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Want to Help Fight Wildlife Crimes? There's an App for that!

November 13, 2014 - 3:43pm
We know wildlife trafficking has become a huge problem for wild animals and imperiled species, but making it illegal is only part of the solution. Without the ability to identify wildlife products moving through ports, authorities have less power to stop the trade. The good news, according to a recent report published in the journal Biological Conservation, is that conservationists are successfully developing mobile apps to help authorities working around the world with the identification of wildlife that they believe are helping crack down on the problem.

Is the world moving backwards on protected areas?

November 7, 2014 - 8:04am
Protected areas are undoubtedly the world's most important conservation success story, and recent research shows that protected areas are effective—housing more biodiversity and greater abundances of species inside rather than out. But, despite this, progress on protected areas is stalling and in some cases even falling behind. According to a sobering new paper today in Nature, only 20-50 percent of the world's land and marine protected areas are meeting their goals, while the rest are hampered by lack of funding, poor management, and government ambivalence. The paper arrives just a few days before the opening of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, a global event that happens once a decade. "Protected areas offer us solutions to some of today's most pressing challenges, but by continuing with 'business as usual,' we are setting them up for failure," said lead author James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland. "A step-change in the way we value, fund, govern and manage those areas is neither impossible nor unrealistic and would only represent a fraction of what the world spends annually on defense." 

Which Form of Energy is the Cheapest?

October 16, 2014 - 11:47pm
Which kind of power is the cheapest? Listen to energy companies, and they'll insist that traditional forms like gas and coal are the way to go. Of course, they have money invested in keeping the existing systems in business. That's why the European Union commissioned an independent analysis to study the topic. According to the report, wind energy is the most cost-efficient way to supply power. When proponents of non-renewable energy point to costs, they intentionally overlook the overall economic impact that polluting causes. Once experts start to calculate the costs associated with public health and climate change that coincide with burning coal and gas, the true cost is far higher than initially reported. It's both irresponsible and shortsighted to ignore these environmental and health consequences from the equation.

Does the public trust what scientists say?

October 6, 2014 - 4:58pm
If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit "warmer," according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows that while Americans view scientists as competent, they are not entirely trusted. This may be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm.

California Becomes 1st State to Ban Plastic Bags

October 2, 2014 - 5:14pm
It's official: California is now the first state in the country to institute a statewide plastic bag ban! Though it took years for state legislators to pass this bill plus an additional month that felt like an eternity for the governor to sign the bill into law, environmentalists can finally rejoice in the knowledge that grocery store plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past. Analysts expect the legislation will eliminate at least 13 billion plastic bags per year. Don't expect to see a change immediately, however: the ban won't go into effect until next July. Liquor and convenience stores will have until July of 2016 to switch to paper or reusable bags.

Encouraging planting trees will sequester carbon and conserve habitat

September 23, 2014 - 5:00pm
Rewarding landowners for converting farmland into forest will be key to sequestering carbon and providing wildlife habitat, according to a new study by Oregon State University and collaborators. Current land-use trends in the United States will significantly increase urban land development by mid-century, along with a greater than 10 percent reduction in habitat of nearly 50 at-risk species, including amphibians, large predators and birds, said David Lewis, co-author of the study and an environmental economist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Action to limit CO2 emissions IS needed now!

September 22, 2014 - 8:47am
Carbon dioxide emissions continue to track the high end of emission scenarios, eroding the chances to keep global warming below 2°C, and placing increased pressure on world leaders ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit on the 23rd September. Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production grew 2.3 per cent to a record high of 36.1 billion tonnes CO2 in 2013. In 2014 emissions are set to increase a further 2.5%, 65 per cent above the level of 1990.

Burlington, Vermont - Now 100% Powered by Renewable Energy

September 17, 2014 - 2:50pm
Burlington, Vermont, already considered to be one of the United States's most environmentally progressive cities, has added another line to its impressive green resume. Just recently, the city finalized its transition to relying 100% on renewable resources for its energy. Burlington is Vermont's large city, though that in itself is no big feat – the city has a population of just 42,000. Then again, very few communities of even this size have managed to disassociate themselves from fossil fuels. In order to adequately tackle climate change, cities – big and small – need to prioritize finding and utilizing alternative energy solutions. Burlington had expressed a desire to commit to 100% renewable energy for more than a decade, but it became a real possibility when analysts discovered that it was not only a smart environmental choice, but financially viable, too. In the long run, both the city and residents will not be paying more for clean energy than they were when buying fossil fuels.

