Environmental Policy

Is Ice Loss by Glaciers Abnormal?
April 15, 2013 06:36 AM - Science Daily

In the last few decades, glaciers at the edge of the icy continent of Antarctica have been thinning, and research has shown the rate of thinning has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise. New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. Previous work by Steig has shown that rapid thinning of Antarctic glaciers was accompanied by rapid warming and changes in atmospheric circulation near the coast. His research with Qinghua Ding, a UW research associate, showed that the majority of Antarctic warming came during the 1990s in response to El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Britain's love affair with bottled water
April 11, 2013 11:49 AM - David Gray, The Ecologist

Leading academic brands industry a "scam" as campaigners condemn our growing thirst for bottled water. The UK bottled water industry releases 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. One of Britain's leading authorities on water supplies has branded the bottled water industry a scam, backing campaigners' claims of wasted millions and environmental pollution at a time when tap water standards have never been higher. Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, has highlighted growing fears that our increasing consumption of bottled water is damaging the environment while raising huge profits for the big brands, despite Britain having one of the best mains water supplies in the world.

EU Looking Favorably on Shale Gas Development
April 11, 2013 06:09 AM - Anne Glover, EurActiv

The EU’s chief scientific advisor has said that evidence allows the go-ahead for extracting shale gas, the energy source at the centre of a European policy tug-of-war. The EU executive launched a green paper on 27 March, setting out Europe's energy and climate aims for 2030, with Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger taking a favourable position on shale gas. "I am in favour of producing shale gas, particularly for safety reasons, and to reduce gas prices," he said. "In the United States, which is a big producer of shale gas, the price of gas is four times less than in Europe."

Global Forest Watch 2.0 will help monitor our forests
April 10, 2013 06:36 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

World Resources Institute (WRI) today unveiled a long-awaited tool that could revolutionize global forest monitoring, reports the UN Forum on Forests, which is meeting this week in Istanbul, Turkey. Global Forest Watch 2.0 is a platform that combines near-real time satellite data, forestry data, and user-submitted information to provide the most complete picture of the world's forests ever assembled. The system has been developed over the last several years as a collaborative effort between WRI and other partners, including Google, the University of Maryland and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Tyson Foods and Ammonia
April 8, 2013 05:03 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Tyson foods is all about chickens. Well that is not quite so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement with Tyson Foods, Inc. and several of its affiliate corporations to address threats of accidental chemical releases after anhydrous ammonia was released during incidents at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, resulting in multiple injuries, property damage, and one fatality. Ammonia, in this case is often used for refrigeration systems.

EU to require efficiency increases for boilers
April 8, 2013 06:22 AM - Editor, EurActiv

A below-the-radar vote in an obscure EU committee to set new efficiency standards for central heating boilers has sealed energy savings that could equal 10% of Europe's energy consumption by 2020, green groups say. After more than five years of haggling, the Ecodesign directive's regulatory committee in March voted through a text setting minimum green requirements for boilers and water heaters, which also forces them to be labelled for their energy savings potential. Stéphane Arditi, a senior policy officer for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), told EurActiv that the ensuing emissions reductions would be "massive".

Fracking: The Solution? Or The Problem?
April 5, 2013 10:33 AM - Allison Singer, Worldwatch Institute

Fracking advocates proclaim a natural gas revolution, but are they simply perpetuating our catastrophic fossil fuel dependence?

Air pollution-caused deaths total over one million per year in China
April 5, 2013 07:51 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

In January, NASA revealed satellite images showing dramatic visuals of air pollution over China. Consequently, a new analysis is reporting that more than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China alone. We reported earlier that air pollution, especially around Beijing has greatly been influenced by coal-fired power stations. However, population growth along with increasing development is causing the nation into an air pollution crisis.

Samoa Air Charging Passengers by Weight. Good idea?
April 5, 2013 05:58 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Should bigger passengers pay more to fly on Samoa Air? Flying has long lost its glamour appeal for a bevy of reasons—among them the pesky charges airlines impose on baggage, meals and pillows—some air carriers charge to pick your own seat ahead of time. Now Samoa Air has stepped into new territory: the tiny South Pacific airline has a new policy charging passengers by how much they, and their luggage, weigh. We road warriors all have our airline stories, including ones of sitting next to someone who is, well, on the portly side. During a 14-hour flight last year my six-foot frame was wedged between an enormous oil rig worker whose mass, well, impinged on my seat. Not that I was going to say anything: it was a long flight, I had a few supplements and prescriptions to knock me out, and anyway he was flying home because his brother "had too much vodka and decided to play Russian roulette with his rifle." Mental amputation, not confrontation, was the better bet for me on that long and very uncomfortable haul.

Manufacturing Getting More and More Energy Efficient!
April 4, 2013 05:54 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The amount of energy we use to manufacture the products we use every day is a significant part of the energy needed to support out lifestyle. As the planet gets more and more populated, can we continue to make manufacturing more efficient, or are thee limits to this? A new report by researchers at MIT and elsewhere finds that the global manufacturing sector has made great strides in energy efficiency: The manufacturing of materials such as steel, cement, paper and aluminum has become increasingly streamlined, requiring far less energy than when these processes were first invented. However, despite more energy-efficient manufacturing, the researchers found that such processes may be approaching their thermodynamic limits: There are increasingly limited options available to make them significantly more efficient. The result, the team observed, is that energy efficiency for many important processes in manufacturing is approaching a plateau.

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