Environmental Policy

Experts Hope to Establish Congressional Weather Commission
September 28, 2012 02:55 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

From energy freedom to ocean policy focusing on commerce, research, and defense, Congress has appointed a variety of environmental-based commissions in the past two decades. However, one issue that has yet to be addressed is weather—that is until now. Experts are asking Congress to create the first US Weather Commission. This commission would offer guidance of their weather expertise to policy makers who would then be able to make more efficient decisions when it comes to weather-related issues.

The Kathmandu Valley Needs Help!
September 27, 2012 05:56 AM - Joseph Mayton, The Ecologist

The once bustling Bagmati river has become the focal point of Nepal's struggle to bring modernity to this once isolated region. And the environment is struggling to survive, writes Joseph Mayton. It is "clean-up" day on Nepal’s major river, the Bagmati. Uniformed military personnel troll the banks of the river, picking up plastic bags and rubbish that has found its way onto the sides what once was the main thoroughfare for the Kathmandu Valley. Turning, with pieces in his hand, one officer lightly tosses the rubbish into the already polluted water.

Update - High Altitude Wind Energy Potential
September 26, 2012 05:35 AM - Dave Levitan, Yale Environment360

A host of start-up companies are exploring ways to harness the enormous amount of wind energy flowing around the earth, especially at high altitudes. But as these innovators are discovering, the engineering and regulatory challenges of what is known as airborne wind power are daunting. The wind turbines that increasingly dot the landscape peak at around 300 feet above ground, with the massive blades spinning a bit higher. The wind, however, does not peak at 300 feet. Winds are faster and more consistent the higher one climbs, maxing out in the jet streams at five miles and above.

New study analyzes challenges with international water-related projects
September 25, 2012 09:35 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Large-scale water-related projects are a model global environmental issue. From dams controlling and rerouting water flow to providing access to clean drinking water and monitoring the nutrient quality of water resources, local, national, and international players often have to work together to manage these water resources. As trans-boundary issues are bound to arise, efforts need to be addressed in order to manage concerns. A new study of nearly 200 major international water-related projects over the past 20 years has identified existing and emerging challenges and how science can offer solutions.

23 Nuclear Plants in Tsunami Risk Zones, Study Finds
September 24, 2012 08:53 AM - Live Science Staff, Live Science

In March 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami set off a partial meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant on Japan's coast. A recent study led by European researchers found Fukushima is not alone, as 22 other plants around the world may be similarly susceptible to destructive tsunami waves, with most of them in east and southeast regions of Asia.

The Problem with Tree Plantations
September 22, 2012 08:08 AM - Isaac Rojas, MONGABAY.COM

Today, September 21, is the "International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations", an annual event organized by a coalition of social and environmental groups. Here, Isaac Rojas, a Costa Rican who is Friends of the Earth International coordinator of its Forest and Biodiversity Program, expresses his view point on industrial plantations. Public environmental awareness has come a long way since September 1962, when Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' was published, stimulating the birth of the environmental movement. This movement may be fifty years old, but nowadays you can feel 'green' by helping destroy forests instead of protecting them, for instance by clicking online a 'plant a tree' button on a seemingly well-meaning website.

New Cars by 2030 Can Halve Fuel Consumption
September 19, 2012 04:11 PM - Dani Thé, ENN

Two new reports released on Wednesday by the Paris-Based International Energy Agency (IEA) outlines how policy initiatives and specific technologies could cut automobile fuel consumption in half by 2030. The first report indicates that many of the technologies that would be required to make a noteworthy impact on automobile fuel efficiency are already commercially available. Unfortunately, while they are present in the market they are not widely used due to low market penetration. In order for these technologies to have global market penetration, the report suggests that governments must take action by having higher fuel economy standards and by providing citizens with greater financial incentives.

Fusion Power Update - Getting Closer!
September 19, 2012 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Researchers at Sandia Laboratories are getting closer to nuclear fusion that will produce more energy than it takes to create the fusion reaction! They are very close to the break even point. Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific "break-even" energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia research paper accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL). Sandia researcher Ryan McBride pays close attention to the tiny central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine. The larger cylinders forming a circle on the exterior of the base plate measure Z’s load current by picking up the generated magnetic field.

West African and Caribbean seas rank among unhealthiest waters
September 18, 2012 01:07 PM - Samuel Hinneh and Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDev Net, SciDevNet

More research and better policies are needed to protect the world's most vulnerable seas, lying off the coast of West Africa and the Caribbean, local experts have told SciDev.Net. The two regions have some of the world's unhealthiest seas, according to a new index that assessed the health of seas and their benefits to livelihoods. Its methodology was published in Nature last month (15 August). The index rates seas in ten categories or 'goals', including water cleanliness, support for coastal livelihoods and economies, and food provision. It also assesses the state of coastal protection and biodiversity, seas' capacity for artisanal fishing, carbon storage and tourism, and the provision of natural products.

Wildlife trade bans may be worsening trafficking of some species, argues paper
September 18, 2012 09:49 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

While founded with good intentions, wildlife trade bans may in some cases be worsening the plight of some endangered species, argues a commentary published in the journal Tropical Conservation Science. Looking at three animals listed under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) — tigers, elephants and rhinos — Kirsten Conrad of AsiaCat argues that a moratorium on legal trade has exacerbated illegal trafficking by boosting prices and moving all commerce to the black market. She says the situation is worsened by poor law enforcement, ambiguous property rights, and demand rooted in "strong traditional affiliation".

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