Bill Clinton on Managing Scarce Resources

Oxford University held its Re|Source forum recently, and former US President Bill Clinton addressed the group on the subject of scarce resources and how to manage their development and use in a way that is fair and equitable. The most important decision of the 21st century is whether the human race can learn to share its scarce natural resources for the common good, President Bill Clinton told delegates at Re|Source 2012 during a two-day forum at the University of Oxford. Clinton said: 'The only strategy that makes sense is the one that says we are going to share the world with other human beings and we will share its natural resources.' This, he said, 'is the fundamental decision of the 21st century.' This is an important issue, and the extent to which it can be fairly managed will make an enormous difference to us all.

Poison the Land

Rat poison used on illegal marijuana farms may be sickening and killing the fisher, a rare forest carnivore that makes its home in some of the most remote areas of California, according to a team of researchers led by University of California, Davis, veterinary scientists. Researchers discovered commercial rodenticide in dead fishers in Humboldt County near Redwood National Park and in the southern Sierra Nevada in and around Yosemite National Park. The study, published today (July 13) in the journal PLoS ONE, says illegal marijuana farms are a likely source. Some marijuana growers apply the poisons to deter a wide range of animals from encroaching on their crops. Fishers in California, Oregon and Washington have been declared a candidate species for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Fungus to Rescue Pistacchio

Research conducted over the past 11 years at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier will help ensure the safety of California’s $1.16 billion pistachio crop. This summer, for the first time, a beneficial fungus is being used in San Joaquin Valley pistachio orchards to protect the pistachio nuts from aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxin can form on a wide variety of crops, from corn to cotton to tree nuts. Careful management practices help keep levels low, but still hundreds of thousands of pounds of pistachios are rejected each year due to the presence of aflatoxin.

Apple Repeats love of EPEAT

Last week ENN Affiliate TriplePundit covered Apple's withdrawal from EPEAT. Shortly after this, the city of San Francisco banned all its employees from using Apple products for city business as by law it is necessary that all IT equipment be 100 percent EPEAT certified. It was also expected that several education and government bodies would follow suit. Now, however, Apple has done a total U-turn and has come back to EPEAT. Apple's sustainability has always been under speculation for various reasons and the company has been reluctant to disclose many of its practices. EPEAT is an initiative spearheaded by the company itself, so it came as quite a shock when they withdrew from the standard. The main reason why the company pulled out in the first place was because of its new Macbook Pro with the retina screen which could not be easily recycled. One of the conditions to be EPEAT-certified is ease of recyclability of old electronics.

Coal Miners suffering as energy mix shifts

At some point today, you will probably flip on a light switch. That simple action connects you to the oldest and most plentiful source of American electricity: coal. Since the early 1880s — when Edison and Tesla pioneered the distribution of electrical power into our homes — most of that power has come from the process of burning coal. Four years ago, something started to change. First it was slow, and then this past month that change became dramatic. Coal now generates just 34 percent of our electricity, down from about 50 percent just four years ago. Now, the loss of coal as the dominant energy source is having damaging effects on the towns that once relied on the black rock for their livelihood.

RGGI Update: Regional Cap-and-Trade Program Survives New York Challenge But Faces Others

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a cap-and-trade program designed to limit power plant emissions in 10 Northeastern states – has been under close scrutiny in recent months as a result of lawsuits in New Jersey and New York, and legislation in New Hampshire. Each of these developments demonstrates the polarization and controversy that continue to surround greenhouse gas regulation, and RGGI in particular, years after the regional trading program first took effect.

Diabetes and Female Personal Care Products

A study lead by researchers from Brigham and Women's hospital (BWH) shows an association between increased concentrations of phthalates in the body and an increased risk of diabetes in women. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in female personal care products such as moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes. They are also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products. This finding is published in the July 13, 2012 online edition of Environmental Health.

Viral Coral

Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Scientists have discovered two viruses that appear to infect the single-celled microalgae that reside in corals and are important for coral growth and health, and they say the viruses could play a role in the serious decline of coral ecosystems around the world. These viruses, including an RNA virus never before isolated from a coral, have been shown for the first time to clearly be associated with these microalgae called Symbiodinium. If it’s proven that they are infecting those algae and causing disease, it will be another step toward understanding the multiple threats that coral reefs are facing. The research was published today in the ISME Journal, in work supported by the National Science Foundation.

Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz Supports Carbon Tax

Former Secretary of State George Shultz is calling for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, according to an interview released today by Stanford University. Shultz, who served as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan as well as a number of other roles under previous Republican administrations, is heading up the Hoover Institution's Task Force on Energy Policy will calls for boosting energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil exports to improve national security, and putting a price on carbon. While the last of those objectives has been an anathema to many Republicans of late, Shultz said his party could eventually support a carbon tax.

The Dead Sea is Dying – Really!

On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year. The sinkholes are among the most visible effects of the continuing slow "death" of the Dead Sea, which borders Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. Thousands of sinkholes have opened up around the Dead Sea's coastal plain, threatening roads and structures alike. Near this particular sinkhole, a grove of date palms sat withered and dead, abandoned because of the dangerous ground on which they stood.On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year.