Environmental Policy

Renewables Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels in Australia
January 8, 2014 07:35 AM - Celsias, Clean Techies

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in Australia has discovered that renewable energy is cheaper to produce than the old conventional fossil fuel sources, and that is without the subsidies. The study shows that electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AUD 80/MWh (USD 83), compared to AUD 143/MWh from a new coal plant or AUD 116/MWh from a new baseload gas plant, including the cost of emissions under the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme. However even without a carbon price (the most efficient way to reduce economy-wide emissions) wind energy is 14% cheaper than new coal and 18% cheaper than new gas.

Global warming debate rages on
January 7, 2014 03:15 PM - Stephen Lewandowsky, The Ecologist

Harsh summer weather that maroons researchers in the Southern Ocean near the South Pole feeds the global warming debate. With the group of global warming doubters on one side and the believers on the other, some say it is ironic imagery juxtaposed with some rather convincing scientific graphs. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by now you might have seen dramatic images of passengers on stranded icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy being rescued by helicopter last Friday after becoming lodged in Antarctica sea ice on Christmas Eve. Another type of picture - the graph - plays a major role in science. No one could look at the graph below, which shows the extent of arctic ice during the past 1,450 years, without realizing that the polar ice cap has been melting at a rapid and wholly unprecedented rate over the past few decades.

U.S. Coast Guard Polar Star to the Rescue!
January 6, 2014 04:09 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Maritime drama in the Southern Ocean continues! Maritime rescue teams have been getting a great deal of practice lately; this time the U.S. Coast Guard is attempting the rescue of the Russian research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy and now the Chinese icebreaker, Xue Long aka Snow Dragon in Chinese.

Tracking tracks yields old story
January 6, 2014 03:21 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Scientists in the UK have dated a set of footprints found in 1961 in the Chihuahuan desert in northeastern Mexico helping us understand the climate conditions in this area more than 7,000 years ago. The footprints were excavated while workman were building a road and placed in the Museo del Desierto in Saltillo, Coahuila. The age of the footprints piqued the interest of researchers at the John Moores University in Liverpool. In 2006 their curiosity yielded a second set of prints in a Cuatro Ciénegas quarry.

Stink Bugs: Friend or Foe
January 6, 2014 10:07 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Stink bugs are fierce prehistoric looking bugs. Some are indeed quite fierce and others stink more than they bite! In many parts of the world including their native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is considered an agricultural pest. Yet other genera of stink bugs, specifically the Podisus nigrispinus (Dallas), are considered an important biological control agent for other insect pests in the cotton, soybean, tomato, corn, and kale fields.

EPA adopts ASTM E1527-13 Standard
January 6, 2014 09:35 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

EPA finalized a rule last week adopting the revised ASTM E1527-13 "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process" as a standard by which parties may comply with the "All Appropriate Inquiries" Rule, 40 CFR Part 312. In the United States, the Phase I ESA is a report prepared for a piece of property that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. Phase I ESAs assess risks of ownership and are conducted in order to determine if a site may be contaminated from past spills, leaking underground storage tanks, or historical uses of the site, to name a few.

Thinning out on Antarctica
January 3, 2014 09:57 AM - ENN Editor

Pine Island Glacier, located in West Antarctica, is showing signs of thinning making it more susceptible to climatic and ocean variability than at first thought. Scientists led by the British Antarctic Survey have discovered large fluctuations in the ocean heat manifesting itself in the melting of the ice shelf into which the glacier flows. Between 2010 and 2012 the ice shelf into which the ice stream flows has decreased by 50%, most likely due to La Ninã, suggesting a complex interplay between geological, oceanographic and climatic processes.

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.

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