Sustainability

Doha Climate talks: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
December 5, 2012 06:31 AM - Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter, via WWF

Developing and developed countries reached a stalemate over how to verify carbon emissions from forests in Saturday's talks on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation at the annual U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar. Represented by Brazil and Norway, respectively, poor and wealthy nations were unable to agree on how high to set the standard to verify emissions reductions at the 37th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the group that dispenses scientific advice to the delegates to the conference.

Savannah Ecosystems in Danger
December 4, 2012 04:45 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Few of the world's ecosystems are more iconic than Africa's sprawling savannahs home to elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and the undisputed king of the animal kingdom: lions. This wild realm, where megafauna still roam in abundance, has inspired everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Karen Blixen, and David Livingstone to Theodore Roosevelt. Today it is the heart of Africa's wildlife tourism and includes staunch defenders such as Richard Leakey, Michael Fay, and the Jouberts. Despite this, the ecosystem has received less media attention than imperiled ecosystems like rainforests. But a ground-breaking study in Biodiversity Conservation finds that 75 percent of these large-scale intact grasslands have been lost, at least from the lion's point of view.

Date Palm Leaves Could Improve Water Treatment Across the Middle East
December 3, 2012 11:58 AM - Rehab Abd Almohsen, SciDevNet

Date palm leaves — currently a waste product of date farming — could be used to remove pharmaceutical chemicals and dyes from hospital wastewater, say researchers from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman. The first hospital wastewater treatment pilot project is due to start in Oman early next year, and scientists are working to use this technology in both drinking water filters and for industrial wastewater treatment.

Electronic Waste - the Asia-Pacific Problem
December 1, 2012 08:48 AM - Crispin Maslog, SciDevNet

Instead of limiting imports of electronic waste, the Asia—Pacific region should set up a robust recycling system, says Crispin Maslog. Garbage in, garbage out is a phrase to describe what happens when computers find the wrong solution in response to the wrong input data. But when computers and other electronic products have outlived their usefulness, they literally do become rubbish and join an ever-growing mass of e-waste or e-scrap. Up to 50 million tonnes of this waste is generated worldwide every year. The biggest exporters of e-waste are Europe, Japan and the US. And much of it is being dumped on developing nations.

At UN Climate Talks, Researchers Insert Facts on How Food is Driving-and is Driven by-Climate Change
November 30, 2012 12:58 PM - Editor, ENN

Applying scientific answers to the consumer question, "What do our food choices have to do with heat, hurricanes, floods, and droughts?", the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is launching today a set of "Big Facts" that highlight the complex relationship between agriculture and climate change. This effort illustrates not only the profound and diverse impacts of the changing climate on marine fisheries, livestock, forests, biodiversity and food crops but also the effects of agricultural activities, including emissions from biofuel production, on climate change.

Cutting Christmas Trees in a National Forest - be sure you get a permit first!
November 29, 2012 10:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

What could be better than cutting your own fresh Christmas tree in a National Forest? Why does the government allow this? There are actually good forest management reasons to thin trees in some circumstances, so cutting a tree actually helps the Forest Service manage the forests. Be aware that to cut a tree in a National Forest requires a permit, and the NFS encourages safe practices. "Trees from your national forests brighten homes across the country every year," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We encourage people to be aware of changing weather conditions, dress accordingly and always follow safe cutting practices when looking for that perfect tree this holiday season." Each year, local Forest Service offices sell permits that allow individuals to cut one fresh tree on national forest lands. Fees for the permits vary dependent on location. The permit program helps the agency thin stands that have a concentration of small diameter trees.

Study Investigates Public Trust in Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa
November 29, 2012 10:11 AM - Gilbert Nakweya, SciDevNet

Building trust in agricultural biotechnology as one of the potential solutions to food security in Africa is essential, according to a study. Published in Agriculture & Food Security this month (1 November), the study is the result of four years spent investigating how public trust in agricultural biotechnology in Africa can be developed.

Green Building Designs Can Help Protect Homes During Natural Disasters
November 28, 2012 07:44 AM - David Bainbridge, Triple Pundit

One of the best antidotes to climate change is rarely discussed. Buildings in the U.S. generate 40 percent of the global warming gases and use 70 percent of the electricity. If we do things right, we can cut energy use 90 percent in new buildings and 70 percent in retrofits while improving comfort and health. In new buildings, this may be done at no cost if integrated resilient design strategies are adopted. We can improve comfort, productivity, how students learn, health and security, often at no added cost.

The Uncertain Role of Extractive Reserves in Conservation
November 26, 2012 04:25 PM - Worldwatch Staff, Worldwatch Institute

During the 1980s, Brazilian rubber tapper Chico Mendes was a prominent activist for the preservation of the Amazon region. He urged his government to set up reserves for rubber tappers and was instrumental in creating various organizations and unions for his peers. In 1988, Mendes was murdered by a rancher intent on logging the site of a future reserve. Partly in response to the international media outcry, Brazil created the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, consisting of 980,000 hectares of land protected for forest-dependent indigenous inhabitants.

Initiative Raises Money to Keep Oil Companies out of Ecuador
November 26, 2012 12:52 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The Yasuni-ITT Initiative has been called many things: controversial, ecological blackmail, revolutionary, pioneering, and the best chance to keep oil companies out of Ecuador's Yasuni National Park. But now, after a number of ups and downs, the program is beginning to make good: the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has raised $300 million, according to the Guardian, or 8 percent of the total amount needed to fully fund the idea. The program, which is the first of its kind, proposes to leave an estimated 850 million barrels of oil untouched in Yasuni National Park if donors worldwide compensate Ecuador for about half of the worth of the oil: $3.6 billion. The money would keep oil companies out of 200,000 hectares known as the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinin (ITT) blocs.

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