• The World at 7 Billion: Can We Stop Growing Now?

    Demographers aren't known for their sense of humor, but the ones who work for the United Nations recently announced that the world's human population will hit 7 billion on Halloween this year. Since censuses and other surveys can scarcely justify such a precise calculation, it's tempting to imagine that the UN Population Division, the data shop that pinpointed the Day of 7 Billion, is hinting that we should all be afraid, be very afraid. We have reason to be. The 21st century is not yet a dozen years old, and there are already 1 billion more people than in October 1999 — with the outlook for future energy and food supplies looking bleaker than it has for decades. It took humanity until the early 19th century to gain its first billion people; then another 1.5 billion followed over the next century and a half. In just the last 60 years the world’s population has gained yet another 4.5 billion. Never before have so many animals of one species anything like our size inhabited the planet. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Most Efficient Energy Star

    Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America. It was first created as a United States government program during the early 1990s, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have also adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20%–30% less energy than required by federal standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy announced July 14 for the first time products recognized as the most energy-efficient in their categories among those that have earned the Energy Star label. This pilot program is part of Energy Star’s overall commitment to protect people’s health and the environment by encouraging energy efficiency. The Most Efficient initiative also continues Energy Star’s work to provide consumers with the best efficiency information so they can make investments that will lower their energy bills and environmental impact. The new designation of Most Efficient aims to provide all manufacturers with an incentive for greater product energy efficiency while providing consumers new information about the products that comprise the top tier in the categories. >> Read the Full Article
  • Proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code could hurt economy

    Proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code will hurt Brazilian agriculture, argues a leading conservationist. Carlos Alberto de Mattos Scaramuzza, WWF-Brazil's director for conservation, says the reform bill currently being evaluated by Brazil's Senate could have unexpected economic implications for Brazilian ranchers and farmers. Scaramuzza says a bill that grant amnesty for illegal deforesters and sanctions expanded destruction of the Amazon rainforest would make Brazilian agricultural products less attractive in foreign markets. >> Read the Full Article
  • Carbon Tax? Australians want snap election to voice their opinions

    Two thirds of Australians want a snap election on the government's controversial plan to tax carbon pollution, a poll showed on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard crosses the nation in a campaign-style blitz to sell the scheme. The plan will be put to the vote in parliament around October and is almost certain to pass, but a rebuff would seriously threaten Gillard's minority government. The government, which does not have to call elections until 2013, has announced big fines for firms trying to overcharge consumers because of the tax, set to start next July and switch to carbon emissions trading in mid-2015. >> Read the Full Article
  • In the News: Pig-nosed turtle populations in decline

    A unique reptile, the pig-nosed turtle has become an international conservation icon due to its unusual evolutionary history, morphology, ecology and behaviour. The sole survivor of a once widespread family of turtles called the Carettochelyidae, the pig-nosed turtle has a restricted global distribution, being only found in north Australia and New Guinea Island. However, despite its uniqueness, this species is highly prized as food, and the demand for its eggs and meat in Papua New Guinea has led to the species being dramatically over-harvested by indigenous people. Both turtle and eggs are collected for trade or consumption by local villagers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Book Review: Currents of Deceit

    On April 20, 2010, the infamous BP oil rig exploded. Americans and the rest of the world alike were in shock and feared how much oil would be released and how much damage it would do. After three months, the spillage of the oil was stopped and restoration has slowly begun. But what if there was a spill of something invisible and the company responsible wanted to keep it a secret. In the book Currents of Deceit, Professor Ronald Perkins writes about such a situation. Ronald Perkins is a professor of Geology at Duke University's Nicholas School where he has been teaching since 1968. Prior to his professorship at Duke, Perkins worked as a research geologist with the Shell Development Company. As his first work of fiction, Currents of Deceit is a stray from Perkins's usual writing of textbooks and scientific papers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Power Generation from Renewables Surpasses Nuclear

    The latest issue of the Monthly Energy Review published by the US Energy Information Administration, electric power generation from renewable sources has surpassed production from nuclear sources, and is now "closing in on oil," says Ken Bossong Executive Director of the Sun Day Campaign. In the first quarter of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for 11.73 percent of US domestic energy production. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass/biofuel. As of the first quarter of 2011, energy production from these sources was 5.65 percent more than production from nuclear. As Bossing further explains from the report, renewable sources are closing the gap with generation from oil-fired sources, with renewable source equal to 77.15 percent of total oil based generation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cross State Air Pollution Rule aims to cut smog, soot from coal plants

    U.S. environmental regulators finalized a rule on Thursday to slash air pollution from coal-fired power plants in 27 states east of the Rocky Mountains that result in unhealthy levels of smog and soot. The Environmental Protection Agency measure, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, will add costs for some power generators, but should cut health care bills for Americans. Companies that could see higher costs include large coal burners Southern Co, Duke Energy and American Electric Power. "No community should have to bear the burden of another community's polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The EPA rule will reduce power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent by 2014, from 2005 levels, when combined with state environmental laws. It will cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 54 percent by 2014. Those cuts are slightly deeper than ones proposed by the EPA last year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Activism special Just Do It: the story of modern-day outlaws

    A new film launching on July 15th gives an in-depth look inside the clandestine world of environmental direct action. 'Taking tea is what the British do whenever they are in a difficult circumstance', says Marina Pepper, obsessive tea maker, community activist and domestic extremist. She's served tea to bailiffs, the police, politicians, and factory workers. What makes her a domestic extremist is that she 'cares passionately about politics on a global level but works on it on a local level' but has 'gone well beyond, in my climate change activities recycling and walking the kids to school. I put my body in the way and I don't mind being arrested'. >> Read the Full Article
  • Incredible Images from the Land of the midnight sun

    What is it like to live in a place where there is never-ending sunlight? BBC Assistant Producer Willow Murton describes how when days have no end, the midnight sun becomes a state of mind.I pull off my eye mask and open my eyes. The sun shines bright above me. I look at my watch. Three o’clock in the morning? I sit bolt upright, lifting my head from the make do pillow. Reindeer hair sticks to my cheek. Simon the sound recordist mutters as he rigidly stares out ahead of us. Beth the researcher alongside us is, like me, struggling with sleep deprivation and the daylight. I am still trying to focus my eyes in the dazzling night of the Arctic summer. Suddenly I see the figures along the ice edge. Five men, spread out along the horizon, all poised, waiting...watching for their target. Simon swears. We aren't hunters but we know the rules. We mustn't do anything, we mustn't move, cannot move from our dogsled bed. I spot our tripod and camera, no cameraman anywhere nearby. I am filled with a dreadful nauseous realization – this could be the moment that we have spent over a year working towards. Months of careful negotiations and awkward logistics all for us to sleep through our only possible chance of filming a narwhal hunt. We can only sit and watch in confused disbelief... At that moment, the silhouette of a whale crests the ice edge. I wonder how on earth I am going to explain this to the team back in Cardiff. Surreal scenes like this are surely what you are supposed to wake from rather than wake up to. It's late Spring in Northern Greenland, there is no reference to time as the sun never sets so the days blend into each other. In the full glare of the midnight sun this is a place where anything seems possible and where dreaming and being seem to meet. >> Read the Full Article