Pollution

New England air quality update
September 29, 2015 07:27 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

EPA today confirmed that New Englanders experienced a slight increase in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared to 2014 and 2013.

Based on preliminary data collected between April and September 2015, there were 24 days when ozone monitors in New England recorded concentrations above levels considered healthy. By contrast, in 2014 there were a total of 9 unhealthy ozone days, and in 2013 there were a total of 20 such days.

The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer is as follows:
- 22 days in Connecticut (compared to 8 in 2014, and 18 in 2013)
- 4 days in Rhode Island (0 in 2014, and 7 in 2013)
- 3 days in Massachusetts (0 in 2014, and 6 in 2013)
- 2 days in Maine (0 in 2014, and 5 in 2013)
- 2 days in New Hampshire (1 in 2014, and 3 in 2013)
- 0 days in Vermont (0 in both 2014, and 2013).

The Volkswagen scandal and EU transportation emissions
September 28, 2015 11:12 AM - EurActiv

The revelations that Volkswagen, the world's second largest car manufacturer, had routinely gamed US emissions testing has thrown the spotlight on the environmental and health impact of cars.

While EU member states, such as the UK, open or consider investigations into the beleaguered company, European Commission officials are currently reviewing the executive’s 2011 White Paper for transport, its main policy roadmap for the sector.

Bringing extra impetus to their deliberation is the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, international talks aimed at capping global warming.

Just how much waste are Americans creating?
September 23, 2015 09:09 AM - Tex Dworkin, Care2

A new Yale-led study reveals that we’re disposing of more than twice as much solid waste as we thought we were here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Published on Sept. 21 in the Nature Climate Change journal and co-authored by Yale professor Julie Zimmerman and University of Florida professor Timothy G. Townsend, this study found that based on landfill measurements instead of government estimates, analysis of figures revealed that America tosses five pounds of trash per person per day.

Let that soak in for a moment. Five pounds of garbage. Per day. Per person. But it gets better, and by better, I mean worse.

Fracking Chemicals can cause Endocrine Disruption
September 21, 2015 08:43 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

There is mounting data to suggest that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can have adverse affects on the environment. A new study, however, suggests that populations living close to fracking sites also have a higher incidence of health complications.

Diesel cars in the EU having trouble meeting emissions standards on the road
September 14, 2015 02:19 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). 

All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 autoemissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit. 

On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

Climate talks in Paris may not make enough of a difference
September 14, 2015 11:37 AM - Fred Pearce, Yale Enviornment360.

It’s Paris or bust. Climate diplomats are preparing for a United Nations climate conference in the French capital in December that scientists say is probably the last realistic chance for the world to prevent global warming going beyond 2 degrees Celsius. Some kind of a deal will probably be done. But will it be one more diplomatic fudge or a real triumph for the climate? 

In the run-up to Paris, governments have been asked to deliver pledges to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases known to cause climate change. The pledges, covering the period between 2020, when the agreement should enter into force, and 2030, are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs in the U.N. jargon. 

Why are some people so negative about electric cars?
September 13, 2015 07:46 AM - MARK BENSON, Electric Forum

Sometimes it is good to take stock, sit back and take a look at the wider picture in relation to the electric car market. Each day seems to bring yet another raft of criticism, concerns and cheap shots at an industry which has come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade. While where we are today is certainly some way from the finish line there is no doubt that amazing progress has been made with the likes of Tesla pushing the industry to new highs.

So, why are people so negative about electric cars and unable or unwilling to appreciate the technology which it has created?

Air Quality in Scotland continuing to improve
September 11, 2015 08:06 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A new report published today shows Scottish emissions of most air pollutants have continued to fall, with significant reductions in emissions of all air pollutants since 1990.

The announcement of the official figures was welcomed by Environment Minister Aileen McLeod who said an updated action plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide would soon be published.

Dr McLeod said: “Air pollution is harmful to human health and can contribute to climate change, and I very much welcome the significant progress that has been made reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants in Scotland.

MIT study shows climate change mitigation potential of geoengineering the oceans
September 9, 2015 07:23 AM - Mark Dwortzan | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT

Like the leaves of New England maples, phytoplankton, the microalgae at the base of most oceanic food webs, photosynthesize when exposed to sunlight. In the process, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it to carbohydrates and oxygen. Many phytoplankton species also release dimethyl sulfide (DMS) into the atmosphere, where it forms sulfate aerosols, which can directly reflect sunlight or increase cloud cover and reflectivity, resulting in a cooling effect. The ability of phytoplankton to draw planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and produce aerosols that promote further cooling has made ocean fertilization — through massive dispersal of iron sulfite and other nutrients that stimulate phytoplankton growth — an attractive geoengineering method to reduce global warming.

The long-term effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill
September 8, 2015 10:02 AM - NOAA FISHERIES WEST COAST REGION via EurekAlert

For 25 years, methodical research by scientists has investigated the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 on Alaskan communities and ecosystems. A new study released today into the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska shows that embryonic salmon and herring exposed to very low levels of crude oil can develop hidden heart defects that compromise their later survival, indicating that the spill may have had much greater impacts on spawning fish than previously recognized.

The herring population crashed four years after the spill in Prince William Sound and pink salmon stocks also declined, but the link to the oil spill has remained controversial. The new findings published in the online journal Scientific Reports suggest that the delayed effects of the spill may have been important contributors to the declines.

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