Sustainability

West African and Caribbean seas rank among unhealthiest waters
September 18, 2012 01:07 PM - Samuel Hinneh and Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDev Net, SciDevNet

More research and better policies are needed to protect the world's most vulnerable seas, lying off the coast of West Africa and the Caribbean, local experts have told SciDev.Net. The two regions have some of the world's unhealthiest seas, according to a new index that assessed the health of seas and their benefits to livelihoods. Its methodology was published in Nature last month (15 August). The index rates seas in ten categories or 'goals', including water cleanliness, support for coastal livelihoods and economies, and food provision. It also assesses the state of coastal protection and biodiversity, seas' capacity for artisanal fishing, carbon storage and tourism, and the provision of natural products.

Are EV's really better for climate-changing emissions?
September 18, 2012 06:56 AM - EurActive

Electric cars are an axiom of clean transport planning - they produce no tailpipe emissions, little localised air pollution and, potentially, no greenhouse gas output. But as their critics point out, they are only as green as the electricity that they use. A power supply dependent on fossil fuels will produce greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles that are less than - but still comparable to - those from automobiles fitted with internal combustion engines (ICE)

US electric car industry poised to overtake Europe
September 17, 2012 08:03 AM - Euractiv

A new US fuel efficiency standard finalised by the Obama administration last month will jolt America’s nascent electric car industry to life, but could leave European auto manufacturers racing to catch up, analysts and industry sources say. From 2025, American cars and light trucks will have to achieve a standard of at least 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) under the new regulation, higher than can be achieved by any existing fuel-powered cars, according to the US Department of Energy. The only cars on the US market which exceed the 54.5 mpg target (measured as mpg equivalent) are at least partly powered by plug-in electricity, the US Environmental Protection Agency says.

Ice Sheets Apparently Can Grow Quickly in Cold Periods
September 15, 2012 08:25 AM - Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery News

How fast can glaciers and ice sheets expand and shrink in response to rapidly changing climatic conditions? It's a question that scientists have been pondering with particular interest of late, with Greenland's Peterman Glacier calving large amounts of ice two years in succession, and much of the island's surface ice melting earlier this summer. Because abrupt climate changes have occurred, across various spatial and temporal scales, at several previous points in the planet's history, scientists can look for prehistorical clues, to see what happened then and thus infer what might happen in a warming 21st century. A team of geologists has done just that, although it has looked for evidence not during previous warm spells, but by looking at two major cooling events in Earth's past.

UPS Earns Top Score Among U.S. Firms On Carbon Disclosure
September 14, 2012 07:04 AM - 3BL Media, Justmeans

For the second consecutive year, UPS (NYSE: UPS) has received the highest score in the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project's "Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index" of S&P companies, receiving a 99 out of 100. UPS is one of only two U.S. companies to achieve the high score, reflecting the company’s commitment to transparency and leadership with regards to carbon reporting and performance in mitigating environmental impact. UPS is the only company from the Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P) Industrials sector to receive the highest score. Only four companies in the world received scores of 99 or higher. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), companies are scored on their climate change disclosure and high scores indicate good internal data management and understanding of climate change related issues affecting the company. Results from the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project indicate that S&P 500 companies are making significant strides with regards to transparency and progress on carbon goals, narrowing the gap with Global 500 companies. The average performance score of the S&P 500 increased by 44% with assurance of emissions data nearly doubling, signaling a greater commitment to transparency and accuracy.

Mysterious Rise in Ocean Salinity
September 13, 2012 06:13 AM - RICHARD MATTHEWS, Global Warming is Real

Scientists have observed unexpected changes in the seawater salinity and they are increasingly concerned about the potential impact on ocean currents. The salinity of seawater can accelerate the water cycle which can cause extreme weather events like floods and drought. To investigate the issue of ocean salinity scientists have boarded the research vessel Knorr, which set sail on September 6, 2012. NASA’s Aquarius instrument is part of a separate research project that has been measuring seawater salinity from space since August 2011. In addition to ocean salinity, researchers are exploring the water cycle which involves the ways that water circulates between the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land. This process involves precipitation and return to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration.

Global Auto Production Driving to New Record
September 12, 2012 06:10 AM - Michael Renner | VITAL SIGNS ONLINE, Worldwatch Institute

Production of passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011—and 2012 may bring an all-time high of 80 million or more vehicles, according to new research conducted for our Vital Signs Online service. Global sales of passenger vehicles increased from 75.4 million to 78.6 million over the same period, with a projected 81.8 million in 2012. The major driver of increased production and sales are the so-called emerging economies, especially China. Rising sales translate into ever-expanding fleets. An estimated 691 million passenger cars were on the world's roads in 2011. When both light- and heavy-duty trucks are included, the number rises to 979 million vehicles, which was 30 million more than just a year earlier. By the end of 2012, the global fleet could top 1 billion vehicles—one for every seven people on the planet.

Wind Power and Climate Change
September 11, 2012 09:02 AM - ScienceDaily

Though there is enough power in Earth's winds to be a primary source of near-zero emission electric power for the world, large-scale high altitude wind power generation is unlikely to substantially affect climate. That is the conclusion of a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist and collaborators who studied the geophysical limits to global wind power in a paper appearing in the Sept. 9 edition of the journal Nature Climate Change. "The future of wind energy is likely to be determined by economic, political and technical constraints rather than geophysical limits," said Kate Marvel, lead author of the paper and a scientist in the Laboratory's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

What Caused the Significant Fish Mortality in Lake Erie?
September 8, 2012 08:23 AM - Miguel Llanos, NBC News

Tens of thousands of dead fish that washed up on Lake Erie beaches in Ontario, Canada -- and had locals wondering if something or someone had poisoned the water -- were likely killed by a lack of oxygen caused when lake sediment was stirred up, the province reported Friday. Water samples "do not show evidence of a manure spill or anything unusual in terms of contaminants," Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan told NBC News. Jordan said it wasn't known if the die-off was unprecedented, but that "it was a significant number -- tens of thousands." The fish were found along 25 miles of beach, with locals first coming across them on Monday.

Creating Faster Charging Electric Car Batteries
September 7, 2012 08:41 AM - dave levitan, Yale Environment360

The amount of time it takes to recharge lithium-ion batteries has been a major impediment to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles. But a host of companies and researchers are working intensively to develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and power a car for hundreds of miles. If stopping for gas took five or six hours, would you rethink that road trip? How about an hour? When it comes to electric vehicles, topping up the "tank" does indeed take a long time, one of the primary barriers to more widespread adoption of EVs. So it is no surprise that there is an aggressive push to improve batteries and charging infrastructure, with a goal of making a stop for a recharge no different than a stop for gas.

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