Monday, February 26, 2007

Spirit of the Eagle

This blog is devoted principally to the professional or academic aspects of environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.  But like any blogger, I do have a life.  Anyone interested in the slightly less academic side of me is welcome to visit Spirit of the Eagle, my personal blog.

February 26, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

2007 Drink Water for Life

Drink Water for Life Challenge

As readers know, the royalties of this blog are now devoted to international NGOs providing safe, clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

The 7th Millennium Development Goal seeks to cut in half the number of people without those essentials by 2015. Current estimates are that it will cost about $16 billion additional per year until 2015 to accomplish that goal.  I find it unbelievable that we cannot globally achieve that goal, especially when unnecessary deaths from water-borne diseases exceed 2 million, mostly children, each year.  That's one child every 15 seconds.

For those of you who are members of faith-based communities, I suggest that you sponsor a DRINK WATER FOR LIFE challenge associated with your congregation.  Drink water instead of lattes (sodas, bottled water, coffee, alcohol).  Do it for Lent (or your appropriate analogous spiritual break).  Get your friends, your synagogue or church, school or workplace to do the same.  Collect the money you save, gather it together on  Easter (or whatever date makes sense in your faith tradition), put it in a Water Fund, and send it to one of the organizations that do this work.  With just $5000, an entire village of 200 - 500 people can be supplied with safe, clean, sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. 

If you need addresses of faith-based organization who do this work, or secular charitable organizations who do this work, let me know.  If you need flyers explaining the problem, let me know.  Together we can make a difference.

February 6, 2007 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Economics of Global Warming

The world would have to give up only one year's economic growth over the next four decades to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to  stave off the threat of global warming. Consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers offer a "green growth plus" strategy, combining energy efficiency, greater use of renewables and carbon capture to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 from the level reached by doing nothing. Nuclear energy, it says, can play a role, but it is not crucial.

This scenario, which involves little real sacrifice in terms of economic growth, could be achieved only if embarked upon without delay.  "If countries adopt a 'business as usual' approach, the result could be a more than doubling of global carbon emissions by 2050," said John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC.  "Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy is followed."

PwC envisages the Group of Seven leading economies taking the initiative, cutting their emissions by about half by 2050, while the fast-growing E7 countries - China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey - could still increase their emissions by 30% over the period.   The PwC projections see China overtaking the United States as the world's biggest emitter of CO2 by 2010 while total E7 emissions would be more than double G7 emissions by 2050, with the "big three" - China, the US and India - accounting for just over half, up from 45% today.  The European Union could cut its share of global emissions to under 9% by 2050 from 15% now, while Britain's should fall to 1% from 2%.

A shift to a much less carbon-intensive fuel mix would more than double the current non-fossil fuel primary energy share to about 30% by 2050. That alone would be sufficient to reduce carbon emissions by 25%. PwC's view that renewables could do the job without having to use nuclear technology could undermine Tony Blair's argument that atomic power is crucial.  Increasing energy efficiency gains to 2.6% a year from today's 1.6% would reduce emissions by a third, while carbon capture and storage - pumping power station emissions into disused gas fields underground - could achieve a further 20%.  The report says a combination of all these measures will be necessary to stabilise global CO2 levels at 450 parts per million, the figure scientific opinion judges to be broadly acceptable.

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange
/story0,,1883753,00.html


September 29, 2006 in Africa, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, South America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Movie Review: The Great Warming

Here's another entry in the world's best global warming films contest!  The current contestants are Brokaw's Global Warming, Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and now The Great Warming.  For my earlier review of the former two, see 7/2/06 Movie Review: Brokaw and Gore.  I reviewed Brokaw based on a screening copy: now everyone wants to know where to get one.

The Great Warming is a film documentary, produced by Stonehenge, sponsored by Swiss Re, narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, and aired this spring in Canada by the Discovery Channel.  It was screened in Salem today at First Congregational Church, U.C.C.

