While much of Europe is still suffering the effects of economic recession, a new report argues that efforts to increase prosperity should not damage the environment. Indeed, Europe’s economy depends on a healthy environment, including the materials and services provided by the natural world, according to the new edition of Signals from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Signals is an annual publication which aims to explain complex environmental issues for a non-expert audience. The 2012 edition explores the environmental impacts of our consumption and production patterns, and ways these can be changed to reduce their effect on the environment. This subject was chosen because it is a significant component of a ‘green economy’, one of the main focuses of the Rio+20 sustainable development Summit which will take place in Rio de Janeiro later this month.
"Almost all environmental problems, from climate change to the extinction of species, can be traced back to the way we consume natural resources," EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. "Europe is currently at a turning point, where we have the opportunity to move towards a more equitable, greener economic model. Changing the way we live, produce and consume will open a whole world of new opportunities."
Spring rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are projected to begin late this year and be substantially lower than normal.
From March - May, the rains are expected to total only 60 to 85 percentage of the average rainfall in this region. This is a significant deterioration compared to earlier forecasts.
Lower rain amounts would have significant impacts on crop production, rangeland regeneration for livestock, and replenishment of water resources.
This would put greater stress on the region, particularly Somalia which is still recovering from a famine declared last year, as well as Kenya and Ethiopia which also experienced a severe food crisis. An increase in food insecurity and in the size of the food insecure population is likely.
The State Department released a statement on this forecast and their intent to provide additional funding to aid refuges and drought-affected communities.
Agri-environmental schemes need co-ordinating across landscapes
Source: Prager, K., Reed, M., Scott, A. (2012) Encouraging collaboration for the provision of ecosystem services at a landscape scale - Rethinking agri-environmental payments. Land Use Policy. 29: 244-249.
Theme(s): Agriculture, Environmental economics
According to a recent viewpoint article, future agri-environmental schemes (AES) can more effectively pay for the provision of ecosystem services at a landscape level if they are prepared, designed and implemented in a collaborative and coordinated manner.
Certain ecosystems must be managed at the landscape scale, rather than at the local or farm scale, to optimise the provision of ecosystem services, such as freshwater and habitats for a wide range of biodiversity.
Current agri-environmental schemes (AES) that compensate farmers for managing land in an environmentally friendly way are typically targeted at the local level of management. This often results in uncoordinated actions across the landscape level. This article argues that, to be more effective, future AES must be planned, designed and implemented at landscape scale. It presents its viewpoint based on insights from a range of participatory agri-environmental policy making, spatial planning and collaborative approaches to environmental management around the world.
Air pollutant emission limits exceeded in twelve EU Member States
Twelve Member States exceeded one or more of the emission limits set by the EU National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive, according to recent official data for 2010 reported to the European Environment Agency (EEA). In some instances the limits were exceeded by significant amounts.
For the first time, preliminary data recently reported to the EEA by Member States allow a comparison with the legally binding emission limits for 2010 set in the EU NEC Directive. The directive covers four main air pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, contribute to the acidification of soil and surface water, and damage vegetation. The ceilings set in the NEC directive were designed to reduce such adverse impacts by an agreed amount.
"These pollutants contribute to health problems and can also lead to economic losses and environmental damage," EEA Executive Director Prof. Jacqueline McGlade said. "The EEA data shows that many EU Member States missed the 2010 limits, so these countries will need to make further efforts to help reduce air pollution in Europe."
Changes to the way drinking water quality is maintained are set to be made across one county in Florida, it has been revealed.
Pinellas County commissioners have decided that the local authority will remove fluoride from supplies of public water, as concerns grow over its effects on human beings.
Action groups have been campaigning for the removal of the chemical, after highlighting the potentially damaging impact it can have on children in particular.
However, other groups such as the American Dental Association have slammed the decision, suggesting that the addition of fluoride to drinking water helps reduce tooth cavities.
