There have been many stories in the media about the ongoing environmental crisis at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Over the past two years, the reef has lost almost half of its coral because of bleaching events. Faced with this situation, the Australian government created the Reef 2050 Plan, a strategy to protect and maintain the reef through the year 2050.
A group of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals has issued a consensus statement in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives urging that antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan and triclocarban should not be used in consumer products. The experts say that these substances offer no health benefits and are actually causing health and environmental harm.
China and India have 36% of the world’s population and produce about 35% of global CO2 emissions, ranking first and third respectively in that category. The United States, with a little over 4% of the world’s population, produces about 16% of global CO2 emissions, good for second place.
Biofuels are considered to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. However, they are generally more expensive than competing fossil fuels. Government subsidies, such as we have for ethanol in this country, have been necessary to make biofuels competitive in the marketplace.
A South African court recently overturned a national ban on the trade of rhinoceros horns – a decision that was celebrated by the country’s commercial rhino breeders but slammed by animal preservation groups. A moratorium on rhino horn trade had been in effect in South Africa since 2009.
Much has been made of the dangers of eating fast food. Certainly, its high fat, sodium, and calorie content calls for moderating its role in our diets. But a recent study has found that even the packaging that the food comes in might present health hazards.
The world’s smallest porpoise – the vaquita – is in real trouble. According to a recent report by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (or CIRVA), the vaquita population has plummeted to just 30 individuals –a 90% plunge since 2011 – despite international conservation efforts. The vaquita, which is found only in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, is the most endangered marine mammal on Earth and is on the doorstep of extinction.
Back in 2011, utility-scale solar power cost a little over $4 per watt on average. In February of that year, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the SunShot initiative, which had the goal of reducing the total cost of photovoltaic systems by 75% to the target value of $1 a watt by the year 2020.
Because of its Arctic location, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States. The past year has been the warmest on record. The forces of erosion and increasingly powerful storms have resulted in the imminent risk of destruction for at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities. Many are predicted to become uninhabitable over the next few decades. Residents of these places are likely to join the growing flow of climate refugees around the globe.
There are 35 megacities in the world – metropolitan areas with more than 10 million people. Fifteen of them have populations above 20 million. And many of these teeming metropolises have to contend with some of the worst air pollution on the planet.
The Scottish government has an ambitious plan to meet 100 percent of its demand for electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Like much of the world, Scotland has produced significant amounts of its electricity by burning coal for more than 100 years. But no longer.
China passed the U.S. as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth back in 2007, mostly due to manufacturing. However, the great majority of all the products China produces are exported to the rest of the world. China’s per capita consumption-based environmental footprint is actually small. If you put the responsibility for environmental impacts on the consumer instead of the producer, we are all the culprits.
While 195 countries reached agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in December, the city of San Diego made a major commitment of its own. Whereas the Paris climate accord is non-binding, San Diego has gone much further.