Sustainability

New study of the Arctic Ocean finds alarming increase in acidity
September 12, 2013 06:35 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

If you ever had a marine aquarium (or a swimming pool) you know that it is very important to keep the level of acidity (ph) within a narrow range for optimum results. In the case of the pool, to minimize corrosion of the metal parts in a heater and to reduce damage to the pool lining or paint. In the case of the aquarium, the ph is directly related to the health of coral and fish. The ocean is no different. Acidity is an important parameter that relates to many other parameters including the health of marine animals and the rates at which corals and rocks grow or are dissolved. Globally, oceans are getting more acidic from CO2 emissions. Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem. Ocean acidification is the process by which pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans from the atmosphere. Currently oceans absorb about one-fourth of the greenhouse gas. Lower pH levels make water more acidic and lab studies have shown that more acidic water decrease calcification rates in many calcifying organisms, reducing their ability to build shells or skeletons. These changes, in species ranging from corals to shrimp, have the potential to impact species up and down the food web. The team of federal and university researchers found that the decline of sea ice in the Arctic summer has important consequences for the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean. As sea ice cover recedes to record lows, as it did late in the summer of 2012, the seawater beneath is exposed to carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of ocean acidification.

Solar-powered system used to produce clean water in rural villages
September 11, 2013 02:33 PM - Debra Goldberg, ENN

Clean drinking water is often an overlooked privilege in first world cities. However, in areas such as the rural villages of the Yucatan Peninsula, potable water is at least a day’s drive away and costs more than local residents can afford.

US Forest Service Launches Fall Colors 2013 Campaign
September 11, 2013 10:04 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Let's face it- summer is over. While we still might have one or two days over 80 degrees, there's no denying that fall is coming. And the number one way we can tell that fall is coming is by that colorful foliage. In an effort to get people outdoors and enjoy nature's most colorful season, the U.S. Forest Service has launched its Fall Colors 2013 campaign. "America's public lands, particularly our national forests, are among the most spectacular venues to view the changes in fall colors," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "The Forest Service offers numerous resources to help you plan your experience. Nature is closer than you may think." The Forest Service has introduced an online map to help visitors see if and when trees are peaking in their state. The map is shaded in green (not peaking) to bright red (peaking) to brown (past peak).

Inviroment Develops Plastic-Dissolving Spray for Use in Landfills
September 11, 2013 08:21 AM - Andrea Newell, Triple Pundit

The idea to develop a plastic-eating spray to decrease landfill capacity began as a roundabout convergence of ideas by a couple of Brigham Young University students — neither of whom had focused on waste management before.

Europe importing more palm oil for biofuels, raising risks for rain forests
September 10, 2013 09:52 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Palm oil imports into Europe for use as car fuel increased by more than three-fold since 2006, raising concerns than renewable fuels targets may be contributing to deforestation, displacing marginalized communities, and driving greenhouse gas emissions in Southeast Asia, finds a new study published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Verizon Foundation Launches Second Innovative App Challenge for Students to Bolster Engagement in STEM Subjects
September 10, 2013 06:02 AM - Verizon, Justmeans

The Verizon Foundation, in partnership with the Technology Student Association, has opened the 2013-2014 Innovative App Challenge, giving middle and high school students across the country a chance to develop a concept for a mobile app and bring it to market. The mobile app design competition aims to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and empower them to create STEM-related app concepts that solve real-world problems in their community or school. Students have a chance to win Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America, cash grants of up to $20,000 for their school, and the opportunity to team up with app development experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to build and bring their apps to life. Verizon will help winning teams bring their app to the Google Play store, available for download. The fastest-growing careers in the United States are STEM-related, yet the country is not graduating enough young professionals in these fields to meet this need. As a result, as many as 3 million STEM jobs have gone unfilled, according to STEMconnector's "2013 EdTech — Revolution in Education"

Food and beverage dye going all-natural
September 9, 2013 02:15 PM - Debra Goldberg, ENN

As consumers are becoming more health-conscious and aware of chemical additives and dyes in their food, many are starting to stray away from anything that contains "unnatural" ingredients, including food and drink dyes. At the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), this concern was one of the many topics discussed at the convention.

Are UK drivers more switched on to electric vehicles?
September 9, 2013 10:30 AM - MOVEFORWARD, via, Electric Forum

It may come as a surprise to those who drive in the UK but a recent survey by Censuswide and Rexel has revealed that 41% of British drivers surveyed would consider the purchase of an electric vehicle or hybrid over the next five years. The survey also revealed a number of anomalies with regards to the public’s perception of the electric vehicle industry which should give food for thought as we move forward with this new mode of transport.

The Eugen Maersk and the Future of Clean Shipping
September 9, 2013 10:04 AM - ShipServ via, Clean Techies

Unless you're a particularly dedicated shipping enthusiast, it's safe to say that you have probably not come across the name "Eugen Maersk" before. However, it's time that you commit it to memory, as she may well be the future of clean shipping. At full capacity, she weighs in at well over 150,000 tonnes (a weight equivalent to almost a thousand adult blue whales). This bulk is matched by her size — she stretches for more than four football pitches in length, coming in at 397 metres. She takes more than four miles to come to a complete stop from full speed, and burns through significantly more than two hundred tonnes of bunker fuel in one single day. This fuel gives off a large amount of pollution; the total sum of all global shipping activity is responsible for more than three per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

Happiness found to be a good target of policy
September 9, 2013 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Everyone yearns to be happy. Some think obtaining the next hot gadget or cell phone will do it. Others the new hot sports car. For others, a warm bed and food for their family will bring happiness. But what does our yearning for happiness have to do with government policy? How can governments increase our happiness? As heads of state get ready for the United Nations General Assembly in two weeks, the second World Happiness Report further strengthens the case that well-being should be a critical component of how the world measures its economic and social development. The report is published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Leading experts in several fields — economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more — describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The Report is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the SDSN, and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General. "There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being," said Professor Jeffery Sachs. "More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations and the world. The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development."

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