Congress.gov now offers Saved Search e-mail alerts

Read the full post at Congress.gov.

After announcing legislation, Members of Congress, and the Congressional Record email alerts last year, I began to see requests for saved search email alerts.  This is a feature that was not available on THOMAS that we are excited to now offer on Congress.gov.

 

Attention Kid Scientists! – The President Wants Your Ideas on Science and Technology

The White House is inviting kids from around the country to submit ideas on important science, innovation, and technology issues. The White House wants to know what you think about how science and technology can make the world a better place. Give them your feedback here.

Climate Change Could Be Making Food Crops More Toxic, UN Report Says

Via e360 Digest.

As extreme weather increases in frequency and intensity, food crops are producing more chemical compounds that can be toxic to humans in large doses, according to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme. Crops such as wheat, maize, and soybeans generate these compounds as a natural response to environmental stressors, such as drought, floods or heat waves. But when consumed by humans for extended periods of time, they can cause illnesses like neurological diseases or cancer, according to the study. One example, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports, is nitrate. Drought slows down plants’ conversion of nitrates into amino acids and proteins, leading to a build up of the compound. When consumed in large quantities, nitrates stop red blood cells from transporting oxygen in the human body. “We are just beginning to recognize the magnitude of toxin- related issues confronting farmers in developing countries of the tropics and sub-tropics,” the UNEP report noted.

Why Should We Save the National Parks?

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

In a provocative, heartfelt collection of essays, author and environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams makes a passionate argument in favor of America’s national parks—“breathing spaces for a society that increasingly holds its breath.”

How Big Data is driving sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Big data allows businesses to analyze large data sets in order to make more informed strategic decisions. Thanks to connected devices and predictive analytics, data is more prevalent than ever, and companies that effectively can put it to use are enjoying the benefits.

Not only are organizations harnessing and analyzing more data, but they’re also collaborating with it. This collaboration is being used to meet a slew of sustainability goals, addressing environmental, social and governance issues all over the globe, from conservation and water risk to slavery.

A Rather Bizarre Bivalve Stirs Controversy in the Puget Sound

Read the full story from E360.

The Asian market for the odd-looking giant clams known as geoducks has spawned a growing aquaculture industry in Washington’s Puget Sound. But coastal homeowners and some conservationists are concerned about the impact of these farming operations on the sound’s ecosystem.

Project delay? Don’t blame red tape – it may just be bad design

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Back in 1970, when Congress passed a law requiring federal agencies to assess the environmental impact of tax-funded projects, nobody envisioned how maligned this practice eventually would become.

The National Environmental Policy Act seeks to balance the nation’s growing need for economic development with sustainability, but “environmental impact statements” soon became synonymous with project delays and red tape, and unfairly so.

In reality, these delays often stem from project planners failing to create multi-disciplinary design processes that also address broader community needs. Now, as the Obama administration considers how to best incorporate climate change into NEPA and federal decision-making, we might also take a closer look at how projects are defined and planned.

There are three exemplary fixes we think would improve problem-solving and decision-making — and, importantly, result in better and faster building projects.

13 Artists Who Turned Ocean Trash Into Amazing Art

Read the full story in Time Magazine.

Today is World Oceans Day, “a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future.” This year’s focus is the prevention of plastic ocean pollution and events are taking place worldwide in order to learn about the challenges facing our oceans, clean up local beaches, and get involved in marine conservation efforts.

Studies on the issue of marine debris have reached some dire conclusions. Last year, the journal Science reported 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in oceans each year, while PNAS found that 90% of seabirds have ingested the substance. In January, the World Economic Forum predicted that the world’s oceans will be filled with more plastic mass than fish mass by 2050.

Marine plastic is a special threat because it does not fully degrade, instead breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Ocean dwellers, such as sea turtles and fish, can mistake the debris for food, leading to digestive issues and starvation.

Artists and activists have taken notice, using marine plastic as a medium, like paint or clay, to create artwork. Although often aesthetically beautiful, the works point to the concerning profusion of these plastics in our environment.

In recognition of World Oceans Day, we present 13 artists, from sculptors to photographers, to filmmakers, who use marine plastic in their work.

Why sustainability should be America’s ‘grand strategy’

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Adapted from “The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and Sustainability in the 21st Century” by Mark Mykleby, Patrick Doherty and Joel Makower, published this month by St. Martin’s Press.

This story begins in the Pentagon.

In July 2009, two United States military officers, a Marine colonel and a Navy captain, were sequestered in Room 2E928, on the second floor of the building’s E-ring, the outermost of five concentric corridors, where the highest-profile work is done. There, just a few months into Barack Obama’s first term, Col. Mark “Puck” Mykleby and Capt. Wayne Porter were given an assignment by Adm. Mike Mullen: to create a grand strategy for America.

Not a military strategy. We already had one of those — several, in fact. Mullen was seeking a strategy for the next chapter of America’s future.

Like to get more bang for your sustainability-boosting buck? Here’s how.

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

Manufacturers, retailers, governments and other buyers are under a lot of pressure these days to preferentially purchase products with relatively low environmental footprints. But options can be overwhelming: Is it better to favor suppliers who use renewable electricity to produce their products, or those that use recycled cardboard for the boxes that contain them?  Until now there has been no easy way to answer that, since measuring the impact of green products can be costly and comparing the relative environmental and economic merits of different products is next to impossible.

Now, researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Michigan have developed a method for assessing and comparing the various costs and benefits of green products — making it possible for purchasers to get the most environmental bang for their sustainability-investment buck.

  • The research, published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, was led by Rylie Pelton and Mo Li, research fellows with the Northstar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, and was funded by the Global Environmental Management Initiative.
  • The new approach, known as the Hotspot Scenario Analysis-Procurement Portfolio Optimization (HSA-PPO) method, makes it possible to assess environmental impact across multiple product purchases and maximize environmental benefits under specified budget constraints.
  • The researchers estimated that a purchaser could save 36 and 54 percent more greenhouse gas emissions and water, respectively, for a given amount of money by using HSA-PPO across the portfolio of product input purchases rather than just considering one product purchase at a time.