Over 35,000 march on Washington demanding climate action and rejection of Canada’s ‘carbon bomb’

Yesterday over 35,000 people rallied in Washington D.C. for urgent action on climate change, which, according to organizers, was the largest climate march in U.S. history. Activists called on the Obama Administration to do much more to tackle climate change, including rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring carbon-heavy tar sands oil from Canada through the U.S. to a world market.

BPA Blood Levels

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound. It is a colorless solid that is soluble in organic solvents, but poorly soluble in water. Having two phenol functional groups, it is used to make polycarbonate polymers and epoxy resins, along with other materials used to make plastics. It is a controversial component of plastic bottles and canned food linings that have helped make the world's food supply safer. It has the potential to mimic the sex hormone estrogen if blood and tissue levels are high enough. Now, an analysis of almost 150 BPA exposure studies shows that in the general population, people's exposure may be many times too low for BPA to effectively mimic estrogen in the human body. The analysis, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting by toxicologist Justin Teeguarden of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., shows that BPA in the blood of the general population is many times lower than blood levels that consistently cause toxicity in animals. The result suggests that animal studies might not reflect the human BPA experience appropriately.

Horse “Passports” Proposed in Europe as Meat Scandal Gallops On

As the horsemeat-dressed-as-beef scandal continues to rock Europe's food industry, a number of organizations are calling on stricter European regulation, including an EU-wide horse passport register. The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) said creating a centralised record of horse passports would prevent the issuance of duplicate passports, thereby curbing the risk that horses banned from slaughter enter the food chain. There is no evidence that eating horsemeat in itself poses any health risk, but veterinarians give horses drugs which are banned from human consumption.

Economics of Coal Power Shifting

During the presidential campaign last fall, a single message was repeated endlessly in Appalachian coal country: President Barack Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency, critics said, had declared a "war on coal" that was shuttering U.S. coal-fired power plants and putting coal miners out of work. Not so, according to a detailed analysis of coal plant finances and economics presented here yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW). Instead, coal is losing its battle with other power sources mostly on its merits. Although the United States has long generated the bulk of its electricity from coal, over the past six years that share has fallen from 50 percent to 38 percent. Plans for more than 150 new coal-fired power plants have been canceled since the mid-2000s, existing plants have been closed, and in 2012, just one new coal-fired power plant went online in the United States. To investigate the reasons for this decline, David Schlissel, an energy economist and founder of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Belmont, Massachusetts, dove deeply into the broader economics of the industry and the detailed finances of individual power plants.

Rapid Expansion of EV Charging Stations Planned

The issue of electric vehicle range anxiety got a thorough airing last week, in the now notorious Tesla vs The New York Times battle. It started when Times reporter John Broder wrote a story about his recent Tesla Model S test drive. While acknowledging that the car itself is a thing of beauty (Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, to be precise) Broder detailed a litany of complaints about the driving experience on a 400-mile trip from Washington D.C. to Boston, primarily focusing on battery life and range. The whole thing ended ingloriously, short of the destination point with a spent battery and a tow truck involved. Of course, taking a 400 mile jaunt (actually more, considering that Broder detoured through New York City) along some of the most heavily traveled arteries in the U.S. during the dead of winter is a dicey proposition under any circumstances, but if Broder set out to demonstrate that electric vehicles are not ready for prime time, he ended up proving something else entirely.

Lead Pollution better, but still an issue

Efforts to reduce lead pollution have paid off in many ways, yet the problem persists and will probably continue to affect the health of people and animals well into the future, according to experts speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston. "Things have substantially improved with the virtual elimination of leaded gasoline, restrictions on lead paint, and other efforts to limit releases of industrial lead into the environment. But the historic legacy of lead pollution persists, and new inputs of industrial lead are adding to it," said A. Russell Flegal, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Elephants Poached in Gabon’s National Park

Earlier this month the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced that Gabon's Minkebe Park has lost over 11,000 elephants due to poaching. Gabon contains over half of Africa's forest elephants, with a population estimated at over 40,000, however with this recent drop, WCS scientists confirm that Africa's largest elephant population has been cut in half during the past ten years. Elephants are poached mainly for their ivory, which has been an important part of Asian art for over a thousand years. Ivory can also be carved and used in everything from billiard balls to piano keys...

The Destruction of Big Rocks

There are big rocks waiting to fall onto the Earth one day. Not too often but they are there. As an asteroid roughly half as large as a football field — and with energy equal to a large hydrogen bomb — readies for a fly-by of Earth on Friday, two California scientists are unveiling their proposal for a system that could eliminate a threat of this size in an hour. The same system could destroy asteroids 10 times larger than the one known as 2012 DA14 in about a year, with evaporation starting at a distance as far away as the Sun. UC Santa Barbara physicist and professor Philip M. Lubin, and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, conceived DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids an exploRation, as a realistic means of mitigating potential threats posed to the Earth by asteroids and comets.

Environmental Excellence in Racing? YES!

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has become the world's first motor sport team to receive the FIA Institute's Environmental Award for the Achievement of Excellence. The award is part of a broader initiative between the FIA and the FIA Institute aimed at evaluating and reducing the environmental impact of motor sport. It is also the highest level attainable within the FIA Institute Sustainability Programme, which helps motor sport stakeholders to measure, improve and be recognised for their environmental performance.

Biodiversity Richness

Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given species, ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions support fewer species. Researchers have now shown that part of Australia’s rich plant diversity was wiped out by the ice ages, proving that extinction, instead of evolution, can influence biodiversity. The research led by the University of Melbourne and University of Tasmania has shown that plant diversity in South East Australia was as rich as some of the most diverse places in the world, and that most of these species went extinct during the ice ages, probably about one million years ago.