Hope on reducing air pollution in South East Asia
April 19, 2014 07:50 AM - NELLY STRATIEVA, Worldwatch Institute
Smoke from land clearing fires in Indonesia causes hazardous haze pollution in South East Asia every year. Record high levels of air pollution caused by haze were reached in June 2013 in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In response to regional pressure after the latest haze crisis, Indonesia has finally agreed to adopt the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution from 2002. However, given the pact's weak compliance provisions, will the ratification really be a game-changer in South East Asia’s struggle with haze? In June 2013 South East Asia was suffocating in a cloud of record-breaking haze pollution. The haze, toxic smog caused by fires to clear land for agriculture in Sumatra, Indonesia, exceeded almost three times the hazardous limit for air quality. For a week the most affected areas of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia resembled a post-apocalyptic scene — people only dared go out with face masks, schools were closed, the economy took a hit as businesses suspended work, events were cancelled, tourists stayed clear of the area and hospitals faced a surge of respiratory illnesses. The fires also impact climate change because they produce large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the burning of carbon-rich peatland and forests. To illustrate the magnitude of the problem: the land-clearing fires which cause transboundary haze are also the biggest contributor to Indonesia's overall GHG emissions. 2013 may have been the worst haze crisis in the region's recorded history, but similar occurrences are the norm during 'haze season' every year since the 1980s.
Weird and Mysterious: Scientists Find New Shark Species
April 18, 2014 01:01 PM - Chris Samoray, MONGABAY.COM
A long snout with teeth jutting from the sides? Check. Catfish-like barbels dangling from its chin? Got them. Gills on the side of its body? It has those, too. These are characteristics of a bizarre group of sharks known as sawsharks (family Pristiophoriforidae). And until recently, only seven species were recognized. However, following examination of specimens caught in the western North Pacific, researchers discovered that the number of species should be raised one more.
The Atlantic Cup looks to raise awareness on Rhode Island’s increasingly polluted shorelines
April 18, 2014 11:32 AM - Guest Contributor, Jeff Pomeroy
The 2014 Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing, now entering its fourth year as the United States premiere class 40 yacht race, continues to lead the way in clean sailing and increasing ecologically awareness in the sailing community. In 2012, the Atlantic Cup became the first carbon-neutral sailing race in the country by offsetting an estimated 23,030 pounds (10.45 metric tons) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Last year, in partnership with 11th Hour Racing and Green Mountain Energy Company, the Atlantic Cup was chosen as the first event to meet all the requirements to earn Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta Platinum Level Status. The Atlantic Cup will once again maintain its commitment to being the most environmentally responsible sailing race in the U.S. by using biodiesel hydro generators, solar panels and fuel cells to limit the use of fuel during competition, recycling waste, and becoming a plastic water bottle free event.
US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Slightly Decreased in 2012
April 18, 2014 09:00 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
Climate change is making the news for a number of reasons, including Showtime’s new series called "Years of Living Dangerously." The rise in greenhouse gas emissions is responsible for climate change, and the majority of scientists agree that most of the increase is caused by human activity. That said, there is a bit of good news when it comes to U.S. GHG emissions. The Los Angeles Times reports that greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. decreased by 3.4 percent from 2011 to 2012. The report is based on the EPA's recently released inventory, which cites "multiple factors" for the decrease in emissions — including reduced emissions from electricity generation, fuel efficiency in vehicles, a decrease in the price of natural gas and reductions in miles traveled.
Greenland was green
April 18, 2014 08:55 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Greenland the second largest body of ice on Earth was actually green at one point in history. Researchers, including a scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, have unearthed cryogenically frozen ancient dirt previously buried under nearly two miles of ice.
Saving money with wasted heat
April 18, 2014 08:18 AM - Megan Fellman, Northwestern University
Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.
Scenario development yields environmental success story
April 17, 2014 03:37 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
With so much scenario modeling currently available, we are able to better predict our future and anticipate the outcomes of various habits and activities. While invaluable in the area of prediction, how has that information transformed our environmental status? Is our environmental future optimistic or dismal? Will we be able to celebrate Earth Day in the future knowing that we have responded appropriately to the bleak prophecies?
Climate Change Reshaping Urban Tree Populations
April 17, 2014 09:47 AM - Frank Carini, ecoRI News staff
Despite protecting us from the impacts of a changing climate, our region's trees are also threatened by wetter and warmer weather. The urban forests of today will look much different by the end of the century. By the end of this century, scientists predict southern New England's seas will rise some 3 feet, and without major cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, they say summers here will soon resemble Georgia's dog days.
Get Ready to Say Goodbye to Bananas
April 17, 2014 08:02 AM - Susan Bird, Care2
Who doesn't love a nice banana? They're tasty portable snacks, they make a great daiquiri, and they're wonderful additions to a green smoothie or bowl of oatmeal. Well, eat your fill now, because if history is any indicator, global banana production may soon be in serious jeopardy. The culprit is disease. Specifically, a strain of a tropical fungus is targeting the most popular form of banana, and there is currently no effective treatment.
Human Life Expectancy Linked to Extinctions
April 16, 2014 04:14 PM - Dominic Rowland, MONGABAY.COM
Since the arrival of Homo sapiens, other species have been going extinct at an unprecedented rate. Most scientists now agree that extinction rates are between 100 and 1000 times greater than before humans existed. Working out what is driving these extinctions is fiendishly complicated, but a new study by scientists from the University of California, Davis and the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit suggests that human life expectancy may be partly to blame.