Environmental Policy

Good news for European rivers
December 16, 2013 08:12 AM - fred pearce, Yale Environment360

From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains. For a continent that long viewed rivers as little more than shipping canals and sewers, it is a striking change. From the industrial cities of Britain to the forests of Sweden, from the plains of Spain to the shores of the Black Sea, Europe is restoring its rivers to their natural glory. The most densely populated continent on earth is finding space for nature to return along its river banks.

Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood
December 14, 2013 08:25 AM - ELIZA BARCLAY - NPR

We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury. But mercury is just one of a slew of synthetic and organic pollutants that fish can ingest and absorb into their tissue. Sometimes it's because we're dumping chemicals right into the ocean. But as a study published recently in Nature, Scientific Reports helps illuminate, sometimes fish get chemicals from the plastic debris they ingest.

Shanghai air quality crisis
December 13, 2013 06:48 AM - Matthew Currell, Ecologist

Shanghai is experiencing unprecedented levels of pollution. Last week fine particulate levels reached almost 20 times WHO guidelines, and they are still at dangerous levels. Matthew Currell reports on China's pollution crisis. The huge economic and health costs of pollution are estimated to consume approximately 5% of China's gross domestic product. The current "airpocalypse" emergency in Shanghai - which has seen schoolchildren ordered indoors to protect them from the polluted air, flights grounded and companies ordered to cut production - comes at the end of a year in which China's environmental crisis reached a tipping point.

EU trawling ban only partially succeeds
December 11, 2013 07:33 AM - Science

The European Parliament today agreed to curb fishing practices deemed destructive for deep-sea ecosystems. But it narrowly rejected calls for a complete ban, to the dismay of many scientists and environmental campaigners. Last month, the Parliament's Fisheries Committee approved a report to restrict bottom trawling and gillnetting in the northeast Atlantic, but rejected the initial proposal to ban them altogether, an idea put forward by the European Commission in July last year.

Good News for African Elephants
December 8, 2013 07:03 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Representatives from 30 countries came together to discuss the poaching crisis and potential measures to save Africa’s elephants at the African Elephant Summit. As the summit convened, new numbers were released by the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which found that if poaching continues at its current rate, Africa will likely see at least a fifth of its elephants disappear in the next ten years. Heartbreaking stories of entire elephant families dying continue to make the news, while poachers continue to sink to ruthless new lows to take them out, including using cyanide to kill them. The level of horror caused by poachers was recently highlighted by a gut-wrenching recording from the Wildlife Conservation Society that accidentally captured the sounds of elephants being killed as they tried to escape from their killers.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: State boundaries based on watersheds
December 6, 2013 02:56 PM - Catherine Manner, University of Delaware, class of 2015

In 1872, John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the Colorado River to explore unknown canyons. In his report he spoke about potential for water resources development and stated that irrigation would be the key factor to settlement of the western U.S. He promoted the idea that the western state boundaries should be made around watersheds, preventing interstate water arguments.

Primal rights: Justice for Tommy the chimp
December 6, 2013 12:45 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Plaintiff Tommy the chimp of Johnstown, New York has made legal history. Attorney Steve Wise on December 2, 2013 presented a case on behalf of the chimp for his legal right to bodily liberty. Wise who represents the Nonhuman Rights Project, asserts that 26-year-old Tommy, who has been kept alone in a cage in a local warehouse, is a person, possessing a legal right to bodily liberty previously reserved for humans and has a right to not be owned or imprisoned against his will.

EU considering fisheries link with Morocco
December 6, 2013 08:07 AM - Erik Hagen, The Ecologist

On 10 December, the European Parliament will vote over a huge fisheries partnership agreement with Morocco. If the agreement is approved the environment, human rights, peace and international law will all suffer. Erik Hagen reports. For Europe's Parliamentarians to retain a shred of honour, they must firmly repudiate this ghastly agreement. As the EU cultivates its 'good neighbour' relations with Morocco it is is turning a blind eye to those things it would rather not see.

Rutgers study looks at the Jersey Shore and climate change
December 5, 2013 04:30 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Superstorm Sandy caused unprecedented damage along large areas of the Jersey Shore. Many areas were flooded, not by the ocean, but by rising waters in the bays behind the barrier islands. These waters inundated towns causing damage that is still being repaired. Was this severe storm an anomaly, or can we expect more in the future? Geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and of about 3.5 feet by 2100 – 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over the century. That would mean, the scientists say, that by the middle of the century, the one-in-10 year flood level at Atlantic City would exceed any flood known there from the observational record, including Superstorm Sandy.

White House Highlights Importance of Reauthorizing Farm Bill
December 5, 2013 11:57 AM - Sophie Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute

Last month, the White House Rural Council released a report highlighting the economic importance of reauthorizing the Farm Bill, the United States' primary food and agriculture policy tool. The bill—which impacts food prices, environmental conservation programs, international trade, agricultural research, food and nutrition programs, and the well-being of rural communities—has been stalled in congress for over a year, in part due to disagreement over reductions to the food stamp program. House Republicans aim to cut $40 billion in food stamp funds over the next 10 years, while Senate Democrats aim to cut only $4 billion.

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