Environmental Policy

Another rotten Grinch tale
December 2, 2013 03:50 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Seemingly working in concert with the Grinch, Phytophthora root rot is taking hold in the roots of Christmas tree farms throughout Oregon and North Carolina. Phytophthora root rot is a rapidly moving fungus found in poorly drained soils. It causes a slow decline in a tree first destroying the feeder roots and then turning the needles light green or yellow. The pathogen infects the root cortex first depriving the remainder of the root and the plant from its nutrients. Pytophthora root rot is difficult to detect and is only verified with laboratory analysis.

Developing technology for the developing world: Earthquake detection via smartphone
December 2, 2013 01:01 PM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet

Countries that do not have or cannot afford earthquake detection systems may soon have an alternative thanks to a new technology being developed in the United States and discussed last week at the 6th World Science Forum (WSF), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Consumer Awareness and Micro Plastics
December 2, 2013 11:10 AM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Environmental Studies, 2015

Micro plastics are some of the worst water pollutants; they not only harm the local wildlife, but also accumulate into fish that humans consume and cause major health problems. These micro plastics are accumulating not only in oceans, but also freshwater areas, like the Great Lakes. In fact, a 2012 study conducted by the Burning River Foundation found approximately 80,000 particles of micro plastic per km2 in Lake Erie. This high concentration of micro plastic particles is highly concerning for human health and the health of local ecosystems.

Holiday D"eco"rations
December 2, 2013 10:50 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Each year holiday decorations provide opportunities to foster family traditions and foundations for normalcy within our generation. But our decorating traditions should not negatively impact future generations. While lights, trees, ornaments, wrapping paper and candles are mainstays in the holiday decorating tradition many of them eventually end up in the landfill or in our air as long lasting pollutants. Being aware of what is a potential hazard and what alternatives there may be is important and necessary for future generations.

France opposes shale gas development
December 2, 2013 06:49 AM - EurActiv

French Environment Minister Philippe Martin reiterated his government's strong opposition to the exploitation of shale gas, despite a parliamentary report advocating more flexibility towards unconventional gas. The French government says it will not issue the permits for shale gas exploitation requested by the US company Hess Oil, Martin, the energy and ecology minister, announced on 28 November.

Massachusetts Legislature moves on fracking moratorium
December 1, 2013 09:16 AM - ecoRI News staff

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture has approved a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking. The committee’s approval of a bill introduced by Reps. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, and Denise Provost, D-Somerville, came after Environment Massachusetts and its allies presented the committee with documented cases of water contamination, illness and other damage from fracking operations elsewhere. "From Pennsylvania to Colorado, fracking has contaminated water, threatened residents' health and turned rural landscapes into industrial zones" said Ben Hellerstein, field associate for Environment Massachusetts. "Thanks to the leadership of Chairs Anne Gobi and Mark Pacheco, we are now one step closer to protecting the Pioneer Valley from dirty drilling."

What is the true cost of food production?
November 29, 2013 08:18 AM - Patrick Holden, The Ecologist

Unsustainable farming systems that damage the environment and public health thrive at the expense of sustainable producers. Patrick Holden makes the case for "true cost accounting" ... We must account for the real costs of food, or sustainable food systems will never break through to the mainstream. We live in a time when the need for sustainable food and farming systems has never been more urgent. Earlier this year, over 200 leading scientists signed a consensus statement on Maintaining Humanity's Life Support Systems in the 21st Century. It expressed deep concern that society has reached the tipping points for a range of environmental and social consequences to our behaviour, which could significantly degrade life on earth by 2050.

Clean water filtration: basic necessity
November 27, 2013 01:30 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Clean water is a vital concern as many parts of the world struggle with its availability. Kenya is a prime example of a country on the edge. Kenya's people have long struggled with lack of availability of fresh water creating hazardous health conditions. According to the World Bank, the country's population is well over 43 million people. The country is one of the poorest on the earth with one of the most arid climates. Only a small portion of the land is suitable for agriculture. Further, Natural resources available to Kenya do not support adequate or equitable delivery of water forcing people to spend many hours of each day, procuring water for basic sustenance.

Iroko trees, the new warrior for climate change
November 27, 2013 10:59 AM - Kristin Thiel, Worldwatch Institute

Iroko trees are native to the west coast of Africa. Sometimes called Nigerian teak, their wood is tough, dense, and very durable. Their hardwood is so sought after that the trees are often poached and are now endangered in many regions of Africa. But a new scientific discovery may aid in reforestation efforts.

Google Earth Improves Estimates of Fish Catches
November 27, 2013 09:10 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

The basic idea of a fish trap is that when a fish swims inside through it's opening, it cannot get out, therefore trapping the fish and making it easier for populations to collect a decent catch. People around the world use different kinds of fish traps depending on the local conditions and behavior of the fish they are trying to catch. One type of fishing trap known as weirs that jut out from coastlines is now facing scrutiny as Google Earth images reveal the traps be snaring six times as many fish than what is officially reported.

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