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- Mon Oct 15, 2018 - Scientist: EPA changes are an effort to 'gut rules' that protect public
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has appointed five new members of an independent committee that provides advice to the EPA on national air quality standards, replacing the current members, while reducing the amount of support it gets from other scientists, according to an agency statement and emails obtained by CNN.
Wheeler's appointments mean that the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee's (CASAC) entire membership has been replaced over the course of the year.
The changes have left some scientists concerned that the committee will not be able to properly advise the EPA on its policies and procedures regarding national air quality standards.
\'Protecting the public's health from dangerous amounts of pollutants in the air that we all breathe is the mandate of this agency,\' Jack Harkema, a professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation at Michigan State University and now-former member of the committee, told CNN. \'This cannot be done without careful, deliberat
- Mon Oct 15, 2018 - Donald Trump: climate change no hoax, but ay 'change back'
President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax but says he doesn't know if it's manmade and suggests that the climate will \'change back again.\'
In an interview with CBS' \'60 Minutes\' that aired Sunday night, Trump said he doesn't want to put the U.S. at a disadvantage in responding to climate change.
\'I think something's happening. Something's changing and it'll change back again,\' he said. \'I don't think it's a hoax. I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's manmade. I will say this: I don't want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don't want to lose millions and millions of jobs.\'
Trump called climate change a hoax in November 2012 when he sent a tweet stating, \'The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.\' He later said he was joking about the Chinese connection, but in years since has continued to call global warming a hoax.
- Mon Oct 15, 2018 - Can stripping the air of its moisture quench the world's thirst?
We live in a thirsty world. Each person on Earth needs about 50 L of water each day to meet basic needs, including water for drinking, food preparation, sanitation, and personal hygiene, according to the World Health Organization. Despite the planet's rich water resources, scientists estimate that 4 billion people---more than half the world's population---don't have enough water for at least one month each year, and 500 million of them don't have enough throughout the entire year. Factor in climate change and a global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and it becomes clear the world is only going to get thirstier.
To slake that thirst, scientists and engineers have been searching for solutions to the growing problem of water scarcity. One source of water they've been trying to tap is moisture in the air. For one thing, it's everywhere---even in the desert---so it has the potential to help water-deprived people no matter where they're located.
The atmosphere contains
- Mon Oct 15, 2018 - In Pakistan, an ambitious effort to plant 10 billion trees takes root
When Mohammed Riasat, a government forest service officer, peers up at the majestic ridges around him, he sees small miracles others might miss: a few dozen pine seedlings that have sprouted in rocky, near-vertical cliffs or a grove of healthy young eucalyptus trees, planted on a patch of terrain that had been eroding after years of illegal use.
\'When I see a grown tree cut down, I feel like a close relative has died,\' said Riasat, who has spent three decades working with limited funds and staff to protect Pakistan's beleaguered forests here in the verdant hills of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. \'When I see a new one appear, I feel attached to it.\'
Two years ago, that struggling effort got a huge boost. Imran Khan, then a politician whose party governed the province, launched a program dubbed the \'Billion Tree Tsunami.\' Eventually, hundreds of thousands of trees were planted across the region, timber smuggling was virtually wiped out, and a cottage industry of backyard nurseries fl
- Wed Oct 10, 2018 - Trump quiet as the UN warns of climate change catastrophe
Faced with a major UN report that warns of floods, drought, extreme heat and increased poverty should the world not take radical action to address climate change, Donald Trump has been uncharacteristically quiet.
The US president was visiting Florida, a state particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and currently in the path of Hurricane Michael, when the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned on Monday that \'unprecedented\' changes were needed to stave off dire impacts if the world warms 1.5C beyond the pre-industrial period.
Trump, who has previously called climate change a \'hoax\' and questioned whether global warming was occurring because it snowed last winter, told reporters only that he was aware of the report: \'It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it ... Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren't so good. But I will be looking at it, absolutely.\'
Trump has been at odds with the rest of the wo
- Wed Oct 10, 2018 - Coal is killing the planet. Trump loves it.
