Pollution

Is Oceanic Plastic being eaten by fish?
July 1, 2014 07:38 AM - ANGUS CHEN, ScienceNOW

Millions of tons. That's how much plastic should be floating in the world's oceans, given our ubiquitous use of the stuff. But a new study finds that 99% of this plastic is missing. One disturbing possibility: Fish are eating it. If that’s the case, "there is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web," says Carlos Duarte, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, Crawley. "And we are part of this food web."

EPA Proposes Approval of New Climate-Friendly Refrigerants
June 27, 2014 03:56 PM - USEPA Newsroom

In support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the options for refrigerants in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This is the agency's first action that addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

Choosing the Right Path: How Air Travel Affects Climate Change
June 26, 2014 10:40 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

It has been well documented that one negative of air travel — besides the food — is the emission of CO2 from jet engines. But what about contrails? Dr. Emma Irvine, Professor Keith Shine, and Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading have linked contrails to global climate change in a study published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters. According to their report, contrails may have a greater radiative forcing (the capacity for an agent to enact climate change via warming) than CO2.

Solar Power Meets Half of Germany's Energy Demand
June 26, 2014 10:00 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

A core facet of Chancellor Merkel's historic "Energiewende" clean energy transition, Germany has led the world in driving adoption of solar energy technology and systems. Although it is now pulling back hard on incentives, the market momentum created by its precedent-setting solar energy feed-in tariff (FiT) persists.

Getting a better handle on CO2, NASA will help!
June 26, 2014 06:17 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

From all the news about how anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are increasing tremendously (remember the hockey stick graph?) you would think that these emissions are causing all the atmospheric increases of CO2. And, our use of fossil fuels is increasing exponentially, with more than half of all fossil fuels ever used by humans being consumed in the last 20 years. However, in comparison with the amount of carbon that enters the atmosphere from natural sources, our fossil fuel emissions are modest. "Carbon dioxide generated by human activities amounts to only a few percent of the total yearly atmospheric uptake or loss of carbon dioxide from plant life and geochemical processes on land and in the ocean," said Gregg Marland, a professor in the Geology Department of Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. "This may not seem like much, but humans have essentially tipped the balance."

Study links pesticides and pregnancies with increased risk of autism
June 23, 2014 08:00 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, according to a new study. The research discovered the associations were even stronger when the exposures occurred during the second and third trimesters of the women's pregnancies.

Update: the future of EV's in China
June 21, 2014 09:45 AM - Belfer Center, Harvard University

China has ambitious goals for developing and deploying electric vehicles (EV). The stated intention is to "leapfrog" the auto industries of other countries and seize the emerging EV market. Since 2009, policies have included generous subsidies for consumers in certain locations, as well as strong pressure on local governments to purchase EVs. Yet four years into the program, progress has fallen far short of the intended targets. China has only about 40,000 EVs on the road, of which roughly 80% are public fleet vehicles such as buses and sanitation vehicles. China’s EV industry faces the same challenges as companies in the West: a) high battery costs; b) inadequate range between charges; and c) no obvious infrastructure model for vehicle charging.

Wind power to reduce shipping CO2?
June 20, 2014 09:29 AM - Manchester University

Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable route to help cut CO2 emissions in the shipping sector, according to Dr Michael Traut, a Research Associate from The University of Manchester. Speaking at the 'Shipping in Changing Climates: provisioning the future' Conference in Liverpool today (Thursday), Dr Traut will present research that uses a new model to couple wind-power technologies with weather data to show how in theory, and with supporting incentives, wind energy could cut CO2 and fuel use by as much as 50% on smaller cargo vessels up to 5,000 dead weight tonnes. This would also have a knock-on impact of cutting sulphur and nitrogen oxide and dioxide emissions by reducing the total amount of fuel burnt.

Soccer Under The Sun
June 20, 2014 08:00 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is underway and off to a bright start. For the first time in the tournament's history, matches will be held in stadiums powered by solar energy. Footballers from the 32 nations represented may curse the sun and the swelter it brings, but Yingli Solar, the world's largest solar panel manufacturer and a FIFA World Cup Sponsor, has captured an opportunity on the world's biggest stage. Yingli Solar estimates its solar panels to generate more than 1MW per year and clean electricity for 25 years or more. The iconic Estádio do Maracanã that witnessed Pelé's 1000th career goal and much of Brazil's rich footballing history is one of the two sites that received this modern upgrade. This Rio de Janeiro landmark that opened in 1950 now boasts 1,500 Yingli Solar panels with the capability to produce 550MWh of clean electricity per year.

Mom was right, eat your broccoli!
June 19, 2014 06:10 AM - ELIZA BARCLAY - NPR

We get a little suspicious when we hear the claims that it's possible to get rid of the gunk that accumulates in our cells by doing a cleanse with "clean" foods. But what if some foods actually do help detox the body? The results of a recent clinical trial suggest that compounds in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli (and kale) prod cells to get rid of certain air pollutants. The intriguing randomized control trial of about 300 Chinese adults found that consuming a beverage made with broccoli sprouts every day for three months lead to high rates of excretion (in urine) of two harmful chemicals: benzene and acrolein.

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