Legislative & Regulatory Update
How ambitious is the world? The Paris climate conference last December astounded many by pledging not just to keep warming “well below two degrees Celsius,” but also to "pursue efforts" to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C. That raised a hugely important question: What's the difference between a two-degree world and a 1.5-degree world?
A federal judge has ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency is under no obligation to force pesticide makers to disclose supposedly 'inert' ingredients in their products - even where those ingredients are seriously hazardous to health or environment.
Some 210 million years ago, Britain consisted of many islands, surrounded by warm seas. Europe at the time lay farther south, at latitudes equivalent to North Africa today. Much of Europe was hot desert, and at this point was flooded by a great sea – the Rhaetian Transgression.Published in Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, the Bristol team's work is the most extensive study yet, based on more than 26,000 identified fossils, of the Rhaetian shallow sea sharks, bony fishes, marine reptiles, and other creatures. Unusually, five members of the team were undergraduates when they did the work, and this was part of a series of summer internships.The team was led by Ellen Mears, now a postgraduate at the University of Edinburgh, and Valentina Rossi, now a postgraduate at the University of Cork.Ellen Mears said: "I studied the shark and fish teeth, and found remains of at least seven species of sharks and four of bony fishes. The sharks were all predators, but some were quite small. The bony fishes were unusual because many of them were shell crushers."
Imagine trying to relax in your home while being bombarded with the explosive sounds of shotgun blasts as well as freight trains rumbling by. For many whales, dolphins and other marine life that depend on their hearing to survive, there is no way to escape the loud, human-made noises in their ocean home. The main culprits are vessels like cargo ships, along with sonar guns used by the U.S. Navy and air guns used in seismic oil and gas exploration. Their blasts are so loud that they are known to change the behavior of blue whales. But now, in what Michael Jasny, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, Land & Wildlife Program, referred to as “a sea change in the way we manage ocean noise off our shores,” NOAA has announced it plans to take action to reduce the noise in entire marine ecosystems.
More than 167,000 hectares of coastland -- about 0.6% of the country's total area -- are projected to go underwater in the Philippines, especially in low-lying island communities, according to research by the University of the Philippines.Low-lying countries with an abundance of coastlines are at significant risk from rising sea levels resulting from global warming. According to data by the World Meteorological Organisation, the water levels around the Philippines are rising at a rate almost three times the global average due partly to the influence of the trade winds pushing ocean currents.On average, sea levels around the world rise 3.1 centimetres every ten years. Water levels in the Philippines are projected to rise between 7.6 and 10.2 centimetres each decade.
After years of intense — and often controversial — restoration efforts, biologists are finally reporting some good news for the beleaguered California condor: More chicks are surviving in the wild, and the birds are becoming increasingly independent and expanding their range.Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced what it called a milestone for the California condor: More chicks had hatched and fledged in the wild during 2015 than the number of condors that had died. In late March, Steve Kirkland, the agency’s condor field coordinator, reported that two more chicks had fledged in 2015 in Baja California, but had only just been discovered, bringing the total in the wild to 270.It was perhaps the most promising news about the condor in decades.
A few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a startling map that showed the parts of the U.S. that could harbor mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika. The map made it look like a vast swath of the country was at risk for Zika, including New England and the Upper Midwest. Well, not quite. On Thursday, CDC scientists published another mosquito map for the U.S. And it paints a very different picture.
President Barack Obama and Indian President Narendra Modi signed a pact last week, extending a commitment originally established in 2014, to join forces to combat climate change with a huge commitment to renewable energy.The pledge acknowledges commitments made in Paris last year at the COP21 climate talks and defines a path for both countries to achieve their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). In particular, the U.S. has pledged to support India, the world’s third largest carbon emitting country and second fastest growing economy, in its ambitious goal of deploying 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022. That would bring it up to a level of renewable capacity comparable to the U.S. today.
Researchers are investigating a new material that might help in nuclear fuel recycling and waste reduction by capturing certain gases released during reprocessing. Conventional technologies to remove these radioactive gases operate at extremely low, energy-intensive temperatures. By working at ambient temperature, the new material has the potential to save energy, make reprocessing cleaner and less expensive. The reclaimed materials can also be reused commercially.