Sustainability

Spitting Sulfates!
January 9, 2014 10:41 AM - Nicole Jones, Yale 360

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in one of the largest volcanic blasts of the 20th century. It spat up to 20 million tons of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, shielding the earth from the sun's rays and causing global temperatures to drop by nearly half a degree Celsius in a single year. That's more than half of the amount the planet has warmed due to climate change in 130 years.

Increase in Tourism Impacts Seashell Loss
January 9, 2014 09:32 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Walking down the beach you see the perfect shell. You pick it up, put it in your pocket and decide to keep it to remind you of your trip to paradise. While different agencies, states, and countries have specific regulations on taking shells, vials of sand, or any other object from its natural environment, you are generally not allowed to bring these souvenirs home with you, especially to another country. Why? Mainly because if everyone did it, there would be none left. But despite airports seizing tons of shells each week, seashells are still disappearing at various tourist locations and according to a new study, as global tourism increases, human-induced seashell loss may harm natural habitats worldwide.

Giant wave of understanding in South China Sea
January 8, 2014 03:43 PM - David L. Chandler, MIT

Their effect on the surface of the ocean is negligible, producing a rise of just inches that is virtually imperceptible on a turbulent sea. But internal waves, which are hidden entirely within the ocean, can tower hundreds of feet, with profound effects on the Earth's climate and on ocean ecosystems. Now new research, both in the ocean and in the largest-ever laboratory experiments to investigate internal waves, has solved a longstanding mystery about exactly how the largest known internal waves, in the South China Sea, are produced. The new findings come from a team effort involving MIT and several other institutions, and coordinated by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Annual home checkup should include a radon test
January 8, 2014 12:49 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Because 21,000 Americans die each year from radon related lung cancer the EPA recommends an annual testing of radon in the home. By making January “Radon Action Month” homeowners can protect their family from this leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and DIY test kits are as low as $10.

Suburbs Stomp On City's Eco-Savings with their own Carbon Footprint
January 8, 2014 09:31 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

According to a new study by UC Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country. This reasoning seems to makes sense because of resources like public transportation that cut down carbon emissions and shared heating and electricity costs that save on energy. But with every city comes its suburbs and these areas essentially stomp out all environmental benefits that dense cities provide with their own carbon footprint.

Renewables Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels in Australia
January 8, 2014 07:35 AM - Celsias, Clean Techies

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in Australia has discovered that renewable energy is cheaper to produce than the old conventional fossil fuel sources, and that is without the subsidies. The study shows that electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AUD 80/MWh (USD 83), compared to AUD 143/MWh from a new coal plant or AUD 116/MWh from a new baseload gas plant, including the cost of emissions under the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme. However even without a carbon price (the most efficient way to reduce economy-wide emissions) wind energy is 14% cheaper than new coal and 18% cheaper than new gas.

Wild deep-freeze warming techniques
January 7, 2014 11:57 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

With much of the northern hemisphere embedded in a deep freeze, one wonders how cold weather animals remain alive through frigid temperatures. Energy supplies are drained in the cold making it necessary to have a good solid cache of warming survival skills. Some animals have adaptive features and other animals have found adaptive techniques. Some of their creative adaptations are listed:

U.S. Coast Guard Polar Star to the Rescue!
January 6, 2014 04:09 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Maritime drama in the Southern Ocean continues! Maritime rescue teams have been getting a great deal of practice lately; this time the U.S. Coast Guard is attempting the rescue of the Russian research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy and now the Chinese icebreaker, Xue Long aka Snow Dragon in Chinese.

Stink Bugs: Friend or Foe
January 6, 2014 10:07 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Stink bugs are fierce prehistoric looking bugs. Some are indeed quite fierce and others stink more than they bite! In many parts of the world including their native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is considered an agricultural pest. Yet other genera of stink bugs, specifically the Podisus nigrispinus (Dallas), are considered an important biological control agent for other insect pests in the cotton, soybean, tomato, corn, and kale fields.

EPA adopts ASTM E1527-13 Standard
January 6, 2014 09:35 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

EPA finalized a rule last week adopting the revised ASTM E1527-13 "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process" as a standard by which parties may comply with the "All Appropriate Inquiries" Rule, 40 CFR Part 312. In the United States, the Phase I ESA is a report prepared for a piece of property that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. Phase I ESAs assess risks of ownership and are conducted in order to determine if a site may be contaminated from past spills, leaking underground storage tanks, or historical uses of the site, to name a few.

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