Day: April 29, 2013

Concerns grow about hormone disrupters in Wisconsin water

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Wisconsin has not systematically looked for endocrine disruptors statewide. Research and regulation of them is poorly funded and loosely coordinated, according to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism review of records and interviews with government officials and environmental experts.

Special biochar issue of the open access journal Agronomy

Agronomy, an open access international and cross-disciplinary scholarly journal on agronomy and agroecology, has published a special issue entitled Biochar as Option for Sustainable Resource Management. Five articles have been published to date. They are:

Visit the special issue page to access the above articles, as well as review the planned articles that have not yet been published.

Submit an Abstract to Biochar Symposium at SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting (Due May 28)

SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, 17-20 November 2013
Environmental or Analytical Chemistry Track “Environmental implications of biochar” symposium

Submit an abstract for the SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting, 17-20 November 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Environmental or Analytical Chemistry symposium:  Environmental implications of biochar.

Abstracts are due by May 28, 2013.

Session Topic:  The application of biochar to soil has been proposed as a long-term sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide in terrestrial ecosystems while providing improved soil fertility and increased crop production with concurrent energy from and constructive use for waste biomass. However, variations in formation conditions and feedstock can produce biochar with wide ranges in characteristics, and subsequent field trials can then give mixed results. This session will explore environmental implications of incorporation of biochar into soil and related field studies, with factors such as crop yield, water and nutrient holding capacity, chemical sorption, and drought tolerance.

Topics pertaining to all aspects of black carbon research are welcome and students are encouraged to submit abstracts.

For meeting information go to the SETAC website under meetings at:

Biochar reduces nasty nitrous oxide emissions on farms

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

In the quest to decrease the world’s greenhouse gases, Cornell scientists have discovered that biochar – a charcoal-like substance – reduces the nemesis nitrous oxide from agricultural soil on average by about 55 percent and stanches emissions into the atmosphere. The research is reported in the new journal from Nature, Scientific Reports, April 25.

What will it take to change packaging recycling in the U.S.?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The recycling rate in the U.S. has been stuck in a rut, slowly inching up year by year, a signal that any major increases will need to be spurred by major actions.

Those on all sides of the issue may agree that changes need to be made to recycling systems, but a recent dustup over a trade group’s position paper shows they’re not seeing eye-to-eye on some ideas.

Take extended producer responsibility (EPR). It’s the concept that makes those who produce items also responsible for funding (and sometimes also operating) recycling systems for those same items.

For brands it means added costs, but also incentives to use easily and readily recyclable material. For governments, it shifts away some waste disposal and recycling expenses. And for recyclers, it means possible changes to the way they operate as well as potential new or expanded material streams.

U.S. Energy Information Administration suspends Annual Energy Review, but will provide more annual data through the Monthly Energy Review

Due to budget considerations, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will not publish the Annual Energy Review (AER) or its companion publication, Energy Perspectives, in 2013 (for data year 2012). To meet the needs of its customers, EIA will expand the Monthly Energy Review (MER) to incorporate annual data as far back as 1949 for data series from about 70 key tables that are currently included in both publications.

While this plan provides benefits for some AER users as well as resource savings, it does not provide a new dissemination channel for other annual data that were previously presented only in the AER. EIA will work with its customers to understand which of these data are most important, and will develop plans for the future dissemination of such data as allowed by its budget.

The expanded MER will improve and simplify the user experience by combining the historical data of the AER with the most up-to-date data from the MER. The MER will feature new graphs covering the 1949-to-2013 period in clear, easily understandable formats. Customers will have one current and comprehensive source with more than 60 years of data on several energy topics, including the following:

  • Energy production, consumption, and trade
  • Energy prices
  • Overviews of the U.S. petroleum, natural gas, coal, electricity, nuclear energy, and renewable energy industries
  • Carbon dioxide emissions

U.N. chemicals summit expected to adopt new controls

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

At the start of a major conference to regulate chemical and hazardous waste safety, top officials voiced optimism Saturday that delegates will approve new international controls on several industrial compounds and agree to clamp down on some cross-border pollution.

The three key international treaties that govern chemicals and hazardous waste, each headquartered in Geneva, are holding an unprecedented joint two-week convention of more than 1,500 delegates from 170 nations that is meant to consider new limits on some substances and look at ways the treaties can be better put to use together.

The conference will culminate in a high-level meeting among about 80 ministers on May 9-10.

Massachusetts Institute for Technology Center for Collective Intelligence Announces Contest for Innovative Approaches to Climate Change

This call for approaches is part of Climate CoLab, an online community of researchers and practitioners that is using crowdsourcing to develop climate change response strategies, including adaptation.  Climate CoLab is sponsoring thirteen contests that seek creative and practical solutions, innovations and business models to address climate change.  Contest winners will be awarded $10,000 and will have the opportunity to present at a conference at Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT).  The deadline for submittals is May 31st, and anyone worldwide can participate.

MIT is aiming to have as diverse a pool of participants as possible.  For more information, access the Climate CoLab website at:;jsessionid=A8D1D7D16A4861EDF0D3B57D21D5E6A6.

Recycling and Composting Emissions Protocol: public comment period open

ICLEI has produced the Recycling and Composting Emissions Protocol (RC Protocol) in recognition of the contribution recycling and composting can make to greenhouse gas reduction efforts, and the high degree of influence that local governments have in this area. ICLEI is requesting public comments on the draft protocol through April 29, 2013.

The RC Protocol represents the new national standard for measuring emissions benefits of recycling and composting at the community level. The RC Protocol complements ICLEI’s Community Protocol by providing additional guidance on accounting for the emissions benefits of recycling and composting activities in a community.

The RC Protocol is intended to help local governments account for the overall net emissions benefits of recycling and composting activities in their communities, as well as to estimate additional emissions reductions that occur outside the boundary of a community inventory. Review the RC Protocol and submit comments.

Western Water Assessment Releases Two Climate Change Decision Support Resources and Tools

The Western Water Assessment (WWA) has helped to develop a number of online tools and training materials to support decision making related to climate risk in the Intermountain West.  The most recent of these decision support tools is the Intermountain West Climate Dashboard, which is an array of 24 regional climate and water information graphics, covering recent and current precipitation, snowpack, drought, streamflow, reservoir, as well as ENSO conditions and climate and ENSO forecasts.  These graphics are served directly from their providers so that they are automatically updated in the Dashboard as often as the respective provider updates them. Users can select graphics to enlarge to full size and move them around the Dashboard to compare with other information.

Additionally, WWA collaborated with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the COMET program at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and others to help produce an online learning module entitled “Preparing Hydro-climate Inputs for Climate Change in Water Resource Planning.”  This module is part of a broader pilot effort aimed at helping guide analysts through the process of quantitatively assessing climate change impacts in water resource planning.  To access these tools, please visit: