Environmental Policy

Coal Miners suffering as energy mix shifts
July 15, 2012 08:30 AM - GUY RAZ and LAUREN SILVERMAN, NPR

At some point today, you will probably flip on a light switch. That simple action connects you to the oldest and most plentiful source of American electricity: coal. Since the early 1880s — when Edison and Tesla pioneered the distribution of electrical power into our homes — most of that power has come from the process of burning coal. Four years ago, something started to change. First it was slow, and then this past month that change became dramatic. Coal now generates just 34 percent of our electricity, down from about 50 percent just four years ago. Now, the loss of coal as the dominant energy source is having damaging effects on the towns that once relied on the black rock for their livelihood.

Population Issues - What China Needs to do Now
July 14, 2012 08:02 AM - Population Matters

China, perhaps more than any other country, faces many important and difficult population challenges: reproductive health and reproductive rights, rural-urban migration and reform of the hukou system, and imbalances in the sex ratio at birth. And two deeply connected population issues, the rapid aging of the population, on the one hand, and the low birth rate and the family planning policy on the other, are of great significance to China's future development. China's population is aging as rapidly as anywhere in the world and its low birth rate means it faces a significant population decline in the not too distant future. In part, China’s population will age because people are living longer, an important dimension of China’s great progress. But the country’s low birth rate is the most important reason for population aging, leading to a very top-heavy age structure with many elderly, fewer workers, and even fewer children.

Why you really DO need to properly recycle or dispose of your printer cartridges!
July 13, 2012 03:36 PM - Guest Post by Ben Randall, Global Warming is Real

We live in a wasteful society. After buying products, many people are all too used to throwing them away, and haven't quite grasped the concept of recycling yet. But we are getting there slowly. To work towards a greener future we must look at specific ways to be more economical, which will allow us to stop pumping so much hazardous gas into the atmosphere. It probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind, but one way we can significantly reduce our carbon waste output is through making a worldwide effort to recycle ink cartridges. Chuck a printer cartridge into a landfill heap and it will take 450 years to decompose. Ink cartridges have a huge negative impact on our environment; here is a breakdown of why this is so. It is evident that some of us, ranging from the little guy to huge corporations, make the effort to recycle ink cartridges.

RGGI Update: Regional Cap-and-Trade Program Survives New York Challenge But Faces Others
July 13, 2012 01:57 PM - Maggie Macdonald , Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — a cap-and-trade program designed to limit power plant emissions in 10 Northeastern states — has been under close scrutiny in recent months as a result of lawsuits in New Jersey and New York, and legislation in New Hampshire. Each of these developments demonstrates the polarization and controversy that continue to surround greenhouse gas regulation, and RGGI in particular, years after the regional trading program first took effect.

Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz Supports Carbon Tax
July 13, 2012 06:23 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Former Secretary of State George Shultz is calling for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, according to an interview released today by Stanford University. Shultz, who served as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan as well as a number of other roles under previous Republican administrations, is heading up the Hoover Institution's Task Force on Energy Policy will calls for boosting energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil exports to improve national security, and putting a price on carbon. While the last of those objectives has been an anathema to many Republicans of late, Shultz said his party could eventually support a carbon tax.

The Dead Sea is Dying - Really!
July 12, 2012 04:36 PM - dave levitan, Yale Environment360

On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year. The sinkholes are among the most visible effects of the continuing slow "death" of the Dead Sea, which borders Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. Thousands of sinkholes have opened up around the Dead Sea's coastal plain, threatening roads and structures alike. Near this particular sinkhole, a grove of date palms sat withered and dead, abandoned because of the dangerous ground on which they stood.On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year.

Asian Carp in the Great Lakes
July 12, 2012 04:02 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There have been many invasions of foreign species into new territories. Asian carp may pose substantial environmental risk to the Great Lakes if they become established there, according to a bi-national Canadian and United States risk assessment released today. Bighead and silver carps -- two species of Asian carp -- pose an environmental risk to the Great Lakes within 20 years, with the risk increasing over time. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie face the highest risk relative to the other lakes. The new risk assessment report was led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and included a team of scientists from Canada and the United States. Two U.S. Geological Survey scientists were among the co-authors of the report.

Despite moratorium, Indonesia failing to take action on illegal palm oil plantations
July 12, 2012 02:04 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Indonesian authorities are failing to take action against a palm oil company that is operating illegally in Central Kalimantan, alleges a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak. The report, published Thursday, says that authorities have failed to conduct a criminal investigation into the illegal conversion of more than 23,000 hectares of peatland and peat forest by PT SCP, part of the BEST Group, despite being provided with "sufficient evidence" to do so. EIA and Telapak say the dossier detailed PT SCP's violations of laws governing "land allocation, access to resources and environmental management."

EU considering requiring lower CO2 emissions on new cars
July 12, 2012 10:06 AM - EurActive

New cars and vans in the European Union will produce one-third less carbon dioxide within eight years, under proposed new rules set out on Wednesday (11 July) in Brussels. By 2020, the average emissions from new cars will have to be no more than 95g of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, a cut of more than 40g from today's levels and of 35g/km compared with the 2015 target, if the proposed new regulations are accepted. Connie Hedegaard, climate chief of the European commission, said the goals were "ambitious but achievable" and would benefit consumers, through fuel cost savings, and help the EU's car-making industry compete with overseas manufacturers. She said: "What we are proposing is a fair and balanced regulation."

Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion
July 11, 2012 10:01 AM - Cameron Scherer, Worldwatch Institute

Although most analysts assume that the world’s population will rise from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, it is quite possible that humanity will never reach this population size, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman argues in the book State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity. In the chapter "Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion," Engelman outlines a series of steps and initiatives that would all but guarantee declines in birthrates—based purely on the intention of women around the world to have small families or no children at all—that would end population growth before mid-century at fewer than 9 billion people. "Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so," Engelman writes. Examples from around the world demonstrate effective policies that not only reduce birth rates, but also respect the reproductive aspirations of parents and support an educated and economically active society that promotes the health of women and girls. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.

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