Legislative & Regulatory Update

Global Warming History Repeats Itself

Climate Change News - ENN - January 5, 2015 - 2:21pm
The Earth's current warming is looking similar to what took place 55 million years ago, writes David Bond. And if it works out that way, the news is good: we may avoid a mass extinction. On the other hand, the poles will melt away completely, and it will take hundreds of thousands of years for Earth to get back to 'normal'. It is often said that humans have caused the Earth to warm at an unprecedented rate. However researchers have discovered another period, some 55m years ago, when massive volcanic eruptions pumped so much carbon into the atmosphere that the planet warmed at what geologists would think of as breakneck speed. The good news is that most plants and animals survived the warm spell. The planet has experienced several mass extinctions - and this wasn't one of them. But there's a catch: even after carbon levels returned to their previous levels, the climate took 200,000 years to return to normal.

Global Warming History Repeats Itself

The Earth's current warming is looking similar to what took place 55 million years ago, writes David Bond. And if it works out that way, the news is good: we may avoid a mass extinction. On the other hand, the poles will melt away completely, and it will take hundreds of thousands of years for Earth to get back to 'normal'. It is often said that humans have caused the Earth to warm at an unprecedented rate. However researchers have discovered another period, some 55m years ago, when massive volcanic eruptions pumped so much carbon into the atmosphere that the planet warmed at what geologists would think of as breakneck speed. The good news is that most plants and animals survived the warm spell. The planet has experienced several mass extinctions - and this wasn't one of them. But there's a catch: even after carbon levels returned to their previous levels, the climate took 200,000 years to return to normal.

California drought hard on Chinook salmon

Climate Change News - ENN - January 5, 2015 - 9:14am
Gushing downpours finally arrived in California last month, when December rains brought some relief to a landscape parched after three years of severe drought. But the rain came too late for thousands of Chinook salmon that spawned this summer and fall in the northern Central Valley. The Sacramento River, running lower than usual under the scorching sun, warmed into the low 60s — a temperature range that can be lethal to fertilized Chinook, the largest species of Pacific salmon, need cool waters to reproduce. 

Reducing aircraft emissions globally will require effective regulations

Regulatory news - ENN - January 4, 2015 - 8:17am
Aviation emissions are a major clause of climate change, writes Valerie Brown - yet they remain unregulated. The gap between the best and worst performing airlines demonstrates ample opportunities for improvement - but is the political will there to impose effective regulation?The performance gap suggests the industry could reduce GHG emissions significantly if the least efficient airlines would emulate the most efficient.If commercial aviation were a country, it would rank seventh in global greenhouse gas emissions according to a recent report by the International Council on Clean Transportation(ICCT).

Could life thrive on an aquaplanet?

Nearly 2,000 planets beyond our solar system have been identified to date. Whether any of these exoplanets are hospitable to life depends on a number of criteria. Among these, scientists have thought, is a planet’s obliquity — the angle of its axis relative to its orbit around a star.Earth, for instance, has a relatively low obliquity, rotating around an axis that is nearly perpendicular to the plane of its orbit around the sun. Scientists suspect, however, that exoplanets may exhibit a host of obliquities, resembling anything from a vertical spinning top to a horizontal rotisserie. The more extreme the tilt, the less habitable a planet may be — or so the thinking has gone.

Tropical forests may reduce global warming rate

Climate Change News - ENN - December 30, 2014 - 2:02pm
A new study led by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more human-emitted carbon dioxide than many scientists thought. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. This means, if left undisturbed, the tropical trees should be able to continue reducing the rate of global warming.

Flavor and quality of wine impacted by Climate Change

Climate Change News - ENN - December 30, 2014 - 9:07am
It has been a challenge at times to get well-heeled and sometimes highly influential people to care about climate change. After all, having a great deal of money can serve to insulate someone from problems that afflict those less fortunate. Food prices going up, for example, not that big a deal. Coastal areas flooding out, go somewhere else for vacation. Many of those at the top of the heap are finding that business-as-usual is working very well for them, thank you very much. Besides, they might have significant investments in industries that could be threatened by changing to a more sustainable model. Perhaps, what is needed to get their attention is something that hits closer to home. Here is an item in England’s The Telegraph that might fit the bill: Apparently, rising temperatures in areas like France, Italy and Spain are affecting the flavor of certain wines. 

