Environmental Policy

Australia lists koalas as 'vulnerable'
May 2, 2012 06:19 AM - Editor, ARKive.org

The koala has been listed as a threatened species in parts of Australia due to its shrinking population, according to officials. One of Australia's most iconic marsupials, the koala is facing a range of threats, including habitat loss, urban expansion, dog attacks, vehicle collisions and disease. Its specialised diet of eucalyptus leaves confines it to quite specific habitats, while increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be reducing the nutrient content of the leaves it eats. Climate change is also increasing the risk of drought and fires, with koalas being particularly vulnerable to bushfires as their slow movements and tree-dwelling lifestyle make it difficult for them to escape.

Ford to EV Dealers: Meet Environmental Requirements
May 1, 2012 08:55 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

An environmentally friendly car dealership? Like "responsible drinking," or "Walmart organic food," that term at first may sound like an oxymoron. Ford Motor, however, is not only rolling out new electric vehicles (EVs), but has committed to greening its entire supply chain. This is just one example of the changes Detroit is undergoing as the Big Three rack up impressive quarterly numbers. For now, EVs are only a small part of the auto industry's resurgence as they slowly win acceptance from skeptical commuters. To that end, Ford is requiring its dealerships selling EVs to resemble businesses that would sell...EVs.

Caribbean biodiversity and the Mongoose
May 1, 2012 06:55 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In a single paper in Zootaxa scientists have rewritten the current understanding of lizard biodiversity in the Caribbean. By going over museum specimens of skinks, scientists have discovered 24 new species and re-established nine species previously described species, long-thought invalid. The single paper has increased the number of skinks in the Caribbean by 650 percent, from six recognized species to 39. Unfortunately, half of these new species may already be extinct and all of them are likely imperiled. "Now, one of the smallest groups of lizards in this region of the world has become one of the largest groups," co-author Blair Hedges with Penn State University said in a press release. Hedges and his team determined the new species through morphological research as well as DNA studies.

Wind Turbines found to create local warming
April 30, 2012 06:37 AM - Sid Perkins, Science

Large wind farms can substantially influence local climate, most notably by boosting nighttime temperatures, a new study suggests. Utilizing the same analytical techniques used to discern temperature trends in urban heat islands, researchers scrutinized satellite images of a 10,000-square-kilometer area of west-central Texas, home to four of the world's largest wind farms (turbines near Fluvanna, Texas, shown). The team's analyses revealed that in the 9-year period from 2003 through 2011, when more than 95% of the turbines in the area were erected, the average nighttime land-surface temperature during summer months in areas where wind farms were located increased by 0.65°C more than did temperatures in nearby areas without wind turbines.

Rio+20 Sustainable Development Talks too Focused on Technology?
April 28, 2012 08:07 AM - Aisling Irwin, SciDevNet

The conviction that new technologies will solve the world's environmental and social problems has overly dominated early negotiations leading up to the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in June, a UN General Assembly meeting has heard. Mentions of technology were "almost endless" in the first draft of the outcome document, known as the 'zero draft', according to Pat Mooney, executive director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), a non-governmental organisation based in Canada.

Garbage Trek
April 27, 2012 12:41 PM - Editor, ENN

Waste is directly linked to human development, both technological and social. The compositions of different wastes have varied over time and location, with industrial development and innovation being directly linked to waste materials. Waste is sometimes a subjective concept, because items that some people discard may have value to others. Americans generate more trash than anyone else on the planet: more than 7 pounds per person each day. About 69 percent of that trash goes immediately into landfills. And most landfill trash is made up of containers and packaging — almost all of which should be recycled, says Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes.

Palm oil is a major driver of peatlands destruction in Indonesian Borneo
April 27, 2012 09:38 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Developers in Indonesian Borneo are increasingly converting carbon-dense peatlands for oil palm plantations, driving deforestation and boosting greenhouse gas emissions, reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research concludes that nearly all unprotected forests in Ketapang District in West Kalimantan will be gone by 2020 given current trends. The study, which was led by Kim Carlson of Yale and Stanford University, is based on comprehensive socioeconomic surveys, high-resolution satellite imagery, and carbon mapping of the Ketapang, which is home to some of the most biodiverse forests on the planet including those of Gunung Palung National Park.

What’s Undermining Energy Efficiency?
April 27, 2012 07:26 AM - Elisa Wood , Clean Techies

Exhilaration swept through the energy efficiency industry as city after city, state after state and nation after nation set aggressive energy saving goals over the last several years. But with target dates nearing in certain jurisdictions, a more sober attitude now permeates. Some governments are asking: Are we reaching too high? A global report issued this week by PwC, which looks into the minds of power industry executives, suggests the worry may be justified. Called "The shape of power to come," the annual report emerged from interviews with senior executives at 72 power companies in 43 countries. It found that a good number (45%) of executives are dubious that we will reach energy efficiency targets by 2030.

David Cameron outlines a Green Plan for Britain, gets mixed reviews
April 27, 2012 07:10 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Prime Minister's speech on the UK's drive for low-carbon energy has been given a lukewarm reception by campaign groups and industry leaders. Commenting on David Cameron's address, Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said he was still waiting to see evidence of the Coalition being the greenest Government ever. He added: "This falls a long way short of the green speech David Cameron should have given - tipping his hat to the need for a cleaner future and recycling a few announcements just won't measure up."

Concrete Degradation at New Hampshire, Nuclear Plant
April 26, 2012 01:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Concrete is considered fairly durable. The alkali—silica reaction (ASR) is a reaction which occurs over time in concrete between the highly alkaline cement paste and reactive non-crystalline (amorphous) silica, which is found in many common aggregates. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report today about potentially serious concrete degradation possibly due to this reaction at the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. The report was written by Paul Brown, a professor of ceramic science and engineering at Penn State University. (An executive summary also is available on line.) After reviewing publicly available documents, Brown concluded that neither plant owner NextEra Energy nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fully understand the scope or origins of the problem and therefore cannot adequately assess the plant’s structural status.

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