Environmental Policy

Biodiversity Loss, Disease Cuts Incomes in Tropical Countries
January 18, 2013 03:57 PM - Luís Amorim, SciDevNet

Tropical countries' per capita incomes could more than double if they managed to reduce their health burden from vector-borne and parasitic diseases (VBPDs) to that seen in temperate countries, a study has found. The study says that poor economic performance is caused partly by high disease burden, which is in turn affected by biodiversity. The findings that health conditions affect economies, and that loss of biodiversity could exacerbate the situation, have direct policy implications, says the study published in PLoS Biology last month.

Reports Reiterate Link Between Environment and Economy
January 18, 2013 08:46 AM - Richard Matthews, Global Warming is Real

Two new reports reiterate the scientific veracity of anthropogenic climate change while reinforcing the interconnectedness of the economy and the environment. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2013 clearly points to the interrelationship between the environment and the economy. A draft of the third National Climate Assessment Report indicates that climate change is both an environmental and economic issue.

NASA Satellite Images Reveal Dramatic Increase in Air Pollution Over China
January 16, 2013 02:08 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

NASA's Terra satellite acquired natural-color images of northeastern China on January 3 and January 14, highlighting a drastic shift in air quality for the region. According to the images, the opaque, gray areas tend to be clouds or fog, which are saturated with a gray or yellow tint as a result from the air pollution. Areas that are cloud-free appear gray and brown as a result from the smog that hides the cities below. Residual snow is also noted in the images.

Update: California Carbon Caps and Market Trading
January 14, 2013 06:09 AM - Emilie Mazzacurati, Guest Author, Triple Pundit

Carbon allowances are now available for sale in California. Companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent a year (CO2e) in the power, oil, and industrial sectors will now have to turn in permits for every ton they emit this year and the years to come. Things are moving fast in California right now, so here’s a primer on what’s happening and what to expect for the coming months. Are people really buying carbon permits? Yes. Currently California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) are trading for about $15 a ton on the secondary market. Point Carbon reported a big spike in volume traded since January 1st, as a lot of new companies have entered the markets and are cutting their teeth on West Coast-style carbon trading.

Draft National Climate Assessment Released
January 12, 2013 09:22 AM - Union of Concerned Scientists

The United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released its draft National Climate Assessment this week, just a week after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the United States experienced its warmest year on record. The report is the flagship climate change assessment for the United States, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "This could help restart a national conversation about climate change," said Todd Sanford, a UCS climate scientist. "It gives us a road map for climate change. And the road is much bumpier if we continue along a higher emissions pathway."

In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer
January 11, 2013 08:45 AM - Kaz Armour, ARKive.org

As well as being home to 3,000 reindeer, the island of South Georgia has many endemic species of fauna and flora that evolved in the absence of grazing pressures. These species are now struggling to survive in the reindeer's overbearing presence, and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced plans to eradicate the population in an effort to save the island's unique species.

Mercury Strategies
January 10, 2013 08:26 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Natural sources, such as volcanoes, are responsible for approximately half of atmospheric mercury emissions. Humans contributed most of the rest through fuel combustion. International negotiators will come together next week in Geneva, Switzerland for the fifth and final meeting to address global environmental controls on mercury. Ahead of the negotiations, researchers from MIT and Harvard University are calling for aggressive emissions reductions and clear public health advice to reduce the risks of mercury.

Python Trade Influenced by Fashion Industry
January 9, 2013 08:50 AM - Anna Taylor, The Ecologist

A report released last month by the International Trade Centre has raised concerns over many aspects of the snake skin trade, most notably high levels of illegal trading, plus concerns about the welfare and conservation of the species involved. The report, entitled "The Trade in South-East Asian Python Skins", was backed by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN). The authors used information gathered from interviews with exporters and importers, hunters, government officials, conservationists and vets to highlight the now urgent need for more control over a trade which is threatening the survival of pythons.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill - Good Coastal Policy?
January 8, 2013 06:12 AM - Rob Young, from YALE Environment360

Next week, the U.S. Congress is expected to vote on the bulk of $60 billion in emergency spending to provide for recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Clearly, significant aid is needed to repair the damage left by the storm and to help many people put their lives back together. But the bill before Congress includes provisions authorizing spending that would be fiscally irresponsible and environmentally damaging and would set a very bad precedent as we plan for long-term adaptation to rising sea levels and climate change. The bill goes far beyond the immediate need for emergency assistance by funding a massive coastal engineering effort that is not based on science or wise planning. As currently proposed, the bill would give the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers roughly $4.5 billion to spend on coastal construction projects related to "flood control and risk reduction." Most troubling, the bill requires the Corps to attempt to rebuild the New Jersey and New York beaches to their "design profile." In other words, the Corps will work to put the beaches back exactly as they were before the storm, ignoring the reality of rising sea levels and intensifying storms as the world warms.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Biofuel Credits
January 7, 2013 08:51 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

By now the New Year's fiscal cliff deal has received quite a bit of press. We have already discussed the significance of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit here earlier. Less well known is the inclusion of measures included in the deal to revive tax credits for advanced biofuels. It is well worth a moment to examine these to understand what impact these actions might have on both our future energy and food supply.

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