Friday, March 3, 2006

Planning Law Student Writing Competition

The Planning & Law Division of the American Planning Association announces its Twenty-third Annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition. The Competition, which honors the memory of three leading figures in American planning law -- R. Marlin Smith, Richard Babcock, and Norman Williams -- is open to law students and planning students, writing on a question of significance in planning, planning law, land use law, local government law or environmental law. 

The winning entry will be awarded a prize of $2,500 and will be submitted for publication in The Urban Lawyer, the law journal of the American Bar Association's Section of State & Local Government Law. In addition to the winning prize, the Competition will offer a second place prize of $1,000 and up to two Honorable Mentions of $250.

The deadline for submission of entries is June 5, 2006 and the winner(s) will be announced by September 11, 2006. Please refer to the attached official rules for further details.

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March 3, 2006 in Land Use | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Science of Global Warming: Surface Water Availability Declines More Rapidly Than Mean Rainfall So Surface Water Supplies Will Drop Across 25% of Africa By the End of the Century

Changes in Surface Water Supply Across Africa with Predicted Climate Change

DeWit and Stankiewicz report in Science that surface water drainage (supply) has a non-linear relationship to rainfall in Africa.  A 10% drop in rainfall in an area with 40 inches (1000mm) of rain will reduce surface water drainage by 17%.   The same 10% drop in rainfall in an area with 20 inches (500mm) of rain will reduce surface water drainage by 50%.  So the rainfall reductions associated with  climate change will affect areas with intermediate rainfall most dramatically.  Deserts may become uninhabitable, but areas of moderate rainfall will  lose enormous quantities of their surface water supplies.  DeWit and Stankiewicz estimate that surface water access will be reduce across 25% of Africa by the end of this century.

    Abstract: Across Africa, perennial drainage density as a function of mean annual rainfall defines three regimes separated by threshold values of precipitation. This non-linear response of drainage to rainfall will most seriously affect regions in the intermediate, unstable, regime. A 10% decrease in precipitation in regions on the upper regime boundary (1000 mm/y) would reduce drainage by 17%, while in regions receiving 500 mm/y such a drop would cut 50% of surface drainage. Using predicted precipitation changes, we calculate that decrease in perennial drainage will significantly affect present surface water access across 25% of Africa by the end of this century.

March 3, 2006 in Africa | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bird Flu Mutates

The World Health Organization indicates that as the H5N1 virus mutates, it is becoming more deadly to poultry, but not necessarily more likely to be transmitted to human beings or more risky to human beings.  WHO  <>

The virus, which has spread in recent months from Asia into Russia, Africa and western Europe, has so far killed more than 90 people and forced the slaughter of millions of birds.  Western Europe is on high alert - since Germany, Austria, France and Italy have cases in wild birds11 nations worldwide reported outbreaks over the past three weeks, an indication that the virus, which has killed at least 92 people, is spreading faster.  "The recent appearance of the virus in birds in a rapidly growing number of countries is of public health concern," it said. "It expands opportunities for human exposures and infections to occur."

The danger was increased when the virus jumped from wild to domestic birds, which was easiest when poultry lived in close contact with humans, as in Africa and parts of Asia. Although H5N1 remains difficult for humans to catch, scientists fear it could mutate to be easily passed from person to person and trigger a pandemic in which millions could die.

February 28, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, EU, Governance/Management, Physical Science | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Majority of Americans Support an Increased Gas Tax Earmarked to Reduce Oil Dependence and Global Warming

Americans are not keen for new taxes: 85% oppose a general increase in the federal gasoline tax.  However, a NYT poll indicates 55 % support a gas tax increase if it reduces dependence on foreign oil and 59% favor a tax increase if it reduces gasoline consumption and global warming.  Comments by those polled suggest that ear-marking the receipts would be an effective means to achieve the desired results.

February 28, 2006 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Air Meeting Ozone NAAQS is Not Safe


A study by Bell, et al of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies indicates that air meeting EPA's current ozone NAAQS — 80 parts per billion — can still cause a significantly increased risk of premature death. Study Abstract (  Even 10 parts per billion in ozone concentrations causes a 0.3 percent increase in early mortality, which amounts to 2000 excess deaths per year in New York City alone. The study will be published in April in Environmental Health Perspectives.  Available online EHP Web site.

February 28, 2006 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Economics, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, Law, Physical Science, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sugars Formed from Untreated Sewage Have a Role in Destroying Coral Reefs

Add sugar or organic carbon compounds to the list! 

Scientists have identified phosphates, nitrates, and ammonia as the most likely culprits in causing a 80% reduction in coral cover in the Carribean.  These pollutants help algae grow, which compete with coral for space. However, new research by David Kline of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama suggests that carbon-induced bacterial growth may be a major problem for coral reefs.


Kline exposed corals to solutions of basic chemicals found in sewage and agricultural runoff and found that 35% of corals exposed to sugar compounds died compared to about 7% of those given nitrate or phosphate. Sugars led to an explosive growth of coral-associated bacteria not caused by other chemicals. These lab experiments suggest that corals already under stress from warmer water temperatures and the loss of fish and urchins that eat algae may succumb directly to the rapid growth of the normally symbiotic bacteria.  The policy implications of this research are substantial -- sewage discharged into coastal areas should treated to reduce organic carbon levels and organic carbon levels need to be monitored along with those of other pollutants.  This will be a real policy challenge because 90% of sewage dumped in the Caribbean is untreated.
Science report on coral reef research

February 27, 2006 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Governance/Management, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congratulations !!!

Congratulations !!!
to all of the teams who participated in the Pace University National Environmental Law Moot Court competition last week.  As usual, the competition used a knotty problem written by Jeff Miller, exploring non-point source regulation and state water quality standards under the Clean Water Act, the interaction of the CWA with state and federal common law, and jurisdictional and NCP consistency issues under CERCLA.  LSU won the final round, competing against University of Detroit and Washington University of St.  NELMCC Winners 

February 27, 2006 in Law, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)