Pollution

Obama Administration's "Clean Power Plan" dealt a setback by the Supreme Court
February 10, 2016 07:03 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan suffered a setback on Tuesday when the Supreme Court granted a stay to the program. In a 5-4 decision, the court sided in favor of petitioning states, utilities and coal companies that claimed that the federal government was overreaching its powers when it attempted to establish a national plan to move away from fossil-fuel based power. Requests for the Supreme Court to impose the stay were submitted in January after an appeals court ruled that the plan could proceed while legal challenges were being heard.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is an about-face to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and it comes at a critical time for the Obama administration’s clean energy program, especially in light of the upcoming elections in November. While the administration can appeal the Supreme Court’s order, arguments would not be considered until June and, pending acceptance by the higher court, likely wouldn’t be scheduled until October or later this year. That leaves the fate of the Clean Power Plan in the hands of the upcoming presidency.

Are we impacting the future of our planet for thousands of years?
February 9, 2016 09:12 AM - Oregon State University/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Earth may suffer irreversible damage that could last tens of thousands of years because of the rate humans are emitting carbon into the atmosphere.

In a new study in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Oregon State University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborating institutions found that the longer-term impacts of climate change go well past the 21st century.

“Much of the carbon we are putting in the air from burning fossil fuels will stay there for thousands of years — and some of it will be there for more than 100,000 years,” said Peter Clark, an Oregon State University paleoclimatologist and lead author on the article. “People need to understand that the effects of climate change on the planet won’t go away, at least not for thousands of generations.”

LLNL’s Benjamin Santer said the focus on climate change at the end of the 21st century needs to be shifted toward a much longer-term perspective.

Over 50 Percent of the World Breathes in Toxic Air
February 9, 2016 07:13 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Everyone needs clean air to survive, yet somehow it is not an internationally recognized human right. That probably has something to do with the fact that over half of the world’s population live in areas where they breathe in toxic air. Altogether, that means there are more than 3.5 billion people inhaling dangerous air into their lungs on a daily basis.

The uneven impacts of climate change
February 7, 2016 09:14 AM - Wildlife Conservation Society via ScienceDaily

A new study by University of Queensland and WCS shows a dramatic global mismatch between nations producing the most greenhouse gases and the ones most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The study shows that the highest emitting countries are ironically the least vulnerable to climate change effects such as increased frequency of natural disasters, changing habitats, human health impacts, and industry stress.

Those countries emitting the least amount of greenhouse gases are most vulnerable.

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought
February 5, 2016 07:21 AM -

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

Air pollution in Europe and the EU lack of action
February 3, 2016 06:40 AM - Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, The Ecologist

Air pollution from vehicles is killing tens of thousands of people every year in the UK alone, write Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, an outrage set into stark focus by VW's 'test cheating'. The EU's response? To relax tests and allow cars to be more polluting - with the full support of the UK government.

Rather than clamping down on the car industry's irresponsible approach to pollution, EU governments and the Commission instead want to rewrite existing law, providing loopholes which will allow cars to legally pollute more.

Faced with a public health crisis, responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths in Europe each year, we would expect an emergency response.

How Modular Construction is Keeping Waste Out of U.S. Landfills
February 2, 2016 07:23 AM - Mark Meyers, Triple Pundit

When we think about the overflow of our nation’s landfills, we probably picture limiting our food waste; recycling plastics, glass and paper; and keeping out potentially harmful hazardous waste. What we probably don’t consider is one of the largest sources of waste generation, construction and demolition (C&D) waste.  It is estimated that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the national solid waste stream is building-related waste, with only 20 percent of C&D waste being recycled.

Study finds toxic pollutants in fish across the world's oceans
January 28, 2016 07:19 AM - University of California, San Diego

A new global analysis of seafood found that fish populations throughout the world's oceans are contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants, collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The study from researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego also uncovered some good news?concentrations of these pollutants have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years.

Flint's Water Crisis 'infuriating' given knowledge about lead poisoning
January 27, 2016 07:13 AM - Harvard School of Public Health

Flint, Michigan temporarily switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014 to cut costs. Should officials have known that lead contamination would result?

Hyperloop moving to full-scale testing
January 24, 2016 09:05 AM - Mary Mazzoni , Triple Pundit

Clean-tech visionary Elon Musk first unveiled his idea for a high-speed ground transport system called Hyperloop back in 2013. The concept — in which passengers are transported in magnet-propelled capsules at more than 750 miles per hour — was quickly dismissed by many as a pipe-dream.

But, while most of us weren’t paying attention, a handful of private companies have been quietly working to make Musk’s vision a reality. Now two of these firms (both unaffiliated with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO) say they are ready to begin testing the technology.

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