The Great Warming is a relatively comprehensive look at global warming science, with plenty of experts.  It documents the impacts of far more modest El Nino events on Peruvian fishing villages, the incredible difficulties facing nations like Bangladesh that lie 80% within the flood plain, the impact that adding another 4 billion people will have on energy use, and the pressing need for China, India, Brazil and other developing countries to adopt a better energy path than the disasterous fossil fuel path that developed countries have followed.  It provides plenty of scenic photography, discussion of innovative technologies, and practical solutions. 

The Great Warming also has a particularly interesting slant.  It highlights, in particular, the growing concern in the American Evangelical community about global warming.  It has received endorsements from Rev. Richard Cizik for the National Association of Evangelicals [Rev. Richard Cizik ], Paul de Vries, Dean, New York Divinity School [New York Divinity School], Fr. Jon-Stephen Hedges [St. Athanasius Orthodox Church], the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Environmental Network and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life.

The film contains frank, hard-hitting comments from scientists, health providers, and other opinion-makers taking America’s  leadership to task for failing to address what is certainly the most critical environmental issue of the 21st century.  The film analogizes the current era of Great Warming to the era of the Great Depression.  And reminds us that our children and grandchildren will ask why we didn't do something about it.

This film does discuss the faith perspective, which may not be satisfactory for all students.  But, it is a great primer on global warming science, the impacts of climate change, and possible solutions.

THE GREAT WARMING
www.thegreatwarming.com

So, what is the bottom line.  Except for the evangelical angle, I'd chose the Great Warming over the other two.  But, given law student reaction to anything that smacks of spirituality or religion, I still think Gore did the best job with the science.

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome to Environmental Law Prof Blog

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                        

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality!

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No Comment Required

Lebanon_qana_rubble_3

The US blocks a UN resolution deploring the Qana attack, softening the language. The US opposes an immediate, unconditional cease-fire.  Lebanon says thanks, but no thanks to a visit by US Secr. of State Rice. Deadly Israeli Air StrikeDove_w_1

July 30, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 3, 2006

WELCOME

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                           

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality.

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

July 3, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Movie Reviews: Tom Brokaw's Global Warming: What You Need to Know and Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

On July 16, 2006, 9-11 pm ET/PT, Discovery Channel, BBC News and NBC News present a two hour special on global warming hosted by Tom Brokaw.

On Friday, I previewed the Discovery Channel special and saw An Inconvenient Truth.  Below I review both from a teaching perspective.

The bottom line of both Global Warming and An Inconvenient Truth are the same -- global warming is threatening to massively change our planet with severe impacts on our lives and the rest of creation; we have the knowledge and technology to reduce those changes; the real question is whether we have the collective will to do what we need to do before it is too late.

Both Global Warming and An Inconvenient Truth seek to acquaint the audience with the fundamentals about global warming: the causes of global warming, the evidence that convinces scientists why this is not simply part of a natural cycle of warming and cooling, the magnitudes of impacts that we can expect,  the technical solutions that can slow global warming, the outrageously large contribution of the U.S. to the problem, and the loomingly enormous potential of China and India if they pursue our development path.

Neither program makes the mistake of trying to be "balanced" in presenting the "skeptics" point of view.  Brokaw notes the change in scientific opinion over the last two decades and the agreement of 99.9% of scientists that global warming is real.  Gore uses the results of the sample of scientific literature on climate -- where the score is roughly 978 to 0 -- every study assumed that global warming is occurring.

Global Warming is a powerful statement in three respects.  First, it is presented by a respected journalist rather than a respected, but partisan, politician.  Second, it has an absolutely amazing, all star cast of scientists to help narrate the story.  Third, it has some great footage of glacial rivers, rainforests, pacific islands doomed to disappear, and most of all, cute, little polar bear cubs who, along with the rest of their species, are destined to die within the next few decades as the polar ice disappears.

An Inconvenient Truth, on the other hand, has other wonderful qualities.  First, it gains traction from Al Gore's droll sense of humor (yes, really) as well as his deep, visible commitment to the issue.  Second, it has some incrediblely vivid footage interspersed between the Gore narrative of his life and the Gore global warming slideshow.  Third, it conveys the scientific information in more depth, addressing the questions that people have, and illustrating answers with extremely sharp graphics on how temperature tracks CO2, the 650,000 year natural cycles of both temperature and CO2 and how dramatically the present CO2 levels and temperature exceed historical levels, how hurricanes and other natural storms gain intensity from warming temperatures, how global warming can bring both droughts and floods, how El Nino works, how the ocean conveyor belt works, and how the North America glacier melt affected Europe's climate.  Fourth, it has some unforgettable visual models of the 2002 collapse of Larson B in Antarctica and what will happen to sea level in NY, Florida, Shanghai, Bangladesh, and elsewhere if either a significant portion of Greenland or Antarctica melts [in the only obvious scientific error of the movie, Gore mixed up the sea level change expected from Greenland melting with that of the Antarctic].

So, which one would I have my students see?  Both...they both have unique aspects that are worth a student's while.  I'd give An Inconvenient Truth an edge on content, but only if students can get past the fact that An Inconvenient Truth is a great commercial for why we should all wish that the Supreme Court had selected Al Gore, instead of George Bush as our President.

What I wish someone would do is blend both -- take Gore's slideshow, the great scenic footage from both, the Hansen discussion and other scientists from Brokaw and put them together...but, lacking that, see them both!


Continue reading

July 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Movie Review: Gore's Inconvenient Truth

Seth Borenstein of AP reported today: AP story

The nation's top scientists give An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy. The former vice president's movie — replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets — mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.  The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.  "Excellent," said William Schlesinger, dean of the Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. "He got all the important material and got it right."  Robert Corell, chairman of the worldwide Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group of scientists, read the book and saw Gore give the slideshow presentation that is woven throughout the documentary. "I sat there and I'm amazed at how thorough and accurate," Corell said. "After the presentation I said, `Al, I'm absolutely blown away. There's a lot of details you could get wrong.' ... I could find no error."

June 27, 2006 in Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Law, Legislation, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oregon State Rules!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Global Warming Attitudes

Americans express relatively little concern over global warming, especially when compared with publics of other major nations. Barely half of the Americans who have heard of global warming say they personally worry about the issue a great deal (19%) or a fair amount (34%). Nearly as many say they worry only a little (26%) or not at all (21%). The Japanese express the highest level of concern over global warming among the publics of major industrialized nations. Fully 66% of Japanese say they worry about this a great deal, while another 27% say they worry a fair amount. In France, a combined 87% express a great deal (46%) or fair amount
(41%) of concern. Roughly the same percentage in Spain (85%) says they worry at least a fair amount about global warming.  Smaller percentages in Great Britain (67%) and Germany (64%) voice significant concern about global warming. The American public is deeply divided politically in
concerns over global warming. Only about a third of Republicans (34%) say they worry a great deal (10%) or a fair amount (24%) over global warming, based on those who have heard about the issue. About two-thirds of Democrats (66%) and 57% of independents express at least a fair amount of concern over global warming. Roughly four-in-ten white evangelical
Protestants (41%) express have at least a fair amount of concern
about global warming; that compares with 53% of white mainline Protestants, and 64% of seculars.  Pew Global Attitudes Survey

June 21, 2006 in Africa, Asia, Climate Change, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, South America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

World Scientists Address Disease Surveillance and Energy

The national science academies of 12 nations [G8 nations, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa] issued two joint statements to the leaders of the G8 countries who meet at their annual summit in Russia next month. One endorses reinvention of the world's disease surveillance system; the other urges major expansion of energy research to address the global crisis in energy supplies.

<>

The academies argue that global efforts in both infectious diseases and energy sourcing are tremendously inadequate given the scale of the problems. Current systems of national and international disease surveillance are fragmented and uncoordinated.  The world needs a tightly coordinated global system with animal and human health experts working closely together, in light of the bird flu and other pandemic threats that we are likely to face.  Similarly, the academies argue that G8 must address serious inadequacies in funding and incentives for energy research.

