Environment

Icann: environmentalists to control use of .eco internet domain name

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The .eco domain name will be controlled by the environmental community following a decision by internet regulators.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) this week granted control of the domain name to a coalition of about 50 environmental groups, assembled by a Canadian company. Green NGOs have fought to control the domain because they feared it would be hijacked by corporations to give their commercial activities an unwarranted environmental tinge.

Jacob Malthouse, co-founder of Big Room Inc, the Canadian company that led the effort, said Icann’s decision was a victory against greenwashing.

Wheat growth and yield responses to biochar addition under Mediterranean climate conditions

Manuel Olmo, José Antonio Alburquerque, Vidal Barrón, María Carmen del Campillo, Antonio Gallardo, Mariano Fuentes,
Rafael Villar (2014). ” Wheat growth and yield responses to biochar addition under Mediterranean climate conditions.” Biology and Fertility of Soils Online ahead of print. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00374-014-0959-y

Abstract: The effects of the addition of a slow pyrolysis biochar (produced from olive-tree prunings) to a vertisol were studied in a field experiment during one wheat (Triticum durum L.) growing season. The biochar addition did not significantly affect soil parameters such as pH, dissolved organic C and N, ammonium, nitrate or microbial biomass N. By contrast, biochar addition decreased soil compaction and increased the soil water-retention capacity and nutrient content (total N and the available contents of P, K, Mg, Cu and Zn). These favourable changes led to an increase in fine root proliferation (increasing specific root length and reducing root tissue density) and promoted crop development. As a result, the plants in biochar-treated plots showed higher relative growth and net assimilation rates, aboveground biomass and yield than those in control plots. Neither grain quality nor nutrient content were significantly affected by biochar addition. Our results suggest that the use of biochar as a soil amendment in agricultural soils can improve soil physical properties and increase fertility, favouring crop development under semiarid Mediterranean conditions.

University of Minnesota Institute on Environment Fall Seminar series

This fall, Frontiers in the Environment will ask some BIG QUESTIONS and host solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery. Held at noon Wednesdays in St. Paul or online, each session includes a lively 30-minute discussion followed by Q&A and a networking reception. Here’s the schedule through October.

9/24 – IonE resident fellow Matteo Convertino, an IonE resident fellow and assistant professor in the School of Public Health, and Craig Hedberg, SPH professor, discuss how computer models can predict and deal with foodborne disease outbreaks in Can We Build a More Resilient Food Distribution System?

10/1 – Get a peek at IonE’s recently launched Energy Transition Lab when the lab’s executive director, Ellen Anderson, and faculty director, Hari Osofsky, ask How Can the University of Minnesota Assist in the Energy Transition?

10/8 – A panel of urban planning experts, including Patrick Hamilton, IonE resident fellow and director of the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Global Change Initiatives; Ann Hunt, environmental policy director for the City of St. Paul; Peter Frosch, director of Strategic Partnerships, Greater MSP; and Mike Greco, program director of the Resilient Communities Project, will focus on cities of the future in How Might the Twin Cities Catalyze Needed Global Urban Innovations?

10/15 – IonE’s Natural Capital Project lead Steve Polasky, IonE resident fellow and professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, will lead a discussion of the big question, Should Society Put a Price Tag on Nature?

10/22 – What Does a Sustainable Clean Water Future for Minnesota Look Like? is the question to be considered by panelists Bonnie Keeler, Natural Capital Project lead scientist; Deb Swackhamer, Water Resources Center program director; and John Linc Stine, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency commissioner.

10/29 – Political thought leaders David Gillette, special correspondent for Twin Cities Public Television; Amy Koch, small business owner and former Minnesota senate majority leader; and Mark Andrew, president of Greenmark, will dive into What is the Role of the Environment in This Year’s Minnesota Elections?

View the complete fall schedule or browse the archives here 

Happy Pollution Prevention Week

Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, held during the third week of September each year, highlights the efforts of organizations across the country in making pollution prevention a cornerstone of sustainability. The 2014 theme is “Pollution Prevention: The Clear Choice for Environmental Sustainability.”

The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have information about events occurring throughout the country. NPPR also has a handy P2 Week Toolkit for organizations looking for ways to participate.

The Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable will be posting each day about a different aspect of pollution prevention. Check out their blog and Twitter feed (look for the #P2Week hashtag) for information and resources.

2014 P2 Week Poster

Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency

Download the document (or purchase a print copy for $48).

