Environmental Policy

Control of the lion fish
January 24, 2014 09:32 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

A recent Oregon State University study shows that controlling the invasive lionfish in the western Atlantic Ocean is likely to allow for recovery of native fish. The lionfish is estimated to have wiped out 95% of native fish in some Atlantic locations. This Atlantic invasion is believed to have begun in the 1980s and now covers an area larger than the United States.

EV's only in city centers?
January 24, 2014 07:35 AM - Bob Sheth, Electric Forum

Should governments give serious consideration to electric car only city centres? Over the last 12 months the subject of electric car only city centres has been discussed on numerous occasions although so far no government has been brave enough to push through any formal regulations. The authorities continue to encourage the use of electric vehicles within city centres, assisting with creating a network of recharging stations, but perhaps they could be doing more? Only a few days ago we wrote about an expert in the field of electric vehicles who is suggesting that financial incentives should be focused towards commercial operations such as taxis and vehicle fleets. The idea is that taxis and vehicle fleets cover the most mileage per annum compared to your traditional motorist and therefore electric vehicles will be more visible under this particular strategy.

Human response to climate
January 22, 2014 10:22 AM - B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Throughout history, humans have responded to climate. Take, for example, the Mayans, who, throughout the eighth and 10th centuries, were forced to move away from their major ceremonial centers after a series of multi-year droughts, bringing about agricultural expansion in Mesoamerica, and a clearing of forests. Much later, in the late 20th century, frequent droughts caused the people of Burkina Faso in West Africa to migrate from the dry north to the wetter south where they have transformed forests to croplands and cut the nation's area of natural vegetation in half.

Great Lakes evaporation hypothesis up in the air
January 21, 2014 03:24 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

The recent Arctic blast gripping the nation will likely contribute to a rise in Great Lakes water levels in 2014, new research from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University shows. Research conducted by the two schools through the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA) shows the correlation between periods of high and low evaporation and its effect on ice cover. Years with high ice cover were usually followed by cooler summer water temperatures and lower evaporation rates, but these same high-ice winters were preceded by high evaporation rates during the autumn and early winter indicating a two-way connection between ice cover and evaporation. While ice cover reduces evaporation from what would otherwise be exposed lake surface water, it also reduces lake temperature generating ice cover.

Is plant virus linked to honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)?
January 21, 2014 08:27 AM - Jim Sliwa, American Society for Microbiology

A viral pathogen that typically infects plants has been found in honeybees and could help explain their decline. Researchers working in the U.S. and Beijing, China report their findings in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The routine screening of bees for frequent and rare viruses "resulted in the serendipitous detection of Tobacco Ringspot Virus, or TRSV, and prompted an investigation into whether this plant-infecting virus could also cause systemic infection in the bees," says Yan Ping Chen from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, an author on the study.

Should activities in public space be limited? The UK approach.
January 21, 2014 07:02 AM - Josie Appleton, The Ecologist

Laws handing sweeping new powers to police and private security to restrict access to Britain's public space will extinguish the diversity of civic life, writes Josie Appleton. Time for us to rediscover and defend our freedoms! Councils and the police will have an almost free hand to determine the use of all public spaces from civic squares to rural footpaths. The idea of public space, as it developed in the modern period, was space for the free use and enjoyment of the citizenry. The temper and character of public space should be determined not by any private or public authority, but by the ways in which people choose to use it. A bill currently passing through the UK Parliament will mean the death-knell of this principle.

Beaver, Dam it!
January 20, 2014 09:32 AM - Enn Staff, The Ecologist

As climate change brings more rain, there will be more catastrophic flooding; flooding of crops, homes and businesses, particularly in urban areas where there is simply no place for the water to go. One British writer has identified the beaver as the would-be hero to restore hydrological normalcy. Louise Ramsey writes about the beaver in Britain where reintroductions of the rodent have shown the vital role they once had in reducing flooding and how they could take up that mantle once more.

Coastal erosion concerns in Southern New England
January 19, 2014 10:10 AM - FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

Southern New England’s coastline — the region's economic engine — is under siege, and this relentless enemy is gaining force. It can't be subdued by 20-foot-high seawalls or controlled by old-school hay bales. It’'s allies include parking lots, beachfront development and climate change. Coastal communities here are increasingly experiencing the impacts of an encroaching ocean. Storm waves are eroding beaches and flooding developed areas. Rising sea levels are taking land. The ocean’s power even when it's seemingly tranquil is unmatched, but when it's angry our continued disrespect proves costly.

Wastewater to power project planned in DC
January 18, 2014 09:13 AM - Joanna M. Foster, Think Progress via Care2

When the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority was first planning to build its Blue Plains wastewater treatment facility back in the 1930s, it seemed logical to choose a site that would minimize the cost of pumping water uphill. That's why the facility, which today serves over 2 million people in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and treats around 370 million gallons of wastewater a day, is located at the lowest point in all of the District of Columbia. But the 150-acre facility, on the banks of the Potomac River, is now confronting the downside of what was once a strategic siting decision — the entire facility is extremely vulnerable to the flooding predicted by future sea level rise.

Finding Arctic Cyclones
January 17, 2014 12:18 PM - Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University

From 2000 to 2010, about 1,900 cyclones churned across the top of the world each year, leaving warm water and air in their wakes – and melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. That's about 40 percent more of these Arctic storms than previously thought, according to a new study of vast troves of weather data that previously were synthesized at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). A 40 percent difference in the number of cyclones could be important to anyone who lives north of 55 degrees latitude – the area of the study, which includes the northern reaches of Canada, Scandinavia and Russia, along with the state of Alaska.

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