Exploring the Social and Environmental Challenges as Brazil Prepares for Two Sports Spectacles

Read the full story at DotEarth.

For the fourth year in a row, a team of graduate and undergraduate communication students at Pace University has created a compelling short documentary focused on efforts to mesh human progress with the environment. (I admit a bias here, given that I co-teach the documentary course that produces these films with Pace Prof. Maria Luskay.)

This year’s film, “Green vs. Gold,” focuses on Brazil’s struggle to manage the social and environmental impacts of preparing for back-to-back international sports spectacles — this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The rising tropical powerhouse has greatly expanded its middle class and seen tourism revenue triple since 2000. But enormous challenges persist.

It’s a brisk 20-minute report so I hope you can find time to watch. We saw substantial growing pains, and some hopeful signs, in three places:

What NASCAR Nation thinks about ‘green’

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

There’s a reasonable chance that your response to the headline above is to say, “Hmmmm.” Or worse. That’s a natural reaction for many, especially those with a strong environmental ethic, when it comes to putting auto racing and “green” in the same sentence.

But NASCAR, the stock-car racing organization whose massive events make it America’s largest spectator sport, has been on an unlikely journey over the past few years, one with the potential to make an impact across a broad swath of the U.S. populace. The challenge, as so many other companies and organizations have found in influencing mainstream audiences on environmental topics and behaviors, is how to turn good intentions into good, green actions.

3 tactics that make product sustainability leaders stand out

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Companies committed to product sustainability enjoy the benefits of manufacturing cost savings, brand enhancement, employee engagement and other important financial and organizational value. A study released by Pure Strategies, “Path to Product Sustainability,” discovered that companies achieving widespread benefits from their product sustainability programs share a common set of tactics that set them apart from other companies.

Fate of Antibiotic Resistance Genes and Class 1 Integrons in Soil Microcosms Following the Application of Treated Residual Municipal Wastewater Solids

Tucker R. Burch, Michael J. Sadowsky, and Timothy M. LaPara (2014). “Fate of Antibiotic Resistance Genes and Class 1 Integrons in Soil Microcosms Following the Application of Treated Residual Municipal Wastewater Solids.” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (10), 5620-5627. DOI: 10.1021/es501098g.

Abstract: Substantial quantities of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are discharged with treated residual municipal wastewater solids and subsequently applied to soil. The objective of this work was to determine the decay rates for ARGs and class 1 integrons following simulated land application of treated wastewater solids. Treated residual solids from two full-scale treatment plants were applied to sets of triplicate soil microcosms in two independent experiments. Experiment 1 investigated loading rates of 20, 40, and 100 g kg–1 of residual solids to a sandy soil, while experiment 2 investigated a loading rate of 40 g kg–1 to a silty-loamy soil. Five ARGs (erm(B), sul1, tet(A), tet(W), and tet(X)), the integrase of class 1 integrons (intI1), 16S rRNA genes, 16S rRNA genes of all Bacteroides spp., and 16S rRNA genes of human-specific Bacteroides spp. were quantified using real-time polymerase chain reaction. ARGs and intI1 quantities declined in most microcosms, with statistically significant (P < 0.05) half-lives varying between 13 d (erm(B), experiment 1, 100 g kg–1) and 81 d (intI1, experiment 1, 40 g kg–1). These kinetic rates were much slower than have been previously reported for unit operations used to treat wastewater solids (e.g., anaerobic digestion). This research suggests that the design and operation of municipal wastewater treatment facilities with the explicit goal of mitigating the release of ARGs should focus on using technologies within the treatment facility, rather than depending on attenuation subsequent to land application.

A Network Analysis of Food Flows within the United States of America

Xiaowen Lin, Qian Dang, and Megan Konar (2014). “A Network Analysis of Food Flows within the United States of America.” Environmental Science & Technology 48(10), 5439-5447. DOI: 10.1021/es500471d.

Abstract: The world food system is globalized and interconnected, in which trade plays an increasingly important role in facilitating food availability. We present a novel application of network analysis to domestic food flows within the USA, a country with global importance as a major agricultural producer and trade power. We find normal node degree distributions and Weibull node strength and betweenness centrality distributions. An unassortative network structure with high clustering coefficients exists. These network properties indicate that the USA food flow network is highly social and well-mixed. However, a power law relationship between node betweenness centrality and node degree indicates potential network vulnerability to the disturbance of key nodes. We perform an equality analysis which serves as a benchmark for global food trade, where the Gini coefficient = 0.579, Lorenz asymmetry coefficient = 0.966, and Hoover index = 0.442. These findings shed insight into trade network scaling and proxy free trade and equitable network architectures.

Of PCBs, a landfill and drinking water

Read the full story in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

An EPA hearing on the Mahomet Aquifer generated a lot of talk this week — and while it’s not directly related to a hazardous waste landfill near Clinton, it’s part of the effort that began in 2007 with a small group of concerned residents in DeWitt County.

Nearly seven years later, hotel workers this week had to bring in extra chairs for the estimated 400 to 500 people who attended a hearing on the aquifer at the Hilton Garden Inn. Demonstrators rallied outside. Elected officials again sounded their concerns.

Climate Policy Decisions Require Policy-Based Lifecycle Analysis

Antonio M. Bento and Richard Klotz (2014). “Climate Policy Decisions Require Policy-Based Lifecycle Analysis.”
Environmental Science & Technology 48(10), 5379-5387. DOI: 10.1021/es405164g.

Abstract: Lifecycle analysis (LCA) metrics of greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly being used to select technologies supported by climate policy. However, LCAs typically evaluate the emissions associated with a technology or product, not the impacts of policies. Here, we show that policies supporting the same technology can lead to dramatically different emissions impacts per unit of technology added, due to multimarket responses to the policy. Using a policy-based consequential LCA, we find that the lifecycle emissions impacts of four US biofuel policies range from a reduction of 16.1 gCO2e to an increase of 24.0 gCO2e per MJ corn ethanol added by the policy. The differences between these results and representative technology-based LCA measures, which do not account for the policy instrument driving the expansion in the technology, illustrate the need for policy-based LCA measures when informing policy decision making.