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Sustainability

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.

Carbon storage in world's biomass is increasing
April 2, 2015 02:08 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

The threat of deforestation is understood as one of the major problems in the world today, but a new study suggests that the total amount of vegetation in the world appears to have increased in the past decade, suggesting a rare ray of light in conservation and climate change news.

The study, which was published late last month in the journal Nature Climate Change, saw researchers from Australia assess the amount of carbon stored in living plant mass, also known as biomass, stored above ground. This is one established way that we can measure not just how much carbon is stored but also the density of biomass in any given area and so provides us with an interesting way of assessing regional and global forest densities.

New California water restrictions mandated
April 2, 2015 06:56 AM - , Triple Pundit

This year California has seen the lowest snowpack ever recorded, which was a disaster for the winter ski tourism industry and poses dangers of wildfires this summer and fall. But the dry winter has also exacerbated the state’s ongoing drought crisis. To that end, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order that he said is necessary in order to make California drought resistant.

The governor made the announcement while visiting a California Department of Water Resources snow survey in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Phillips Station, located in El Dorado County near the Nevada border. “Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Gov. Brown said.

New deep-water methane reservoir found deep in the Arctic Ocean
March 31, 2015 07:57 AM - University of New Hampshire via EurekAlert.

Research led by a University of New Hampshire professor has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates -- ice-like substances found in sediment that trap methane within the crystal structure of frozen water -- in the Arctic Ocean. The findings, published online now in the May 2015 journal Geology, point to a previously undiscovered, stable reservoir for abiotic methane -- methane not generated by decomposing carbon -- that is "locked" away from the atmosphere, where it could impact global climate change.

"We've found an example where methane produced at a mid-ocean ridge is locked up in stable, deep water gas hydrate, preventing it from possibly getting out of the seafloor," says lead author Joel Johnson, associate professor of geology at UNH and guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Johnson notes that the findings, which pinpointed a source of abiotic methane ¬produced in seafloor crust, indicate gas hydrates throughout the Arctic may be supplied by a significant portion of abiotic gas.

Study finds electric vehicles will travel further than drivers expect
March 30, 2015 04:19 PM - ClickGreen Staff

Electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed, according to the first study of its kind carried out by scientists at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20 percent of its energy storage or power delivery capability. This study shows that the daily travel needs of drivers continue to be met well beyond these levels of battery degradation.

Antarctic ice loss is accelerating
March 27, 2015 07:08 AM - British Antarctic Survey

New research published this week in the journal Science Express describes how the ice shelves around Antarctica are thinning and therefore allowing more of the ice sheet behind them to flow into the sea. 

Using nearly two decades of satellite data, the team of international researchers observed an acceleration of ice loss from the continent’s ice shelves, with an increase in loss of 70% in West Antarctica over the last decade. In the Amundsen and Bellingshausen regions, some ice shelves have lost up to 18% of their thickness in less than two decades. 

Which diet has the smallest carbon footprint?
March 26, 2015 01:20 PM - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, via EurekAlert!

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well-known. As well as being healthier, a recent article concludes that the menu traditionally eaten in Spain leaves less of a carbon footprint than that of the US or the United Kingdom. The consequences of climate change range from species extinction to sea-level increases and the spread of diseases. For this reason, researchers have been struggling for years to alleviate its effects, even limiting the pollution caused by food consumption.

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