• How changing land use pattern in the Caribbean is impacting storm risks

    Turning natural landscapes in the Caribbean into urban areas or farmland may increase the risk of people dying from floods and storms, scientists suggest.
     
    In a study published by Scientific Reports last month (8 July), researchers from Anguilla’s health ministry and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium investigate which factors make the region more prone to deaths related to these disasters. Out of 20 variables, they found that using a greater proportion of land for agriculture and having a higher percentage of people living in urban areas were consistently linked with deadlier floods and storms. 

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  • What you should know about America's Clean Power Plan

    Today, President Obama will unveil the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan—a historic step to cut the carbon pollution driving climate change. Here are six key things every American should know...

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  • UN adopts resolution to attack wildlife crime

    Faced with an unprecedented surge in wildlife crime, the UN this week adopted a historic resolution committing all countries to ramp up their collective efforts to end the global poaching crisis and tackle the vast illegal wildlife trade.   Initiated by Gabon and Germany and co-sponsored by 84 other nations, the UN General Assembly resolution, Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife, is the result of three years of diplomatic efforts and is the first time that every nation has acknowledged the seriousness of wildlife crime and the urgent need to join forces to combat it.  

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  • Not all whaling is the same

    The Faroe Islands' annual 'grindadráp', in which hundreds of pilot whales are slaughtered with knives and hooks, is a horrifying spectacle, writes David Lusseau. But unlike industrial whaling it poses no threat to the species. And is it really any worse than the industrial factory farming that we routinely ignore?

    Anyone that signs a petition to stop the Faroese grindadráp only to go home and roast a chicken that never saw daylight or moved much when it was reared is a hypocrite.

    In the mid-20th century pilot whaling still took place in many north Atlantic nations such as the US and Canada.

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  • Humpback Whale conservation is working in Australia

    Australia has one of the highest rates of animal species that face extinction, decline or negative impacts from human behavior in the world. However, over the last decade, there have been rare occurrences of animals that are rebounding and thriving. One example is the conservation success story of the recovery of the humpback whales that breed in both East and West Australian waters. This new study, published in Marine Policy and led by Dr. Michelle Bejder, reviews data collected in past studies and proposes a revision of the conservation status for the humpback whales found in Australian waters.

    In Australia, the east and west coast humpback whale populations are listed as a threatened species with a 'vulnerable' status as defined by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). However, according to Professor Lars Bejder at Murdoch University Australia, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences and his international co-authors, data reveals that these whale populations are increasing at remarkable rates (9% for West Coast and 10% for East Coast; as of 2012), the highest documented worldwide.

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  • Diesel exhaust found causing health hazards in EU cities

    The automotive industry needs to face up to the hazard to health posed by its diesel engines. That stark reality was brought home again to Europeans and, in particular, Londoners last week when Transport for London and the Greater London Authority revealed that an additional 5,900 early deaths annually in the EU’s largest city are attributable to long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas emitted in urban areas largely from diesel engines.

    Concern about the health effects of NO2 is growing fast. The gas was known to irritate lungs and cause respiratory infections and asthma, including acute respiratory illnesses in children. It has also been linked to birth abnormalities. But this new research by King’s College London estimates for the first time the number of premature deaths caused. The study also shows an additional 3,500 deaths are caused by PM2.5, bringing the total number of people who die early because of air pollution annually in London to 9,400.

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  • Welcome three new National Monuments

    Using his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906, President Obama announced last week that he was creating three new national monuments. The President designated scenic mountains in California as Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, pristine wilderness landscapes in Nevada as Basin and Range National Monument, and a fossil-rich site in Texas as Waco Mammoth National Monument.

    Together, the new monuments protect more than one million acres of public lands. National monuments are similar to national parks, except that they can be created from any land owned or controlled by the federal government via a presidential proclamation. With these new designations, Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments in the United States in total. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters.

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  • France estimates the economic costs of air pollution

    The French Senate has called for new efforts to tackle air pollution, arguing it inflates healthcare costs, reduces economic productivity and agricultural yields, and has put Paris in the EU's bad books.

    A Committee of Inquiry in the French Senate has described air pollution as an "economic aberration". The committee's proposals to reduce the phenomenon, which costs France over €100 billion every year, include raising the tax on diesel and taxing emissions of the worst polluting substances.

    In the report entitled "Air pollution: the cost of inaction", published on Wednesday 15 July, the Senate committee estimated the annual cost of air Pollution in France at €101.3 billion.

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  • How microbes are cleaning up the BP oil spill

    Microbes, primarily bacteria and fungi, get a bad rap in today’s society. However they’ve long played an incredible role within the Earth’s ecosystem. And one of the most important places microbes are transforming the earth is in the Gulf of Mexico, where a number of strains are busy munching up the oil still left over from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which took place just over five years ago caused a massive ecological disaster in and around the Gulf of Mexico. This is partially because the spill took so long to quell, with oil companies scrambling (and often failing) to stem the flow of oil from the seabed.

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  • Greece's economic problems linked to its coal-based energy policies

    As Greece prepares for its referendum, Takis Grigoriou takes Greece to task for its highly polluting lignite power sector, its ditching of a successful solar program in favour of more coal, the minimal insulation in its buildings that locks in high fuel bills, and Syriza's failure to tackle these issues. The good news? Greece's latest €1.4bn coal project looks like going unfunded.

    Instead of phasing out lignite Greece opted to engage in a long battle to preserve the ailing industry while putting an abrupt end to solar energy development by blocking new applications.

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