Illegal land clearing for commercial agriculture responsible for half of tropical deforestation
September 11, 2014 09:07 AM - Forest Trends
A comprehensive new analysis released today says that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture. The study also finds that the majority of this illegal destruction was driven by overseas demand for agricultural commodities including palm oil, beef, soy, and wood products. In addition to devastating impacts on forest-dependent people and biodiversity, the illegal conversion of tropical forests for commercial agriculture is estimated to produce 1.47 gigatonnes of carbon each year—equivalent to 25% of the EU's annual fossil fuel-based emissions.
Help for Bluefin Tuna!
September 11, 2014 07:13 AM - Dennis Normile Science
A multinational organization that coordinates fishing activities in the western Pacific is throwing a lifeline to heavily overfished Pacific bluefin tuna stocks. Speaking today at a press briefing, Japanese officials provided details on a plan agreed to last week that aims to rebuild the spawning population by halving the catch of juveniles and limiting takes of mature fish as well. The proposal calls for total Pacific bluefin catches to be kept below the 2002 to 2004 annual average levels and for catches of fish weighing fewer than 30 kilograms—juveniles too young to spawn—to be reduced to 50% of those levels.
Hot and Cold Freezers
September 10, 2014 09:25 AM - Bill DiBenedetto, Triple Pundit
The freezers being tested in Central Park operate free of electricity — vendors can even charge their own mobile devices by plugging them into outlets attached to the freezer units. It seems fitting that Unilever, the world's largest producer of ice cream, is rolling out the world's first solar freezers in Central Park to keep those Popsicles, Good Humor or Magnum-brand bars cold while at the same time putting no strain on the environment.
Kimberly-Clark moving big to sustainable forestry
September 9, 2014 06:48 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman , Triple Pundit
Kimberly-Clark produces mainly paper-based personal care products, including popular brands such as Cottonelle, so it's only fitting that the global company focuses on sustainable forestry. Its latest corporate social responsibility report lists short- and long-term goals to make its products more sustainably produced. One of the short-term goals is to source 100 percent of its wood fiber from suppliers who have achieved third-party certification by 2015. It has already achieved 71.1 percent.
Dairy - the case for greener, healthier cows
September 8, 2014 08:06 AM - Mark Eisler, Graeme Martin & Michael Lee, The Ecologist
With supermarket milk cheaper than spring water, it's time to rethink the modern dairy industry. It's not just the milk that's become a throwaway product - the high-octane Holstein cows that produce it are also in the knackers yard after just two or three lactations, the living waste of a loss-making, environment-trashing industry.
Monarch Butterflies losing critical habitat
September 7, 2014 09:57 AM - KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff
Sandy Oliviera has raised monarch butterflies in her East Providence backyard for 25 years. In 1998, she helped 125 monarch caterpillars transform into butterflies, and then released them to the wind. "I began to feel like a butterfly factory that year," Oliviera said. Each time her husband or daughter collected milkweed to feed their captive caterpillars, they returned with more eggs or caterpillars to raise. Some days, Oliviera released a dozen newly emerged butterflies, to the pleasure of her 8-year-old grandson who let them rest on his head before they flew away. This summer, for the first time, Oliviera hasn't found a single monarch egg or caterpillar, and hasn't seen any monarch butterflies.
How can we make lawns more environmentally friendly?
September 6, 2014 08:12 AM - Rutgers University
Many homeowners strive to have the picture-perfect green lawn. But how can that be achieved in an environment where water in parts of the country is becoming scarce and the use of pesticides and fertilizer is being discouraged? Researchers from two Big Ten universities hope that they will be able to find an answer. Scientists from Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota, both members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — an academic consortium of Big Ten universities — will be working together over the next five years to develop an environmentally friendly grass that is more resistant to disease and drought and a better economical choice for homeowners.
Block Island wind farm gets final approvals
September 5, 2014 06:00 PM - ecoRI News staff
Deepwater Wind has received the final federal approval needed to build the Block Island Wind Farm — a project that remains on-track to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. The project’s lead federal permitting agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, granted its approval Sept. 5. With the Corps’ permit, the Block Island Wind Farm has now been completely reviewed, and approved, by nine state and federal agencies: Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island State Historic Preservation Office.
New software helps us choose products, ingredients based on sustainability
September 4, 2014 07:09 AM - Alexis Petru, Triple Pundit
How can a manufacturer reformulate a cleaning product to contain fewer harmful chemicals, and how can a retailer stock its shelves with more eco-friendly merchandise? UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a product safety testing and certification company, thinks it may have a solution: a set of data tools that helps businesses search and choose ingredients and products based on their environmental and social responsibility profiles.
New way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere
September 4, 2014 07:01 AM - Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University, via EurekAlert
Researchers in Japan have engineered a membrane with advanced features capable of removing harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Their findings, published in the British journal Nature Communications, may one day contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner skies. Greenhouse gases, originating from industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels, blanket the earth and are the culprits behind current global warming woes. The most abundant among them is carbon dioxide, which made up 84% of the United State's greenhouse gases in 2012, and can linger in Earth's atmosphere for up to thousands of years.