Environment

New High-Resolution Maps Show Greenhouse Gas Emissions at City-Level

Yale Environment 360 - September 12, 2014
Researchers have developed a new method for mapping global carbon emissions for individual cities on an

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Emissions before and after financial crisis hourly basis — a major improvement over previous techniques, which quantified greenhouse emissions less accurately and at coarser scales, according to researchers at Arizona State University. The maps are derived from worldwide databases of population, power plants, and national fuel use statistics, and they encompass 15 years of data. Among other findings, the analysis revealed increased emissions in China, India, Europe, and the northern U.S. in 2010, after the peak of the global financial crisis. The researchers say this reflects faster recoveries from the crisis in those regions compared to, for example, the southeastern U.S., where emissions lagged in 2010. The results of the analysis match ground-level measurements, confirming the accuracy of the maps, the researchers say.
Categories: Environment, Health

Blue Whale Recovery Report Leaves Room for Caution

The EnvironmentaList - September 12, 2014
New study only relevant to the Eastern Pacific Ocean; other blue whale populations around the world remain severely depressed
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Volunteer Spotlight: Bruce Sexauer, Mr. Troop Leader, Girl Scouts of Alaska

Girl Scouts of America - September 11, 2014
With recruitment in full-swing, we are kicking off a series that will share stories about some of our amazing volunteers with the entire Girl Scouts community.  There are 30,000 girls waiting for the chance to be a Girl Scout, so the time is now to build our volunteer force!  These exceptional people prove that anyone can be a Girl Scout volunteer:  they are young professionals, senior citizens, men, and so much more.  And 88% of Girl Scout volunteers believe their lives are betterbecause they volunteer.  So what are you waiting for? Volunteer today!
When you ask someone what they think of when they hear “Girl Scouts,” the answers will usually include cookies, crafts, and camping.  But for one Alaskan dad, he thinks of his all-girl LEGO robotics team, the Electronically Overdressed Survivors.
By day, he works at the Army Corps of Engineers, but by night, “I am, in fact, a troop leader,” Bruce said with a laugh.  “People are usually a bit confused by that at first, but that’s my role.  I get to lead this special troop of girls as a part of the Girl Scouts Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program and get them ready for competition.”
The competition?  First LEGO League (FLL), a themed robotics competition pitting teams against each other at the local, national, and international levels.  This year’s theme is education, following on the previous years’ theme of natural disasters.
At the beginning of Bruce’s involvement with FLL, he was not a troop leader, but was asked to be a judge.  He came home that day, as per usual, and talked to his daughter, Ellie, now 12.  While talking about their days, they came to realize that Ellie was participating in the same competition Bruce was asked to judge.  He accepted the position, and was able to see his daughter’s competition firsthand.   “We went that first weekend and I got hooked,” said Bruce.  “After five years of being involved, I became the head coach of my daughter’s team, or essentially their troop [leader].”
At face value, FLL seems like a single-sided competition:  build a robot and have it perform simple tasks.  However, Bruce maintains it is much more complex than it seems.  As Bruce explained, “One-fourth of the competition is overall score, but there is also a robot and programming portion, where the girls describe how they designed the robot; a research component, where they investigate the theme, identify a problem, and present a solution to the judging panel; and finally, a core value component, where the participants have to demonstrate values like ‘gracious professionalism,’ not unlike the values of the Girl Scouts.”


While Bruce was, obviously, never a Girl Scout, he said this experience has given him a great appreciation for the organization, as well as volunteering.  “I have to thank the Girl Scouts for sponsoring this team and letting a dad take the lead,” Bruce said.  “Stereotypically, in STEM fields, people think boys would be better than girls, but we won our [co-ed] state competition last year, and we’re breaking that stereotype every day.”
But just because they’re winners, doesn’t mean they’re going to slow down.  “Our plan is to win state this year again, and work our way to an international competition that’s being held in St. Louis,” Bruce divulged.  “We have a great team, a fantastic group of young ladies, and I want to know much more we can achieve by working together and motivating each other.”
But as much as the girls are learning about robotics, Bruce is learning even more about himself.  “Sometimes you have to keep the rough and gruff exterior, but when there are deeper issues going on, you need to turn on the empathy,” said Bruce.  “It’s thrilling to be able to work with them, especially my daughter.”
Categories: Environment

Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Jumps by 29 Percent, Government Says

