Sustainability

Southeast Asian Brick Kilns Must Reduce Air Pollutant Emissions
June 1, 2013 07:58 AM - Smriti Mallapaty, SciDevNet

South Asia's brick sector needs to retrofit its existing kilns with cleaner and more efficient technology, a recent (May 9—10) workshop in Kathmandu heard. Organised by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Mexico's National Institute of Ecology, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal, the workshop was attended by entrepreneurs from Latin America, Africa and Asia. South Asia produces over 250 billion bricks annually compared to China's production of one trillion bricks. But South Asia's outdated clamp kilns, moveable bull trench kilns and fixed chimney kilns are inefficient, polluting and labour-unfriendly.

Formaldehyde Exposure Protection
May 31, 2013 03:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Pure formaldehyde is a gas and is commonly found as a s decomposition product from adhesives which are used to make a wide range of building materials and products. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse public health effects including eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and, in certain cases, cancer. When treated with phenol, urea, or melamine, formaldehyde produces, respectively, hard thermoset phenol formaldehyde resin, urea formaldehyde resin, and melamine resin. These polymers are common permanent adhesives used in plywood and carpeting. hence there is a potential for wide spread public exposure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed two rules to help protect Americans from exposure to the harmful chemical formaldehyde, consistent with a Federal law unanimously passed by Congress in 2010. These rules ensure that composite wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States meet the formaldehyde emission standards established by Congress.

Stagnant Air, Emissions Contribute to Poor Air Quality in New England
May 31, 2013 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Much of New England is experiencing poor air quality that is expected to continue for another day or two. USEPA reports that unhealthy air quality, due to ground-level ozone, is expected for most of Conn., R.I., central and southern Mass. (including Springfield, Worcester, Cape Cod and the Islands), coastal N.H. and most of coastal Maine for Friday, May 31, 2013. Elevated smog levels are expected to continue through Saturday. "We expect Friday to be another unhealthy air quality day in many parts of southern and coastal New England," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity. Further, everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher." The ozone standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level.

Asia-Pacific Analysis: Rain harvesting can avert crisis
May 30, 2013 04:17 PM - Crispin Maslog, SciDevNet

To ensure South-East Asias's growing population has enough water to drink, we need to collect more rain, says Crispin Maslog. The world's next major crisis will be a lack of water for home use, including drinking water, many scientists predict. Humans can survive around 40 days without food, but much less than that without water to drink. The scarcity of water for domestic use is becoming a critical problem, especially in rural parts of developing countries. Surface water in rivers, streams or lakes, and groundwater, are increasingly becoming contaminated with pollutants from factories, households, farms and mines. Wells dug deeper to extract groundwater are drying up.

New Study Predicts Significant Global Warming
May 30, 2013 02:57 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

A new study by Australian scientists projects that the world will likely warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels by 2100. The study published in Nature Climate Change finds that exceeding the 2-degree threshold is very likely under business-as-usual emissions scenarios even as scientists have long warned that passing the 2-degree mark would lead to catastrophic climate change. "This study ultimately shows why waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy," lead author Roger Bodman from Victoria University said. "Some uncertainty will always remain, meaning that we need to manage the risks of warming with the knowledge we have."

Better Place Car Owners Still Swapping Batteries for Now
May 29, 2013 06:01 AM - Green Prophet

Following Sunday's news that Israel's Better Place has declared bankruptcy we have to ask: what is going to happen to the 900+ car owners who signed on for the electric deal, one that promised switchable batteries at 37 stations throughout Israel? We speak to one car owner to find out. Turns out it is still a waiting game: Just how are Better Place car owners reacting to the bad news? One of them, David Rose, who lives in the Galilee region and was one of the first to purchase an electric car said that like other purchasers, he is still waiting to deal with the company liquidators.

Chilean Sea Bass?
May 26, 2013 06:12 AM - KYLE HENCE/ecoRI News contributor

Who knew? Chilean sea bass is not from Chile, nor is it a bass. Since 1996, fishing vessels from a dozen nations have traversed the world’s most remote sea to catch the Antarctic toothfish. The fishery lands 3,000 tons annually, selling much of it as "Chilean sea bass," deceiving customers of high-end restaurants and supermarket chains around the world and threatening "the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth," according to the filmmakers behind "The Last Ocean," which was recently screened at the Casino Theater.

Memorial Day Travel will Cost Americans over $1 Billion on Gasoline
May 24, 2013 10:48 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Memorial Day not only marks the day we pay tribute to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, but it also marks the first unofficial weekend that kicks off the summer. With that said, tens of millions of Americans are expected to get away this weekend and according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Americans will spend more than $1.4 billion filling up their tanks! The new analysis utilizes newly released data from the American Automotive Association (AAA), which estimated that 89 percent of Memorial Day weekend travelers (about 31.2 million Americans) will travel by vehicle.

Jaffna aquifer depleting from overuse
May 24, 2013 08:54 AM - Dilrukshi Handunnetti, SciDevNet

The single limestone aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula, is gradually depleting through overuse, researchers say. "The area suffers from severe groundwater imbalance which might reach crisis proportions in the future," Shanti de Silva, one of two scientists who carried out the research for the agricultural department of the University of Jaffna, told SciDev.Net.

Free Range Milk?
May 24, 2013 06:17 AM - Lorna Howarth, The Ecologist

Free-Range Dairy is a new initiative that could reverse the trend towards industrialised mega-farms. The Ecologist office is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Hartland peninsular is dotted with steep, wooded valleys where bluebells, early purple orchids and woodpeckers abound.The hills afford breathtaking views across the Bristol channel to Lundy Island, itself a nature reserve with a no-fish zone that is having a beneficial effect on marine ecology, and looking south-west down to Cornwall, on a clear day, one can see to Boscastle and Bodmin moor beyond. But something is missing from this bucolic scene - one notices it first whilst walking the country lanes on a warm spring evening. There is no rhythmic munching of grass on the other side of the hedge; no bovine belching or contented sighing as the cows enjoy the sun on their backs after a long winter in the cattle yard. For here in Hartland, as elsewhere in the country, the trend is towards carbon-intensive, 'industrialised' farming where huge herds of 1,000 cows or more are kept indoors all year long, with only a concrete yard for exercise.

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