Is Australia on the wrong track on climate change?
December 19, 2014 01:17 PM - Kieran Cooke & Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist
Despite record heat and drought Australia's emissions and coal exports are soaring, says a new report, and both are increasing as a matter of government policy. But a homegrown climate action movement is putting a spanner in the works - and just stopped its first coal train.
Australia's response to climate change is headed completely backwards. If we can stop this new coal mine we set a precedent for the rest of Australia to stand up.
New York State to Ban Fracking Due to Health Risks
December 19, 2014 12:09 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit
This week, New York state joined the growing list of states and communities to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within its boundaries. After years of contentious debate over the safety of fracking, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday that he would move to unilaterally ban fracking was not completely unexpected. Still, environmental groups are counting the Department of Health’s report that “[high volume hydraulic fracturing] should not proceed in NYS” as a victory.
The role of taxes (and EV's) in reducing CO2 emissions from cars in Europe analyzed
December 19, 2014 08:43 AM - EurActiv
The Netherlands had the lowest CO2 emissions from new cars in the European Union last year, thanks to its tax regime favouring fuel economy and low-carbon vehicles.
Germany and Poland are among the countries with the highest C02 emissions from new cars and the weakest national tax policies, a report by NGO Transport & Environment has found.
Cars are responsible for 15% of Europe’s total CO2 emissions and are the single largest source of emissions in the transport sector.
New York fracking ban has broader implications for America
December 18, 2014 06:48 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
After years of public pressure, New York today became the second state to ban hydraulic fracturing because of risks to people and the environment. The announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo adds to the pressure on the Obama administration to end fracking across the country, including on America’s public lands.
“New York just took a huge leap forward in protecting its people and wildlife from the dangers of fracking,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now it’s time for other leaders to follow, including President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown in California.”
16 Major Companies and Agencies Say No to Chemical Flame Retardants
December 17, 2014 02:29 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit
The debate over chemical flame retardantsseems to be heating up. The Center for Environmental Health, which helped encourage a rewrite of California’s regulations regarding safety standards in furniture manufacturing, announced last week that 16 major furniture manufacturers have now sworn off chemical flame retardants.
Fracking-Related Air Pollution Leads to Major Health Threats
December 16, 2014 03:01 PM - Natural Resources Defense Council
A growing body of evidence shows that people both near and far from oil and gas drilling are exposed to fracking-related air pollution that can cause at least five major types of health impacts, according to a new comprehensive analysis of scientific studies to-date by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The health impacts include respiratory problems, birth defects, blood disorders, cancer and nervous system impacts, raising serious concerns for workers and people living closest to wells, as well as entire regions with high volumes of oil and gas activity.
Road Salt Increases Urban Stream Contamination
December 15, 2014 03:54 PM - USGS Newsroom
Average chloride concentrations often exceed toxic levels in many northern United States streams due to the use of salt to deice winter pavement, and the frequency of these occurrences nearly doubled in two decades. Chloride levels increased substantially in 84 percent of urban streams analyzed, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study that began as early as 1960 at some sites and ended as late as 2011. Levels were highest during the winter, but increased during all seasons over time at the northern sites, including near Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; and other metropolitan areas. The report was published today in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Pollution May Cause Problems for Pollinators
December 11, 2014 10:57 AM - Lisa Marie Potter, MONGABAY.COM
While unpleasant car exhaust makes us wrinkle our noses, such human-made fumes may pose serious problems to insects searching for nectar. Researchers recently revealed that background odors make finding flowers difficult for pollinators. The study, published in Science, measured how hawk moths (Manduca sexta) pick out the sacred datura flower scent (Datura wrightii) amidst all the other smells that waft through the environment. Datura’s brilliant 15-centimeter trumpets leap from dark, heart-shaped leaves, sending smelly signals into the arid sky of the southwestern deserts where they grow.
Scientists estimate the total weight of plastic floating in the world's oceans
December 10, 2014 03:17 PM - PLOS ONE via EurekAlert!
Nearly 269,000 tons of plastic pollution may be floating in the world's oceans, according to a study published December 10, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Marcus Eriksen from Five Gyres Institute and colleagues. Microplastic pollution is found in varying concentrations throughout the oceans, but estimates of the global abundance and weight of floating plastics, both micro and macroplastic, lack sufficient data to support them. To better estimate the total number of plastic particles and their weight floating in the world's oceans, scientists from six countries contributed data from 24 expeditions collected over a six-year period from 2007-2013 across all five sub-tropical gyres, coastal Australia, Bay of Bengal, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Abandoned Wells Identified as Greenhouse Gas 'Super-emitters'
December 9, 2014 01:32 PM - John Sullivan, Princeton University
Princeton University researchers have uncovered a previously unknown, and possibly substantial, source of the greenhouse gas methane to the Earth's atmosphere. After testing a sample of abandoned oil and natural gas wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, the researchers found that many of the old wells leaked substantial quantities of methane.