Legislative & Regulatory Update

Fast food may expose consumers to phthalates

People who reported consuming more fast food in a national survey were exposed to higher levels of potentially harmful chemicals known as phthalates, according to a study published today by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. The study, one of the first to look at fast-food consumption and exposure to these chemicals, appears in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The Paris climate accord looks promising

Climate Change News - ENN - April 12, 2016 - 9:04pm
The climate talks that concluded last December were a great success, but it will be decades before we can judge whether the Paris Agreement itself is ultimately successful. What can be said is that the accord provides a good foundation for meaningful progress on climate change, and represents a dramatic departure from the past 20 years of climate negotiations.I have long viewed the dichotomous distinction between Annex I and non–Annex I countries in the Kyoto Protocol as the major stumbling block to progress. The protocol included mandatory emissions-reduction obligations for developed countries, but none for developing countries. That made progress impossible, because significant growth in emissions since the protocol came into force in 2005 has been entirely in the large developing countries — China, India, Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, Mexico, and Indonesia. 

Reducing food waste could help mitigate climate change

Climate Change News - ENN - April 11, 2016 - 8:33am
About a tenth of overall global greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture could be traced back to food waste by mid-century, a new study shows. A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research for the first time provides comprehensive food loss projections for countries around the world while also calculating the associated emissions. Currently, one third of global food production never finds its way onto our plates. This share will increase drastically, if emerging countries like China and India adopt Western nutrition lifestyles, the analyses shows. Reducing food waste would offer the chance to ensure food security, which is well known. Yet at the same time it could help mitigate dangerous climate change.

Rising oceans may pose a bigger threat than previously assumed

Climate Change News - ENN - April 9, 2016 - 10:34am
Of all the impacts of climate change, one stands out for its inexorable menace, writes Pete Dolack: rising oceans. And it's not just for distant future generations to deal with: new scientific studies show that people alive today may face 6-9 metres of sea level rise flooding well over a million sq.km including many of the world's biggest cities. So where's the emergency response?There is a possibility, a real danger, that we will hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control. We have a global emergency.When it comes to global warming, what else don't we know? 

The North Pole had ice-free summers millions of years ago

Climate Change News - ENN - April 8, 2016 - 8:22am
An international team of scientists led by the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have managed to open a new window into the climate history of the Arctic Ocean. Using unique sediment samples from the Lomonosov Ridge, the researchers found that six to ten million years ago the central Arctic was completely ice-free during summer and sea-surface temperature reached values of 4 to 9 degrees Celsius. In spring, autumn and winter, however, the ocean was covered by sea ice of variable extent, the scientists explain in the current issue of the journal Nature Communications. These new findings from the Arctic region provide new benchmarks for groundtruthing global climate reconstructions and modelling.The researchers had recovered these unique sediment samples during an expedition with Germany's research icebreaker RV Polarstern in summer of 2014. "The Arctic sea ice is a very critical and sensitive component in the global climate system. It is therefore important to better understand the processes controlling present and past changes in sea ice. In this context, one of our expedition's aims was to recover long sediment cores from the central Arctic, that can be used to reconstruct the history of the ocean's sea ice cover throughout the past 50 million years. Until recently, only a very few cores representing such old sediments were available, and, thus, our knowledge of the Arctic climate and sea ice cover several millions of year ago is still very limited," Prof. Dr. Ruediger Stein, AWI geologist, expedition leader and lead author of the study, explains. 

Supernova explosion impacted Earth within the last 9 million years

 Two new papers appearing in the journal Nature this week are "slam-dunk" evidence that energies from supernovae have buffeted our planet, according to astrophysicist Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas.Melott offers his judgment of these studies in an associated letter, entitled "Supernovae in the neighborhood," also appearing this week in Nature.One paper, authored by Anton Wallner and colleagues, proves the existence of ancient seabed deposits of iron-60 isotopes, tracing their source to supernovae occurring about 325 light years from Earth. The second paper, by a team headed by Deiter Breitschwerdt, estimates explosion times of these supernovae, isolating two events: one 1.7 to 3.2 million years ago, and the other 6.5 to 8.7 million years ago. 

Earth's soils could play key role in locking away greenhouse gases

Climate Change News - ENN - April 7, 2016 - 7:51am
The world's soils could store an extra 8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, helping to limit the impacts of climate change, research suggests.Adopting the latest technologies and sustainable land use practices on a global scale could allow more emissions to be stored in farmland and natural wild spaces, the study shows. 

U.S. Chemical Industry Investment Linked to Shale Gas Tops $164 Billion

Energy - April 6, 2016 - 10:28am
ACC highlights economic benefits, key policies at Hudson Institute Forum.

U.S. Chemical Industry Investment Linked to Shale Gas Tops $164 Billion

Shale Gas - April 6, 2016 - 10:28am
ACC highlights economic benefits, key policies at Hudson Institute Forum.

NASA examines El Nino's impact on ocean's food source

Climate Change News - ENN - April 4, 2016 - 8:46pm
El Niño years can have a big impact on the littlest plants in the ocean, and NASA scientists are studying the relationship between the two. In El Niño years, huge masses of warm water – equivalent to about half of the volume of the Mediterranean Sea – slosh east across the Pacific Ocean towards South America. While this warm water changes storm systems in the atmosphere, it also has an impact below the ocean’s surface. These impacts, which researchers can visualize with satellite data, can ripple up the food chain to fisheries and the livelihoods of fishermen.

Lower indoor temperatures in winter correlate with thinner waistlines

Climate Change News - ENN - April 1, 2016 - 6:16pm
Elderly adults are bigger around the middle when they turn up the heat inside their homes during the cold season and have smaller waistlines when their homes stay cool, new research finds. Investigators from Japan will present their study results Friday at the Endocrine Society's 98th annual meeting in Boston."Although cold exposure may be a trigger of cardiovascular disease, our data suggest that safe and appropriate cold exposure may be an effective preventive measure against obesity," said the study's lead investigator, Keigo Saeki, MD, PhD, of Nara Medical University School of Medicine Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Nara, Japan.Cold exposure activates thermogenesis, to generate body heat, in brown fat. This type of fat is the good calorie-burning fat that prior research found most humans have. However, Saeki said the association between the amount of cold exposure and obesity in real life remains unclear. 

Snowshoe hare range moving northward following retreating snow cover

Climate Change News - ENN - March 31, 2016 - 8:52am
If there is an animal emblematic of the northern winter, it is the snowshoe hare.A forest dweller, the snowshoe hare is named for its big feet, which allow it to skitter over deep snow to escape lynx, coyotes and other predators. It changes color with the seasons, assuming a snow-white fur coat for winter camouflage.But a changing climate and reduced snow cover across the north is squeezing the animal out of its historic range, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Writing in the current (March 30, 2016) Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the Wisconsin researchers report that the range of the hare in Wisconsin is creeping north by about five and a half miles per decade, closely tracking the diminishing snow cover the animal requires to be successful. 

Severe water stress likely in Asia by 2050

Climate Change News - ENN - March 30, 2016 - 6:51pm
Economic and population growth on top of climate change could lead to serious water shortages across a broad swath of Asia by the year 2050, a newly published study by MIT scientists has found.The study deploys detailed modeling to produce what the researchers believe is a full range of scenarios involving water availability and use in the future. In the paper, the scientists conclude there is a “high risk of severe water stress” in much of an area that is home to roughly half the world’s population.

Are we what we eat?

In a new evolutionary proof of the old adage, 'we are what we eat', Cornell University scientists have found tantalizing evidence that a vegetarian diet has led to a mutation that -- if they stray from a balanced omega-6 to omega-3 diet -- may make people more susceptible to inflammation, and by association, increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer. The discovery, led by Drs. Tom Brenna, Kumar Kothapalli, and Alon Keinan provides the first evolutionary detective work that traces a higher frequency of a particular mutation to a primarily vegetarian population from Pune, India (about 70 percent), when compared to a traditional meat-eating American population, made up of mostly Kansans (less than 20 percent). It appears in the early online edition of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. 

Robust Research, Exchange of Ideas Are Key to Scientific Process

Energy - March 29, 2016 - 5:33pm
As an industry built on scientific innovation, we believe robust inquiry and a free exchange of ideas are essential to innovation and the development of products that grow our economy and improve our environment.

Robust Research, Exchange of Ideas Are Key to Scientific Process

Environmental Regulations - March 29, 2016 - 5:33pm
As an industry built on scientific innovation, we believe robust inquiry and a free exchange of ideas are essential to innovation and the development of products that grow our economy and improve our environment.

Shrinking Arctic ice is impacting Greenland melting

Climate Change News - ENN - March 29, 2016 - 8:48am
Vanishing Arctic sea ice. Dogged weather systems over Greenland. Far-flung surface ice melting on the massive island. 'Blocking-high' pressure systems spawn most of the warming that melts Greenland surface ice, Rutgers study saysThese dramatic trends and global sea-level rise are linked, according to a study coauthored by Jennifer Francis, a research professor in Rutgers University's Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.During Greenland summers, melting Arctic sea ice favors stronger and more frequent "blocking-high" pressure systems, which spin clockwise, stay largely in place and can block cold, dry Canadian air from reaching the island. The highs tend to enhance the flow of warm, moist air over Greenland, contributing to increased extreme heat events and surface ice melting, according to the study. 

Ocean temperatures predict U.S. heat waves

Climate Change News - ENN - March 29, 2016 - 8:19am
The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summer heat waves in the eastern half of the U.S. up to 50 days in advance.The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water coming up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week -- or even on a particular day -- can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is.

Sea level rise and its potential impact to Norfolk, Virginia studied by Sandia Labs

Climate Change News - ENN - March 28, 2016 - 12:37pm
In Norfolk, Virginia, an East Coast city that’s home to the world’s largest naval station and important seaports, catastrophic flooding could damage more than homes and roads. A new study from Sandia National Laboratories assesses how much the city, its region and the nation would suffer in damages to national assets and lost economic activity if it does nothing to address rising sea levels.In partnership with the City of Norfolk’s Resilience Office and 100 Resilient Cities(100RC), pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, Sandia analyzed the risk to important assets, quantified their value and helped Norfolk prioritize the most effective ways to stay resilient in a natural or manmade disaster. 

The past, present and future of African dust

So much dust is scattered across the planet by the winds of the Sahara that it alters the climate. However, the emission and transport of this dust, which can reach the poles, fluctuate considerably. Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain this phenomenon, no unambiguous relationship between this dust and the climate had been established until now. According to research carried out by a French-US team of researchers from LATMOS(CNRS/UVSQ/UPMC), CNRM(CNRS/Météo-France) and SIO3, meteorological events such as El Niño and rainfall in the Sahel have an impact on dust emission, by accelerating a Saharan wind downstream of the main mountain massifs of Northwest Africa. The scientists have also developed a new predictive model showing that emissions of Saharan dust will decline over the next hundred years. Their work is published in the 24 March 2016 issue of the journal Nature.

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