Pollution

Scotland shuts down its last coal-fired electric power plant
April 2, 2016 08:16 AM - s.e. smith, Care2

After nearly 50 years of service, Scotland’s last coal-fired power plant — Longannet Power Station — has finally gone offline, putting an end to over 100 years of burning coal for electricity.

It’s an important moment for Scottish Power, which looks ahead to clean power initiatives with the goal of going all-renewable by 2020,

But it’s also a very symbolic action for the world. Hopefully other nations will follow suit, creating a domino effect as country by country eliminates its coal plants — like the one above — in favor of renewable alternatives.

Supreme Court and the Obama Administration's Climate Plans
March 16, 2016 08:15 AM - michael b. gerrard, Yale Environment360

Two unexpected and shocking events have left heads swimming about the fate of President Obama’s signature initiative on climate change, the Clean Power Plan, which aims to replace many coal-fired power plants — the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States — with cleaner sources of energy.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the Clean Power Plan until the litigation against it is finally resolved, suspending implementation of the plan for the foreseeable future. The vote was 5-4, along the customary ideological lines, and it led to great concern, bordering on quiet despair, among proponents of the plan. who now believed that the Supreme Court would ultimately strike it down. Opponents of the plan, including the coal industry, rejoiced.
 

The court’s order blocking Obama’s Clean Power Plan provides an opportunity for the U.S. to show other nations it has a flexible approach to cutting emissions, David Victor writes.

Recycled water may be a solution to the California drought
March 15, 2016 08:37 AM - 3BL Media, Care2

The severity and impact of the drought remains top-of-mind among Californians. They are eager for long-term solutions that can help the state to achieve a water-secure future.  California residents are overwhelmingly supportive of using treated wastewater, or recycled water, in their everyday lives, according to a statewide survey released today by Xylem Inc. The survey found that 76 percent of respondents believe recycled water should be used as a long-term solution for managing water resources, regardless of whether or not a water shortage continues.  

Nearly half, or 49 percent of respondents, are very supportive of using recycled water as an additional local water supply and another 38 percent are somewhat supportive.  The survey defined recycled water as former wastewater that has been treated and purified so that it can be reused for drinking purposes.  Of survey respondents, 42 percent are very willing to use recycled water in their everyday lives and an additional 41 percent are somewhat willing.  These findings confirm that there is a significant number of Californians who support the use of recycled water.

“We conducted this survey in an effort to better understand public perception about recycled water, and are very encouraged by the findings,” said Joseph Vesey, Xylem Senior Vice President who leads the Company’s North American commercial business. “With overwhelming support from the public, California is well-positioned to lead the U.S. in accelerating the availability and acceptance of recycled water.  The state has the opportunity to champion a flexible framework that recognizes the unique needs of local communities as they work to establish water resource strategies that include sustainable solutions, such as recycled water.”

Sponge cuts oil spill clean-up cost
March 15, 2016 07:22 AM - Emiliano Rodriguez Mega, SciDevNet

A simple but super-absorbent artificial sponge could lower the cost of cleaning up crude oil spills in developing countries.

A team of researchers, based at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, found that simple sponges made from polyurethane foam soaked up oil spills better than more expensive sponges treated with nanoparticles.

Desert cactus purifies contaminated water for aquaculture, drinking and more
March 14, 2016 07:27 AM - American Chemical Society via EurekAlert!

Farm-grown fish are an important source of food with significant and worldwide societal and economic benefits, but the fish that come from these recirculating systems can have unpleasant tastes and odors. To clean contaminated water for farmed fish, drinking and other uses, scientists are now turning to an unlikely source -- the mucilage or inner "guts" of cacti.

Time to re-think the diesel
March 11, 2016 08:00 AM - Richard Howard / Policy Exchange, The Ecologist

Low Emissions Zones have their place in cleaning up the UK's worst air pollution hotspots, writes Richard Howard. But we also need to adopt fiscal measures to encourage a shift away from diesel vehicles, at once delivering cleaner air, increased tax revenues, and lower carbon emissions.

If we are to clean up air pollution in London and the rest of the UK, then Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift away from diesel to alternatives.

There is an air pollution crisis taking place in London and many of the UK's other major cities.

Well-maintained roadways improve fuel efficiency
March 1, 2016 07:09 AM - MIT News

Most people know that properly inflated tires can improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, but did you know that properly maintained roadways can improve fuel efficiency across an entire pavement network?

Consumers have huge environmental impact
February 25, 2016 07:46 AM - Norwegian University of Science and Technology via EurekAlert!

The world's workshop -- China -- surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.

VW Emissions cheating scandal update
February 25, 2016 07:36 AM - Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit

Volkswagen is still struggling to move past the emissions-software scandal that has plagued its reputation for the better part of a year. Ever since the news officially broke that an array of its diesel passenger cars were outfitted with deceptive software, VW’s reputation has been pretty much at bottom ratings.

It’s not like the company hasn’t tried to regain public trust: To disgruntled consumers who bought one of the affected cars, it’s offered a combo of Visa cards and credit at dealerships. To dealers stuck with stock frozen by the publicity, the company offered to buy back used vehicles at full price.  And in response to hundreds of class-action suits coming up on the horizon, the company recently suggested that it may be willing to buy back those vehicles that can’t be fixed. Fixing, VW lawyer Robert Giuffra explained in court in January, requires coming up with new software, and that may still be a long way off — too long for some earlier vehicles caught in the debacle.

Urban soils release surprising amounts of carbon dioxide
February 24, 2016 07:04 AM - Boston University via EurekAlert!

In the concrete jungle at the core of a city, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are dominated by the fossil fuels burned by the dense concentrations of cars and buildings. Boston University researchers now have shown, however, that in metropolitan areas surrounding the city core, plant roots and decomposing organic material in soil give off enough CO2 , in a process termed "soil respiration", to make an unexpectedly great contribution to total emissions.

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