In its current strategic plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes a cross-agency strategy to advance sustainable environmental outcomes and optimize economic and social outcomes through Agency decisions and actions. Sustainability has evolved from an aspiration to a growing body of practices. The evolution includes a transition from the development of broad goals toward the implementation of specific policies and programs for achieving them and the use of indicators and metrics for measuring progress. Without losing focus on implementing its existing regulatory mandates, EPA’s incorporation of sustainability considerations into its decision-making about potential environmental, social, and economic outcomes involves shifting from a focus on specific pollutants in an environmental medium (air, water, or land) to a broader assessment of interactions among human, natural, and manufactured systems. EPA has indicated that it will need to consider the use of a variety of analytic tools and approaches to assess the potential sustainability-related effects of its decisions and actions in response to complex environmental challenges.

Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency examines scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments used to support EPA decision making. Using specific case studies, this report considers the application of analytic and scientific tools, methods, and approaches presented in the 2011 NRC report Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. This report examines both currently available and emerging tools, methods, and approaches to find those most appropriate for assessing and/or evaluating potential economic, social and environmental outcomes within an EPA decision context. Sustainability Concepts in Decision Making also discusses data needs and post-decision evaluation of outcomes on dimensions of sustainability. A broad array of sustainability tools and approaches are suitable for assessing potential environmental, social, and economic outcomes in EPA’s decision-making context. The recommendations of this report will assist the agency to optimize environmental, social, and economic outcomes in EPA decisions.

Learned Society Attitudes Towards Open Access

Via Docuticker.

Source: EDP Open

From Press Release:

Key findings include:

  • Learned societies overwhelmingly agree that Open Access will inevitably place some learned societies’ journals into financial jeopardy.
  • Competing with large Open Access specialist publishers was also considered a significant challenge for learned societies.
  • Gold Open Access is the Open Access method that is least offered by learned society journals, however nearly two-thirds of learned societies indicated that they would like to be offering this option.
  • More than ever before, with so many journals being published Open Access of dubious origin, learned societies should look to endorse content with a stamp of quality and authority.
  • Collaboration between learned societies could help in the transition to Open Access, by pooling resources and sharing complex tasks.
  • Two-thirds of all learned societies are also looking for support on best approach to OA, and compliance with funder mandates.

Direct link to document (PDF; 965 KB)
Press Release (PDF; 458 KB)

ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Grants $150K for Green Chemistry Research

Via the ACS Nexus blog.

Last year the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable sent a call for proposals, seeking to fund projects that are developing alternatives for widely employed transition metal catalyzed cross-coupling reactions (the assembly of carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom). These reactions are used frequently in the pharmaceutical industry because they allow for the assembly of compounds with significant molecular complexity (like those found in medicines). They currently depend heavily on palladium and other 2nd/3rd row transition metals that have drawbacks such as high cost, fluctuating global supply, human toxicity concerns, and limited natural abundance.

Rather than perpetuate these typical protocols the Roundtable envisions a more desirable future state for cross-coupling that not only employs non-precious/non-toxic metal catalysts, but also reduces the number of steps, achieves ambient temperature conditions, utilizes environmentally responsible solvents systems, and more. Pursuing these goals will shrink the environmental impact of medicine production, address safety conditions for workers, and reduce costs for the industry (no longer relying on rapidly depleting precious metals).

Many proposals were submitted for this call for non-precious metal catalysis, but after difficult decisions two stood out among all others.

  • Dr. Paul J. Chirik received $100K for his proposal “Modern Alchemy: New Paradigms for Enabling Base Metal-Catalyzed Cross Coupling in the Pharmaceutical Industry.” Over a 2 year period, his group will at first explore the application of redox active ligands that can undergo traditional cross-coupling transformations (carbon-carbon) with a 1st row transition metal catalyst. Eventually, the team will address more long-standing challenges such as iron-catalyzed carbon-nitrogen bond formation and more.
  • Dr. Daniel J. Weix of the University of Rochester received $50K for his proposal “Direct Synthesis of Alkylated Arenes and Heteroarenes from the Cross-Coupling of Heteroaromatic Halides in Non-Amide Solvents.” For the next year, Weix and his team will develop new nickel catalysts and conditions for the formation of new carbon-carbon bonds via cross-coupling. The team hopes to achieve these reactions with simple ligands and metal salts, provide broad function-group compatibility, and employ greener solvents.

Congratulations to the grant winners! Keep an eye out for updates over the coming years to see how this important research progresses. And to learn more about precious metal use in chemistry and alternative technologies, be sure to catch the Green Chemistry & Engineering Hybrid Session on June 19th, where Dr. Chirik and other experts will be presenting. Attend in person or watch the live broadcast.

Register now for this FREE webinar: Endangered Elements: Critical Materials in the Supply Chain » ACS Webinars