Massachusetts Leads the Divestment Charge
January 27, 2013 07:48 AM - LESLIE FRIDAY/ecoRI News
Harvard University is a world leader in higher education, but sophomore Chloe Maxmin wants her college to also blaze trails battling climate change. The social studies and environmental science major helps coordinate Divest Harvard, an offshoot of a 350.org-sponsored campaign pushing colleges, local governments, nonprofits and pensions to divest from the 200 companies with a majority of the fossil-fuel reserves. Maxmin's group started speaking to students in August about the urgency for action on global climate change while pitching divestment as a powerful financial tool. The group then launched a successful petition drive that placed divestment on last November’s student ballot and earned 72 percent support for a non-binding referendum urging Harvard to steer its $31 billion endowment away from fossil fuels. Divest Harvard's next step is to meet Feb. 1 with Harvard's Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility to pitch its case.
Dominating vistas around Italy’s Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24 in the year 79 AD, a cataclysm that brought an end to the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae and its denizens, preserving their remains in volcanic ash. The looming presence of Vesuvius is a stark reminder of the destructive power of volcanoes for residents of Naples, as well as the vulnerability of populations around the world who reside in their presence. Today, however, the city of Naples is looking to tap into and harness Vesuvius’ energy to improve lives, the environment and living conditions.
From Light Green to Sustainable Buildings
January 23, 2013 05:04 PM - Supriya Kumar, Worldwatch Institute
As more people move to urban areas in search of economic opportunities, the number of buildings that are needed to house them continues to rise. It is estimated that by 2030, an additional 1.4 billion people will live in cities, of which 1.3 billion will dwell in cities of developing countries. The increasing number of buildings has long-term impacts on both the environment and natural resources. Fortunately, a variety of policy tools hold promise for promoting sustainability in buildings, according to Kaarin Taipale, contributing author of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity. The buildings in which we live and work are a major consumer of energy, responsible for some 30—40 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, a similar share of total solid waste, and 12 percent of all fresh water used. With the rate of urbanization reaching record levels, there will be more construction and buildings than ever before.
Europe is Worried that Oil Shale will be a big economic advantage for the US
January 23, 2013 06:14 AM - EurActive
A US industrial boost following its ability to tap abundant shale gas reserves is provoking fears that imperilled energy-intensive European businesses will find it harder than ever to compete. But calls for the EU to deliver a 'silver bullet' and emulate the US by tapping shale gas through 'fracking' remain controversial because of environmental and logistical concerns. Partly due to its shale reserves, the United States is expected to become almost self-sufficient in oil and gas by 2035 and will overtake Russia in gas production by 2015 and Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2017, a recent International Energy Agency forecast shows.
Botswana, Zambia & Costa Rica Toughen Hunting Regulations to Help Endangered Species
January 21, 2013 02:56 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Three developing countries have recently toughened hunting regulations believing the changes will better protect vanishing species. Botswana has announced it will ban trophy hunting on public lands beginning in 2014, while Zambia has recently banned any hunting of leopards or lions, both of which are disappearing across Africa. However, the most stringent ban comes from another continent: Costa Rica—often considered one of the "greenest" countries on Earth—has recently passed a law that bans all sport hunting and trapping both inside and outside protected areas. The controversial new law is considered the toughest in the Western Hemisphere. "The shooting of wild game purely for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna as a national treasure, which should be treated as such," Botswana's President, Ian Khama, said in last year's state of the nation address.
Why are British Fish Eating Plastics?
January 21, 2013 06:13 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth Online
Scientists have found tiny fragments of plastic in the digestive systems of fish pulled from the English Channel. The discovery, by a team from Plymouth University and the UK Marine Biological Association, highlights the growing problem of plastic contamination of marine environments. Of 504 fish examined, more than a third was found to contain small pieces of plastic less than one millimetre in size, referred to by scientists as microplastics.
Overpopulation Is Huge Concern - Alexandra Paul's TEDX Talk
January 20, 2013 02:43 PM - Jesse Thé – Editor-in-Chief
Every major global issue requires spearheading by influential individuals. Global warming had Al Gore and the famine in Ethiopia in the 80s had the fundraising supergroup Band Aid. At long last, the issue of overpopulation is being raised by someone with good exposure in the media. Alexandra Paul, host of the PBS documentary JAMPACKED and star of over 75 films and televisions shows, including the series Baywatch, gave a speech on overpopulation to the TEDX event in Topanga, California. Link to the story for a link to the video. Alexandra explains correctly that modern man first showed up on earth 200,000 years ago. By 1830 there were 1 billion people on the planet. Therefore, it took 200,000 years for humans to put the first billion humans on earth. The second billion we added in just 100 years. Now, we add 1 billion people every 12 years.
Air Pollution in China not just impacting cities
January 20, 2013 08:10 AM - LARRY O'HANLON, Discovery News
As people in Beijing and northern China struggle with severe air pollution this winter, the toxic air is also making life hard for plants and even food crops of China, say researchers who have been looking at how China's plants are affected by air pollution. Beijing's extreme smog event this week has made headlines, with the American Embassy calling the pollution levels "hazardous" and Beijing writer Zheng Yuanjie blogging that "the air smells like sulfur perfume, as the capital city currently looks like a poisonous huge gas can," according to a report on Al Jazeera.
Renewable Energy Zones on Public Lands in Arizona
January 19, 2013 07:32 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Preserved natural lands are a national treasure that protect wildlife and allow us to see and enjoy the natural landscape of our beautiful country as it has existed for millenniums, without human "improvements". But there are lots of areas in national parks, monuments, and wildlife areas that are not pristine. These areas are targeted for low-impact energy development by the Obama administration. This week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Interior has designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development. This initiative, known as the Restoration Design Energy Project, caps a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects. The action establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona and the 18th nationwide. The Solar Energy Zones are part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six states in the West with high solar potential, few resource conflicts and access to existing or planned transmission. With the Agua Caliente zone, Interior is delivering on the promise made as part of the Western Solar Plan to identify and establish additional solar energy zones.
New Research on Black Carbon and Global Warming
January 18, 2013 08:20 AM - Carl Zimmer, Yale Environment360
A new study indicates soot, known as black carbon, plays a far greater role in global warming than previously believed and is second only to CO2 in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. Reducing some forms of soot emissions — such as from diesel fuel and coal burning — could prove effective in slowing down the planet’s warming. It rises from the chimneys of mansions and from simple hut stoves. It rises from forest fires and the tail pipes of diesel-fueled trucks rolling down the highway, and from brick kilns and ocean liners and gas flares. Every day, from every occupied continent, a curtain of soot rises into the sky.