change and Man's Role
August 31, 2012 06:29 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

Weathercasters in the U.S. not only tend to not ever mention climate change, but the majority of them do not even believe it is human-caused, as an article I recently wrote shows. However, that may change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) released an official position statement on climate change this week which not only said that it is occurring, but it is human-caused. What is so great about the statement by the AMS is that it includes so much information about climate change, including that there is scientific consensus. The AMS makes it clear that the statement is "based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding." The statement details how the climate is changing, both in the U.S. and around the world. The changes listed include increases in globally averaged air and ocean temperatures, the widespread melting of snow and ice, and the rising of globally averaged sea level. As the statement puts it, "Warming of the climate system now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence." That is not good news for the world's population, but it is good news that the AMS is acknowledging that climate change is real and is occurring.

Brazil's controversial Belo Monte back on track after court decision overruled
August 29, 2012 08:52 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Brazil's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered work on the controversial Belo Monte dam in the Amazon to resume, overturning a lower court order that suspended the project less than two weeks ago. Construction activities by the Norte Energia, the consortium building the dam, resumed immediately, according to the Associated Press.

Study Reveals that Drought Brought Down Ancient Egypt
August 29, 2012 06:33 AM - Tim Wall, Discovery News

The drought parching the United States is one of the worst in the nation's history, but it hasn't been as destructive as the drought that may have withered ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. Pollen and charcoal buried in the Nile Delta 4,200 years ago tell the tale of a drought of literally Biblical proportions associated with the fall of the pyramid builders. "Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate," said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt in a press release. "This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people."

Book Review: Eco House Book
August 28, 2012 08:46 PM - Maddie Perlman-Gabel, ENN

What makes a house eco friendly? Is it the materials the house is made of and furnished with, or how efficiently the house uses and maintains energy and other resources? Can any house have eco-friendly features added at any time, or only if considerations are made at the time the house is built? These are some of the questions answered, and illustrated, in Terence Conran’s most recent book "Eco House Book". "Eco House Book" is an excellent modern eco themed coffee-table book. Though it's cover is simple, the book includes beautiful photography that highlight the use of design for living a more eco friendly lifestyle. The book covers many topics addressing home design and maintenance, including pros and cons of different building and furnishing materials, reducing energy and water consumption, alternative energy and water resources, designing and maximizing outdoor spaces, building and home conversions, waste reduction methods, and eco friendly cleaning strategies.

'Torture Lab' Kills Trees To Learn How To Save Them
August 27, 2012 02:36 PM - Christopher Joyce, NPR Topics: Environment

The droughts that have parched big regions of the country are killing forests. In the arid Southwest, the body count is especially high. Besides trying to keep wildfires from burning up these desiccated forests, there's not much anyone can do. In fact, scientists are only now figuring out how drought affects trees. Park Williams studies trees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but not the way most scientists do. "We're interested in trees that die," he says — spefiically, death by heat and drought. Sure, lack of water kills trees, but which ones die first, how long does it take, how long can they go without water? "That's a part we don't understand very well as ecologists," says Craig Allen, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "We don't know what it takes to kill trees."

Cross State Air Pollution Rule is Overturned by Court
August 24, 2012 07:08 AM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

Four years after overturning a major Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rule as inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, this week the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the program that EPA had tailored to take its place, ruling that the replacement rule "exceeds the agency's statutory authority" and imposes "impossible" burdens upon covered states. As a result, hundreds of power plants in 28 states are once again subject to the very rule the same court rejected in 2008. The regulations in question implement the Clean Air Act’s "good neighbor" provisions, which prohibit states from significantly contributing to unsafe levels of air pollution, or interfering with Clean Air Act compliance, in downwind states. In 2005, EPA finalized the Clean Air Interstate Rule, establishing an emissions trading program for Eastern and Midwestern power plants aimed at reducing interstate air pollution transport.

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