East Cost "nuisance" flooding already increasing

Climate Change News - ENN - December 28, 2014 - 8:48am
By 2050, much of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding annually because of dramatically accelerating impacts from sea-level rise, according to a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study.The findings appear in a paper entitled “From the Extreme to the Mean: Acceleration and Tipping Points for Coastal Inundation due to Sea Level Rise” and follows an earlier study by the report’s co-author, William Sweet, Ph.D., a NOAAA oceanographer.

NASA maps CO2 emissions over the entire planet

Climate Change News - ENN - December 25, 2014 - 11:39am
It’s been a busy five months for NASA’s newest carbon dioxide-monitoring satellite, snapping up to 1 million measurements a day of how carbon dioxide moves across the planet. Now NASA scientists have shared the first global maps created using that data, showing one of the most detailed views of CO2 ever created.The satellite — known as OCO-2 — has been in orbit since July. While it’s returned some preliminary data, NASA showed off its global reach for the first time on Thursday at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting.

Renewables Dominate New US Electrical Generating Capacity

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind energy and solar power combined provided over 70 percent (71.82%) of the 873 megawatts (MW) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service in November 2014. Specifically, three wind farms came on line last month, accounting for 333-MW of new generation in service. These included Stella Wind Farm’s 182-MW Panhandle Wind Farm Phase II expansion in Texas and the 150-MW Origin Wind Energy project in Oklahoma. New wind generating capacity this year thus far has more than doubled that for the same period in 2013 (2,525-MW vs. 1,112-MW).

Temperature rise in Finland outpaces global average

Climate Change News - ENN - December 24, 2014 - 9:13am
Over the past 166 years, the average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees. During the observation period, the average increase was 0.14 degrees per decade, which is nearly twice as much as the global average.According to a recent University of Eastern Finland and Finnish Meteorological Institute study, the rise in the temperature has been especially fast over the past 40 years, with the temperature rising by more than 0.2 degrees per decade. "The biggest temperature rise has coincided with November, December and January. Temperatures have also risen faster than the annual average in the spring months, i.e., March, April and May. In the summer months, however, the temperature rise has not been as significant," says Professor Ari Laaksonen of the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. As a result of the temperature rising, lakes in Finland get their ice cover later than before, and the ice cover also melts away earlier in the spring. Although the temperature rise in the actual growth season has been moderate, observations of Finnish trees beginning to blossom earlier than before have been made.

How the Credit Car Industry is Contributing to Pollution

We all get far too much mail, especially from financial services companies.  Credit card companies alone send billions of pieces of paper mail each year, and most of that gets thrown right into the trash can.  Not only does this dynamic pose a threat from a fraud perspective – trash cans and mailboxes can be treasure troves for opportunistic fraudsters – but you have to figure the effect on the environment isn’t great either. Paper products aren’t as bad as most materials, according to North Carolina State University Professor Richard Venditti, because they’re renewable, recyclable and biodegradable and they motivate land owners to plant trees.  However, Venditti says, “inefficient use of paper does consume resources and have an impact on the environment.” While credit card direct mail is on the rise after hitting a two-year low in April 2012, long-term trends suggest a declining role for traditional paper mail in the years to come.  Not only are financial services companies increasingly offering paperless options to their account holders – even charging extra for paper statements, but they’re also learning how to better leverage digital means for marketing purposes.  These changes are largely based on the shifting preferences of the modern consumer as well as the overall technicalization of modern commerce – not some newfound corporate altruism – but does it really matter? 