If we keep burning coal and petroleum to power our society, we're cooked --- and a lot faster than we thought. The United Nations scientific panel on climate change issued a terrifying new warning on Monday that continued emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants and vehicles will bring dire and irreversible changes by 2040, years earlier than previously forecast. The cost will be measured in trillions of dollars and in sweeping societal and environmental damage, including mass die-off of coral reefs and animal species, flooded coastlines, intensified droughts, food shortages, mass migrations and deeper poverty.
The worst impacts can be avoided only by a \'far-reaching and unprecedented\' transformation of the global energy system, including virtually eliminating the use of coal as a source of electricity, the panel warned.
Yet President Trump, who has questioned the accepted scientific consensus on climate change, continues to praise \'clean beautiful coal\' and has directed h
- Wed Oct 10, 2018 - The U.N.'s climate report has something to piss everyone off
If bikes are your thing, great. If you're a vegan crusader, bully for you. If you're a solar-power enthusiast, way to go.
The greenest among are often evangelists for our favorite causes. But according to the blockbuster report out this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it's not enough to stick to your thing, or even to take up all of the causes environmentalists love. If we want to prevent the likely consequences of climate change --- food shortages, forest fires, and mass extinctions --- we'll need to deploy the popular solutions as well as the some of the unpopular ones, the report concludes.
That means turning off coal plants and building lots of renewables, but also devoting more acres to growing biofuels. It means reducing consumption (fly less, drive less, and eat less meat) but also increasing our use of nuclear power.
The danger is so great, in other words, that the IPCC's team of 91 scientists and policy experts suggest we consider all of the a
- Wed Oct 10, 2018 - Can Africa make plastic recycling pay?
Prince Djabea, 15, stamps on a plastic bottle as if squashing a cockroach, then using the heel of his other foot, flicks the bottle cap through the air with a pop.
He is not showing off the latest street dance craze in Douala, Cameroon's commercial capital, but taking part in one of the country's biggest plastic recycling schemes striving to turn waste into something useful while cleaning up the environment.
Behind Djabea, about 30 teenagers gather plastic bottles clogging up drainage canals and gutters, while others go door to door asking residents for their plastic rubbish.
It is all loaded into giant tarpaulin sacks that are weighed at the end of the day and then sent to be remade into shoes, chairs and floor tiles, among other products.
The initiative led by RED-PLAST, brainchild of 30-year-old environmental engineer Alain Rodrigue Ngonde Elong, operates in Yaounde too, collecting 100 to 150 tonnes of plastic waste per year - roughly the weight of 55 African forest elep
- Tue Oct 9, 2018 - Kenya: Indigenous Ogiek face eviction from their ancestral forest... again
NAKURU COUNTY, Kenya --- Caroline Chepkoeh looked around her idyllic property, perched on a hilltop surrounded by green maize fields as far as the eye can see. A storm front was approaching from the north and the wind swayed the corn stalks and trees alike. The 34-year-old mother of three was bundled up in her winter coat. It's colder here, she said, and it's too far to school. Her two youngest children haven't started nursery school yet because of the distance. \'I still have hope that we will return to our land,\' she said.
Her hope is in the hands of a judge at the High Court of Kenya in Nakuru county, in the highlands of southwestern Kenya. The judge will determine whether Chepkoeh and her family were illegally evicted from their home on the edge of the Mau Forest Complex, the largest montane forest in East Africa. This situation is not uncommon in Chepkoeh's community; she is an Ogiek, an indigenous group whose members have experienced a dizzying number of evictions from their an
- Tue Oct 9, 2018 - The next flu pandemic will be thoroughly modern
Medical researchers know more about influenza than they did a century ago, but the devastating global pandemic of 1918 could be repeated without global vigilance, a new study suggests.
Scientists led by Caroline van de Sandt from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, Australia, warn of modern challenges that will affect the impact of the next pandemic, among them changing population demographics, antibiotic resistance and climate change.
\'Like the 1918 pandemic, the severity of any future outbreak will result from a complex interplay between viral, host and societal factors,\' says van de Sandt.
\'Understanding these factors is vital for influenza pandemic preparedness.\'
The 1918 outbreak was the worst in recorded history, infecting a third of the world's population and killing 50 million people. What intrigued van de Sandt and colleagues, however, was how and why many people managed to survive a severe infection and others dis