    In particular, the academies recommend:

Reinventing disease surveillance

Efforts to coordinate disease surveillance across national and international agencies and research bodies

Independent audit to recommend how to develop global surveillance

Research into more rapid vaccine production methods

Greater cooperation between human- and animal-health communities

Better collection and sharing of clinical and epidemiological data Investing in energy R&D

Investing in energy R&D

Highlight 'reality and urgency' of global energy supply

Big, long-term infrastructure investments in cheap, clean, sustainable energies

Boost developing countries' capacity in innovative energy technologies

Incentives to develop clean fossil, nuclear and renewable technologies

Focus public research and technology efforts on energy efficiency, non-conventional hydrocarbons and clean coal, innovative nuclear power, distributed power systems, renewable energy sources, and biomass production.

The academies' statements seek to build on the seeming influence that their statements had last year on G8 commitments for African aid.

The joint statements are described in more detail and linked below.
<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/[environment]" rel="tag">[environment]</a>

Continue reading

June 21, 2006 in Africa, Asia, Climate Change, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WHO links 25% of all disease to environmental degradation

WHO reports that 13 million deaths annually and nearly a quarter of all disease worldwide—including 33 percent of illnesses in children under age five—are due to environmental causes that could be avoided or prevented.  The four main diseases caused by environmental factors are diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries, and malaria. These disease could be prevented by providing safe drinking and domestic water supplies, promoting better hygiene, using cleaner and safer fuels, reduced use and better management of use of toxic substances, and better water resource management.  The report
"shows very clearly the gains that would accrue both to public health and to the general environment by a series of straightforward, coordinated investments. We call on ministries of health, environment and other partners to work together to ensure that these environmental and public health gains become a reality." Video message by Dr. Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization

WHO report - Preventing disease through healthy environments: Towards an estimate of the environmental burden of disease



June 21, 2006 in Africa, Air Quality, Asia, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Science of Global Warming: Are we reaching the "tipping points?"

Gabrielle Walker reported in Nature last week on whether we are reaching the tipping point in climate change.  The phrase "global warming" suggests to the uninitiated a gentle, linear increase in temperature with predictable linear effects on the earth.  But both the complex system that is climate, and the more subtle and difficult to identify biological systems affected by climate, cannot be captured by neat linear equations.  They have non-linearities: cliffs that are points of no return and tipping points when internal dynamics start to propel changes and small changes produce exponential impacts.  See Real Science post on tipping points. (tipping point post)  Are there tipping points or cliffs in climate change?  When will they be reached?  When and if they are reached, are they not just tipping points, but cliffs -- points of no return? 

Although there's no strong evidence that the climate as a whole has a point beyond which it switches neatly into a new pattern, individual parts of the system could be in danger of changing state quickly, and perhaps irretrievably. And perhaps the most striking of these vulnerable components are in the Arctic. Farthest north is the carapace of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean. South of that is the vast ice sheet that covers Greenland. And then there is the ocean conveyor belt, which originates in a small region of the Nordic seas and carries heat and salt around the world.  All three seem to have inbuilt danger zones that may deserve to be called tipping points. And the outside forces pushing them towards those points are gathering.

Even as it published the piece on tipping points, Nature noted in its editorial that there are dangers in focusing on those concepts:

there are three dangers attendant on focusing humanity's response to the climate crisis too much on tipping points. The first is the uncertainty of the science; the second is the tendency of such an emphasis to distort our responses; the third is the danger of fatalism.

The models through which our understanding of the climate system are channelled into assessments of how it might behave in the future are impressive by the standards of human investigation, but crude with respect to the details of the Earth system. All sorts of phenomena, from the formation of clouds to the respiration of soils, are hard to capture accurately, and it is on such details that an understanding of possible tipping points depends. Anyone claiming to know for sure when a particular tipping point will be reached should be treated with suspicion — and so must anyone who suggests that no tipping point will ever be reached.

The second problem is that an emphasis on tipping points not yet reached increases the focus on the future. Such an increase tips the balance away from adapting to climate change and in favour of trying to avoid it. A rational response to the challenge of the twenty-first century's climate is to do both: to reduce the rate at which greenhouse gases force climate change, but at the same time build up the ability to cope with adverse climates.

The third issue is that tipping points can induce fatalism. The concept may encourage the belief that a complete solution is the only worthwhile one, as any other course may allow the climate system to tumble past the crucial threshold. This sort of all-or-nothing approach is already over-stressed in climate policy by the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which calls for the complete avoidance of dangerous anthropogenic climate change, rather than the more reasonable and more feasible goal of minimizing and controlling it.