Southern Glaciers in China are Melting

Climate Change News - ENN - December 23, 2014 - 9:14am
Glaciers in China that are a critical source of water for drinking and irrigation in India are receding fast, according to a new comprehensive inventory. In the short term, retreating glaciers may release greater meltwater, “but it will be exhausted when glaciers disappear under a continuous warming,” says Liu Shiyin, who led the survey for the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou.

New study analyzes sound sensitivity of marine invertebrates

Noise pollution in the ocean is increasingly recognized as harmful to marine mammals, affecting their ability to communicate, find mates, and hunt for food. But what impact does noise have on invertebrates -- a critical segment of the food web? Very few studies have attempted to answer that question. The harder question to answer might be 'How do you measure hearing in ocean invertebrates'? A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and their colleagues examined behavioral responses to sound by cuttlefish, a type of shell-less mollusk related to squid and octopi. The study is the first to identify the acoustic range and minimum sound sensitivity in these animals. Their findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, can help decision makers and environmental managers better understand the impacts of noise in the ocean.

Fish Distribution Influenced by Fishing and Climate

Climate Change News - ENN - December 22, 2014 - 1:31pm
Scientists studying the distribution of four commercial and recreational fish stocks in Northeast U.S. waters have found that climate change can have major impacts on the distribution of fish, but the effects of fishing can be just as important and occur on a more immediate time scale. The four species studied– black sea bass, scup, summer flounder, and southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Bight winter flounder – have varied in abundance and have experienced heavy fishing pressure at times over the past 40 years. 

Carnivorous Plants Follow the Vegetarian Trend

Carnivorous plants catch and digest tiny animals in order and derive benefits for their nutrition. Interestingly the trend towards vegetarianism seems to overcome carnivorous plants as well. The aquatic carnivorous bladderwort, which can be found in many lakes and ponds worldwide, does not only gain profit from eating little animals but also by consuming algae and pollen grains. This results in survival in aquatic habitats where prey animals are rare, and in increased fitness if the animals and algae are caught in a well-balanced diet. An Austrian research group around Marianne Koller-Peroutka and Wolfram Adlassnig published these results in the respected journal Annals of Botany.

Diesel truck air pollution better thanks to California regulations

Regulatory news - ENN - December 21, 2014 - 8:37am
Ever wonder what's in the black cloud that emits from some semi trucks that you pass on the freeway? Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist Thomas Kirchstetter knows very precisely what's in there, having conducted detailed measurements of thousands of heavy-duty trucks over months at a time at two San Francisco Bay Area locations.With a specially outfitted research van equipped with sophisticated monitors for several pollutant types, he and his team are studying emissions levels from diesel trucks to understand and analyze the impact of new control technologies and California air pollution regulations.

Some fish adapt to climate change by following their prey

Climate Change News - ENN - December 20, 2014 - 6:46am
Not all species may suffer from climate change. A new analysis shows that Dolly Varden, a species of char common in southeast Alaska, adjust their migrations so they can keep feasting on a key food source - salmon eggs - even as shifts in climate altered the timing of salmon spawning.The resiliency of species to climate change may depend on how well they adapt to climate-driven changes in their food and habitat, such as altered growth of plants they feed on. A mismatch in timing between predators and the availability of prey could cause some species to lose access to food. But others such as Dolly Varden that successfully adjust to shifts in climate and prey offer a climate change story with a happy ending, according to the study published in Freshwater Biology.

Is Australia on the wrong track on climate change?

Climate Change News - ENN - December 19, 2014 - 1:17pm
Despite record heat and drought Australia's emissions and coal exports are soaring, says a new report, and both are increasing as a matter of government policy. But a homegrown climate action movement is putting a spanner in the works - and just stopped its first coal train.Australia's response to climate change is headed completely backwards. If we can stop this new coal mine we set a precedent for the rest of Australia to stand up.

ACC Applauds Signing of Bipartisan Chemical Security Bill into Law

Chemical Safety - December 19, 2014 - 8:58am
In the closing days of the 113th Congress, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 4007, the “Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014.”

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