Sep 22, 2009 | 16
President Obama gave his first major speech on climate change today at the United Nations, part of a special session convened by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The reason for the session? Lack of speed in international negotiations to address climate change.
You can see the president's speech here:
In addition to reaffirming the U.S. commitment to addressing climate change, the president listed some recent accomplishments: new efficiency standards for all vehicles, billions of dollars for renewable energy development, and the nation's first mandatory greenhouse gas reporting system. He even noted a plan to work with the world's other largest economies, known as the G20, to "phase out fossil-fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge."
Aug 19, 2009 | 10
The typical suburban home is an underestimated source of water pollution, according to research presented today at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. The reason? Lawns and gardens.
Jul 20, 2009 | 9
Children whose mothers encountered a large amount of air pollution during pregnancy may end up with lower IQs, according to a study appearing in next month’s Pediatrics.
As part of ongoing research, workers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York have been following a group of children whose pregnant mothers carried air monitors with them in 2001. The study focused on women living in Harlem and the south Bronx, which have low-income areas often clogged with pollution from heavy car, truck and bus traffic. For this study, researchers tested 140 of the children when they were five years old and found a consistent disparity in IQs. Those who were exposed to high levels of air pollution in the womb (59 percent of the subjects) had IQ scores four to five points below those whose expecting mothers had breathed less polluted air, the authors report.
Jul 10, 2009 | 6
A car may look sparkling clean after a wash, but the grime, oil and suds hosed onto the pavement don’t do much for the cleanliness of the environment.
"The soaps are just as toxic as some of the chemicals we regulate in the industrial [sector]. They kill fish," Sandy Howard, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Ecology, told the AP today. The department has singled out surface water runoff, including the car wash stream that flows down driveways, as the leading source of pollution in the Puget Sound.
Of course, officials aren’t suggesting everyone drive around in cars coated with enough dirt that a finger-written “Clean Me” is visible. Rather, a visit to the local car wash where the Clean Water Act regulates recycling and disposing of the used water could significantly limit the pollutants sent down the storm drain and straight into local waterways. For the die-hard do-it-yourselfer, parking the car on some grass or gravel before turning on the hose limits the contaminated runoff by catching and partially filtering the water. Even using a bucket to catch the dirtied water and then releasing it over a naturally permeable surface for filtration can help.
Jan 21, 2009 | 2
Just how many months of life is clean air worth? Five to be precise, according to a new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Who would have thought you could get almost half a year in increased life expectancy on average just from cleaning up our air somewhat?" says study co-author Arden Pope, an environmental economist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "That seems to me like a pretty good investment" in clean-air programs.
Pope and Harvard University colleagues compared improvements in air quality with increased life expectancy between 1980 and 2000. Their findings, based on air-monitoring and health data from 51 U.S. metro areas: five months of the nearly three additional years of life tacked on during that period stemmed from cleaner air.
Dec 8, 2008 | 10
Oh, the irony.
Right at a time when it appears that Americans are boarding the green-living express en masse, the market for recyclables has plunged – the latest victim of the recession, according to today’s New York Times.
Contractors can’t find buyers for reusable paper and cardboard, which have accumulated by the ton and may wind up in landfills if recyclers can’t afford to put them in warehouses for the long term, the newspaper says. Those materials typically find second lives as boxes, auto parts and book covers, but as demand for electronics, cars, shoes and other items has slowed along with the economy, the recyclables are less needed for packaging.
Dec 2, 2008
The feds yesterday ordered a major U.S. producer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin, a known cancer-causing agent, to pay $12 million in fines and to clean up its facilities after determining that it violated antipollution laws.
The U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged Shintech, Inc. and its subsidiary K-Bin, Inc., with violating the Clean Air and Water acts as well as the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which was passed in 1976 and serves as the Unites States' primary law governing the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.
The companies were ordered to pay a $2.6 million fine and to spend $4.8 million to upgrade their facilities to reduce ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon emissions and improve hazardous waste management at plants in Freeport, Texas. The companies were also told to fork over another $4.7 million to retrofit its plants to reduce emissions of polyvinyl chloride by 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms) a year as well as to help fund other environmental projects. Among them: the addition of at least 300 acres of forest and wetlands to Austin's Woods preserve (also called the Colombia Bottomlands area) managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a new program in Houston that will pick up and recycle residential appliances containing ozone-depleting refrigerant.
Nov 24, 2008 | 2
The striped bass population in San Francisco Bay has been plummeting since the 1970s and now scientists know why: fish moms are passing down damaging pollutants in the water to their young, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers say the findings may pave the way for stiff new regulations on the chemical culprits.
Striped bass and other fish have been dying in droves off the coast of San Francisco for decades; pollution from industry and agricultural runoff has long been blamed.
Nov 21, 2008 | 2
Asthma, a respiratory disease whose prevalence skyrocketed in the latter part of the 20th century, is believed to have a genetic component, and environmental triggers—including pollution and pests— are also blamed. Now a common infant virus—respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)—is being fingered as a possible cause.
Babies born in autumn, about four months before RSV's peak season, are 30 percent more likely to develop asthma by the time they're five than kids who are older and have stronger immune systems when RSV is in high circulation, according to research in this week's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Nov 20, 2008 | 5
What exactly makes a fish organic? Apparently, one that feeds on a nonorganic diet.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advisory panel says that producers should be allowed to slap organic labels on farmed fish even if their diets include wild fish and other feed that isn’t organic itself—definitions that environmentalists say depart from the criteria for other certified organic animal food products.
The labeling criteria, approved yesterday by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory panel to the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, allows up to a quarter of farmed fish feed to consist of wild fish, though not from endangered species. "There's no time table," for when the agency will take up the recommendations, Joan Shaffer, a spokeswoman for the service, told ScienificAmerican.com today. "We'll review it as soon as we can."
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