The Problem with Tree Plantations
September 22, 2012 08:08 AM - Isaac Rojas, MONGABAY.COM
Today, September 21, is the "International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations", an annual event organized by a coalition of social and environmental groups. Here, Isaac Rojas, a Costa Rican who is Friends of the Earth International coordinator of its Forest and Biodiversity Program, expresses his view point on industrial plantations. Public environmental awareness has come a long way since September 1962, when Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' was published, stimulating the birth of the environmental movement. This movement may be fifty years old, but nowadays you can feel 'green' by helping destroy forests instead of protecting them, for instance by clicking online a 'plant a tree' button on a seemingly well-meaning website.
Floating plastic, papyrus islands may help restore Lake Naivasha
September 21, 2012 11:20 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Besides being known as the material for the first paper of ancient Egypt, papyrus is also very valuable in filtering water as it has the ability to recycle nutrients. In fact, plans are being implemented to plant papyrus on floating plastic islands which will help protect the ecosystem of a prominent water source known as Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Lake Naivasha is a large freshwater lake that has been ecologically suffering for the past 30 years. Dr Harper, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester, who is in part responsible for the restoration attributes this decline to the population growth in the surrounding town due to the floriculture industry as cut flowers have become one of Kenya’s top grossers of foreign exchange.
Using Information and Communications Technology Promotes Sustainability in Cities
September 19, 2012 12:30 PM - Cameron Scherer, Worldwatch Institute
More than half of the world's population lives in urban areas, and countries such as India and China are in need of hundreds of additional cities to accommodate growing populations. People in many cities suffer from inadequate transportation, sub-standard buildings, lack of sanitation, and poor public safety, highlighting the need for sustainable and livable urban planning. Information and communication technology (ICT) can be a useful tool in helping cities improve their safety, cleanliness, and sustainability, according to Diana Lind, contributing author to Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity.
Fusion Power Update - Getting Closer!
September 19, 2012 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Researchers at Sandia Laboratories are getting closer to nuclear fusion that will produce more energy than it takes to create the fusion reaction! They are very close to the break even point. Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific "break-even" energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia research paper accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL). Sandia researcher Ryan McBride pays close attention to the tiny central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine. The larger cylinders forming a circle on the exterior of the base plate measure Z’s load current by picking up the generated magnetic field.
West African and Caribbean seas rank among unhealthiest waters
September 18, 2012 01:07 PM - Samuel Hinneh and Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDev Net, SciDevNet
More research and better policies are needed to protect the world's most vulnerable seas, lying off the coast of West Africa and the Caribbean, local experts have told SciDev.Net. The two regions have some of the world's unhealthiest seas, according to a new index that assessed the health of seas and their benefits to livelihoods. Its methodology was published in Nature last month (15 August). The index rates seas in ten categories or 'goals', including water cleanliness, support for coastal livelihoods and economies, and food provision. It also assesses the state of coastal protection and biodiversity, seas' capacity for artisanal fishing, carbon storage and tourism, and the provision of natural products.
Are EV's really better for climate-changing emissions?
September 18, 2012 06:56 AM - EurActive
Electric cars are an axiom of clean transport planning - they produce no tailpipe emissions, little localised air pollution and, potentially, no greenhouse gas output. But as their critics point out, they are only as green as the electricity that they use. A power supply dependent on fossil fuels will produce greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles that are less than - but still comparable to - those from automobiles fitted with internal combustion engines (ICE)
US electric car industry poised to overtake Europe
September 17, 2012 08:03 AM - Euractiv
A new US fuel efficiency standard finalised by the Obama administration last month will jolt America’s nascent electric car industry to life, but could leave European auto manufacturers racing to catch up, analysts and industry sources say. From 2025, American cars and light trucks will have to achieve a standard of at least 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) under the new regulation, higher than can be achieved by any existing fuel-powered cars, according to the US Department of Energy. The only cars on the US market which exceed the 54.5 mpg target (measured as mpg equivalent) are at least partly powered by plug-in electricity, the US Environmental Protection Agency says.
Ice Sheets Apparently Can Grow Quickly in Cold Periods
September 15, 2012 08:25 AM - Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery News
How fast can glaciers and ice sheets expand and shrink in response to rapidly changing climatic conditions? It's a question that scientists have been pondering with particular interest of late, with Greenland's Peterman Glacier calving large amounts of ice two years in succession, and much of the island's surface ice melting earlier this summer. Because abrupt climate changes have occurred, across various spatial and temporal scales, at several previous points in the planet's history, scientists can look for prehistorical clues, to see what happened then and thus infer what might happen in a warming 21st century. A team of geologists has done just that, although it has looked for evidence not during previous warm spells, but by looking at two major cooling events in Earth's past.
UPS Earns Top Score Among U.S. Firms On Carbon Disclosure
September 14, 2012 07:04 AM - 3BL Media, Justmeans
For the second consecutive year, UPS (NYSE: UPS) has received the highest score in the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project's "Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index" of S&P companies, receiving a 99 out of 100. UPS is one of only two U.S. companies to achieve the high score, reflecting the company’s commitment to transparency and leadership with regards to carbon reporting and performance in mitigating environmental impact. UPS is the only company from the Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P) Industrials sector to receive the highest score. Only four companies in the world received scores of 99 or higher. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), companies are scored on their climate change disclosure and high scores indicate good internal data management and understanding of climate change related issues affecting the company. Results from the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project indicate that S&P 500 companies are making significant strides with regards to transparency and progress on carbon goals, narrowing the gap with Global 500 companies. The average performance score of the S&P 500 increased by 44% with assurance of emissions data nearly doubling, signaling a greater commitment to transparency and accuracy.
Mysterious Rise in Ocean Salinity
September 13, 2012 06:13 AM - RICHARD MATTHEWS, Global Warming is Real
Scientists have observed unexpected changes in the seawater salinity and they are increasingly concerned about the potential impact on ocean currents. The salinity of seawater can accelerate the water cycle which can cause extreme weather events like floods and drought. To investigate the issue of ocean salinity scientists have boarded the research vessel Knorr, which set sail on September 6, 2012. NASA’s Aquarius instrument is part of a separate research project that has been measuring seawater salinity from space since August 2011. In addition to ocean salinity, researchers are exploring the water cycle which involves the ways that water circulates between the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land. This process involves precipitation and return to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration.