Day: February 14, 2018

Top EPA Science Adviser Has History Of Questioning Pollution Research

Read the full story from NPR.

In 2015, the top toxicologist for the state of Texas, Michael Honeycutt, was interviewed on Houston Public Radio. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency was pushing for tighter limits on ozone, a type of air pollution that is hazardous for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

But Honeycutt said reducing air pollution could be dangerous.

“Houston and Los Angeles are going to lose people. People are going to die,” he said. “According to EPA, people are going to die from lowering these standards,” he continued, referring to the proposed tightening of ozone regulations.

Now, Honeycutt is the top science advisor for the EPA, a position that gives him potentially broad influence over how scientific data is incorporated into EPA policy. But many scientists say his comments on ozone and air pollution are one indication that he’s a poor choice for the position.

Greens sue Trump over fracking waste in Gulf

Read the full story in The Hill.

Three environmental groups teamed up to sue the Trump administration on Tuesday for allowing oil companies to dump leftover waste from drilling and fracking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Evolving Assessments of Human and Natural Contributions to Climate Change

Download the document.

As Congress continues to deliberate whether and how to address climate change, a key question has been the degree to which humans have influenced observed global climate change. Members of Congress sometimes stress that policies or actions “must be based on sound science.” Officials in the Trump Administration have expressed uncertainty about the human influence, and some have called for public debate on the topic.

To help inform policymaking, researchers and major scientific assessment processes have analyzed the attribution of observed climate change to various possible causes. Scientific assessments of both climate change and the extent to which humans have influenced it have varied in expressed confidence over time but have achieved greater scientific consensus. The latest major U.S. assessment, the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), was released in October 2017 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). It stated:

“It is extremely likely [>95% likelihood] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th Century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

This CRS report provides context for the CSSR’s statement by tracing the evolution of scientific understanding and confidence regarding the drivers of recent global climate change.

Researchers discover new lead-free perovskite material for solar cells

Read the full story from Brown University.

Perovskite solar cells are a promising new low-cost photovoltaic technology, but most contain toxic lead; a team led by Brown researchers has introduced solar cells with a new titanium-perovskite material that gets the lead out.

Cleaning Krewe: Recycling Effort Targets Mardi Gras Trash

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Mardi Gras produces days of merriment, indulgence, a few hangovers — and a lot of garbage. Once the parades have passed and the beads have been thrown, the cleanup begins.

This year two New Orleans organizations aimed to change things with a pilot recycling project to collect cans, plastic bottles and that ubiquitous Mardi Gras accessory dangling from fences, trees and balconies: beads.

Replacing LED light bulbs before they fail may be greener

Read the full story at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Households can reduce their energy bills and cut their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by switching to more efficient lighting, but what’s the best strategy to maximize savings in cost, energy and emissions? Should we buy our new bulbs today or wait for further improvements to the technology? Having considered the options in detail, researchers based at the University of Michigan, US, have drawn up a list of household lighting guidelines to help us make the right decision.

World’s biggest city database shines light on our increasingly urbanised planet

Read the full story from the EU Science Hub.

The JRC has launched a new tool with data on all 10,000 urban centres scattered across the globe. It is the largest and most comprehensive database on cities ever published.

With data derived from the JRC’s Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL), researchers have discovered that the world has become even more urbanised than previously thought.

Could plant-based plastics help tackle waste pollution?

Read the full story from the BBC.

We know that plastic waste is a big problem for the planet – our oceans are becoming clogged with the stuff and we’re rapidly running out of landfill sites. Only 9% is recycled. Burning it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. So could plant-based alternatives and better recycling provide an answer?

Walgreen’s Navigates National Waste Regulations: Q&A with Senior VP Rick Gates

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

In early 2016, Walgreens launched a safe medication disposal program in the United States, installing kiosks at 600 stores where customers could deposit unwanted pharmaceuticals. That continuous national effort was a first, not just for one of the country’s largest drugstore chains, but for any retailer in the country.

“People talk about safety and opioid abuse, but the other side that’s important is the environmental impact,” said Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens. A pharmacist by training, Gates’ responsibilities include collaborating with partners across the industry on patient-centered solutions to deploy through Walgreens’ healthcare providers in their stores.

Walgreens’ partner for the safe medication disposal program, Stericycle Environmental Solutions, won a 2017 Environmental Leader Award for the pharmaceutical takeback kiosks and envelopes. One of the judges called the suite a great example of social responsibility, saying at the time, “[The] program is diverting a waste stream, reducing pollutants in waterways, and addressing a serious opioid abuse epidemic in the United States.”

Recently we caught up with Gates to learn about the start of the program, the regulatory challenges that had to be addressed along the way, and how Walgreens plans to expand accessibility in the future.

Responsible Battery Coalition Launches 2 Million Battery Challenge at U.S. Senate Auto Caucus Briefing on Sustainability

Read the press release.

A coalition of leading vehicle battery manufacturers, recyclers, retailers and users dedicated to the responsible manufacturing, use and reuse of vehicle batteries launched an initiative today to recover 2 million more batteries with the goal of achieving a recycling rate of 100%. The campaign, called the 2 Million Battery Challenge, is an effort to engage consumers to bring their used vehicle batteries to the nearest participating auto parts retailer to have them properly recycled.

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