Sustainability

A whale of a tale in the North Pacific
December 4, 2013 10:00 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Five distinct humpback whale populations have been identified in the North Pacific clearing the way for these great mammals to be designated as distinct populations segment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The study is an internationally collaborative effort including United States, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Canada, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala under the byline SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks).

Orangutan as fashionista
December 3, 2013 09:36 AM - Nicole Rycroft, The Ecologist

"Do you have these pants in black?" a question generally heard from the changing rooms of clothing retailers. However over the coming months more of the queries that you'll hear echoing in boutiques and malls will be, "Is this shirt made from Orangutan or Caribou habitat?" Canopy, an environmental not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the world's forests, species and climate recently launched a campaign to ensure endangered forests do not end up in clothing. Rayon, viscose and modal fabrics are made from pulped trees. Canopy is raising awareness that much of today's fast fashion and haute couture comes at a cost to the forests we love.

Pollution-Free Boating
December 3, 2013 06:48 AM - Andy Wallace, Clean Techies

The Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Ford C-Max Energi are the top three electric vehicles on the roadways, but what about our waterways? Electric cars aren’t the only vehicles transforming sustainable and economical transportation. Electric boats are also traversing historic waterways and canals that have been polluted with oil and noise. Electric boats may be the only watercraft permitted on municipal waters by 2020, and New Electric is already influencing the electric vehicles industry as an electric-conversion business dedicated to battery-powered boats. About 700 million gallons of oil pollute oceans every year, according to Clean Technica. Engine-exhaust from conventional boats and ships only worsens the harmful environmental effects. Not only is the ocean and air polluted, marine animals suffer from intense noise pollution. Watercraft are actually detrimental to sea life, such as orcas and dolphins, because of their sensitivity to loud sounds. Electric-converted watercraft are quieter and produce no air pollution.

Another rotten Grinch tale
December 2, 2013 03:50 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Seemingly working in concert with the Grinch, Phytophthora root rot is taking hold in the roots of Christmas tree farms throughout Oregon and North Carolina. Phytophthora root rot is a rapidly moving fungus found in poorly drained soils. It causes a slow decline in a tree first destroying the feeder roots and then turning the needles light green or yellow. The pathogen infects the root cortex first depriving the remainder of the root and the plant from its nutrients. Pytophthora root rot is difficult to detect and is only verified with laboratory analysis.

Developing technology for the developing world: Earthquake detection via smartphone
December 2, 2013 01:01 PM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet

Countries that do not have or cannot afford earthquake detection systems may soon have an alternative thanks to a new technology being developed in the United States and discussed last week at the 6th World Science Forum (WSF), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Consumer Awareness and Micro Plastics
December 2, 2013 11:10 AM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Environmental Studies, 2015

Micro plastics are some of the worst water pollutants; they not only harm the local wildlife, but also accumulate into fish that humans consume and cause major health problems. These micro plastics are accumulating not only in oceans, but also freshwater areas, like the Great Lakes. In fact, a 2012 study conducted by the Burning River Foundation found approximately 80,000 particles of micro plastic per km2 in Lake Erie. This high concentration of micro plastic particles is highly concerning for human health and the health of local ecosystems.

With Eye on Asia Market, LEGO Plans Huge Carbon Emissions Reduction
December 2, 2013 07:44 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

LEGO Group is gazing into a future of strong sales growth worldwide, especially in Asia, but that doesn't necessarily mean a consequent growth in its greenhouse gas emissions. The iconic toy company has just announced a new partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation Climate Savers initiative for businesses.

France opposes shale gas development
December 2, 2013 06:49 AM - EurActiv

French Environment Minister Philippe Martin reiterated his government's strong opposition to the exploitation of shale gas, despite a parliamentary report advocating more flexibility towards unconventional gas. The French government says it will not issue the permits for shale gas exploitation requested by the US company Hess Oil, Martin, the energy and ecology minister, announced on 28 November.

Massachusetts Legislature moves on fracking moratorium
December 1, 2013 09:16 AM - ecoRI News staff

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture has approved a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking. The committee’s approval of a bill introduced by Reps. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, and Denise Provost, D-Somerville, came after Environment Massachusetts and its allies presented the committee with documented cases of water contamination, illness and other damage from fracking operations elsewhere. "From Pennsylvania to Colorado, fracking has contaminated water, threatened residents' health and turned rural landscapes into industrial zones" said Ben Hellerstein, field associate for Environment Massachusetts. "Thanks to the leadership of Chairs Anne Gobi and Mark Pacheco, we are now one step closer to protecting the Pioneer Valley from dirty drilling."

What is the true cost of food production?
November 29, 2013 08:18 AM - Patrick Holden, The Ecologist

Unsustainable farming systems that damage the environment and public health thrive at the expense of sustainable producers. Patrick Holden makes the case for "true cost accounting" ... We must account for the real costs of food, or sustainable food systems will never break through to the mainstream. We live in a time when the need for sustainable food and farming systems has never been more urgent. Earlier this year, over 200 leading scientists signed a consensus statement on Maintaining Humanity's Life Support Systems in the 21st Century. It expressed deep concern that society has reached the tipping points for a range of environmental and social consequences to our behaviour, which could significantly degrade life on earth by 2050.

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