Environmental Policy

President Obama Promises Action on Climate Change
January 22, 2013 05:57 AM - Bill DiBenedetto, Triple Pundit

President Obama's forceful pledge to "respond to the threat of climate change" during his second inaugural address Monday was both specific and somewhat surprising. Also bold and welcome. Coming in the wake of the federal government's 1146-page National Climate Assessment ten days earlier, which makes for some pretty scary reading, his statements underscored in a major way why climate change has to be an urgent national priority. That's because failing to act will "betray our children and future generations," Obama said.

Overpopulation Is Huge Concern - Alexandra Paul's TEDX Talk
January 20, 2013 02:43 PM - Jesse Thé – Editor-in-Chief

Every major global issue requires spearheading by influential individuals. Global warming had Al Gore and the famine in Ethiopia in the 80s had the fundraising supergroup Band Aid. At long last, the issue of overpopulation is being raised by someone with good exposure in the media. Alexandra Paul, host of the PBS documentary JAMPACKED and star of over 75 films and televisions shows, including the series Baywatch, gave a speech on overpopulation to the TEDX event in Topanga, California. Link to the story for a link to the video. Alexandra explains correctly that modern man first showed up on earth 200,000 years ago. By 1830 there were 1 billion people on the planet. Therefore, it took 200,000 years for humans to put the first billion humans on earth. The second billion we added in just 100 years. Now, we add 1 billion people every 12 years.

Renewable Energy Zones on Public Lands in Arizona
January 19, 2013 07:32 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Preserved natural lands are a national treasure that protect wildlife and allow us to see and enjoy the natural landscape of our beautiful country as it has existed for millenniums, without human "improvements". But there are lots of areas in national parks, monuments, and wildlife areas that are not pristine. These areas are targeted for low-impact energy development by the Obama administration. This week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Interior has designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development. This initiative, known as the Restoration Design Energy Project, caps a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects. The action establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona and the 18th nationwide. The Solar Energy Zones are part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six states in the West with high solar potential, few resource conflicts and access to existing or planned transmission. With the Agua Caliente zone, Interior is delivering on the promise made as part of the Western Solar Plan to identify and establish additional solar energy zones.

Biodiversity Loss, Disease Cuts Incomes in Tropical Countries
January 18, 2013 03:57 PM - Luís Amorim, SciDevNet

Tropical countries' per capita incomes could more than double if they managed to reduce their health burden from vector-borne and parasitic diseases (VBPDs) to that seen in temperate countries, a study has found. The study says that poor economic performance is caused partly by high disease burden, which is in turn affected by biodiversity. The findings that health conditions affect economies, and that loss of biodiversity could exacerbate the situation, have direct policy implications, says the study published in PLoS Biology last month.

Reports Reiterate Link Between Environment and Economy
January 18, 2013 08:46 AM - Richard Matthews, Global Warming is Real

Two new reports reiterate the scientific veracity of anthropogenic climate change while reinforcing the interconnectedness of the economy and the environment. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2013 clearly points to the interrelationship between the environment and the economy. A draft of the third National Climate Assessment Report indicates that climate change is both an environmental and economic issue.

NASA Satellite Images Reveal Dramatic Increase in Air Pollution Over China
January 16, 2013 02:08 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

NASA's Terra satellite acquired natural-color images of northeastern China on January 3 and January 14, highlighting a drastic shift in air quality for the region. According to the images, the opaque, gray areas tend to be clouds or fog, which are saturated with a gray or yellow tint as a result from the air pollution. Areas that are cloud-free appear gray and brown as a result from the smog that hides the cities below. Residual snow is also noted in the images.

Update: California Carbon Caps and Market Trading
January 14, 2013 06:09 AM - Emilie Mazzacurati, Guest Author, Triple Pundit

Carbon allowances are now available for sale in California. Companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent a year (CO2e) in the power, oil, and industrial sectors will now have to turn in permits for every ton they emit this year and the years to come. Things are moving fast in California right now, so here’s a primer on what’s happening and what to expect for the coming months. Are people really buying carbon permits? Yes. Currently California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) are trading for about $15 a ton on the secondary market. Point Carbon reported a big spike in volume traded since January 1st, as a lot of new companies have entered the markets and are cutting their teeth on West Coast-style carbon trading.

Draft National Climate Assessment Released
January 12, 2013 09:22 AM - Union of Concerned Scientists

The United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released its draft National Climate Assessment this week, just a week after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the United States experienced its warmest year on record. The report is the flagship climate change assessment for the United States, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "This could help restart a national conversation about climate change," said Todd Sanford, a UCS climate scientist. "It gives us a road map for climate change. And the road is much bumpier if we continue along a higher emissions pathway."

In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer
January 11, 2013 08:45 AM - Kaz Armour, ARKive.org

As well as being home to 3,000 reindeer, the island of South Georgia has many endemic species of fauna and flora that evolved in the absence of grazing pressures. These species are now struggling to survive in the reindeer's overbearing presence, and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced plans to eradicate the population in an effort to save the island's unique species.

Mercury Strategies
January 10, 2013 08:26 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Natural sources, such as volcanoes, are responsible for approximately half of atmospheric mercury emissions. Humans contributed most of the rest through fuel combustion. International negotiators will come together next week in Geneva, Switzerland for the fifth and final meeting to address global environmental controls on mercury. Ahead of the negotiations, researchers from MIT and Harvard University are calling for aggressive emissions reductions and clear public health advice to reduce the risks of mercury.

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