Climate March and Summit

September 17, 2014 - 10:08am
This Sunday 21st September hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to march in New York, London, Amsterdam and many other cities around the world to demand climate justice, standing with climate and dirty energy-affected communities worldwide. They are hoping to influence world leaders gathering in New York for their one-day Climate Summit taking place on 23rd September to exceed the poor expectations vested in them.

Protected Areas Do Work, Says Study

September 16, 2014 - 1:17pm
Protected areas are working. That's the conclusion of a new analysis of over 80 different studies on the efficacy of parks and nature reserves in safeguarding wildlife. Published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE, the new study finds that in general protected areas house higher abundances of wildlife as well as greater biodiversity than adjacent areas.

National Chicken Council to Phase Out Some Poultry Antibiotics

September 16, 2014 - 9:47am
Only about 10 percent of the antibiotics used in chicken are actually used in humans, says the National Chicken Council. Its statement comes on the heels of a controversial report by Reuters indicating increasing proof that the prophylactic medications used in chickens are fueling antibiotic resistance not just in fowl, but in humans as well.

Air pollution found harmful to young brains

September 15, 2014 - 5:19pm
Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled "Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration."

Petrol vs. Diesel

September 10, 2014 - 3:54pm
Climate change has made us question the things that we do, from buying food and using energy to riding planes and driving cars. One of the top questions surrounding climate change is this: Which fuel type is more environmentally friendly, petrol or diesel? Common knowledge would make us reply "diesel" right away, as engines running on diesel emit less carbon dioxide or CO2, and less CO2 is better to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, being eco-friendly isn't as simple as emitting less CO2. Diesel-powered vehicles may emit 20% less CO2 per kilometre travelled, but they may be more harmful for local pollution due to the tiny particles that are released by diesel engines into the atmosphere. The question really isn't which fuel or engine type is more environmentally friendly, as no form of engine that uses fossil fuels will ever become good for the environment. Rather, we should look at which has the capacity to inflict the least amount of damage to the environment.

Reducing Water Scarcity

August 29, 2014 - 3:53pm
Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years.

Study Suggests More Research before Fracking Continues

August 29, 2014 - 8:22am
An independent report on fracking has recommended a temporary moratorium on the controversial process and says that communities should give permission before it can proceed. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection

August 28, 2014 - 12:49pm
Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads – and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

A Fukushima-Sized Problem

August 27, 2014 - 12:45pm
A newly-exposed report by Diablo Canyon's lead nuclear inspector shows that the twin reactors are unsafe, writes Karl Grossman. An earthquake on nearby geological faults could trigger a Fukushima-scale accident causing 10,000 early fatalities. The owner's response? Apply to extend the site's operation for another 20 years. As aftershocks of the 6.0 Napa earthquake that occurred Sunday in California continued, the Associated Press revealed a secret government report pointing to major earthquake vulnerabilities at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plants which are a little more than 200 miles away and sitting amid a webwork of earthquake faults.

Levels of Air Toxics decreasing across US Cities

August 23, 2014 - 8:07am
More and more people are living in our cities. They are great places to live, exciting, good jobs, great night life, but also sometimes congestion and unhealthy air quality. The latter problems are improving, however. Efforts to make cities livable without driving are paying off. Bike lanes, bike sharing, and efforts to reduce auto traffic and congestion are helping to improve the air quality in our cities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released its Second Integrated Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress - the final of two reports required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to inform Congress of progress in reducing public health risks from urban air toxics. "This report gives everyone fighting for clean air a lot to be proud of because for more than 40 years we have been protecting Americans – preventing illness and improving our quality of life by cutting air pollution - all while the economy has more than tripled," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "But we know our work is not done yet. At the core of EPA's mission is the pursuit of environmental justice - striving for clean air, water and healthy land for every American; and we are committed to reducing remaining pollution, especially in low-income neighborhoods."

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms

August 18, 2014 - 10:25am
What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

The cost of marine debris

August 12, 2014 - 4:53pm
Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches. The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.