• Just how much waste are Americans creating?

    A new Yale-led study reveals that we’re disposing of more than twice as much solid waste as we thought we were here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    Published on Sept. 21 in the Nature Climate Change journal and co-authored by Yale professor Julie Zimmerman and University of Florida professor Timothy G. Townsend, this study found that based on landfill measurements instead of government estimates, analysis of figures revealed that America tosses five pounds of trash per person per day.

    Let that soak in for a moment. Five pounds of garbage. Per day. Per person. But it gets better, and by better, I mean worse.

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  • Fracking Chemicals can cause Endocrine Disruption

    There is mounting data to suggest that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can have adverse affects on the environment. A new study, however, suggests that populations living close to fracking sites also have a higher incidence of health complications.

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  • Diesel cars in the EU having trouble meeting emissions standards on the road

    Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). 

    All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 autoemissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit. 

    On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

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  • Climate talks in Paris may not make enough of a difference

    It’s Paris or bust. Climate diplomats are preparing for a United Nations climate conference in the French capital in December that scientists say is probably the last realistic chance for the world to prevent global warming going beyond 2 degrees Celsius. Some kind of a deal will probably be done. But will it be one more diplomatic fudge or a real triumph for the climate? 

    In the run-up to Paris, governments have been asked to deliver pledges to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases known to cause climate change. The pledges, covering the period between 2020, when the agreement should enter into force, and 2030, are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs in the U.N. jargon. 

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  • Why are some people so negative about electric cars?

    Sometimes it is good to take stock, sit back and take a look at the wider picture in relation to the electric car market. Each day seems to bring yet another raft of criticism, concerns and cheap shots at an industry which has come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade. While where we are today is certainly some way from the finish line there is no doubt that amazing progress has been made with the likes of Tesla pushing the industry to new highs.

    So, why are people so negative about electric cars and unable or unwilling to appreciate the technology which it has created?

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  • Air Quality in Scotland continuing to improve

    A new report published today shows Scottish emissions of most air pollutants have continued to fall, with significant reductions in emissions of all air pollutants since 1990.

    The announcement of the official figures was welcomed by Environment Minister Aileen McLeod who said an updated action plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide would soon be published.

    Dr McLeod said: “Air pollution is harmful to human health and can contribute to climate change, and I very much welcome the significant progress that has been made reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants in Scotland.

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  • MIT study shows climate change mitigation potential of geoengineering the oceans

    Like the leaves of New England maples, phytoplankton, the microalgae at the base of most oceanic food webs, photosynthesize when exposed to sunlight. In the process, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it to carbohydrates and oxygen. Many phytoplankton species also release dimethyl sulfide (DMS) into the atmosphere, where it forms sulfate aerosols, which can directly reflect sunlight or increase cloud cover and reflectivity, resulting in a cooling effect. The ability of phytoplankton to draw planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and produce aerosols that promote further cooling has made ocean fertilization — through massive dispersal of iron sulfite and other nutrients that stimulate phytoplankton growth — an attractive geoengineering method to reduce global warming.

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  • The long-term effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill

    For 25 years, methodical research by scientists has investigated the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 on Alaskan communities and ecosystems. A new study released today into the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska shows that embryonic salmon and herring exposed to very low levels of crude oil can develop hidden heart defects that compromise their later survival, indicating that the spill may have had much greater impacts on spawning fish than previously recognized.

    The herring population crashed four years after the spill in Prince William Sound and pink salmon stocks also declined, but the link to the oil spill has remained controversial. The new findings published in the online journal Scientific Reports suggest that the delayed effects of the spill may have been important contributors to the declines.

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  • Farm air may prevent asthma in children

    For researchers trying to untangle the roots of the current epidemic of asthma, one observation is especially intriguing: Children who grow up on dairy farms are much less likely than the average child to develop the respiratory disease. Now, a European team studying mice has homed in on a possible explanation: Bits of bacteria found in farm dust trigger an inflammatory response in the animals’ lungs that later protects them from asthma. An enzyme involved in this defense is sometimes disabled in people with asthma, suggesting that treatments inspired by this molecule could ward off the condition in people.

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  • Fighting explosives pollution with plants

    Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

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