Environmental Policy

Great Potential for Energy Efficiency Improvements in UK
November 15, 2012 06:07 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

With the ambitious goal of kickstarting "a revolution in UK energy efficiency," England’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has just launched a new program called the Government's Energy Efficiency Strategy. The goal is to cut the equivalent of 22 power stations worth of energy consumption throughout the United Kingdom by 2020. Though the UK has already made some significant progress in energy efficiency, the new strategy underscores just how much more opportunity there is to save energy in a nation that boasts an impressive stock of centuries-old buildings. The challenges of upgrading castles, cottages and ancient estates is small potatoes, though, compared to some broader structural challenges the UK faces, and the DECC is not shy about laying those out.

Got (organic) milk?
November 14, 2012 10:04 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

In recent years, advertising for milk and milk products has been seen everywhere in mainstream America. Not only do we have our doctors telling us to drink more milk, but we also have celebrities endorsing the product. Of course milk does the body good, but do some types of milk do better than others? What about milk's impact on the environment? To analyze these questions, researchers need to study the types of farms from where the milk originates. As with the case for most farms, large-scale farm businesses have been taking over smaller, local farms causing tons of pasture-based dairies to disappear from the landscape. Even though the demand for organic milk and dairy products is on the rise (raking in at least $750 million annually), most of our country's milk is coming from cows confined in animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. Not only do CAFOs make a less nutritious milk product, but they also pollute our air, water, and soil and reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans.

Borneo may lose half its orangutans to deforestation, hunting, and plantations
November 14, 2012 08:42 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Borneo will likely lose half of its orangutans if current deforestation and forest conversion trends continue, warns a comprehensive new assessment by an international team of researchers. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, overlays orangutan distribution with land use regulations in Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo. Borneo has suffered high rates of deforestation, logging, and forest conversion for industrial plantations in recent decades, endangering the world's largest surviving populations of orangutans.

Report: Climate-Related Migration
November 14, 2012 05:31 AM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute

Recent reports, as well as extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy, suggest that climatechange, and particularly sea-level rise, may be occurring faster than earlier anticipated. This has increased public and policy discussions about climate change’s likely impacts on the movement of populations, both internally and worldwide. Research suggests that when climate-related migration does occur, much of it is short distance and within national borders, as opposed to international, according to new analysis conducted by Lori Hunter, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Recent research has added nuance to the scientific understanding of the potential connections between climate change and human migration. Previous studies over the past two decades relied largely on descriptive data and simplistic assumptions to put forward at-times alarmist estimates of future numbers of "environmental refugees," ranging from 150 million to 1 billion people. But such broad-sweeping generalizations mask several central issues that are important in the development of appropriate policy responses. These include:

Growth of Renewables will continue with continued subsidies
November 12, 2012 03:10 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

The International Energy Agency predicts renewables will become the world's second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. But according to the 2012 edition of its flagship publication, the World Energy Outlook, the agency warns this rapid increase is critically dependent on continued subsidies. It says in 2011, these subsidies (including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion, but over the period to 2035 need to amount to $4.8 trillion; over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets.

Book Review: America's National Parks: An Insider's Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences
November 8, 2012 11:05 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

I love our National Parks! I live near two in New Jersey. Yes, in New Jersey. Jockey Hollow National Historical Park in Morristown preserves the locations where during our revolutionary war with England George Washington and the colonial army units camped out. When I travel to the American west, I often visit three national parks a reasonable drive from Las Vegas. Now armchair travelers can go on a photographic journey from the comfort of their own home, as Time Home Entertainment Inc. is releasing America's National Parks: An Insider’s Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences. From cover to cover, this book is the perfect collection for travel enthusiasts, photography aficionados, and American history buffs alike. America's National Parks captures the experience of touring some of the country's most notable places; whether it's hiking through the giants of the Redwoods, biking along the carriage roads of Acadia, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, or wandering the ruins of Mesa Verde.

Europe is exporting more waste than ever as illegal trade grows
November 8, 2012 08:47 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

As waste is increasingly moving across EU borders for recovery or disposal, the European Environment Agency (EEA) is warning of a big rise in the export of hazardous waste to countries outside of Europe. Increasingly stringent and harmonised waste policies in the EU have led countries to transport more waste material elsewhere, for example if they do not have the facilities to recycle or dispose of particular types of waste.

Predicting Obama Action on Climate Change in his Second Administration
November 8, 2012 06:01 AM - Emilie Mazzacurati, Guest Author, Triple Pundit

Newly re-elected President President Obama gave a nod to climate change in his acceptance speech on election night, but reducing the United States' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is still not very high on the President's agenda for his second term. Yet the looming debate on fiscal reform combined with recent weather events could create an opportunity to introduce a carbon tax. While global warming was one of Obama's top priorities going into his first mandate, in 2012, Obama stayed as far away from the topic as he could. Not only was the economy the main issue for both candidates, but it’s also likely that Obama felt vulnerable to attacks against his energy policy record following the high-profile Solyndra bankruptcy in September 2011.

UK faces higher risk of flooding and droughts as water crisis looms
November 6, 2012 04:49 PM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

The risk of flooding and water shortage in 2013 has increased because the Government is too slow in changing the way we manage our water, environmental leaders warn. The authors of the Blueprint for Water report say that after two dry winters, it took Britain’s wettest ever summer to narrowly avert a serious drought. They warn that despite this summer’s flooding, another series of dry winters would put Britain right back under serious risk of drought.

Malaysian dam project will set precedent on how to treat indigenous people
November 6, 2012 11:31 AM - Maxine Newlands, The Ecologist

The controversial Murum dam in Malaysia is the first big overseas project for the China Three Gorges Project Company (CTGC) which is building hydro- and coal-fired power stations in 23 countries. So how it resolves its current conflict with the protesting Penan tribe will set an important precedent as to how other Indigenous people are treated. Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo and is covered in ancient rainforest. This pristine oasis is home to many rare species, including the Slow loris, Clouded leopard, eight species of Hornbill as well as the iconic Orang-utang. Logging practices in the Sarawak region have decimated the habitat of these, and thousands of other unique species, and caused irreparable damage to valuable peat lands.

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