Sea and storm: coastal habitats offer strongest defense
October 14, 2013 08:51 AM - Liz Kimbrough, MONGABAY.COM
Surging storms and rising seas threaten millions of U.S. residents and billions of dollars in property along coastlines. The nation's strongest defense, according to a new study by scientists with the Natural Capital Project at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, comes from natural coastal habitats. Of the 25 most densely populated counties in the United States, 23 of them are along the coastline. The study, "Coastal habitats shield people and property from sea-level rise and storms" published in Nature Climate Change, mapped the entire U.S. coastline and reports that habitats such as sea grasses, mangroves, sand dunes, and coral reefs currently protect two-thirds of the U.S. coastline, including at-risk areas such as New York and Florida.
Solar-powered car competition winner
October 14, 2013 06:22 AM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet
Stella, a solar-powered family car designed by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in has won the World Solar Challenge 2013, ushering in a new era of efficient, practical cruisers that get all of their juice from the sun. Solar Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands spent over a year developing their family car, which features photovoltaic solar panels on both the roof and rear, according to Dezeen. The latter are flipped up to optimize solar absorption and generate energy while the car is not in use.
Time to standardize EV charging in America
October 12, 2013 07:34 AM - Brad Berman, Clean Techies
Hard data collected from plug-in vehicle owners shows that the majority of EV charging takes place at home. Still, the ability to charge an electric car along the road—even if infrequent—can extend the distance each car can travel over the course of a day. Unfortunately, the public charging landscape is littered with complications and inconveniences brought on by multiple standards and incompatibilities between different vehicles and charge providers. Imagine if each brand of gas station required its own subscription, and each brand of car was compatible only with a certain type of gas nozzle.
Weighing the Benefits of Wind
October 11, 2013 03:28 PM - Thembi Mutch, The Ecologist
There’s a new wind blowing across Europe. Windpower is predominantly located in Germany, Denmark and Spain, and a recent European Union report predicted wind will power Europe’s demands several times over before 2020. In September 2013 the 'Montreal Protocol' committed G20 countries to reducing the 'super Greenhouse Gases' - hydrofluorocarbons produced primarily from fossil fuels, and as part of this, alternatives to coal, natural gas and oil must be found, as a matter of urgency. However even here dissent prevails - the recent International Energy Outlook Report predicted that globally, we will remain 80% dependant on fossil fuels until 2040, (with China and Asia increasing their consumptions considerably) and the results are cataclysmic.
OSHA potentially lets West Fertilizer off cheap
October 11, 2013 12:44 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
On April 17, 2013 explosions rocked the small town of West, Texas. Fire fighters initially responded to a fire at West Fertilizer Company owned by Adair Grain, Inc. but as water was used to put the fire out, an explosion incurred taking with it a neighboring 50-unit apartment building and parts of a nearby middle school, as well as heavily damaging a nearby nursing home. With many lawsuits pending, OSHA has made its initial determination with regard to the West Fertilizer Company leading federal workplace safety regulators to propose initial fines in the amount of $118,300 against the company. This number, given the magnitude of the occurrence is thought to be extremely low.
Who is exposed to more pesticides, rural or urban dwellers?
October 11, 2013 06:19 AM - s.e. smith, Care2
Who has higher levels of pesticide exposure, New Yorkers or rural dwellers near commercial farms? The answer might surprise you: for at least two classes of pesticide, New Yorkers are actually more exposed, despite the fact that we associate pesticide use with the application of such chemicals to crops to protect them from destruction during growing and harvest season. Research on the subject has significant implications for pest management and environmental health. Where are all these pesticides in New York coming from, and what can we do about it?
A Comprehensive Energy Productivity Portfolio
October 10, 2013 03:17 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Like a good financial portfolio, it appears that diversification is a successful strategy for America’s Energy Productivity according to the environmental action group, Natural Resources Defense Council. But, the NRDC notes that while the portfolio clearly should include a combination of all energies, the single most effective tool in maximizing our energy economy is to reduce consumption and extract the most out of every energy dollar spent.
Respect the Wolves
October 10, 2013 12:03 PM - Michael W. Fox of Project Coyote
Wolves play an integral role in maintaining the health of wildlife and ecosystems, and indirectly, livestock and public health. Recognition of this role and its ecological ramifications calls for greater respect, protection and increased numbers of wolves in appropriate habitats across North America. Current federal and state government initiatives, backed by diverse vested interests, are poised to reduce the nation's existing wolf population, which is contrary to the directives of sound science, reason and the public interest.
European Union on Track to Reach 2020 Climate Goals
October 10, 2013 08:52 AM - Edouard Stenger, Clean Techies
According to the European Environment Agency, the European Union is already close to its 2020 climate objectives as it has decreased its emissions by no less than 18 percent between 1990 and 2012. Additionally, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and many others were already accounting for 13 percent of the energy mix in 2011. The European Union have a comprehensive energy and climate plan as it has three objectives: 1. to slash its greenhouses gases emissions by 20 percent from 1990 to 2020 ; 2. to increase its energy efficiency by 20 percent ; 3. to increase its share of renewable energy sources to 20 percent of the mix by 2020.
Climate modeling update
October 10, 2013 06:30 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Climate models keep getting better but still can't predict with great certainty. So scientists run multiple models and look at the results of each model and calculate a consensus projection. The intent is to reduce the level of uncertainty by using a range of models with different types of shortcomings to hopefully improve confidence in the results. The seesaw variability of global temperatures often engenders debate over how seriously we should take climate change. But within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we've experienced in the past 150 years, according to a new and massive analysis of all climate models. The tropics will be the first to exceed the limits of historical extremes and experience an unabated heat wave that threatens biodiversity and heavily populated countries with the fewest resources to adapt. Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift. Camilo Mora and colleagues in the College of Social Sciences' Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa have developed one such time frame. The study, titled "The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability," will be published in the October 10, 2013 issue of Nature and provides an index of the year when the mean climate of any given location on Earth will shift continuously outside the most extreme records experienced in the past 150 years.