Yale Environment 360 - September 11, 2014
Brazilian government data show destruction of the Amazon rainforest increased 29 percent over the past

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Amazon deforestation rate year. Satellites documented the deforestation of over 2,300 square miles in the Brazilian Amazon, reversing highly praised gains in forest conservation since 2004. The largest losses were in the states of Para and Mato Grosso, in central Brazil, which are experiencing widespread agricultural development. The building of new roads and dams, along with illegal logging, also contributed to the rise in deforestation. Brazilian police frequently target illegal logging operations, but environmental groups say more enforcement is needed. Deforestation in Brazil peaked in 2004, when over 11,580 square miles of forest were destroyed. Worldwide, deforestation is responsible for roughly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions — more than all types of transportation systems combined.
Categories: Environment, Health

A Red Dirt Town: An Enduring Legacy Of Toxic Pollution in Southern Waters

Yale Environment 360 - September 11, 2014
The second-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest examines the legacy of pollution in Anniston, Alabama, the former home of a Monsanto chemical factory. Produced by Spenser Gabin, the video tells the story of how PCBs from the Monsanto plant contaminated the town’s waterways and continue to taint the fish that are popular with local anglers.
Categories: Environment, Health

End of the Road

The EnvironmentaList - September 11, 2014
The US Forest Service is beginning to decommission some of its roads, opening the way for a wildlife comeback
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

U.S. Renewable Energy Growth in 2014 Dwarfs Fossil Fuel Plant Additions

Yale Environment 360 - September 10, 2014
The U.S. this year has significantly scaled back coal and natural gas power plant additions compared to 2013,

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2014 power additions and solar and wind power capacity is far outpacing the 2013 installation rate, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. No utility-scale coal plants were added in the first six months of 2014, whereas more than 1,500 megawatts of coal-fired power capacity had been added during the same period last year. Natural gas additions were cut roughly in half compared to the first half of 2013, while wind additions more than doubled and solar power increased by 70 percent. The only coal plants scheduled to come online in 2014 are the Kemper plant in Mississippi, which will capture its own carbon emissions, and a small conventional steam coal plant in North Dakota, reflecting the challenging market for coal due to impending federal environmental regulations and competition from natural gas.
Categories: Environment, Health

Spotlight on National Young Woman of Distinction, Monique Tinglin

Girl Scouts of America - September 10, 2014
The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measureable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.
Monique Tinglin: Take Action! Fight Youth Sex Trafficking!Age: 18Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Inspiration:
After listening to the story of Alexia, a 14-year-old sex trafficking victim, Monique knew she had found the issue for her Gold Award project. Alexia is one of 3,000 victims of sex trafficking within New York City, 100,000 in the country, and over a million worldwide. Monique knew she had the skills, and definitely the confidence, to dive into this project with full force.
Monique’s main goal was to help all girls realize their full potential. To get there, her project informed people of the magnitude of sex trafficking and inspired the nation to get involved in solving the crisis and prevent future generations suffering the same fate.
How Monique Is Changing the World:
Monique’s efforts made it all the way to Kibera, Kenya, through an organization called Shining Hope, which provides a variety of services to sex trafficking victims. On top of her service work, Monique’s passions brought her to Albany, where she lobbied to change the policies that treat sex trafficking victims as prostitutes rather than as victims.
The project ended in a “Take Action” summit. Monique brought together more than 75 adults and children of all colors and backgrounds to confront this issue and engage in a transformative conversation.
Monique can’t wait to see action like this take off on a global scale. During her work, Monique demonstrated the courage to take on a tough and sensitive issue and the ability to lead and motivate others. Above all, Girl Scouts of the USA praises Monique for believing in her ability to create change and wasting no time in taking action to show us how!
Next Steps:
Monique is attending American University in the fall to study communication, law studies, economics, government, and Spanish. And Monique isn’t done taking action in Kenya yet. She and her troop will be visiting sex-trafficking victims in Kenya and donating supplies. 
Categories: Environment

$7.5 Billion California Water Bond Headed for the November Ballot

The EnvironmentaList - September 10, 2014
Voters must decide whether the bond can lead the state toward a sustainable water future
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Ocean Acidification May Dull Sharks' Ability to Smell Prey, Researchers Say

Yale Environment 360 - September 09, 2014
Ocean acidification, which is driven by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, may cause sharks to