Continue reading

June 19, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Mangroves Crucial to Global Carbon Cycle

Although the days when mangrove swamps were cleared without thought are past, recent research highlights a new reason why mangroves are important:

The global carbon cycle is currently the topic of great interest because of its importance in the global climate system and also because human activities are altering the carbon cycle to a significant degree. This crucial biogeochemical cycle involves the exchange of carbon between the Earth's atmosphere, the oceans, the vegetation, and the soils of the Earth's terrestrial ecosystems.

Since the oceans stand for the largest pool of carbon near the surface of the Earth, their role is of particular importance in the global carbon cycle. Indeed, the organic matter dissolved in the oceans contains a similar amount of carbon as is stored in the skies as atmospheric carbon dioxide. Consequently, in order to understand global carbon cycle, and its effects on climate, it is crucial to quantify the sources of marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC).

German researchers have investigated the impact of mangroves, the dominant intertidal vegetation of the tropics and a source of terrestrial DOC, on marine DOC inventories. The study was performed on the scale of an entire mangrove-shelf system that integrates information of about 10,000 km² of north Brazilian mangroves. A combined approach of stable carbon isotopes and nuclear magnetic resonance was used to quantify mangrove-derived DOC on the North Brazilian shelf....Mangroves are the main source of terrestrial DOC in the open ocean off northern Brazil. Even at the outermost stations, where intrusion of Amazon River water could not be excluded, the mangrove-derived DOC concentrations were almost two-fold more important than the estimated riverine DOC concentration....DOC export from mangroves is more than 2 trillion moles of carbon per year which is similar to the annual Amazon River discharge and nearly triples the amount estimated from previous smaller scale estimates of the carbon released to the oceans. According to these estimates, mangroves probably account for more than 10% of the DOC globally transported from the continents to the ocean while covering less than 0.1% of the continents.

Since mangroves play a major role for the dissolved organic matter (DOM) exchange between continents and oceans, their rapid decline over the recent decades may already have reduced the flux of terrestrial DOM to the ocean, impacting one of the largest organic carbon pools on Earth. Mangrove foliage, however, has declined by nearly half over the past several decades because of increasing coastal development and damage to its habitat. As the habitat has changed, ever-smaller quantities of mangrove-derived detritus are available for formation and export of dissolved organic matter to the ocean. The researchers speculate that the rapid decline in mangrove extent threatens the delicate balance and may eventually shut off the important link between the land and ocean, with potential consequences for atmospheric composition and climate.

Dittmar, T, et al., (2006) « Mangroves, a major source of dissolved organic carbon to the oceans », Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 20(1).
Contact:
dittmar@ocean.fsu.edu   Reported by EU Science for Environment Policy service

March 9, 2006 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, Water Quality, Water Resources | 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)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pew Climate Change Action Plan

Last week, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change released a 
comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
in the United States.

"The "Agenda for Climate Action" identifies both broad
and specific policies, combining recommendations on
economy-wide  mandatory emissions cuts, technology development,
scientific research, energy supply, and adaptation
with critical steps that can be taken in key sectors.

The "Agenda" includes fifteen recommendations
that chart a climate-friendly path for the United States.
They have been designed to be both cost-effective
and comprehensive. Although putting all of the recommendations
into place will take time,there is a compelling
need to get started. Further delay will only make
the challenge before us more daunting and more costly."


Pew Climate Action Plan

See also US greenhouse gas emissions 1990-2004

February 12, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Law, Legislation, North America, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Open Thread

Please feel free to post comments relevant to environmental law, natural resources law, or sustainability.

One recent comment concerned hunting of wildlife on public lands in New South Wales.  See  Comment

February 1, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Frogs: the Canary in the Biodiversity Mine?

A study recently published in Nature links the disasterous decline in amphibians with global warming. Frog study

The scientific blogosphere, of course, is stoutly debating the study.  See, e.g. Deltoid on Frogs

January 19, 2006 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Open Thread