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Sustainability

Pacific Coral Triangle 'at risk of collapse'
July 30, 2012 04:20 PM - Nora Gamolo, SciDevNet

The Coral Triangle, a roughly triangular marine zone in the Indo-Pacific region that is considered to have the world's richest concentration of marine biodiversity, is facing potential ecological collapse due to heavy pressure inflicted by human activities, according to a new report. The warning appears in a collaborative study, 'Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle', produced by a consortium led by the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think-tank based in Washington DC, United States. It serves as a status report on the wellbeing of coral reefs in or near the six countries comprising the triangle.

Electric Car Sales Still Slower Than Expected
July 30, 2012 06:28 AM - Brad Berman, Clean Techies

In a few weeks, we'll come upon the four-year anniversary of when candidate Barack Obama proposed that America put 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on our roads by 2015. Even before the sale of the first Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, most observers knew that hitting the seven-figure mark by 2015 was more aspirational than an actual goal. Recent sales numbers for EVs in the U.S. have reveal market challenges facing battery-powered cars. Last week, Nissan reported that June 2012 sales of its electric Leaf reached 535 units—less than one-third of the 1,708 LEAFs sold in June 2011. Throughout 2012, monthly sales numbers have hovered around the 500-unit mark. That’s a troubling sign for EVs because Nissan had announced that its sales would double from 9,674 in 2011 to nearly 20,000 units this year. If trends continue, Nissan’s Leaf-manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee—expected to come online in December—could operate well below its capacity of 150,000 units annually.

Is it Safe to Eat that Fish you caught?
July 29, 2012 09:25 AM - ROWAN SHARP/ecoRI

On a recent afternoon, a few hours before dusk, Brian Watson, of South Providence, sat in a red fabric lawn chair on the wooden dock at India Point Park. Watson was fishing for bluefish and striped bass — "blues and stripers" — as he has for the past seven years, and he always eats his catch. Does he worry about the safety of taking fish from heavily urban waters? "If the water wasn’t good, they wouldn't let us fish," he said.

Hybrid Polar/Grizzly Bears showing up in the Arctic
July 28, 2012 07:52 AM - YALE Environment 360

Two Canadian biologists have reported sighting a handful of grizzly bears and hybrid grizzly/polar bears at unusually high latitudes in the Arctic, indicating that the interbreeding of the two bear species is becoming more common as the climate warms and grizzlies venture farther north. The sightings of three grizzly bears and two hybrid bears, made in late April and May, represent an unprecedented cluster of these animals at such high latitudes. The biologists even took DNA samples from a grizzly bear at 74 degrees North latitude. The report of the sightings comes on the heels of a recently published analysis of newly sequenced polar bear genomes, suggesting that climate change and genetic exchange with brown bears helped create the polar bear as we know it today. The genetic mixing that the Pennsylvania State and University of Buffalo analysis identified happening in the past — in which polar bears would interbreed with grizzly bears as the polar bears' sea ice habitat shrunk — is now happening again, according to bear biologists.

Exercise Really Does Help you live longer!
July 26, 2012 04:36 PM - Scott Douglas, Runners World

Regular physical activity adds about four years to life expectancy, and endurance exercise during leisure time seems to be better at extending life than physical activity done as work, according to a new research review published in the Journal of Aging Research. German researchers gathered well-designed studies on one of the most basic, but important, questions in health: Does physical activity increase life expectancy? In reviewing the results of the studies, they found the answer was an unequivocal yes. Among the studies, there was a wide range of extra years found for active versus nonactive people, from less than half a year in one study to close to seven years in another. When the results of the studies were combined, the researchers wrote, "The median increase of life expectancy of men and women in the eight studies presenting data on both sexes amounted to 3.7 years each."

United Nations hails green credentials of London's Olympic Games
July 26, 2012 04:11 PM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

A senior United Nations chief has praised the measures taken by the UK to ensure that the London Summer Olympic Games are environmentally sustainable. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), says the eco achievements of the London 2012 Games should act as an inspiration for following organizers. "London’s clean-up of an old industrial site; the restoration of flows and habitat on the River Lea; the greening of supply chains; the low energy linked with the design and construction of the stadium, including utilizing old gas pipes for the facility’s Olympic ring; and the use of temporary structures to reduce emissions are among the actions that can assist in inspiring the organizers of the Rio 2016 games and beyond," he said.

New EU Carbon Rules for Cars will save money
July 26, 2012 06:32 AM - EurActive

Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Action commissioner, argues that tougher standards for automotive carbon emissions are good Europe’s long-term economic and environmental health. "Do we really need more rules from the EU?" some might have thought when I presented the Commission's proposals for further reducing CO2 emissions from cars and vans earlier this month. The answer is: yes, we do need them. There is nothing wrong with new rules when they are well thought through and subjected to rigorous analysis, as ours have been. Environmental protection in Europe is one long story about the progress we can achieve when we make sensible regulation. Years ago we took the first steps to tackle emissions from cars. And it has worked. Just look how much the fuel economy of new cars has improved compared to just a few years ago. It is EU rules that have pushed this progress. And this is a great example of an area where it makes sense to do things together in Europe rather than developing 27 different national systems.

Tracking Greenland's Ice Melt shows record melt area
July 25, 2012 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

NASA researchers studying data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite this month noticed that the ice melt area on Greenland covered almost the entire ice sheath. This is very unusual and means that melting was occurring over almost the entire surface of the ice sheath. In most summers, the melting occurs in portions of the ice sheath while other areas are not melting. Typically, less than half the ice sheath is melting at one time. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet, and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. This is unprecedented in 30 years of monitoring ice melt by satellite. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise.

End of the last Ice Age - Close linkage between CO2 and temperature found
July 24, 2012 06:58 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

The greatest climate change the world has seen in the last 100,000 years was the transition from the ice age to the warm interglacial period. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that, contrary to previous opinion, the rise in temperature and the rise in the atmospheric CO2 follow each other closely in terms of time. In the warmer climate the atmospheric content of CO2 is naturally higher. The gas CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a green-house gas that absorbs heat radiation from the Earth and thus keeps the Earth warm. In the shift between ice ages and interglacial periods the atmospheric content of CO2 helps to intensify the natural climate variations.

Cleaner aviation depends on supplies of not so clean materials
July 23, 2012 12:52 PM - EurActive

From the flight deck to the wheel brakes, new generations of aircraft that produce far less pollution increasingly rely on imported raw materials which are themselves dirty to produce. EurActiv reports from the Farnborough International Airshow. China and Russia are dominant suppliers of some forms of titanium — a lightweight metal used in airframes and parts — while China holds the lock on production of rare earth metals. Dependable supplies of these resources are vital as European and American airplane manufacturers juggle backlogged orders and address forecasts of exponential growth over 20 years. "It's an area that is going to increasingly become a challenge in the industry," said Dr Andy Jefferson, programme director at the industry-financed Sustainable Aviation research organisation in the United Kingdom.

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