Pollution

Expanding Antarctic sea ice linked to natural variability
July 4, 2016 04:21 PM - NCAR/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research via ScienceDaily

The recent trend of increasing Antarctic sea ice extent -- seemingly at odds with climate model projections -- can largely be explained by a natural climate fluctuation, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The study offers evidence that the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), which is characterized by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific, has created favorable conditions for additional Antarctic sea ice growth since 2000.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, may resolve a longstanding mystery: Why is Antarctic sea ice expanding when climate change is causing the world to warm?

Paris bans old cars on weekdays
July 3, 2016 08:29 AM - ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, NPR

Paris was at the forefront of public bike-sharing schemes, and it now has electric car-sharing schemes and is something of a laboratory for mobility. As of today, motorists with cars built before 1997, and motorcycles built before 2000, will no longer be able to drive them in the city during daylight hours on weekdays.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says keeping old cars out of the city will help lower pollution levels. But not everyone is happy about it.

Marc Vernhet makes his living driving tourists around Paris in the classic French car known as the Deux Chevaux, or two-horse power. Peugeot Citroen no longer makes the model, but for collectors, it's a nostalgic symbol of the good old days. Vernhet says tourists from all over the world want to ride in them.

 

An ingredient in your sunscreen can be killing sharks
June 30, 2016 06:51 AM - Natalia Lima, Care2

Most animal lovers wouldn’t dream of harming an animal for fashion. Fur? No, thank you. Leather? I don’t think so. Yet they might be unknowingly killing sharks — and highly endangered kinds on top of that — for their beauty routine.

Unbeknownst to most, one little ingredient in products like sunscreens, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, lipsticks and face creams is responsible for the death of over three million sharks annually.

 

Pipelines affect health, fitness of salmon, study finds
June 28, 2016 02:26 PM - University of Guelph via EurekAlert!

Pipelines carrying crude oil to ports in British Columbia may spell bad news for salmon, according to a new University of Guelph-led study.

Exposure to an oil sands product - diluted bitumen - impairs the swimming ability and changes the heart structures of young salmon.

The research will be published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and is available online now.

It's a timely finding, says U of G post-doctoral researcher and lead author Sarah Alderman.

The National Energy Board (NEB) recently approved the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project; the federal government is expected to make a final decision by December.

 

 

Household fuels exceed power plants and cars as source of smog in Beijing
June 27, 2016 03:40 PM - Princeton University via EurekAlert!

Beijing and surrounding areas of China often suffer from choking smog. The Chinese government has made commitments to improving air quality and has achieved notable results in reducing emissions from the power and transportation sectors. However, new research indicates that the government could achieve dramatic air quality improvements with more attention on an overlooked source of outdoor pollution -- residential cooking and heating.

"Coal and other dirty solid fuels are frequently used in homes for cooking and heating," said Denise Mauzerall, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs at Princeton University. "Because these emissions are essentially uncontrolled they emit a disproportionately large amount of air pollutants which contribute substantially to smog in Beijing and surrounding regions."

Energy from sunlight: Further steps towards artificial photosynthesis
June 24, 2016 01:43 PM - University of Basel via EurekAlert!

Chemists from the Universities of Basel and Zurich in Switzerland have come one step closer to generating energy from sunlight: for the first time, they were able to reproduce one of the crucial phases of natural photosynthesis with artificial molecules. Their results have been published by the journal Angewandte Chemie (international edition).

Green plants are able to temporarily store electric charges after the absorption of sunlight by using a so-called molecular charge accumulator. The two research teams were able to observe this process in artificial molecules that they created specifically for this experiment.

Using Only Renewable Energy, Portugal Powered Its Entire Country for Four Days
June 21, 2016 05:50 PM - Susan Bird, Care2

Portugal just did something pretty amazing. In fact, it’s historic — something no other nation has ever done. Portugal just powered its entire country’s electricity needs for four consecutive days using nothing but renewable energy.

Using a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, biofuels, geothermal heat and hydroelectric power, Portugal powered everything requiring electricity for 107 hours between Saturday morning, May 7, 2016, and Wednesday evening, May 11, 2016. The country’s ZERO System Sustainable Land Association, in collaboration with the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association, released information about this impressive achievement on its website.

Chemists find new way to recycle plastic waste into fuel
June 21, 2016 05:00 PM - University of California – Irvine via EurekAlert!

A new way of recycling millions of tons of plastic garbage into liquid fuel has been devised by researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC) in China.

"Synthetic plastics are a fundamental part of modern life, but our use of them in large volume has created serious environmental problems," said UCI chemist Zhibin Guan. "Our goal through this research was to address the issue of plastic pollution as well as achieving a beneficial outcome of creating a new source of liquid fuel."

Carbon dioxide hits record highs in Southern hemisphere
June 21, 2016 01:30 PM - CNRS via ScienceDaily

Last month, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as measured at Amsterdam Island, in the southern Indian Ocean, for the first time exceeded the symbolic value of 400 ppm, or 0.04%. The CO2 concentrations recorded at the Amsterdam Island research station are the lowest in the world (excluding seasonal cycles), due to the island's remoteness from anthropogenic sources. The 400 ppm threshold was already crossed in the Northern hemisphere during the 2012/2013 winter. In addition, the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is speeding up, growing by more than 2 ppm annually over the past four years. The data has been collected for the past 35 years at the Amsterdam Island research station by the French national observation service ICOS-France at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE, CNRS / CEA / UVSQ), with the support of the Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV).

Judge rules: no right to know hazardous pesticide ingredients
June 16, 2016 07:45 AM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist

A federal judge has ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency is under no obligation to force pesticide makers to disclose supposedly 'inert' ingredients in their products - even where those ingredients are seriously hazardous to health or environment.

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