Environmental Policy

Triple insulated windows: Baby, it's cold outside!
December 4, 2013 11:20 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Boasting a savings of 12% whole house energy consumption savings it is tempting to immediately order new highly insulated windows for the whole house. But before you do, consider the payback. Sure, you will be snug as a bug inside the house but according to the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), it takes two decades or more for these highly insulated windows to provide a utility bill return on investment.

A whale of a tale in the North Pacific
December 4, 2013 10:00 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Five distinct humpback whale populations have been identified in the North Pacific clearing the way for these great mammals to be designated as distinct populations segment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The study is an internationally collaborative effort including United States, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Canada, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala under the byline SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks).

Reversing local extinction: scientists bring the northern bald ibis back to Europe after 300 years
December 4, 2013 09:15 AM - Federica Di Leonardo, MONGABAY.COM

The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), also called the hermit ibis or waldrapp, is a migratory bird. Once, the bald ibis lived in the Middle East, northern Africa and southern and central Europe, but due to hunting, loss of habitat and pesticide-use, the birds disappeared from most of these areas and is currently considered Critically Endangered. It became extinct in Europe 300 years ago; the bird is almost gone in Syria, with only a single individual recorded at the country's lone breeding site in 2013; and the only stronghold left is a small population of around 500 birds in Morocco. But now, a team of scientists from Austria is working to reestablish a self-sustaining, migratory population of bald ibis in Europe.

Orangutan as fashionista
December 3, 2013 09:36 AM - Nicole Rycroft, The Ecologist

"Do you have these pants in black?" a question generally heard from the changing rooms of clothing retailers. However over the coming months more of the queries that you'll hear echoing in boutiques and malls will be, "Is this shirt made from Orangutan or Caribou habitat?" Canopy, an environmental not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the world's forests, species and climate recently launched a campaign to ensure endangered forests do not end up in clothing. Rayon, viscose and modal fabrics are made from pulped trees. Canopy is raising awareness that much of today's fast fashion and haute couture comes at a cost to the forests we love.

Pollution-Free Boating
December 3, 2013 06:48 AM - Andy Wallace, Clean Techies

The Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Ford C-Max Energi are the top three electric vehicles on the roadways, but what about our waterways? Electric cars aren’t the only vehicles transforming sustainable and economical transportation. Electric boats are also traversing historic waterways and canals that have been polluted with oil and noise. Electric boats may be the only watercraft permitted on municipal waters by 2020, and New Electric is already influencing the electric vehicles industry as an electric-conversion business dedicated to battery-powered boats. About 700 million gallons of oil pollute oceans every year, according to Clean Technica. Engine-exhaust from conventional boats and ships only worsens the harmful environmental effects. Not only is the ocean and air polluted, marine animals suffer from intense noise pollution. Watercraft are actually detrimental to sea life, such as orcas and dolphins, because of their sensitivity to loud sounds. Electric-converted watercraft are quieter and produce no air pollution.

Another rotten Grinch tale
December 2, 2013 03:50 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Seemingly working in concert with the Grinch, Phytophthora root rot is taking hold in the roots of Christmas tree farms throughout Oregon and North Carolina. Phytophthora root rot is a rapidly moving fungus found in poorly drained soils. It causes a slow decline in a tree first destroying the feeder roots and then turning the needles light green or yellow. The pathogen infects the root cortex first depriving the remainder of the root and the plant from its nutrients. Pytophthora root rot is difficult to detect and is only verified with laboratory analysis.

Developing technology for the developing world: Earthquake detection via smartphone
December 2, 2013 01:01 PM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet

Countries that do not have or cannot afford earthquake detection systems may soon have an alternative thanks to a new technology being developed in the United States and discussed last week at the 6th World Science Forum (WSF), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Consumer Awareness and Micro Plastics
December 2, 2013 11:10 AM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Environmental Studies, 2015

Micro plastics are some of the worst water pollutants; they not only harm the local wildlife, but also accumulate into fish that humans consume and cause major health problems. These micro plastics are accumulating not only in oceans, but also freshwater areas, like the Great Lakes. In fact, a 2012 study conducted by the Burning River Foundation found approximately 80,000 particles of micro plastic per km2 in Lake Erie. This high concentration of micro plastic particles is highly concerning for human health and the health of local ecosystems.

Holiday D"eco"rations
December 2, 2013 10:50 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Each year holiday decorations provide opportunities to foster family traditions and foundations for normalcy within our generation. But our decorating traditions should not negatively impact future generations. While lights, trees, ornaments, wrapping paper and candles are mainstays in the holiday decorating tradition many of them eventually end up in the landfill or in our air as long lasting pollutants. Being aware of what is a potential hazard and what alternatives there may be is important and necessary for future generations.

France opposes shale gas development
December 2, 2013 06:49 AM - EurActiv

French Environment Minister Philippe Martin reiterated his government's strong opposition to the exploitation of shale gas, despite a parliamentary report advocating more flexibility towards unconventional gas. The French government says it will not issue the permits for shale gas exploitation requested by the US company Hess Oil, Martin, the energy and ecology minister, announced on 28 November.

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