Day: October 26, 2018

EPA continues to approve toxic PFAS chemicals despite wide contamination

Read the full story at The Intercept.

Even as the Environmental Protection Agency has been trumpeting its efforts to find and clean up contamination from industrial chemicals known as PFAS, it has been allowing new chemicals in this class to enter into commerce, according to data from the agency. The EPA has allowed more than 100 new PFAS compounds to be made and imported in large quantities in the U.S. after it became aware of the health risks associated with them, and many more have entered commerce through loopholes that allow them to be omitted from the official inventory of chemicals and to bypass a basic safety review.

Complete 2017 TRI Dataset Now Available

The complete 2017 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) dataset is now available. It contains data about chemical releases, other waste management and pollution prevention activities that took place during 2017 at more than 20,000 federal and industrial facilities across the country.

The 2017 TRI data are available in:

EPA will use this dataset to construct the 2017 TRI National Analysis, planned for publication in January 2019.

Wisdom from a climate champion: A conversation with Katharine Hayhoe

Read the full story in GreenBiz. See also my post earlier this week about the climate scientists lists she’s compiled on Twitter.

Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist, professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She is also an award-winning climate communicator and (among many other honors) has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers, and an American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize winner.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

2018 Better Plants Progress Update

Download the document.

There are now more than 200 Better Plants partners leading the way and providing an example for their industry peers to follow; to date, partners have reported estimated cumulative energy savings of 1.06 quadrillion Btu, which translates into energy cost savings of roughly $5.3 billion.

Extreme Botany: The Precarious Science of Endangered Rare Plants

Read the full story at e360.

They don’t make the headlines the way charismatic animals such as rhinos and elephants do. But there are thousands of critically endangered plants in the world, and a determined group of botanists are ready to go to great lengths to save them.

Google is searching for a way to be zero emissions all the time

Read the full story from Fast Company.

Buying enough clean energy to make up for your dirty energy is one thing; using all clean energy 24/7 is another, and it could signal a new approach.

Aquarium Builds Blue Whale Art Installation from Single-use Plastic

Read the full story in Waste360.

Monterey, Calif.-based Monterey Bay Aquarium, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (Parks Conservancy), unveiled a life-sized blue whale art installation at the heart of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Crissy Field in the Presidio, to bring awareness to a massive problem: the issue of ocean plastic pollution. The 82-foot-long blue whale made from hand-recycled plastic trash made its splash on October 13 and will remain on public view until January 2019.

A Review on Energy, Environmental, and Sustainability Implications of Connected and Automated Vehicles

Morteza Taiebat, Austin L. Brown, Hannah R. Safford, Shen Qu, and Ming Xu (2018). “A Review on Energy, Environmental, and Sustainability Implications of Connected and Automated Vehicles.” Environmental Science & Technology 52 (20), 11449-11465.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b00127

Abstract: Connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) are poised to reshape transportation and mobility by replacing humans as the driver and service provider. While the primary stated motivation for vehicle automation is to improve safety and convenience of road mobility, this transformation also provides a valuable opportunity to improve vehicle energy efficiency and reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Progress in vehicle efficiency and functionality, however, does not necessarily translate to net positive environmental outcomes. Here, we examine the interactions between CAV technology and the environment at four levels of increasing complexity: vehicle, transportation system, urban system, and society. We find that environmental impacts come from CAV-facilitated transformations at all four levels, rather than from CAV technology directly. We anticipate net positive environmental impacts at the vehicle, transportation system, and urban system levels, but expect greater vehicle utilization and shifts in travel patterns at the society level to offset some of these benefits. Focusing on the vehicle-level improvements associated with CAV technology is likely to yield excessively optimistic estimates of environmental benefits. Future research and policy efforts should strive to clarify the extent and possible synergetic effects from a systems level to envisage and address concerns regarding the short- and long-term sustainable adoption of CAV technology.

Flowing Salt Water Over This Super-Hydrophobic Surface Can Generate Electricity

Read the full story from UC-San Diego.

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a super-hydrophobic surface that can be used to generate electrical voltage. When salt water flows over this specially patterned surface, it can produce at least 50 millivolts. The proof-of-concept work could lead to the development of new power sources for lab-on-a-chip platforms and other microfluidics devices. It could someday be extended to energy harvesting methods in water desalination plants, researchers said.

The 3rd Annual Great Lakes Adaptation Forum

Read the full post from the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.

NE CASC Tribal Liaisons Sara Smith and Casey Thornbrugh as well as NE CASC Principal Investigator Chris Caldwell, NE CASC Fellows Rob Mooney, Jamie Mosel, and others from across the region gathered for the 3rd Annual Great Lakes Adaptation Forum (GLAF). The forum brought together practitioners and scholars from across the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States for three days of sharing climate adaptation and resilience solutions and products in an engaged learning program. Sara, Rob, and Jamie shared their experiences.

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