Environmental Policy

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".

Iran Blows Past Sanctions with Wind Energy
September 18, 2012 08:53 AM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet

Determined to stay its unpopular nuclear course, Iran is now turning to wind power and other renewable energy sources to blow past sanctions. Last year Karin reported that the current regime plans to produce 5,000 MW of solar energy by 2015, and in May this year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put aside an additional $620 million to grow the country’s nascent renewable energy program.

Are EV's really better for climate-changing emissions?
September 18, 2012 06:56 AM - EurActive

Electric cars are an axiom of clean transport planning - they produce no tailpipe emissions, little localised air pollution and, potentially, no greenhouse gas output. But as their critics point out, they are only as green as the electricity that they use. A power supply dependent on fossil fuels will produce greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles that are less than - but still comparable to - those from automobiles fitted with internal combustion engines (ICE)

US electric car industry poised to overtake Europe
September 17, 2012 08:03 AM - Euractiv

A new US fuel efficiency standard finalised by the Obama administration last month will jolt America’s nascent electric car industry to life, but could leave European auto manufacturers racing to catch up, analysts and industry sources say. From 2025, American cars and light trucks will have to achieve a standard of at least 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) under the new regulation, higher than can be achieved by any existing fuel-powered cars, according to the US Department of Energy. The only cars on the US market which exceed the 54.5 mpg target (measured as mpg equivalent) are at least partly powered by plug-in electricity, the US Environmental Protection Agency says.

Ice Sheets Apparently Can Grow Quickly in Cold Periods
September 15, 2012 08:25 AM - Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery News

How fast can glaciers and ice sheets expand and shrink in response to rapidly changing climatic conditions? It's a question that scientists have been pondering with particular interest of late, with Greenland's Peterman Glacier calving large amounts of ice two years in succession, and much of the island's surface ice melting earlier this summer. Because abrupt climate changes have occurred, across various spatial and temporal scales, at several previous points in the planet's history, scientists can look for prehistorical clues, to see what happened then and thus infer what might happen in a warming 21st century. A team of geologists has done just that, although it has looked for evidence not during previous warm spells, but by looking at two major cooling events in Earth's past.

UPS Earns Top Score Among U.S. Firms On Carbon Disclosure
September 14, 2012 07:04 AM - 3BL Media, Justmeans

For the second consecutive year, UPS (NYSE: UPS) has received the highest score in the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project's "Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index" of S&P companies, receiving a 99 out of 100. UPS is one of only two U.S. companies to achieve the high score, reflecting the company’s commitment to transparency and leadership with regards to carbon reporting and performance in mitigating environmental impact. UPS is the only company from the Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P) Industrials sector to receive the highest score. Only four companies in the world received scores of 99 or higher. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), companies are scored on their climate change disclosure and high scores indicate good internal data management and understanding of climate change related issues affecting the company. Results from the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project indicate that S&P 500 companies are making significant strides with regards to transparency and progress on carbon goals, narrowing the gap with Global 500 companies. The average performance score of the S&P 500 increased by 44% with assurance of emissions data nearly doubling, signaling a greater commitment to transparency and accuracy.

Climate models will need to evolve to account for climate change, report finds
September 13, 2012 10:02 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Climate trends and predictions are used to make decisions in more fields than one would expect. From farmers and fishermen, to insurance companies, to mayors and decision-makers concerned about emergency preparedness planning, to the general public, knowing about floods, droughts, heat waves and extreme storms help us prepare our businesses and daily activities. Because of climate change, we can no longer rely on historic norms and climate patterns that models use to predict future events. Despite recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse U.S. climate modeling community.

Mysterious Rise in Ocean Salinity
September 13, 2012 06:13 AM - RICHARD MATTHEWS, Global Warming is Real

Scientists have observed unexpected changes in the seawater salinity and they are increasingly concerned about the potential impact on ocean currents. The salinity of seawater can accelerate the water cycle which can cause extreme weather events like floods and drought. To investigate the issue of ocean salinity scientists have boarded the research vessel Knorr, which set sail on September 6, 2012. NASA’s Aquarius instrument is part of a separate research project that has been measuring seawater salinity from space since August 2011. In addition to ocean salinity, researchers are exploring the water cycle which involves the ways that water circulates between the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land. This process involves precipitation and return to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration.

If Corporations Are People, Then Why Not Rivers?
September 12, 2012 09:12 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

In 1982, filmmaker Godfrey Reggio released a film called KOYAANISQATSI. The title is the Hopi word for "life out of balance," and it deals with the relationship between man and nature. I was reminded of this film when I read the news item about the government of New Zealand granting legal personhood to the Whanganui River.

Global Auto Production Driving to New Record
September 12, 2012 06:10 AM - Michael Renner | VITAL SIGNS ONLINE, Worldwatch Institute

Production of passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011—and 2012 may bring an all-time high of 80 million or more vehicles, according to new research conducted for our Vital Signs Online service. Global sales of passenger vehicles increased from 75.4 million to 78.6 million over the same period, with a projected 81.8 million in 2012. The major driver of increased production and sales are the so-called emerging economies, especially China. Rising sales translate into ever-expanding fleets. An estimated 691 million passenger cars were on the world's roads in 2011. When both light- and heavy-duty trucks are included, the number rises to 979 million vehicles, which was 30 million more than just a year earlier. By the end of 2012, the global fleet could top 1 billion vehicles—one for every seven people on the planet.

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