Smooth dogfish shark laboratory testing be less interested in hunting prey, according to research published in Global Change Biology. In laboratory experiments emulating CO2 concentrations as they are expected to be by the middle and end of this century, scientists from the U.S. and Australia found that the smooth dogfish shark became uninterested in squid odors — sometimes avoiding them altogether. Sharks in control waters pursued prey scents four times more often than sharks in waters with high CO2 levels, the study found. Rising ocean acidity can disrupt the proper firing of neurons, the scientists say, because it interferes with a specific receptor present in most marine organisms with a nervous system. A study earlier this year found that fish in waters with increased acidity were also less able to detect predator odors.
Categories: Environment, Health

Back to School: Five Ways to Help Your Girl Shine

Girl Scouts of America - September 09, 2014
School. This one word can inspire a whole range of emotions in both mothers and their daughters. With homework, pencils, and paper now replacing lazy summer days—how do you set her up for success at the place she spends the most time outside of your home?
Science, math, and language skills are all important, but sending a happy, confident, and well-adjusted girl through those school doors will take her even further than skills alone.
Ask yourself: Is she ready to tackle not just new academic challenges, but all the new experiences each school year brings, such as navigating the world of changing classrooms, shifting friendships as last year’s class is traded for a new one, and more?
Here are five ways you can give her confidence and relationship skills a boost as she heads back to school:
  1. Let her know it’s ok to put her hand up. Encourage her to speak up when she needs something, and when she has something to say.
  2. Model good communication skills. Good communication skills and the ability to find common ground with others will help her both inside and outside the classroom.
  3. Show her that doing good can be fun. There’s value in helping others. You’ll both get a sense of satisfaction, and she’ll feel pride in your accomplishments.
  4. Encourage her to step outside her comfort zone. It’s never too early to share examples of girls and women who aim high or have entered careers where women are few and far between.
  5. Back her up. When she puts her hand up, asserts herself, or takes the lead, let her know you’re proud of her and will support her.
Need some help with all this? What she does outside of school can set her up for a happy, fun, and productive school year…and beyond.
A recent survey of 3,500 parents, caregivers, and volunteers conducted by Girl Scouts of the USA found that Girl Scouts helps girls build exactly these kinds of skills.


Nine out of ten parents surveyed said that participating in Girl Scouts has:
  • Been a positive activity for their daughter
  • Made their daughter happier and more confident
  • Helped her make friends
  • Let her try new things in a fun, exciting environment
  • Provided a safe, beneficial all-girl environment
All those new experiences and adventures can help with the nuts and bolts at school too. She’ll know she’s having fun and new adventures every time she’s at Girl Scouts, but you’ll know she’s gaining:
  • Important financial literacy skills as she participates in the largest girl-run business in the world—the Girl Scout Cookie Program
  • Skills that will help her in science classes as she builds robots, conducts fun experiments with her friends, or explores the natural world around her
  • Healthy relationship skills that will help her throughout her life, particularly in middle school and high school
  • Leadership skills that will make it easier for her to speak up in class
Need more? Find out how Girl Scout program for girls at every age level dovetails with national and state core curriculum standards.
Can’t wait to get started? Check out a list of fun activities you can do with your daughter today!
Categories: Environment

In Review: Disruption

The EnvironmentaList - September 09, 2014
Documentary film about upcoming People’s Climate March hits all the right notes
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Teach For America Gives Shout Out to Girl Scouts Alumnae!

Girl Scouts of America - September 08, 2014
Teach For America is growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education. They recruit a diverse group of leaders with a record of achievement who work to expand educational opportunity, starting by teaching for two years in a low-income community.


This Year, Girl Scouts of the USA is being named a “top contributor” for having such a large representation in the 2014 Teach For America Corps!
Kudos to everyone who gave their time and expertise to making such a positive difference in the world! Definitely learn more about Teach For America.
Categories: Environment

U.S. Dietary Guidelines WouldSpur Rise in Greenhouse Gases, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - September 08, 2014
Following U.S. federal guidelines for a healthy diet is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions, even though the guidelines recommend a diet with less meat than the average American currently consumes, according to a recent analysis in the Journal of Industrial Ecology. Compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, American's don't eat enough fruits, vegetables, seafood, and dairy, and they consume too much meat, eggs, nuts, soy, oils, solid fats, and added sugars. If the population were to shift its diet to match USDA guidelines, greenhouse gas emissions would actually rise by 12 percent, researchers found, because calories from meat, eggs, fats, and sugars would largely be replaced by dairy products. Methane emissions from dairy and beef cattle contribute significantly to atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. The findings highlight a need to consider both environmental and health objectives when making dietary recommendations, the researchers say.
Categories: Environment, Health

Can Carbon Capture Technology Be Part of the Climate Solution?

