Regulatory

Solar power shines brightly in the UK
December 13, 2014 10:52 AM - , The Ecologist

Solar power has a sunny future - even without any major breakthroughs, writes Ralph Gottschalg. There are huge gains to be made simply by getting smarter and using existing technologies more effectively. A new report shows that - given political support - solar PV could be competitive in the UK by 2020.

PV can achieve the costs required to survive - without subsidies, and without any step change in technology. All it needs is the political will. 

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
December 3, 2014 10:18 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide The People’s Tree. This national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C. 

 

This year, the 88-foot-tall white spruce tree was harvested from the Chippewa National Forest in northeastern Minnesota by Jim Scheff who won the Logger of the Year award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI). 

 

That begs the question how can a logger win an award from a sustainability group? 

Europe's Plastic Bag Agreement Contested by Industry
November 26, 2014 09:14 AM - Ecaterina Casinge, EurActiv

As lawmakers reached agreement this week to limit the use of plastic bags across Europe, industry voices warned that such rules will have a negative impact on trade in Europe's internal market. The ban could also lead to different standards in legislation in member states and ultimately, to a ban on other types of packaging, according to PlasticsEurope, the association of plastics manufacturers. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on Friday (21 November) on EU-wide legislation obliging member states to reduce the use of plastic bags. The law will apply only to bags with a thickness below 0.05mm, because they are less reusable, and turn into waste more quickly.

Children's rights and child labor in hazardous jobs around the world
November 20, 2014 05:15 AM - Carla Denly, UCLA World Policy Analysis Center

Nearly half of the countries that ratified the U.N. agreement still allow children to work in jobs that endanger their health and safety.

Twenty-five years ago this month, the countries that compose the United Nations reached a landmark agreement that laid the foundation for much-needed strengthening of children’s rights and protections in nearly every country around the world.

Today, the Convention on the Rights of the Child remains the only formal global effort to improve children’s rights and the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. Only three U.N. member nations have not ratified the treaty: Somalia, South Sudan and the United States.

 

EU Court Rules Against UK For Failure to Tackle Air Pollution
November 19, 2014 11:57 AM - Keith Taylor, MEP, The Ecologist

A landmark judgment by the European Court of Justice compels the UK Government to act as soon as possible to reduce air pollution in British cities, writes Keith Taylor - and a good thing too for our health, safety and wellbeing. But it's not just the UK that benefits: every EU country must also comply with the ruling.

Want to Help Fight Wildlife Crimes? There's an App for that!
November 13, 2014 03:43 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

We know wildlife trafficking has become a huge problem for wild animals and imperiled species, but making it illegal is only part of the solution. Without the ability to identify wildlife products moving through ports, authorities have less power to stop the trade. The good news, according to a recent report published in the journal Biological Conservation, is that conservationists are successfully developing mobile apps to help authorities working around the world with the identification of wildlife that they believe are helping crack down on the problem.

Which Form of Energy is the Cheapest?
October 16, 2014 10:47 PM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Which kind of power is the cheapest? Listen to energy companies, and they'll insist that traditional forms like gas and coal are the way to go. Of course, they have money invested in keeping the existing systems in business. That's why the European Union commissioned an independent analysis to study the topic. According to the report, wind energy is the most cost-efficient way to supply power. When proponents of non-renewable energy point to costs, they intentionally overlook the overall economic impact that polluting causes. Once experts start to calculate the costs associated with public health and climate change that coincide with burning coal and gas, the true cost is far higher than initially reported. It's both irresponsible and shortsighted to ignore these environmental and health consequences from the equation.

Does the public trust what scientists say?
October 6, 2014 03:58 PM - Princeton University

If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit "warmer," according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows that while Americans view scientists as competent, they are not entirely trusted. This may be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm.

California Becomes 1st State to Ban Plastic Bags
October 2, 2014 04:14 PM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

It's official: California is now the first state in the country to institute a statewide plastic bag ban! Though it took years for state legislators to pass this bill plus an additional month that felt like an eternity for the governor to sign the bill into law, environmentalists can finally rejoice in the knowledge that grocery store plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past. Analysts expect the legislation will eliminate at least 13 billion plastic bags per year. Don't expect to see a change immediately, however: the ban won't go into effect until next July. Liquor and convenience stores will have until July of 2016 to switch to paper or reusable bags.

Encouraging planting trees will sequester carbon and conserve habitat
September 23, 2014 04:00 PM - Oregon State University

Rewarding landowners for converting farmland into forest will be key to sequestering carbon and providing wildlife habitat, according to a new study by Oregon State University and collaborators. Current land-use trends in the United States will significantly increase urban land development by mid-century, along with a greater than 10 percent reduction in habitat of nearly 50 at-risk species, including amphibians, large predators and birds, said David Lewis, co-author of the study and an environmental economist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

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