Plastic Bag Ban Passes in LA
June 21, 2013 06:17 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday, June 18 to approve a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The Coucil voted 11 to 1 in favor of the ordinance, and a final vote is scheduled for next week. Last year, the Council voted 13 to 1 to move forward on banning single use plastic shopping bags. The ban will go into effect for large stores on January 1, 2014, and for smaller stores on July 1, 2014. Paper bags will not be included in the ban, but stores now have to charge 10 cents per paper bag. When the ban goes into affect, one in four Californians will live in a city that bans single-use plastic shoppings bags, according to the environmental group, Heal the Bay. There is good financial reasoning behind the ban. Only five percent of single use plastic bags are recycled every year across the state and California municipalities spend almost $25 million a year to collect and throw away plastic bags that litter the streets and clog storm drains. Currently there are almost two billion plastic shopping bags and 400 million paper bags are distributed every year in Los Angeles.
Are Coffee Pods a Recycling Problem?
June 20, 2013 05:58 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
As the consumption of coffee pods surges in the U.S., so do the questions about their disposal and recycling. Although using a pod to make a cup of joe takes about the same amount of time as it does to fire up some water and then make a French press of coffee, the popularity of the single-serve coffee pod machines has taken off. For now, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters-owned Kaurig has taken the lead in the coffee pod market share race, but Nestlé’s Nespresso and Starbucks' Verismo also fare well among java fans. All of the coffee pod machine manufacturers use flowery language on their sustainability pages to describe how they are working to make the pods' disposal and recycling more "sustainable." The fact is, however, that there is no differentiation in what happens to these pods after use; all of them are creating more waste.
Hawaii's Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control
June 19, 2013 09:26 AM - Andrew Burger, Global Warming is Real
Climate change is affecting fisheries in the Western Pacific and around the world, but a host of other factors, including land use, are threatening fisheries and the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. Aiming for sustainable fisheries, marine policymakers, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to take a more holistic, integrated approach to fisheries management, as evidenced during the latest meeting of the Western Regional Fishery Management Council (WRFMC) meeting, which was held in Oahu. Often blamed for overexploiting fish stocks, local fishermen in Hawaii are keenly aware of external impacts on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and fish populations. At the latest WRFMC meeting in Honolulu, they argued in support of taking a more comprehensive ecosystems management approach, specifically zooming in on how land use and associated runoff from cities, agriculture and industry are harming marine ecosystems and fisheries.
Is EV battery technology more advanced than we thought?
June 19, 2013 06:51 AM - Editor, Electric Forum
Are EV manufacturers holding something back? If we take a look at the EV market it seems that we have barely moved on, at least in the mass market, since the General Motors EV1 debacle in the 1990s. Mainstream battery journey capacity is still roughly the same as was available for the EV1 despite the fact that the industry has received billions of dollars in additional funding from governments and private investors. So, are EV manufacturers holding something back? There is some speculation that various EV manufacturers are holding back the best of their technology until it has been fine tuned and thoroughly tested. There is speculation that while some of the "financially weak" companies are falling by the wayside, in the shape of Fisker for example, we are starting to see some stronger companies emerge from the market. This is potentially the perfect storm for the EV market, with companies falling by the wayside leaving the lion's share of future investment to those looking further forward and able to give stability and long-term credibility.
Aquatic Environment Biodiversity Threatened by Pesticides
June 18, 2013 03:09 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
The use of pesticides have been debated for some time now, as research indicates their use can have a negative effect on the environment. As an agent meant to prevent, destroy or mitigate any pest, pesticides target unwanted plants and animals that can alter ecosystems, cause nuisance, or spread disease. Besides potentially being toxic to humans and other animals, new research conducted by an international team of scientists has revealed that pesticides are responsible for reducing regional biodiversity of invertebrates by up to 42 percent.
Industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef
June 18, 2013 06:33 AM - WWF
The Australian Marine Conservation Society and WWF-Australia said today that Australia’s governments are putting the Great Barrier Reef at risk by failing to implement the World Heritage Committee recommendations around rapid industrialisation. Australia's Richard Leck, who has been attending the World Heritage Meeting as an observer, said Australia had been put 'on notice' by the World Heritage Committee.
Clinton Global Initiative, Ikea and Global Green USA team to bring backup solar power to NY and NJ
June 17, 2013 06:21 AM - ALYSSA DANIGELIS, Discovery News
When Superstorm Sandy cut power to millions in New York, New Jersey and beyond, solar-powered generators helped some residents recharge. Now a new project aims to install backup solar energy systems in areas that remain vulnerable. Low-income residents who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy are going to be first in line for a new solar power generation project called Solar for Sandy from the Clinton Global Initiative, the environmental organization Global Green USA and Ikea. The idea is that grid-tied solar will help lower bills and provide back-up in an emergency, according to Global Green USA’s announcement. The program wants to start by equipping at least five community facilities with solar energy systems that can offer lighting, mobile phone charging, heating, cooling, and refrigeration for medicine. A small-scale version is being installed in Far Rockaway, Queens. After that's completed, one for the Red Hook community in Brooklyn is scheduled to be installed by Oct. 29. Last fall, that neighborhood was hit hard by flooding.
East vs West - Surface Water Rights
June 16, 2013 08:15 AM - NPR Staff - NPR
There are two doctrines that govern surface water rights in the U.S. — one for the West and one for the East. The riparian doctrine covers the East. "[Under] the riparian doctrine, if you live close to the river or to that water body [or] lake, you have reasonable rights to use that water," says Venki Uddameri, a professor and the director of water resources at Texas Tech University. The Western U.S. uses the prior appropriation doctrine. "As people started exploring the West and started looking for water for agriculture and mining, there was a need to move water away from the rivers," Uddameri tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered. People wanted a claim to water but often lived too far away from a river for the riparian doctrine to make any sense. So the prior appropriation doctrine was devised.
Update: UN climate change talks start making progress
June 15, 2013 07:40 AM - UN News Center
The United Nations climate change body said it has made concrete progress towards a new universal agreement on climate change during its latest round of talks which wrapped up this week in Germany. "This has been an important meeting because Governments are moving faster now from the stage of exploring options to designing and implementing solutions," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). During the two-week talks in Bonn, participants focused on how to transform the world's energy systems quickly enough towards low-carbon, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and the consideration of carbon capture and storage.
Logging in temperate zones may release more greenhouse gases than previously thought by destabilizing carbon stored in forest soils, argues a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. The research involved analysis of carbon released from forest management practices in the northeastern United States. It found that while most models assume carbon stored in mineral soils to be relatively stable, in fact intensive logging operations, like clear-cutting, trigger release of carbon from various pools above and below ground.