Legislative & Regulatory Update

ACC Lauds Introduction of Clear the Air With Congress Act

Environmental Regulations - October 2, 2014 - 11:30am
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) today welcomed the introduction of H.R. 5665, the Clear the Air With Congress Act, by Congressman Randy Weber (R-Texas).

No longer able to find sea ice, walruses turn to land

Climate Change News - ENN - October 2, 2014 - 10:24am
A mass of thousands of walruses were spotted hauled up on land in northwest Alaska during NOAA aerial surveys earlier this week. An estimated 35,000 occupied a single beach – a record number illustrating a trend in an unnatural behavior scientists say is due to global warming. Walruses (Odobenus rosmarus)—iconic arctic mammals that are only distantly related to seals—traditionally use sea ice to rest, breed, and give birth, and as a vantage from which to spot mollusks and other food sources. However, as their habitat warms and sea ice melts, walruses are forced to come to land more often and in greater numbers.

While the Arctic is melting, the Gulf Stream remains

Climate Change News - ENN - October 2, 2014 - 9:32am
A new study published Sunday in Nature Geoscience documents that the source of fresher Nordic Seas since 1950 is rooted in the saline Atlantic as opposed to Arctic freshwater that is the common inference. This is an important finding as it shows that the Gulf Stream is not about to short circuit. A halting Gulf Stream has been a concern with ongoing climate change; its collapse was taken to the extreme in the Hollywood blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow", says Tor Eldevik, professor in oceanography at the University of Bergen and the Bjerknes Centre.

How do we know an extreme weather event might be caused by climate change?

Nowadays, when there's a killer heat wave or serious drought somewhere, people wonder: Is this climate change at work? It's a question scientists have struggled with for years. And now there's a new field of research that's providing some answers. It's called "attribution science" — a set of principles that allow scientists to determine when it's a change in climate that's altering weather events ... and when it isn't. The principles start with the premise that, as almost all climate scientists expect, there will be more "extreme" weather events if the planet warms up much more: heat waves, droughts, huge storms.

How do we know an extreme weather event might be caused by climate change?

Climate Change News - ENN - October 2, 2014 - 7:49am
Nowadays, when there's a killer heat wave or serious drought somewhere, people wonder: Is this climate change at work? It's a question scientists have struggled with for years. And now there's a new field of research that's providing some answers. It's called "attribution science" — a set of principles that allow scientists to determine when it's a change in climate that's altering weather events ... and when it isn't. The principles start with the premise that, as almost all climate scientists expect, there will be more "extreme" weather events if the planet warms up much more: heat waves, droughts, huge storms.

NASA's GRAIL mission sheds light on the origin of the Procellarum basin on the Moon

New data obtained by NASA's GRAIL mission reveals that the Procellarum region on the near side of the moon - a giant basin often referred to as the "man in the moon" - likely arose not from a massive asteroid strike, but from a large plume of magma deep within the moon's interior. The Procellarum region is a roughly circular, volcanic terrain some 1,800 miles in diameter - nearly as wide as the United States. One hypothesis suggested that it was formed by a massive impact, in which case it would have been the largest impact basin on the moon. Subsequent asteroid collisions overprinted the region with smaller - although still large - basins.

Dog waste contaminates our waterways

Americans love their dogs, but they don't always love to pick up after them. And that's a problem. Dog feces left on the ground wash into waterways, sometimes carrying bacteria — including antibiotic-resistant strains — that can make people sick. Now scientists have developed a new genetic test to figure out how much dogs are contributing to this health concern, according to a report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Climate Change and Food Security

Climate Change News - ENN - October 1, 2014 - 9:47am
If coping with climate change is central to achieving a sustainable future for the global population, then food security lies at the heart of this effort, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said last week in a speech at the United Nations Climate Summit last week. "We cannot call development sustainable while hunger still robs over 800 million people of the opportunity to lead a decent life," he said in a reference to the latest U.N. report on world hunger, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014.

Renewable energy capacity increases, nuclear declines

Climate Change News - ENN - September 30, 2014 - 6:03pm
Advocates of nuclear energy have long been predicting its renaissance, yet this mode of producing electricity has been stalled for years. Renewable energy, by contrast, continues to expand rapidly, even if it still has a long way to go to catch up with fossil fuel power plants, writes Worldwatch Institute Senior Researcher Michael Renner in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online analysis (bit.ly/NuclearRE). Nuclear energy’s share of global power production has declined steadily from a peak of 17.6 percent in 1996 to 10.8 percent in 2013. Renewables increased their share from 18.7 percent in 2000 to 22.7 percent in 2012.