Yale Environment 360 - September 08, 2014
Some scientists and analysts are touting carbon capture and storage as a necessary tool for avoiding catastrophic climate change. But critics of the technology regard it as simply another way of perpetuating a reliance on fossil fuels. BY DAVID BIELLO
Categories: Environment, Health

Managing a Wildly Popular Mountain as Wilderness

The EnvironmentaList - September 08, 2014
Visitors jostle to climb Yosemite’s Half Dome. How the Park Service has protected an icon from being loved to death.
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Smog in India Damaged Enough Crops to Feed 94 Million, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - September 05, 2014
Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, damaged 6.7 million tons of Indian crops worth an

Smog in Delhi, India estimated $1.3 billion in a single year, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. That's enough wheat, rice and other staple crops to feed 94 million people — roughly one-third of the country's impoverished population. Arising from a combination of vehicle emissions, cooking stoves, and industrial sources, plant-damaging ozone has left many of India's fast-developing cities among the most polluted in the world, according to the country's Air Monitoring Center. The number of vehicles there has nearly tripled in the past 10 years, rising from 50 million in 2003 to 130 million in 2013, and the country currently has no air quality standards to protect crops from ozone pollution. The researchers say the findings should be used to guide new ozone emission standards for the country.
Categories: Environment, Health

Spotlight on National Young Woman of Distinction, Laura M. Robert Rivera

Girl Scouts of America - September 05, 2014
The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measureable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.
Laura M. Robert Rivera: Mi Casita Feliz Age: 17Hometown: Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Background:

Laura first visited “Mi Casita Feliz II,” a shelter for abused girls, when she was 12 years old. The experience affected her profoundly. During the next five years, Laura continued to support the shelter and learn as much as possible about the issue of abuse. When it came time for her Gold Award project, she seized the opportunity to take action.
How Laura Is Changing the World:
Laura wanted to empower these victims, help raise their confidence, and show them that they were cared for. Beyond that, she knew that preventing future abuse meant educating people about the issue. Laura started a child abuse prevention campaign in 2 schools in her community. The following year, she was able to carry out the same week-long educational campaign in 30 schools throughout Puerto Rico. Understanding the power of people working together for a common cause, Laura passed on the materials and tools to other young leaders.
Along with the educational piece, Laura kept up her visits to the shelter. The most special activity she organized, Laura says, was the “Dress Me For a Party” event. Last year, 300 girls dressed up for socializing and fun. What a great way to help girls feel special!
Next Steps:
Laura hopes that her educational campaign will reach 3,000 people in the next year. We can’t wait to see all of the amazing things that can be accomplished with a few more helping hands and open ears working together. This summer, she spent two weeks at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as part of the Running Start Program.

On the last day of our 2014 Girl Scout Convention, we hope that you’ll join us to hear from Laura and her fellow honorees. As Laura recently shared in discussing her Gold Award project, she’s really excited about attending convention!
Categories: Environment

Religions Need Wilderness

The EnvironmentaList - September 05, 2014
Every faith in some way holds nature sacred – that is, as a place apart
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Buying Video Games on Disc Is More Energy Efficient than Downloading

Yale Environment 360 - September 04, 2014
Downloading video games from the Internet creates a larger carbon footprint than driving to the store to purchase the same game on a Blu-ray disc, according to findings published in the

PlayStation game console and Blu-ray disc Journal of Industrial Ecology. For an 8.8-gigabyte PlayStation video game file — the average size of video games in 2010 — the resources required to produce, distribute, and dispose of Blu-ray discs are far less than the energy required to power servers, routers, and networks involved in downloading the game file, researchers say. The advantages of discs decrease as file sizes shrink, the analysis found, and for game files less than 1.3 gigabytes, downloading has a smaller carbon footprint than purchasing the game on Blu-ray. Between 2010 and 2013, however, game file sizes actually doubled for PlayStation4 and increased by 25 percent for PlayStation3. The analysis illustrates why it is not always true that digital distribution of media will have lower carbon emissions than distribution by physical means, the researchers say.
Categories: Environment, Health
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