Environmental Policy

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).

Smart is at a whole new level for homes
December 27, 2013 10:13 AM - Editor, ENN, Sierra Club Green Home

Smart homes have gone to a whole new level with Panasonic's showcase center in Tokyo, Japan. Panasonic's new technologies feature hydroponics, air ventilation, color customization, and energy consumption. The energy consumption specifically is integrated into a grid of other smart homes that share excess energy; respond to energy needs, and track community usage trends. The resultant home is a zero-emission smart house combining with nature’s elements.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: The Benefits of Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater Systems
December 26, 2013 04:28 PM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Class of 2015, Environmental Studies

Approximately 30% of household water use is for outdoor use in the form of garden irrigation. Outdoor water usage is very seasonal, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and outdoor water usage is highest when water availability is the lowest due to drought conditions and heat. The top three uses of water in the household are for landscaping, sewage, and laundry. Yet a simple laundry-to-landscape system could reduce one of these high water wasters. A laundry-to-landscape system might not be the only step to make the garden water neutral; approximately 15% of household water use is for laundry, which could at least reduce outdoor water usage by 50% if a laundry-to-landscape system were installed.

The "state" of Energy Efficiency
December 26, 2013 09:47 AM - Mary Mazzoni, Triple Pundit

Conversations about energy use in the U.S. often revolve around expanding domestic production or spurring renewables. It’s easy to forget another significant piece of the puzzle – energy efficiency. In its 2013 scorecard, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks the most energy-efficient states based on policy and program efforts that improve efficiency in homes, businesses, industries and transportation systems.

Electric vehicle market predictions
December 25, 2013 08:39 AM - BOB SHETH, Electric Forum

While there is no doubt that the electric vehicle market has performed admirably during 2013, what does the future hold for the electric vehicle industry in 2014? As we come to the end of 2013 all eyes are now moving towards next year when many experts believe we will see developments which could change the whole landscape of the electric vehicle market. There are a number of initiatives under the surface, perhaps not grabbing the headlines as you might expect, which could come into play in 2014 and indeed we will be one year nearer an affordable electric vehicle priced around $30,000. There are very few people who would have guessed that 2013 would be so successful for the worldwide electric vehicle market especially as the year began on a fairly downward note. Not only did we have a number of setbacks for the industry, with regards to government investments, but the spat between Tesla and the New York Times did nobody any favours.

Environmentally a year in review
December 24, 2013 11:53 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Environmentally 2013 is a remarkable year. A year in review marks the good and the bad. While impossible to be complete in limited space, below are some highlights in various areas.

A little less coal for China
December 24, 2013 09:02 AM - Kieran Cooke, Ecologist

Coal mining companies in Australia have been enjoying the good life in recent years, making millions of dollars from feeding the seemingly insatiable energy appetites of Asia's tiger economies - particularly that of China. But a new report by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) at Oxford in the UK warns that Australia's coal mining party could be coming to an end.

Out with the old and in with the new--light bulbs that is!
December 23, 2013 09:25 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

As of January 1, 2014, 60 and 40 watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be manufactured or sold in the United States. Retailers will sell out what is on their shelves and not restock incandescents. George W. Bush signed the phase-out, which was called for by The Energy Independence and National Security Act, in 2007. The bill also includes improvements in energy efficiency for lighting and appliances many of which have been in stores for several years.

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