New MIT report predicts serious future warming

Climate Change News - ENN - September 30, 2014 - 8:38am
Global temperature is likely to rise 3.3-5.6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, unless international climate negotiations in Paris next year are more effective than expected, according to a report released Monday by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. The predicted temperature increase surpasses the threshold identified by the United Nations as necessary to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change, altering precipitation patterns and heightening the pressures of population and economic growth. "Our world is rapidly changing," says John Reilly, co-director of the MIT Joint Program and a coauthor of the report. "We need to understand the nature of the risks we’re facing so we can prepare for them."

Causes of California drought linked to climate change, Stanford scientists say

Climate Change News - ENN - September 29, 2014 - 4:34pm
The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are "very likely" linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper. In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

Connecting Productivity of Office Workers and Climate Change

Climate Change News - ENN - September 29, 2014 - 10:57am
Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, a new report shows that green building design makes employees happier and more productive. There would seem to be no connection between the productivity of office workers and the great challenge of climate change. But a report published by the World Green Building Council suggests otherwise.

Climate change more of a risk to the Greenland Ice Sheet than thought

Climate Change News - ENN - September 29, 2014 - 8:56am
A new model developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge has shown that despite its apparent stability, the massive ice sheet covering most of Greenland is more sensitive to climate change than earlier estimates have suggested, which would accelerate the rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities worldwide. In addition to assessing the impact of the increasing levels of meltwater created and spilled into the ocean each year as the climate continues to warm, the new model also takes into account the role that the soft, spongy ground beneath the ice sheet plays in its changing dynamics. Details are published today (29 September) in the journal Nature Communications.

Reducing global trade would cut carbon emissions

Climate Change News - ENN - September 27, 2014 - 12:12pm
If the world's leaders really cared about climate change, there's one easy way to reduce emissions, writes John Weeks - drop the obsession with increasing trade, and all the pollution that goes with it. A world based on local production, consumption and finance will be a better one for people and the environment. Let us join Keynes to imagine if we can a world in which goods are 'homespun' and finance is 'primarily national'. If we cannot imagine such a world, there is little hope for the planet. The Obama administration has proposed several ad hoc multi-country economic agreements, and in doing so has abandoned de facto the World Trade Organization (WTO) as insufficiently malleable to its interests.

Cornell finds molecule in space that connotes life origins

Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule – one with a branched structure – contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.

Study calculates that water on Earth is actually older than our Sun!

Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth's water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work from a team including Carnegie's Conel Alexander found that much of our Solar System's water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Their work is published in Science. Water is found throughout our Solar System. Not just on Earth, but on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of Mercury. Water has been found included in mineral samples from meteorites, the Moon, and Mars.

'Transponders' from Japan was ashore along US West Coast

Northwest anglers venturing out into the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of salmon and other fish this fall may scoop up something unusual into their nets – instruments released from Japan called "transponders." These floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

'Transponders' from Japan was ashore along US West Coast

Climate Change News - ENN - September 26, 2014 - 7:37am
Northwest anglers venturing out into the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of salmon and other fish this fall may scoop up something unusual into their nets – instruments released from Japan called "transponders." These floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

A concrete idea: MIT develops better, greener, concrete

Climate Change News - ENN - September 25, 2014 - 2:06pm
Concrete is the world's most-used construction material, and a leading contributor to global warming, producing as much as one-tenth of industry-generated greenhouse-gas emissions. Now a new study suggests a way in which those emissions could be reduced by more than half - and the result would be a stronger, more durable material. The findings come from the most detailed molecular analysis yet of the complex structure of concrete, which is a mixture of sand, gravel, water, and cement. Cement is made by cooking calcium-rich material, usually limestone, with silica-rich material - typically clay - at temperatures of 1,500 degrees Celsius, yielding a hard mass called "clinker." This is then ground up into a powder. The decarbonation of limestone, and the heating of cement, are responsible for most of the material's greenhouse-gas output.

Amazing maps of what Antarctica looks like under all that ice

Climate Change News - ENN - September 25, 2014 - 9:01am
New maps of the sub-ice features in Antarctica and the Arctic, featured in the new edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World published on 25 September 2014, reveal an unseen world of canyons, lakes, trenches and mountains. The 14th edition of the Atlas also includes a new double page map of the Arctic Ocean, which highlights the dramatic long-term decline of Arctic sea ice cover. The sub-ice maps draw on bedrock data, provided by the British Antarctic Survey, to show physical features which are obscured by ice cover. In the Antarctic, one of the most striking features is the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, which are as large as the Alps but are currently completely covered by ice.

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