Environmental Policy

How Will the World Feed Itself in the Future?
November 3, 2012 08:52 AM - Mark Holderness, SciDevNet

The world's food security depends on the quality of the forward-looking agricultural studies we are carrying out today, says Mark Holderness. Climate change, population growth and competing demands for land and resources are putting great pressure on the world's food systems. Smallholder farmers in the developing world, who produce much of the food for the poorest people, are threatened by devastating droughts and floods, food price spikes, and persistent poverty. Scientific advances have greatly alleviated hunger and poverty. The introduction of higher yield crop varieties and better agricultural management practices have saved and improved millions of lives.

Economics of Coal Power and Wind are shifting in favor of Wind
November 1, 2012 07:33 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

While the cost of wind power has been dropping, a fascinating article in The Washington Post describes how coal mining is becoming more difficult and expensive. The coal industry cites environmental regulations as the main source of upward pressure on costs but WaPo writer Steven Mufson makes a convincing case that factors within the coal fields themselves are the main culprit. Mufson is careful to note that the trend varies from one coal field to another, but it is occurring in the key coal-producing region of Appalachia among others. Against the backdrop of falling wind prices, the rising cost of coal provides businesses with yet another incentive to explore ways of tapping the wind to power their operations.

Climate change mitigation 'far cheaper than inaction'
October 31, 2012 02:48 PM - Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDevNet

Tackling the global climate crisis could reap significant economic benefits for both developed and developing countries, according to a new report. The impacts of climate change and a carbon-intensive economy cost the world around US$1.2 trillion a year — 1.6 per cent of the total global GDP (gross domestic product), states 'Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet'.

Survey Shows Business Community Moving Toward Sustainability
October 26, 2012 06:18 AM - RICHARD MATTHEWS, Global Warming is Real

Initially, corporate sustainability was a tertiary practice that focused on reporting; increasingly, it is influencing core strategic business decisions. A proactive stance on sustainability is becoming a competitive necessity to attract investors, source talent, meet the requirements of supply chain partners, and address growing consumer demand. Companies are seeing the value of operating in ways that address environmental concerns, health and safety issues and operational risks. They increasingly understand that good product stewardship, responsible energy consumption, and low carbon practices are necessary components of a competitive business. Although a sustainability strategy can be onerous, it is an increasingly essential aspect of a viable business. Engaging sustainability requires that companies are innovative and that they know consumers. Obviously, they must avoid greenwashing and they must tie sustainability to their core business. Some of the contemporary realities that are emerging around the issue of sustainability involve collaborative approaches and securing appropriate external certification.

Nearly Curtains for the Mexican Wolf
October 25, 2012 09:24 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

In North America, the gray wolf has been nearly driven to extinction. Only thanks to recent conservation efforts in places like Yellowstone and other areas of North America have gray wolf populations bounced back. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a subspecies of gray wolf living in the US Southwest and Mexico, the Mexican wolf. There are few other land animals on the continent that have come closer to extinction. They were ruthlessly hunted and trapped by ranchers and the federal government since the 1800s. The Mexican wolf has been reduced to captive breeding in order to keep their species going. But this conservation effort appears to be failing, as it is plagued with mismanagement and conflicting rules.

Are Environmentalists basing positions on science, or not?
October 23, 2012 06:17 AM - Fred Pearce, Yale Environment360

On issues ranging from genetically modified crops to nuclear power, environmentalists are increasingly refusing to listen to scientific arguments that challenge standard green positions. This approach risks weakening the environmental movement and empowering climate contrarians. From Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to James Hansen's modern-day tales of climate apocalypse, environmentalists have long looked to good science and good scientists and embraced their findings. Often we have had to run hard to keep up with the crescendo of warnings coming out of academia about the perils facing the world. A generation ago, biologist Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb and systems analysts Dennis and Donella Meadows' The Limits to Growth shocked us with their stark visions of where the world was headed. No wide-eyed greenie had predicted the opening of an ozone hole before the pipe-smoking boffins of the British Antarctic Survey spotted it when looking skyward back in 1985. On issues ranging from ocean acidification and tipping points in the Arctic to the dangers of nanotechnology, the scientists have always gotten there first — and the environmentalists have followed.

Solar Power Adoption is Contagious
October 22, 2012 03:26 PM - Dani Thé, ENN

Apparently doing something good can be contagious. Or at least this seems to be the case with solar power adoption. According to a study by Yale and New York University published though Marketing Science, individuals are most likely to install solar panels on their home if one of their neighbors has also done so. The study, "Peer Effects in Diffusion of Photovoltaic Panels", took a close look at solar installation clusters between January 2001 and December 2011 throughout the state of California. They found that a resident was most likely to install solar panels if solar panels had already been installed within that resident’s same zip code.

Mississippi river diversions play an important role in wetlands
October 22, 2012 08:32 AM - University of Pennsylvania through EurekAlert

The extensive system of levees along the Mississippi River has done much to prevent devastating floods in riverside communities. But the levees have also contributed to the loss of Louisiana's wetlands. By holding in floodwaters, they prevent sediment from flowing into the watershed and rebuilding marshes, which are compacting under their own weight and losing ground to sea-level rise. Reporting in Nature Geoscience, a team of University of Pennsylvania geologists and others used the Mississippi River flood of the spring of 2011 to observe how floodwaters deposited sediment in the Mississippi Delta. Their findings offer insight into how new diversions in the Mississippi River's levees may help restore Louisiana's wetlands. While scientists and engineers have previously proposed ways of altering the levee system to restore some of the natural wetland-building ability of the Mississippi, this is among the only large-scale experiments to demonstrate how these modifications might function.

Top 5 Green Jobs on the Rise in the United States
October 22, 2012 08:18 AM - Frank Conley, Triple Pundit

Nowadays, you see the newest and latest products marketed by components that relate to the benefit of the environment. The green economy is rising by the second. Businesses and people are placing more of a value on "going green." The attention on the global environment is growing. For this purpose, more jobs have been created or altered to go green.

How can Conservation Efforts help species adapt to climate change?
October 19, 2012 06:33 AM - Science Daily

As the climate changes, conservationists are divided over the most effective way to preserve animal and plant diversity because they cannot simply preserve the status quo. Ensuring species can shift to track the climate to which they are suited is a complex problem, especially when there are competing demands on land use. A simple prediction is that more habitat would help species to shift, but it is not obvious what the best spatial locations for habitat would be. A new study led by scientists at the University of York says that well placed habitat "stepping stones" would lead to faster range expansion than the equivalent amount and quality of habitat tacked onto existing sites. The result applies to situations where a species will have to cross gaps of several times the distance one individual can normally traverse, i.e. to species whose habitat is fairly rare.

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