Environmental Policy

Rooftop considerations amidst climate change
March 13, 2014 11:54 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

As the realities of climate change set in, so too are realizations that building technologies impact both internal and external environments. The percentage increase of asphalt and blacktopped roofs create urban heat islands. Resultantly cities have become earth's newest desserts exhibiting high temperatures and arid conditions with little vegetation. Urban expansion as a stand-alone factor (omitting greenhouse gas-induced climate change considerations) is expected to raise temperatures by roughly six degrees. Because of this, scientists are now exploring new technologies to cope with the new reality.

Saving the Lesser Prairie Chicken, 1 Million Acres at a Time
March 13, 2014 08:53 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Due to it's restricted range in the prairies and sandhills of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas, the Lesser Prairie Chicken is considered a "vulnerable" species. Because of human activity as well as persistent drought, habitat destruction has directed the species towards candidacy for a threatened or endangered listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In fact, reports estimate that the grouse's population has declined to approximately 17,615 individuals, and the species currently inhabits only 17% of its historic range. However, not all is lost for the Lesser Prairie Chicken as recovery and conservation efforts are on the rise. The Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan (RWP) developed by the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) outlines tools and provides incentives to encourage landowners and others to voluntarily partner with agencies in habitat conservation efforts. One such company dedicated to the conservation front is Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy), an oil and gas exploration and production company who announced last week that it will commit $12 million over a three-year period to enroll nearly 1.8 million acres of its interests in conservation programs to support the recovery of the grouse species.

Big Ben May Get a Solar Face Lift
March 13, 2014 08:04 AM - Sara Lozanova, Triple Pundit

In an effort by the U.K. Parliament to reach the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 34 percent by 2020, the House of Commons is now looking to the parliamentary estate and considering installing solar panels on the face of Big Ben in London. Parliamentary passholders were submitting ideas for reducing carbon emissions and boosting energy efficiency on the estate, when the solar idea was suggested.

Sustainable urban lawns
March 12, 2014 01:16 PM - robin Blackstone, ENN

Concern for the homogenization of America's urban landscape prompted a recent research study into the care and maintenance of residential landscapes. The study demonstrated fewer similarities than expected but the concern, according to researchers is that "Lawns not only cover a larger extent [of land] than any other irrigated 'crop' in the U.S., but are expected to expand in coming decades. The researchers go on to point out that the potential homogenization of residential lawn care has emerged as a major concern for carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and water flows."

Feral cats a growing health concern
March 11, 2014 04:17 PM - Editor, ENN

A coalition of more than 200 groups which include various bird and wildlife conservation organizations and animal rights groups are calling on Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of Interior to take action to reduce mortality to wildlife populations on public lands stemming from the nation's ever-increasing population of feral cats. The group brings evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that feral cats pose a threat to human health as a result of an exposure to rabies and toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease affecting the human brain when exposed to cat feces.

Many small glaciers make up the whole in Greenland
March 11, 2014 09:59 AM - George Hale, NASA

Research using NASA data is giving new insight into one of the processes causing Greenland's ice sheet to lose mass. A team of scientists used satellite observations and ice thickness measurements gathered by NASA's Operation IceBridge to calculate the rate at which ice flows through Greenland's glaciers into the ocean. The findings of this research give a clearer picture of how glacier flow affects the Greenland Ice Sheet and shows that this dynamic process is dominated by a small number of glaciers.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Trash talk: Ocean Dumping
March 10, 2014 11:01 AM - McKaylee Reavis, Class of 2015, Wakefield High School, Arlington, VA

Remember the excitement that filled your body when your parents told you the family was going to go to the beach? Remember the excitement slowly leaving your body when you witnessed the trash that covered the beach for miles? Ocean dumping has become a major problem for marine life and the people who enjoy its many benefits. Many marine animals have suffered from the trash in the water and people have suffered from the sight of trash filling the ocean and cluttering the beaches ruining their supposed beautiful day. Industries, cities, and militaries have been dumping their waste into the ocean for years now. One solution to prevent this problem is to impose stricter restrictions on ocean dumping that range from pedestrian waste to toxic nuclear hazard.

Warming up all over, even in the Arctic
March 10, 2014 09:55 AM - Tim Radford, Ecologist

It's long been established that Arctic Ocean sea ice is on the retreat, writes Tim Radford. But it's the pace of change that's surprising scientists: latest studies show that the ice-free period is increasing by 5 days / decade. Ice in the Arctic continues to retreat. The season without ice is getting longer by an average of five days every 10 years.

Protecting species in Canada
March 10, 2014 09:24 AM - Dr. David Suzuki, Care2

Of 345 species at risk in Canada, more than 160 have waited far too long for recovery strategies. Thanks to a recent federal court decision, four luckier ones are finally getting overdue plans detailing steps needed to save and protect them, including identifying habitat they need to survive. But to make it happen, environmental groups including the David Suzuki Foundation, with the help of Ecojustice lawyers, had to take the federal government to court. It wasn't the first time we’ve gone to court to protect wildlife.

Illinois - 1.7 million people choose 100% green electricity
March 9, 2014 09:32 PM - Editor, The Ecologist

Illinois is one of six US states that allows communities to aggregate and specify their energy purchases. Now 91 - comprising 1.7 million people - have used that power to buy 100% renewable electricity. Illinois has embraced renewable electricity on a massive scale not seen anywhere else in the nation, says a new report, Leading from the Middle: How Illinois Communities Unleashed Renewable Energy. With 91 communities providing 100 percent renewable electricity to their residents, the state far outpaces any other, including Ohio, which has two cities providing 100% renewable electricity. The report was released today by World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association, Illinois Sierra Club, and The George Washington University Solar Institute.

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