Day: January 5, 2018

Can road salt and other pollutants disrupt our circadian rhythms?

Read the full story at The Conversation.

Every winter, local governments across the United States apply millions of tons of road saltto keep streets navigable during snow and ice storms. Runoff from melting snow carries road salt into streams and lakes, and causes many bodies of water to have extraordinarily high salinity.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my colleague Rick Relyea and his lab are working to quantify how increases in salinity affect ecosystems. Not surprisingly, they have found that high salinity has negative impacts on many species. They have also discovered that some species have the ability to cope with these increases in salinity.

But this ability comes at a price. In a recent study, Rick and I analyzed how a common species of zooplankton, Daphnia pulex, adapts to increasing levels of road salt. We found that this exposure affected an important biological rhythm: The circadian clock, which may govern Daphnia‘s feeding and predation avoidance behaviors. Since many fish prey on Daphnia, this effect could have ripples throughout entire ecosystems. Our work also raises questions about whether salt, or other environmental pollutants, could have similar impacts on the human circadian clock.

The Library of Things

Read the full story in American Libraries.

Libraries loaning “stuff” isn’t a new concept. Framed paintings were available for checkout at the Newark (N.J.) Public Library back in 1904. “Libraries were sharing before sharing was cool,” says Miguel Figueroa, director of the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries.

As the sharing economy continues to swell, nontraditional collections become more pervasive, community-specific, and imaginative. Here are some of our favorite unusual items circulating at libraries in North America.

Brain Drain At the EPA

Read the full story in ProPublica.

More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Donald Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.

The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. That unease is likely to deepen following revelations that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from EPA officials suspected of opposing Trump and his agenda.

Holiday Waste Highlights Challenge Of Moving Away From Landfills In California

Read the full story at KAZU.

We all create a lot more trash during the holidays. Keeping that out of the landfill is a big goal for the state of California, but it’s not going to be easy.

 

Green Brexit? Minister hints at sustainable farm subsidies

Read the full story at Treehugger.

From soil carbon to flood prevention, reforming farm subsidies could be Brexit’s upside.

Full disclosure: As a Brit now living in the United States, I was firmly in the Remain camp when it comes to Brexit. And continue to be so.

That said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by signs the Conservative government is still betting big on low carbon growth. Indeed, from electric vehicle infrastructure investments to talk of a tax on single-use plastics, it appears that the anti-environment, climate change denying wing of the Conservative party has been hushed by voices who—while I may not agree with them on many, many things—at least understand the direction that the broader global economy is going.

First up for NC lawmakers in 2018? Dealing with GenX pollution

Read the full story in the News & Observer.

The more scientists look for GenX and other similar, potentially hazardous chemicals in North Carolina, the more they find. And next spring they could ramp up their efforts.

The state’s environmental regulators at the Department of Environmental Quality took several actions in late 2017 against the company that has been accused of being behind much of the water pollution. And as 2018 rolls around, the legislature appears ready to give DEQ more direction on addressing GenX.

State lawmakers have squabbled over some of the details on how to address GenX, a chemical used in Teflon whose health effects are largely untested. But disagreements aside, addressing water pollution is high on the list for lawmakers when they return briefly to Raleigh in January. There’s a bipartisan consensus in the General Assembly that more action is needed.

Shellfish Industry, Scientists Wrestle With Potentially Deadly Toxic Algae Bloom

Read the full story from NPR.

A new threat to New England’s shellfish industry seems to be establishing itself more firmly, and regulators are trying to stay ahead of potentially deadly blooms of toxic algae that may be driven by climate change.

Former Co-CEO Of Whole Foods Becomes A FoodMaven

Read the full story at Forbes.

Walter Robb, Whole Foods’ former co-CEO, has joined up with Patrick Bultema, CEO and co-founder of the Colorado Springs startup FoodMaven, to do something about the growing food waste problem in the U.S.: sell it.

NRDC Mapping Tool Links Apparel Brands to Their Suppliers’ Environmental Performance

Read the full story at Sustainable Brands.

A new mapping tool created by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and China’s Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) is ushering in a new era for transparency in China. The IPE Green Supply Chain Map — the only of its kind in the world — openly links multinational corporations to their suppliers’ environmental performance.

Spring webinars from the Better Buildings Challenge

The Better Buildings Webinar Series takes on the most pressing topics facing energy professionals, with new experts leading the conversations on proven best practices, cost-effective strategies, and innovative new ways to approach sustainability and energy performance.

Here’s a list of webinars coming up this spring. All webinars are 2-3 pm Central Time.

Big Results in Small Places: Exploring the Untapped Energy Efficiency Potential of Small Data Centers
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Learn why small data centers shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to energy efficiency, and discover low-cost, high-win strategies that can reduce energy demand. Register.

Buildings that Rebound: Resiliency Strategies for Commercial Buildings and Communities
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
As the energy sector is subject to more external risk due to natural and human events, more developers and building owners are discussing resilient building design. Join this webinar to learn about the technologies and strategies being pursued to address resilience. Register.

Financing 2.0: Navigating 3rd-Party Financing for Efficiency and Renewables
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 I 3:00 – 4:00 PM
This webinar introduces the Better Buildings Financing Navigator 2.0, the latest iteration of DOE’s online tool that helps connect organizations with financing for energy efficiency and renewables projects. Join to learn about the new features and key trends in financing. Register.

Taking Control: Best Practices in Energy Data Management and Tools for Success
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 I 3:00 – 4:00 PM
This webinar features public, commercial, and multifamily sector partners sharing best practices on energy data management, and will also introduce DOE’s Energy Data Management Guide. Register.

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