Australian Environmental Politics in Denial
October 7, 2013 01:18 PM - Daniel Yeow, Worldwatch Institute
Australia seems to be going backwards in time with regard to environmental politics. A startlingly high number of people there deny climate change. Most Australians do believe in it, but in a country that no longer has a science minister, the newly-elected conservative government is populated by "leaders" who believe that it is some kind of conspiracy. The media that the average Australian consumes is overwhelmingly populated by sources which are owned by people of a highly conservative and libertarian belief. Libertarianism—the belief that people should be free to do as they wish so long as they do not impinge on the freedom of others, is a decidedly human-centric philosophy and as such, large-scale environmental problems are generally not well-handled. In the minds of people like Rupert Murdoch, among others, environmental regulations are an unnecessary burden on people's freedom, and even if you don't really believe that, if that's what you read in the newspaper every day, then that's what you will be led to believe.
Sustainable Smartphones: Galaxy S4 vs. Fairphone
October 7, 2013 07:35 AM - Emil Dimantchev, Triple Pundit
Ever since Apple first shipped the iPhone in 2007, smartphone manufacturers have ignored the opportunity to make a product for green consumers. This has caused efforts to reduce smartphones’ planetary impact to proceed at a snail’s pace, until now.
Atmospheric aerosols and how they influence climate
October 7, 2013 05:57 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Climate models are evolving, and are getting more accurate, but they are still incomplete. Our atmosphere is very complex, and there are factors that even current models don't address, or address with an in-complete knowledge of the physical processes involved. This leads to inaccuracies that create uncertainty in the results of climatic projections. Aerosols are an important part of atmospheric dynamics, and their mechanisms of formation are not fully understood. University of Leeds experts have helped scientists get a step closer to understanding how aerosol particles are formed in the atmosphere and the effect these particles have on our climate. Working with scientists from the CLOUD experiment at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), in Geneva, climate change experts from the University have shown that amines — atmospheric vapours closely related to ammonia, largely derived from activities such as animal husbandry — combine with sulphuric acid to form highly stable aerosol particles at rates similar to those observed in the lower atmosphere.
What's holding up offshore wind energy in the US?
October 6, 2013 09:11 AM - Dave Levitan, Yale Environment 360
In June, after years of offshore wind power projects being thwarted in the United States, the first offshore wind turbine began spinning off the U.S. coast. The turbine was not a multi-megawatt, 400-foot behemoth off of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, or Texas — all places where projects had long been proposed. Rather, the turbine was installed in Castine Harbor, Maine, rising only 60 feet in the air and featuring a 20-kilowatt capacity — enough to power only a few homes. But it was a turbine — finally. Offshore wind power in the U.S. has struggled mightily to rise from the waves, even as other renewable energy industries have steadily grown. The country now has more than 60,000 megawatts of onshore wind, but still just the lone offshore turbine, a pilot project run in part by researchers at the University of Maine. Meanwhile, Europe has left the U.S. far behind, installing its first offshore turbine in 1991 and growing rapidly in the past decade. To date, the countries of the European Union have built 1,939 offshore turbines with 6,040 megawatts of capacity.
Climate models need to get small
October 5, 2013 07:27 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Better observational data and geographically precise climate models are needed to allow scientists to predict the effects of rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a local level, says a major climate change report. Deficiencies in these areas prevent reliable temperature and rainfall predictions being made on a regional scale, according to the report published this week (30 September) by Working Group I of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Climate change could increase diarrheal disease in Botswana
October 4, 2013 01:40 PM - Bobbie Edwards, MONGABAY.COM
Climate change may increase the incidence of diarrheal disease in Botswana, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. "Diarrheal disease is a very important public health problem in Botswana," said lead author Kathleen Alexander, who led a unique 30-year analysis (1974-2003) on the incidence of diarrhea in Botswana.
Australia and Canada Conservation
October 4, 2013 06:08 AM - Jeffrey Welll, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Care2
At first glance, Australia and Canada could not be more different. They are separated by more than 7,500 miles (12,000 km). One country is known for its hot, dry lands and kangaroos, and the other is known for its cold, wet forests and caribou. But at a symposium at the International Congress for Conservation Biology last July, which I co-chaired with my colleague Barry Traill, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts' conservation work in Australia, presenters explored some interesting similarities and new ideas in conservation approaches between Australia's Outback region and Canada's Boreal Forest region. One of the reasons Traill and I were interested in comparing these two areas is because both are among the global areas identified as having the smallest "human footprint"—areas with the fewest roads, least number of people and other human-related disturbances. Another is that science and scientists have played a major role in both countries in ensuring that policymakers and the public have a clear understanding of the likely consequences that different policies could have on the biodiversity and ecological values of a region.
Phasing Down HFCs with the Montreal Protocol
October 3, 2013 03:39 PM - Mark W. Roberts and Avipsa Mahapatra, Triple Pundit
On September 27, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss how to improve ties on a number of issues between the countries, including how to support efforts to phase-down the super greenhouse gases HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). HFCs, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam blowing, are extremely harmful to the climate as they are hundreds and thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
An "Uncanny" Hobby
October 3, 2013 09:01 AM - David Church, The Ecologist
We all know the benefits of aluminum cans; they are light, easily moldable and can be held in a soft grip. But are they always responsibly disposed of? Can we do more to safely protect our green spaces from these metal objects? This article explores how a small scale project can help protect the local environment through recycling in the most responsible way.
Carbon credits from Mangrove preservation in Kenya
October 3, 2013 07:18 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online
A new initiative launched today will raise money for community projects in Kenya by protecting and restoring the country's dwindling mangrove forests. The plan is to sell carbon credits earned by preserving the mangrove swamps to companies and individuals aiming to offset their carbon emissions and improve their green credentials. The scientists behind the scheme hope it will bring in some $12,000 a year, around a third of which will fund projects in areas like education and clean water. The rest will cover the cost of protecting the mangroves, as well as planting new seedlings to replace lost trees.