• Protecting original wetlands far preferable to restoration

    Even after 100 years have passed a restored wetland may not reach the state of its former glory. A new study in the open access journal PLoS Biology finds that restored wetlands may take centuries to recover the biodiversity and carbon sequestration of original wetlands, if they ever do. The study questions laws, such as in the U.S., which allow the destruction of an original wetland so long as a similar wetland is restored elsewhere. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Green Side of the State of the Union

    Listening to the State of the Union last night, I couldn't help but notice that energy has become a hot issue – it was mentioned far more times than most other issues. I checked later on and saw I wasn’t wrong – energy was mentioned 23 times, setting a new record (at least for this century) and coming third after jobs/employment (35 times) and taxes (34 times). This is pretty impressive, but still, when I turned off the radio in my car by the end of the speech, trying to digest what I've just heard, I was left with mixed feelings. The reason was that while President Obama spoke about providing strong support for cleantech, he also includes support for dirtier energy resources like offshore oil and shale gas, as part of his vision of developing "every available source of American energy." So he ended up providing both good news and bad news for those hoping he will lead America to a more sustainable future. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arsenic cancer risk still high decades later in Chile

    People exposed to very high levels of arsenic in Chilean drinking water back in the 1950s and 60s are still showing a higher-than-normal risk of bladder cancer -- years after the arsenic problem was brought under control, a new study shows. The findings are not surprising, researchers say, since the cancer would take decades to emerge. But the results underscore the importance of continuing to screen high-risk people for bladder cancer, according to lead researcher Dr. Fernando Coz, a professor of urology at the Universidad de Los Andes in Santiago de Chile. The study, reported in the Journal of Urology, focused on people in the Antofagasta region of Chile. In the 1950s and 60s, drinking water in the region became contaminated with high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is semi-metallic element found in rock, soil, water and air. It is also released into the environment through industrial activities, and can be found in products like paints, dyes and fertilizers. High exposure has been linked to several cancers, including tumors of the bladder, liver and lungs. >> Read the Full Article
  • U.S. CO2 emissions to stay below 2005 levels

    U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will be 7 percent lower than their 2005 level of nearly 6 billion metric tons in 2020 as coal's share of electricity production continues a steady descent over the next two decades, according to new government data. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released an early version of its annual energy outlook on Monday, which predicted a slowdown in growth of energy use over the next two decades amid economic recovery and improved energy efficiency. The report highlights the fact that carbon-intensive coal generation will see a major decline in the power sector in the coming decades, which will ensure energy-related CO2 emissions will not exceed 2005 levels at any point before 2035. The report also showed that emissions per capita would fall an average of 1 percent per year from 2005 to 2035 as the new federal standards, state renewable energy mandates and higher energy prices would temper the growth of demand for transportation fuels. >> Read the Full Article
  • Biofuel breakthrough

    Brown seaweed's potential as a vast source of biofuels has been highlighted with the announcement that scientists have found a way of converting all its major sugars into ethanol. A team reported in Science today (19 January) that it has engineered a microbe that will convert the sugars to ethanol, overturning one of the main obstacles to making the use of brown macroalgae, or seaweed, as a biofuel feedstock competitive. The prospective ethanol yield from brown seaweed is approximately two times higher than that from sugarcane and five times higher than maize, from the same area of cultivation. But its full potential cannot be reached because of the inability of industrial microbes to break down alginate, one of the three most abundant sugars in brown seaweed, commonly known as kelp, which is the most widely grown seaweed in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Obama's Calculus for Terminating the Keystone Pipeline

    Election years are always a terrible time to make big decisions. Everything leaders do is influenced by calculations regarding their re-election. Whether something is right or wrong often matters less than what will bring about more votes. The decision by the Obama Administration to put to rest the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project is no exception. However, this in itself does not mean the decision is without its merits. >> Read the Full Article
  • Globally, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record occurred since 2000

    The global average temperature last year was the ninth-warmest in the modern meteorological record, continuing a trend linked to greenhouse gases that saw nine of the 10 hottest years occurring since the year 2000, NASA scientists said on Thursday. A separate report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature for the United States in 2011 as the 23rd warmest year on record. The global average surface temperature for 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline temperature, researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said in a statement. The institute's temperature record began in 1880. The first 11 years of the new century were notably hotter than the middle and late 20th century, according to institute director James Hansen. The only year from the 20th century that was among the top 10 warmest years was 1998. >> Read the Full Article
  • Trucks and Diesel Air Pollution

    It is annoying to be driving behind a truck especially one that smells of diesel combustion products. Doing something about that is desirable but it will come at a tremendous cost. trucks are bought and used for years. It is not something that you replace quickly because it is costly. A common trend in environmental reporting is to put things in terms of jobs vs. the environment. For the port cities such as LA environmental protection has become more important than jobs. Once upon a time a new truck might cost $20,000. Now they are six figures which hurts the small independent truckers in particular. >> Read the Full Article
  • European Commission Aims to Cut Food Waste 50 Percent by 2020

    Europe may be facing much larger problem than what to do with its food waste. But being pushed through the European parliament is a bill that will have widespread significance. That is because food waste accounts for one of the largest sources of overall waste going to landfills. Per year, the average person throws away 300 kg (660 lbs) per year, and of this, two thirds is still edible. MEPs are railing against what they see as unsustainable levels of waste. The resolution being passed through parliament is set to be approved today. >> Read the Full Article
  • China to Help Saudis With Novel Nuke Power

    In the wake of a 6-day trip by China's Premier Win Jiabao to Saudi Arabia, China and Saudi Arabia have forged an alliance on developing nuclear power. Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with China for assistance in the development of nuclear power, using the last of its oil wealth to invest in the most controversial form of a low carbon energy future for its energy hungry nation. In 2010, the Kingdom established the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) to develop low carbon sources of energy, prompting us to ask: Who's Going Nuclear in the Middle East? >> Read the Full Article