Why Population Matters to the environment
October 31, 2011 07:14 AM - Simon Ross, Chief executive, Population Matters
Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises.
Climate change and population growth making US water problems worse
October 27, 2011 07:14 AM - Kim Palmer, Reuters, ERIE, Pa
Climate change and population growth in the United States will make having enough fresh water more challenging in the coming years, an expert on water shortages said on Wednesday. "In 1985-1986 there were historical (water level) highs and now in less than 25 years we are at historical lows. Those sorts of swings are very scary," said Robert Glennon, speaking at the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference in Erie, Pennsylvania. Glennon, a professor at Arizona State University and the author of "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It," said that that according to climate experts, shorter, warmer winters mean less ice and greater exposure to the air, leading eventually to more water evaporation. "We think about water like the air -- infinite and inexhaustible but it is very finite and very exhaustible," Glennon said. "When you have a shorter ice season you have great exposure to the air and more evaporation. As temperatures go up it is very troubling," Glennon said. "The cycles are going to become more acute which is very troubling."
Egypt Losing its Mighty Nile Drop by Drop
October 26, 2011 08:27 AM - Editor, Green Prophet
Leaking water pipes, evaporation and a rapidly growing population may be significant concerns for those trying to manage and plan water supplies in Egypt, but compounding such problems — and forcing Egyptians to rethink how they use water — is the threat posed by downstream countries which also want to take more water from the Nile, say observers. "Egyptians have to adapt to less water every day," said Rida Al Damak, a water expert from Cairo University.
Water use growing twice as fast as population!
October 26, 2011 07:04 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON
Like oil in the 20th century, water could well be the essential commodity on which the 21st century will turn. Human beings have depended on access to water since the earliest days of civilization, but with 7 billion people on the planet as of October 31, exponentially expanding urbanization and development are driving demand like never before. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, said Kirsty Jenkinson of the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank. Water use is predicted to increase by 50 percent between 2007 and 2025 in developing countries and 18 percent in developed ones, with much of the increased use in the poorest countries with more and more people moving from rural areas to cities, Jenkinson said in a telephone interview.
EPA delays pollution rule for coal plants, but only until December
October 22, 2011 10:10 AM - Roberta Rampton, Reuters, WASHINGTON
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday it will postpone its final rule aimed at slashing air pollution from coal plants for a month, but made it clear it plans to move forward on the regulations. The EPA said it needs the extra time to review 960,000 comments it received on its draft rule, but plans to finalize it by Dec 16. A group of 25 states has launched a court case over the rule, seeking a delay of at least a year for what they argue is an expensive measure that will shut down old coal-fired power plants. Analysts have said American Electric Power and Duke Energy could see shutdowns because of the rule, which would require many plants to install scrubbers and other anti-pollution technology. But the EPA, which has also been sued by environmental groups to finalize the rule, said the regulation is needed to prevent illnesses and deaths caused by air pollution. "In a court filing today, EPA made clear its opposition to efforts to delay this historic, court ordered standard by a full year," the agency said in a statement.
California approves carbon market rules
October 21, 2011 07:09 AM - Rory Carroll, Reuters, SACRAMENTO
California regulators on Thursday approved final regulations for a carbon market that is one of the biggest U.S. responses to climate change. The state believes the market for greenhouse gases, which starts in 2013, will let it address global warming in a low-cost way and become the center of alternative energy industries, like solar, although some businesses fear higher energy prices. The most populous U.S. state is moving ahead with the plan years after federal regulators rejected a similar idea for the nation, partly on concerns of the effect on businesses. The California Air Resources Board voted 8-0 to adopt the market regulations, which officials said are critical to the state's goal of cutting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 -- about a 22 percent reduction from forecasted business-as-usual output. Power companies and factories will be able to trade a gradually decreasing number of permits to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the so-called cap-and-trade plan, which counts on market forces leading companies to find the cheapest way to cut emissions.
Shenyang, a Major Chinese Industrial City, Turns Green
October 18, 2011 09:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Shenyang is a large city in Northeastern China, not far from the border with North Korea. It is a centrally important industrial city with a population of 8 million that is currently leading the charge for environmentally-friendly practices in urban China. It was at one point heavily polluted with perpetual gray skies and black soot in the air. It was home to some of the country's largest iron and steel plants with a forest of smokestacks and chimneys. The city has undergone a massive transformation by reducing its air pollution, expanding green spaces, and implementing stricter environmental policies.
House votes to delay air pollution rules on boilers
October 14, 2011 05:56 AM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters, WASHINGTON
The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to delay Environmental Protection Agency limits on pollutants from industrial boilers, its latest move to hinder air rules designed to protect public health. The vote was 275 to 142 for the legislation. All Republicans present voted for the bill as did 41 Democrats. Republicans have a majority in the House. "We're not saying, 'Let's walk away and not protect the American people,'" said Representative Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky. "We're simply saying, 'Let's hold back for just a moment, let's go back and revisit this rule.'" House Republicans and the business community have launched a campaign to delay the EPA's raft of air pollution rules on everything from mercury to greenhouse gases, saying they destroy jobs and add costs to companies struggling to recover. The extent to which Republican voters support the delay of EPA air pollution rules, however, may be faltering. A survey released on Wednesday by Democratic and Republican pollsters suggested the majority of Republican voters do not want the EPA rules stopped or delayed.
EPA says it will complete Mercury and Air Toxics Standards by November 16
October 12, 2011 07:11 AM - Reuters, WASHINGTON
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday it was committed to finalizing a standard on mercury emissions by November 16 after 25 states urged a court to force the agency to delay the rule. "EPA is committed to completing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards -- the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants," the EPA said in a release. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency was on track to finalize the rule, which targets older, inefficient power plants fired by coal and oil, as expected by November 16. The agency is under court order to finalize the rule, also known as the maximum achievable control technology, or MACT, rule for utilities. Late Monday, 25 states filed a brief with the U.S. District Court in Washington urging the court to push EPA to delay finalization of the rule until November 16, 2012 or later, complaining the standard would kill jobs and saddle industry with costs at the worst possible time.
Why the Civilian Conservation Corps Should be Restablished
October 11, 2011 08:59 AM - 3P Guest Author, Ronald C. Weston, Triple Pundit
Last month I was reminded of the impressive accomplishments of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) while touring California National Parks. The CCC was a public works program that operated from 1933 to 1942 as part of FDR's New Deal. It provided manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs.