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Sustainability

Record low snowpacks in Southwest is bad news for water supplies
April 11, 2015 07:57 AM - Roy L Hales, the ECOreport

Nine states report record low snowpacks. A report from the US Department of Agriculture states, “the largest snowpack deficits are in record territory for many basins,especially in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada where single – digit percent of normal conditions prevail. Very low snowpacks are reported in most of Washington, all of Oregon, Nevada, California, parts of Arizona, much of Idaho, parts of New Mexico, three basins in Wyoming, one basin in Montana, and most of Utah.” This region is undergoing the warmest winter temperatures since record keeping began in 1895.

New strategy will help save declining ape population
April 10, 2015 12:35 PM - WWF Global

The number of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa continues to decline due to poaching, habitat loss and disease according to a new plan published by WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Wildlife Conservation Society and partners. The strategy, “Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of Western Lowland Gorillas and Central Chimpanzees 2015-2025”—outlines the growing number of threats to these great apes across six range countries, including gaps in law enforcement and the threats by well-connected traffickers seeking to supply the illegal commercial market.

Neonicotinoids Responsible for Pollinator Declines Worldwide
April 9, 2015 02:46 PM - Jonathan Latham, The Ecologist

Monarch caterpillars are vulnerable to neonicotinoid toxicity at concentrations as low as 1 part per billion, writes Jonathan Latham, and that makes them vulnerable to residues from commercial crops - and even more so from horticultural use in plant nurseries!

New report identifies possible next steps in US energy development
April 9, 2015 10:09 AM - American Geosciences Institute via EurekAlert!

The U.S. energy portfolio changes over time. Scientific and technologic advances related to hydraulic fracturing have dramatically increased the supply of U.S. oil and gas; because of this, a methane economy - in which natural gas provides the leading share of primary energy consumption - is now a possible scenario for U.S. energy development. In a report released by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the social, political, technical and environmental components of a methane economy are identified. The report also addresses how industry, government and the public might best work together to advance common energy goals.

Fracking appears to be linked to rise in radon levels in Pennsylvania homes
April 9, 2015 06:35 AM - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, via EurekAlert.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say that levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes - where 42 percent of readings surpass what the U.S. government considers safe - have been on the rise since 2004, around the time that the fracking industry began drilling natural gas wells in the state.

The researchers, publishing online April 9 in Environmental Health Perspectives, also found that buildings located in the counties where natural gas is most actively being extracted out of Marcellus shale have in the past decade seen significantly higher readings of radon compared with buildings in low-activity areas. There were no such county differences prior to 2004. Radon, an odorless radioactive gas, is considered the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the world after smoking. 

Lifecycle of Today's Cell Phone
April 7, 2015 08:57 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

It is estimated that in 2014 over two billion mobile phones were sold worldwide. Of these, over one billion were estimated to be smartphones. It is also estimated that a massive 87% of the world’s population now use mobile phones. These are staggering figures, but how many of us have ever stopped to think of where our precious mobile phones came from and what happens to them once we discard them for a newer model?

Each year millions of mobile phones are produced in the world and an equal number are disposed of. In the vast majority of cases these discarded phones work perfectly well. However, like all technological products these days, phones have a built-in technological obsolescence (we demand the latest model or the latest upgrade) as well as a built in aesthetic obsolescence (we demand the latest style or design).

In spite of their extremely small size and simplicity of look, mobile phones are immensely complex pieces of technology with many, many components. If we stop to think about it for a moment all of these products need sourcing: the raw materials needed to produce them need extracting from the ground, these need to manufactured into working parts which are then assembled into the final phone.

Europe focuses on food safety on World Health Day
April 7, 2015 07:07 AM - EurActiv

On World Health Day (7 April), European Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis and Neven Mimica highlight the importance of food safety, malnutrition, and fighting health threats both in the Union and in developing countries.

2015 is the European year for development (EYD). It is an opportunity to show how EU assistance is improving the lives of millions in developing countries; but also in Europe. Food safety, which is the theme of this year’s World Health Day, is a clear example of this.

Too often in Europe we take for granted that the food on our plates is safe. Europe should be proud that its 500 million consumers benefit from the highest food safety and health protection standards in the world, and that many other countries take them as the norm to be followed. However, we must not become complacent.

Yum! Brands announces zero deforestation policy for palm oil
April 6, 2015 09:02 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Yum! Brands, the company that owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, on Thursday announced a zero deforestation policy for its palm oil sourcing. The move came after aggressive campaigns by environmental groups that argued the chains weren't doing enough to ensure the palm oil they used to fry foods wasn't linked to human rights abuses, destruction of peatlands, and logging of rainforests. 

President Obama approves Arctic drilling
April 5, 2015 08:01 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

President Barack Obama has seemingly spent a lot of his second term trying to cement his reputation as one of the United States’s most environmentally conscious leaders. However, his most recent decision to approve controversial oil and gas drilling in the Arctic is certain to lose him favor within the environmental community. How can he preach about the consequences of global warming and carbon emissions and simultaneously give corporations permission to drill in a vulnerable region for decades to come?

As Scientific American reminds us, although we tend to romanticize some of Obama’s environmental policy, his decision to give Arctic drilling a thumbs-up is not incongruent with his overall scheme to have America reliant on multiple sources of energy, including both renewable options, as well as gas and oil.

Maryland Crab Cake Fraud
April 3, 2015 10:38 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Maryland crab cakes are as important to Baltimore’s heritage as Hairspray, the Star Spangled Banner and Orioles baseball. In fact, many would say a visit to Maryland would be lacking without sampling them, whether you are vacationing on the Eastern Shore or in the DC area for a business meeting. Restaurants such as Phillips Seafood, Obryckis and Faidley’s have built an enduring business thanks to this local specialty. However, according to a new study almost 40 percent of crab cakes tested in a survey revealed DNA evidence of fraud in the crab industry.

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