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Eco-farming can double food output in developing world
March 9, 2011 07:10 AM - Alister Doyle, Retuers Environment Correspondent OSLO
Many farmers in developing nations can double food production within a decade by shifting to ecological agriculture from use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, a U.N. report showed on Tuesday. Insect-trapping plants in Kenya and Bangladesh's use of ducks to eat weeds in rice paddies are among examples of steps taken to increase food for a world population that the United Nations says will be 7 billion this year and 9 billion by 2050. "Agriculture is at a crossroads," according to the study by Olivier de Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, in a drive to depress record food prices and avoid the costly oil-dependent model of industrial farming. "Agroecology" could also make farms more resilient to the projected impact of climate change including floods, droughts and a rise in sea levels that the report said was already making fresh water near some coasts too salty for use in irrigation.
Countries agree to manage fishing in Northeast Pacific
March 8, 2011 07:08 AM - Allan Dowd, Reuters, VANCOUVER
Countries bordering the North Pacific Ocean have struck a deal that environmentalists said on Monday will help protect 16.1 million square miles (41.7 million sq km) of ocean floor from a destructive technique called bottom trawl fishing. The agreement calls for the creation of an organization to manage sea bottom fisheries in the North Pacific, and puts an immediate cap on expansion of bottom trawl fishing in international waters stretching from Hawaii to Alaska. The deal was reached last week in Vancouver by the United States, Japan, Canada, China, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan after nearly five years of negotiations. Environmentalists have long complained about the damage done to sensitive ecosystems and marine life on the ocean floor by boats that use weighted nets and other fishing gear that drag along the seabed. Drag fishing can damage to seamounts, or undersea mountain ranges, that attract fish and are home to cold-water corals, deep-sea sponges and a wide range of other marine life, the United Nations warned in 2006 report.
Canada: Lead and asbestos in homes need tighter control
March 7, 2011 06:41 AM - Alister Doyle, Retuers Environment Correspondent, OSLO
The health risks from toxins such as lead in old paint or asbestos in walls are too often overlooked when homes are upgraded, according to a study on Sunday calling on governments to set tougher pollution rules. The report, by Canadian experts, said that retrofits of old buildings, such as insulation meant to save energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions, often released poisons that can be especially damaging to children. "Without sufficient care, retrofits...can increase the health risks," Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), told Reuters as she outlined a CELA project to limit health risks.
Iraq's Mesopotamian Marshlands recovering
March 5, 2011 08:15 AM - Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet
The Iraqi Marshlands, which were pushed to the brink of extinction under the Saddam era, are slowly being restored to their former glory For over 7,000 years the Iraqi Marshland- also known as the Mesopotamian Marshlands- played an important role in global ecosystems by supporting rare wildlife and rich biodiversity. Located in south Iraq, the marshlands stretched to over 6,000 square miles and are believed by many to be the location of the Garden of Eden. In the 1980's, however, Saddam drained the marshland to punish the Marsh Arabs who rebelled against him and turned their green lush wetlands into dusty deserts. Following the 2003 war in Iraq which had its own destructive impact on the environment, a unique opportunity emerged to restore the marshlands in what has since been dubbed as "the largest habitat restoration project in the world". At its peak the Iraqi Marshlands were considered to be the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East but after the devastating draining projects under Saddam, the Marshland shrunk to just 10 percent of its original size. The Marsh Arab population dropped from around quarter of a million to just a few thousand.
Brazilian Belo Monte Dam Halted on Judge's Orders
March 1, 2011 09:27 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
In another twist of the Belo Monte Dam saga, a Brazilian judge has ordered that work be suspended on the massive construction project. About one month ago, construction of the dam had been approved by the Brazilian environmental agency, IBAMA. The federal judge, Ronaldo Desterro, said that IBAMA had granted approval for the Belo Monte project under pressure from Norte Energia (a.k.a. NESA), the dam's contractor. The judge also cited concerns over the dam's impact on indigenous tribes and the environment.
Risk Management Rules and Farms
February 28, 2011 08:00 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Farms do not have highly hazardous chemicals? It is not just factories that use such chemicals but so do farms. ADI Agronomy, Inc., which owns a group of farm supply facilities in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas, has agreed to pay a $54,922 civil penalty to the United States for chemical Risk Management Program violations at its Ag Distributors retail facility at Kennett, Mo., which sells liquid fertilizer made with anhydrous ammonia. EPA Region 7 issued an administrative compliance order to the Kennett facility in July 2010, after an inspection noted eight violations of the chemical Risk Management Program regulations contained in the federal Clean Air Act. Specifically, Ag Distributors failed to establish and implement maintenance procedures to ensure the ongoing integrity of its anhydrous ammonia process equipment, and failed to document that the equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices, among other violations.
Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Mexico
February 28, 2011 07:43 AM - Guest Author, Clean Techies
Over the last few years, there has been a large decrease in the crude oil production in Mexico. To counter the effects of it, the Mexican government has started to look for new venues for energy that would create less of a dependence on fossil fuels.
Controlling Beijing's Air Pollution Would Cut Lung Disease by Half
February 25, 2011 07:04 AM - Editor, Matter Network
If enacted permanently, Chinese initiatives to control air pollution during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing would reduce by almost half the lifetime risk of lung cancer, a new study says.
DEP Environmental Stewardship Program Grows to More than 500 Participants
February 24, 2011 08:44 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has set up a voluntary program for individuals and businesses to tackle sustainability issues in the state. It rewards those who make the extra effort to reduce their carbon footprint and lead by example. The Environmental Stewardship Program now boasts more than 500 participants, including Ortho Clinical Diagnostics in Raritan, which has erected solar panels to provide green energy. The image shows one of the solar panels as well as DEP inspector Douglas Speeney (center) speaking with OCD's John Nester (left) and Brian Lubbert (right).
Dirty air triggers more heart attacks than cocaine
February 24, 2011 06:57 AM - Kate Kelland, Reuters Health and Science Correspondent, LONDON
Air pollution triggers more heart attacks than using cocaine and poses as high a risk of sparking a heart attack as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion, scientists said on Thursday. Sex, anger, marijuana use and chest or respiratory infections and can also trigger heart attacks to different extents, the researchers said, but air pollution, particularly in heavy traffic, is the major culprit. The findings, published in The Lancet journal, suggest population-wide factors like polluted air should be taken more seriously when looking at heart risks, and should be put into context beside higher but relatively rarer risks like drug use. Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said he hoped his findings would also encourage doctors to think more often about population level risks.