Your weekly news roundup on everything environment
Arctic Melt Releasing Ancient Methane
It turns out that It’s not just water that is released as our polar ice caps melt, but also the second most important greenhouse gas: Methane.
According to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience, thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane has been stored for many millennia, is bubbling into the atmosphere. And as the ice continues to melt, the methane that had previously been trapped is released into the air.
“This is yet another serious concern: the warming will feed the warming.”
How much this will speed up global warming remains a contentious issue; some scientists believe the impacts won’t be seen for decades, while other point out the possibility of a rapid release that could swiftly accelerate global warming. Nevertheless, this is bad news for the planet and everyone who lives on it.
G8 Agrees to Reduce Three Short-Lived Pollutants, Potentially Delaying Climate Change for Decades
While they have yet to tackle carbon dioxide, world leaders agreed on “comprehensive actions” to reduce “short-lived climate pollutants” during a G8 summit held at Camp David. These substances – including black carbon (soot), methane, ground-level ozone and hydrofluorocarbons – are responsible for about half of global warming. According to a report conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme last year, implementing straightforward measures to address these pollutants could potentially delay climate change by three decades or more. This will help buy us time as the world leaders tackle the more contentious issue of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
As usual, what's good for the planet is also good for people: some 2.4 million lives will be saved a year, mostly by cutting the inhalation of soot that disproportionately affects the world’s poorest people due to the use of inefficient wood and dung burning stoves.
If you agree it's time for world leaders to quit stalling and start taking rapid action to stop global warming, don't forget to sign our petition to Mitt Romney and others who deny global warming is even happening. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.
EU Rejects France’s Ban of Monsanto Maize
The EU’s food safety body has rejected France’s attempt to ban the planting of a Monsanto strain of genetically modified maize.
In a statement, the European Food Safety Authority ruled that “there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment,” to support the ban.
Yet many would disagree with the EU’s stance considering even the EPA has warned in the past that Monsanto’s GMO crops are spawning ‘mutant’ resistant insects and subsequently requiring substantially more pesticides.
This was the second time France has tried to ban genetically modified corn. Whether the EFSA will ask France to lift their current ban remains to be seen. We'll keep you updated on developments as this story continues to unfold. If you want to take action to stop "Agent Orange Corn" here in the U.S., sign our petition to the F.D.A. here.
150,000 More Heat Deaths Projected by 2100
The last 12 months were the hottest since we began keeping records and the consequences could be deadly. According to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, we can expect an additional 150,000 people to die from heat related deaths in the next century if nothing is done to curb climate change soon.
The cities that will be hit the hardest include Louisville, with 19,00 heat-related fatalities; Detroit, with 17,000, and Cleveland, with 16,600.
People of lower economic status in high-concentrated areas are expected to be the most affected, due to a lack of access to air conditioning.
House Energy Committee Votes to Eliminate Smog Protection
The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Gasoline Regulations Act (H.R. 4471) on a mostly partisan vote.
Better known as the Gutting Air Standards Protection (GASP) Act, the bill would do nothing about high gas prices but would block several clean air standards and gut the Clean Air Act’s health-based approach to setting ozone (smog) standards. Instead, the cost of pollution reduction would be a determining factor on how much health protection to require. Or as Think Progress aptly put it, “air pollution that triggers asthma attacks and respiratory diseases would only be reduced if the polluters could afford it.”
The vote comes despite the fact that “more than 40 percent of people in the U.S. still live in areas where air pollution threatens their health,” according to the American Lung Association.
Remember this ad by the American Lung Association? With lower air standards comes higher rates of childhood asthma. You can thank your Congressman for that!
Half of U.S. Nonresidential Construction to be ‘Green’ by 2015
The green building sector is expanding rapidly post-recession as firms embrace sector in order to stay competitive.
According to an industry-wide survey conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction, workers with experience in energy efficiency, water efficiency, responsible site management, air quality and green building certification will be the highest in demand, and more than 85 percent of engineering & design firms fear that their aren’t enough skilled workers to keep up with demand.
According to the survey, 35 percent of workers have green jobs in the sector; by 2014, 45 percent will have green jobs.