BP Olympics scheme aims to boost air quality
BP has launched a new venture to help reduce the impact that the 2012 London Olympics will have on the UK's air quality.
With waves of visitors expected to attend the high profile event, the oil giant has set up a scheme to counterbalance the extra carbon emissions that will be released into the atmosphere.
The Target Neutral initiative will see participants sign up to have the pollution created by their journeys to and from London offset by BP at no cost.
Bosses at the firm are hoping to set a new world record in the field and are also attempting to raise awareness of the impact travel has on the environment.
"We need every spectator to sign up, so London 2012 becomes the world's largest offset as measured by number of participants," commented BP's head of country Peter Mather.
Meanwhile, chairman of BP Target Neutral Advisory Jonathon Porritt believes the project could have a wider impact on people's attitudes towards carbon emissions.
Approaching the 2011 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum
September 22, 2011
download large image (225 KB, JPEG) acquiered September 9, 2011. http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/52000/52230/ArcticIce_amsre_2011252_lrg.jpg
download animation (19 MB, QuickTime) acquiered March 7 - September 9, 2011. http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/52000/52230/sea_ice_near_min_2011_youtube_hq.mov
Every year, the frozen Arctic Ocean emerges from winter and thaws under the 24-hour light of the summer sun. Each year is different: sometimes ice retreats from the shores in dramatic fashion and other years have a more gradual melt. 2011 proved to be a year of extreme melt. By early September, the area covered by sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was approaching a record low.
This animation shows the melt during the summer of 2011. (Click the link below the image to download.) The animation was made with measurements taken by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer–EOS (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aquasatellite between March 7 and September 9. The final image in the series, shown above, shows the sea ice at it lowest point so far this season. Most notably, the Northwest Passage, the sea route that threads through the islands of northern Canada to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, is entirely ice free. Twice-daily images provide glimpses of the open water in the Northwest Passage throughout September.
World Environment Day (WED) is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place all year round but climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere.
WED celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.
Through WED, the UN Environment Programme is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.
WED is also a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.
Everyone counts in this initiative and WED relies on you to make this happen! We call for action – organize a neighborhood clean-up, stop using plastic bags and get your community to do the same, plant a tree or better yet organize a collective tree planting effort, walk to work, start a recycling drive . . . the possibilities are endless. Check out the WED pack for interesting suggestions on what you could do
Whatever you do, tell us about it! We will post your activities on this website and make it part of the Wide World of WED map.
So what are you going to do for WED?
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday announced a massive project to construct a new water passage through western Istanbul province, broadcaster CNNTürk reported.
The new passage, named "Channel Istanbul," is planned to be built on the outskirts of the European side of the city and will connect the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea and is planned to be 45-50 km long, the prime minister said, speaking at a conference in Istanbul.
The project is aimed at reducing the amount of transit vessels passing through Istanbul's Bosphorus to zero, Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan did not mention the exact location of the channel or how much it might cost, but said, "There will be no problems financing it."
Preliminary studies of the project will take two years, Erdoğan added.
In 2008 Erdoğan announced he had a "crazy project" in mind for Istanbul and that he would unveil it when it was ready.
Will you survive the transition of human industrial civilization happening now due to peak oil and climate change? Can you see the forest for the trees, the earth for the dream, the universe for the seed? Anima Mundi is a film about hope, but its also a film about no hope, it’s a film about reality, from the outside looking in.
Anima Mundi is a new documentary movie (Coming Soon) on Permaculture, the Gaia theory, Peak Oil survival and Climate Change (man-made or not) featuring David Holmgren (co-originator of Permaculture), John Seed (Deep Ecology), Dr Stephan Harding (Gaia Science and author of Animate Earth), Dr Vandana Shiva (Human Rights – Environment – Philosophy), Michael C Ruppert (from the movie Collapse), Michael Reynolds (from the film The Garbage Warrior), Noam Chomsky, Dr Christine James (Psychology), Dr Mark O’Meadhra (Integrative Medicine) and Permablitz.