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Britain Lifting Ban on Shale Gas Exploration

Britain lifted its ban on shale gas exploration this week despite environmental fears as it aims to become a European leader in a sector that has transformed the U.S. energy market. The approval of shale gas fracking from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey comes approximately a year and a half after UK authorities halted the unconventional exploration process after it set off earth tremors at one site. Shale reserves have been viewed as a way to counter the UK's fall in natural gas production. Europe's largest gas consumer, Britain in May 2011 put a temporary stop to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for shale gas after earth tremors were measured near the site close to Blackpool. >> Read the Full Article

The Future of New York After Sandy

It will take tens of billions of dollars to repair the damage of Superstorm Sandy. Will this be the norm of the future as climate changes and the sea level rises? If it is the new norm then repairs though necessary are not enough and a change in planning is necessary. Coastal storms will more likely cause flooding. How do you then spend limited funds to both repair New York and its environs and to improve coastal defenses against flooding? This is not just physical barriers but how people live in the area they want to live in. >> Read the Full Article

Last Turbine Installed at World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm

Construction of the 125th and last turbine at the London Array Offshore Wind Farm has been completed, marking the end of major construction activities at the massive 630MW renewable energy site. Turbine installation began in January 2012 and has been completed by MPI Discovery, A2SEA's Sea Worker and Sea Jack. With all turbines in place and 55 connected and supplying power to the national grid, the wind farm is on track to be fully operational in Spring 2013. The wind farm has been generating energy since October 2012 when the first turbine began producing power. >> Read the Full Article

Breweries Jump on the Sustainability Bandwagon

If there is one thing that can unite people across the political spectrum, beer is probably second only to puppies. That's why a new report from the New York-based think tank, A Clean Future, caught our eye. The report is called Leading Sustainability Practices in the Brewing Industry, and on one level, it simply provides a thorough rundown of sustainable practices that have been mainstreamed into the brewing industry, from small craft breweries to global giants like AB-InBev (formerly Anheuser-Busch). >> Read the Full Article

Frankincense

Frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa for more than 5000 years. Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggy but hardy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. Current rates of tapping frankincense - which according to the Bible was given to the baby Jesus by the three wise men at Christmas and which will feature in thousands of Nativity plays in coming days - are endangering the fragrant resin's sustained production, ecologists have warned. Writing in the December issue of Journal of Applied Ecology, ecologists from the Netherlands and Eritrea say that over tapping the trees results in them producing fewer, less viable seeds. >> Read the Full Article

Nepal, Bhutan to assess air pollutants

The Himalayan countries of Nepal and Bhutan will, in 2013, have two permanent air monitoring observatories set up by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as part of a programme to reduce black carbon and other short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs). There has been increasing international attention on SLCPs – small particles and gases like black carbon, methane, and ozone – because of their warming effect on climate. Acting in decades – rather than the centuries taken by greenhouse gases like carbon di-oxide – SLCPs negatively impact human health and agricultural output. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, launched by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2011 to reduce SLCPs, has now grown to 33 member-countries. >> Read the Full Article

Increasing Urban Populations May Lead to More Slums and Health Issues

The world's urban population is expected to grow by 2.6 billion people between 2011 and 2050, bringing the total number of urbanites to 6.3 billion, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service. This urban expansion will be especially burdensome for developing countries, where 82 percent of the world's population currently lives, writes report author Grant Potter. Although the developing world is less urbanized than the industrial world in relative terms, developing countries are home to an estimated 1.54 billion more people. >> Read the Full Article

NRDC’s Plan To Reduce Power Plant Emissions

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a proposal to reduce power plant pollution by 26 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2025. The plan's key component is that the EPA, partnering with states, would set new carbon pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. The benefits of the plan, if carried out, outweigh the costs by 15 times as much. The price tag in 2020 would be $4 billion, but benefits would be $25 to 60 billion, six to 15 times greater than the costs. >> Read the Full Article

Widespread Seafood Fraud Found in New York City

Seafood fraud can happen anywhere – even in the Big Apple. Fraud includes any false information accompanying seafood, from short weighting to swapping out one species of fish for another. Oceana’s investigation focused on species substitution, or the swapping of a lower value or lower quality fish for a more desirable species. This bait and switch hurts our oceans, our health and rips off consumers. And most importantly, it is illegal. >> Read the Full Article

Good Luck, Kihansi spray toad!

This is an historic achievement! For the first time, an amphibian species, the Kihansi spray toad, that had been declared extinct in nature has been kept alive in a zoo, bred in captivity, and been re-introduced in the wild. The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, Tanzanian government, World Bank and other partners have reintroduced 2,000 Kihansi spray toads into the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania. This is the first example of an amphibian species that had been declared extinct in the wild being reintroduced into its native habitat. The repatriation effort marks a major milestone for a species declared extinct in the wild in 2009. It is the result of a 12-year partnership to breed the toads in captivity while its habitat was restored. >> Read the Full Article