Pollution

Oceans need more protected areas
October 26, 2015 07:32 AM - UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

Despite global efforts to increase the area of the ocean that is protected, only four per cent of it lies within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to a University of British Columbia study.

UBC Institute for Ocean and Fisheries researchers found that major swaths of the ocean must still be protected to reach even the most basic global targets.

In 2010, representatives from nearly 200 countries met in Nagoya, Japan, and adopted the United Nations' Aichi Targets, in a bid to stem the rapid loss of biodiversity. The countries committed to protecting at least 10 per cent of the ocean by 2020.

Waterfalls are more threatened than you might think
October 25, 2015 08:52 AM - Emily Zak, Care2

More than 100 years ago today, a 63-year-old Michigan schoolteacher took the first ride ever down Niagara Falls in a barrel. Annie Edson Taylor may have survived, but the future will tell if the waterfalls available for such (now-illegal) escapades will. Here are a few threats to waterfalls we can’t ignore if we want to preserve these natural wonders.

1. Drought

Last year, Yosemite Falls went dry for five months. While the falls have always been ephemeral, meaning they flow seasonally, California’s severe drought had stopped them two months earlier than usual in June until December rains started them again a month late. In The Atlantic, outdoorsman and author Michael Lanza wondered if the world’s sixth-highest falls would actually disappear, with climate change leading to less and less snowfall. Snowpack in the Cascade Range has already decreased 15 to 30 percent in the past 70 years.

Want to know how healthy the air quality is today in your area? There's an app for that!
October 24, 2015 07:47 AM - Alison Hewitt, UCLA

Yareli Sanchez lives in Los Angeles and jogs regularly, but she never used to know if the day’s air quality was bad until after she had already set out for a run — her chest would tighten and it would become hard to breathe. She knew poor air quality triggered her asthma, but she didn’t have a convenient way to check the day’s pollution levels.

For the past few months, instead of using trial-and-error, she’s checked UCLA’s new AirForU app, which uses GPS data to give her local air quality ratings. The app is useful for anyone in the U.S. who sees a hazy skyline and wonders how safe it is to breathe outside air.

“I depend on the AirForU app now, and I use it every time I plan on running,” said Sanchez, who helped test it before its launch. “The app is really convenient for helping me manage my asthma and minimize my exposure to pollution.”

Artificial lung to help study air pollution effects
October 23, 2015 09:11 AM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels

Air pollution is one of the leading causes of lung cancer and respiratory diseases, responsible for one in eight global deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

However, researchers will soon be able to develop new treatments for such diseases with a life-sized, artificial human lung created at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. It is the first diagnostic tool for understanding in real time how tiny particles move and behave in the deepest part of the human lungs, the alveolar tissue. 

Bees don't like diesels!
October 19, 2015 04:19 PM - Staff, ClickGreen

Diesel fumes may be reducing the availability of almost half the most common flower odours that bees use to find their food, new research has found.

The new findings suggest that toxic nitrous oxide (NOx) in diesel exhausts could be having an even greater effect on bees’ ability to smell out flowers than was previously thought.

NOx is a poisonous pollutant produced by diesel engines which is harmful to humans, and has also previously been shown to confuse bees’ sense of smell, which they rely on to sniff out their food.
 

Volkswagen begins recalling diesels in Europe
October 19, 2015 06:54 AM - Leon Kaye

The good news for Volkswagen is that it delivered almost 7.5 million vehicles to customers during the first three quarters of 2015. The bad news is that 8.5 million of VW’s cars will most likely be subject to a mandatory recall — and that’s just in Europe.

The fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal continues to reverberate, four weeks after revelations about the installation of “defeat device” software in diesel-powered cars slammed the newswires. Now, the world’s largest automaker is facing a global public relations crisis. This includes its home base: 2.8 million of the recalled vehicles were sold in Germany.

EPA and the regulation of greenhouse gasses
October 16, 2015 08:43 AM - Editor, ENN

This week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined private and public sector leaders for a second annual White House roundtable discussion about the progress made and new steps taken to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Administrator McCarthy announced several new actions the agency will take to help support a smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs.

"EPA is working closely with industry leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, and deploy advanced refrigeration technologies,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The powerful combination of EPA’s regulatory actions and innovations emerging from the private sector have put our country on track to significantly cut HFC use and deliver on the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

Arsenic found in many US red wines
October 7, 2015 09:11 AM - Jennifer Langston, University of Washington

A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America’s top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what’s allowed in drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic. The wine samples ranged from 10 to 76 parts per billion, with an average of 24 parts per billion.

Outsourcing manufacturing to China and the climate
October 6, 2015 07:40 AM - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists from three universities demonstrate that buying a product made in China causes significantly higher carbon dioxide emissions than purchasing the same product made elsewhere. The study, titled "Targeted opportunities to address the climate–trade dilemma in China," is available here.

"The amazing increase in Chinese manufacturing over the past 15 years has driven the world economy to new heights and supplied consumers in developed countries with tremendous quantities of lower-cost goods," said co-author Steven J. Davis, UCI assistant professor of Earth system science. "But all of this has come at substantial cost to the environment."

Noise pollution harms wildlife, degrades habitats
October 5, 2015 09:11 AM - Shreya Dasgupta, MONGABAY.COM

Traffic noise is just another inconvenience for many of us. But for wildlife, noise from honking, and zooming vehicles can often be an insidious threat: it can degrade habitats without leaving any physical evidence of change, warns a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Road noise — even in moderate levels — pushes migrating birds away from their stopover habitats, researchers from Boise State University in Idaho found. Those that stay back become weak.

“I was initially surprised that even moderate road noise — comparable to a suburban setting — would have such a wide-ranging impact on migrating birds,” William Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who was not involved in the study, told Mongabay. “On reflection, however, I guess such migrators have to be hyper-vigilent about noise, as they’re constantly moving to new areas where unseen predators could be lurking.”

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