Environmental Policy

2014 National Defense Authorization Act is huge win for LEED green building system
January 3, 2014 09:15 AM - Stuart Kaplow, courtesy Green Building Law Update, Clean Techies

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014 in Honolulu last Thursday and while most observers noted that the bill cracks down on sexual assaults in the military and eases restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the bill also is a huge win for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building rating system. By way of background, the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and other instruments of the Department of Defense own and operate 299,000 buildings and 211,000 additional structures, making it the largest owner of buildings in North America, but it is also the owner of more green buildings and more LEED certified buildings than anyone else.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Saving Earth from Space
January 2, 2014 12:41 PM - Destiny Allen; Environment, Economics, Development, Sustainability (EEDS), Class of 2015, The Ohio State University

When we think of the environment, we do not immediately jump to thinking of outer space. The environment usually conjures up images on Earth of breathless beauty, but this does not mean a solution to renewable energy is bound to the limits of our planet.

Antarctic Rescue
January 2, 2014 10:16 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

A Chinese helicopter has successfully rescued 52 scientists, tourists and journalists in groups of 12 from research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy lodged in deep ice 100 nautical miles east of Dumont d’Urville the French Antarctic base on Île des Pétrels.

New worries about Fukushima
December 31, 2013 02:53 PM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist

Unexplained plumes of radioactive steam have been rising from Fukushima's Reactor Building 3, Could a major meltdown be on the way? Fukushima's Reactor Building 3 exploded on 13th March 2011 as a result of a hydrogen buildup, breaching the building's containment and emitting a huge plume of radiation. The reactor itself is in meltdown. And now fresh plumes of steam have been seen coming out the structure.

Coping in a harsh desert environment
December 31, 2013 01:15 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Far from being devoid of life, deserts are home to numerous plants and animals. In the desert, plants and animals often compete for limited resources: especially water. To cope, plants will adopt different strategies to compete with their neighbors for this precious resource.

Impacts of climate change in the deep sea
December 31, 2013 12:30 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Even the most remote deep-sea ecosystems are affected by climate change according to a study conducted by the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, UK. According to the study, seafloor dwellers will decline by up to 38% in the North Atlantic and over 5% globally over the next century because of a reduction in the ocean's surface plants and animals.

Water year round in the land of ice
December 30, 2013 10:00 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

In Greenland where three quarters of the land mass is covered by the earth's only inhabited ice sheet, water is not so easy to obtain. University of Utah researchers however, have discovered a new reservoir/aquifer in Greenland's ice sheet. The reservoir is known as a "perennial firn aquifer" and covers 27,000 square miles an area larger than the state of West Virginia. Called a firn because water persists within layers of snow and ice that doesn't melt for at least one season, researchers believe the discovery will aid in the understanding of snowmelt and ice melt as it relates to rising sea levels.

Amazon forest loss and water supply are linked
December 30, 2013 07:05 AM - Paul Brown, Ecologist

Water, food supplies and energy production are all in jeopardy as the Amazon forest is felled for profit. And as Paul Brown writes, the damage is spreading well beyond Amazonia itself. The combination of industrial and agricultural pollution and droughts is creating a once unthinkable vulnerability for the five countries of Amazonia. The continued destruction of the Amazon to exploit its resources for mining, agriculture and hydro-power is threatening the future of the South American continent, according to a report by campaigning groups using the latest scientific data. Five countries - Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru - share the Amazon, and for all of them the forest area occupies more than 40% of their territory. All face threats to their water supply, energy production, food and health.

Florida citrus at risk
December 28, 2013 09:04 AM - Gregg Allen, NPR

It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year. The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California. Back in the 1950s and '60s, the Florida Citrus Tower was one of the Orlando area's most important tourist attractions. "You could go up and see thousands and thousands acres of trees," says citrus grower Benny McLean. "And you could buy fresh-squeezed orange juice, or you could buy a bag of navels. So it was a big deal back then."

Intelligent disaster relief
December 27, 2013 11:46 AM - Kieran Dodds/Panos, SciDevNet

The "fragmented" coordination between relief actors in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan last month underscores the need for artificial intelligence to streamline disaster response, says a team behind such an effort. The ORCHID project, a consortium of UK universities and private firms, aims to make this possible by combining human and artificial intelligence into an efficient complementary unit known as a Human Agent Collective (HAC).

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