New Truck Emission Standards and Controls

To those who drive behind diesel trucks, they know that these vehicles tend to be more slower moving and potentially smellier than other vehicles. Those who drive trucks know they are gasoline hogs (after all look at the weight they are hauling). They are a vital necessity for the US economy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation today announced the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses. This comprehensive proposed national program is projected to reduce GHG emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years. Truck emissions have been going down for years but this is a major step forward.

Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Plant Life

Mountains are great places to go to see nature in its most pristine state. The mountains of the northwestern United States are particularly beautiful because they are home to outstanding trees and vegetation. According to a new study, that mountain vegetation has been significantly impacted by climate change in the past 60 years. Unlike what was previously thought, ecosystems at low elevations were affected more than those at high elevations.

How Do Scientists Know a Volcano Is About to Erupt?

Mount Merapi in Indonesia is expected to erupt at any moment, and Indonesian government officials have begun to evacuate the people living in villages near the volcano. The volatile mountain's last eruption was in 2006, and two people were killed when a plume of scorching gas, rocks and volcanic ash spewed down its slopes, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.

Space tourism will worsen climate change

Have $200,000 to spend on a seat into space? You may want to re-think the expenditure given a new study in Geophysical Research Letters that shows space tourism will likely aggravate global climate change. Using sophisticated modeling, the researchers found that the biggest impact of a rise in space tourism on global temperatures won't be due to carbon emissions, but black carbon, often in the form of soot.

Deforestation takes center-stage at U.N. talks

Delegates at a global U.N. meeting to preserve natural resources were on Tuesday trying to agree on ways to deploy about $4 billion in cash to help developing nations save tropical forests. The talks in the Japanese city of Nagoya are aimed at setting new 2020 targets to protect plant and animal species, a protocol to share genetic resources between countries and companies and more funding to protect nature, especially forests. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates global deforestation fell from 16 million hectares (40 million acres) per year in the 1990s to 13 million hectares per year in the past decade, with the bulk of the losses in tropical countries. About 12 percent of the world's forests are designated primarily to conserve biological diversity, the FAO said in report earlier this month.

Great Marine Protection Areas

The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has established the world's largest marine protected area of coral reefs and fish populations, but both of which are threatened by overfishing and climate change. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area conserves one of the world's last intact coral reef archipelago ecosystems with eight coral reefs, two submerged reef systems and underwater mountains, over 415,000 square kilometers of nearly uninhabited islands with abundant marine and bird life. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a protected area whose boundaries include some area of ocean. "MPA" is often used as an umbrella term that describes a wide range of marine areas that restrict human activity to protect living, non-living, cultural, and/or historic resources. Protections in various areas range from limits on development, fishing gear types, fishing seasons, catch limits, moorings, to complete bans on removing marine life of any kind.

Microbes Rapidly Consume Methane from Gulf Oil Disaster

The Deepwater Horizon spill was a horrible environmental disaster which caused the release of massive amounts of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Methane, a natural greenhouse gas, was also released during the catastrophe. However, researchers have found that the methane is being consumed by microbes at a rate 10 to 100 times faster than previously believed. These microbes are essential in bringing the Gulf back to a healthier state.

Yemen’s capital ‘will run out of water by 2025′

[SANA'A, YEMEN] Water shortages in Yemen will squeeze agriculture to such an extent that 750,000 jobs could disappear and incomes could drop by a quarter within a decade, according to a report. Poor water management and the enormous consumption of water for the farming of the popular stimulant khat are blamed for the predicted water shortages, which experts say could lead to the capital Sana'a running out of water by around 2025.

Island nation announces Mongolia-sized sanctuary for whales and dolphins

Dolphins, whales, and dugongs will be safe from hunting in the waters surrounding the Pacific nation of Palau. At the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, Palau's Minister of the Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism, Harry Fritz, announced the establishment of a marine mammal sanctuary covering over 230,000 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) of the nation's waters, an area the size of Mongolia.

Naples dump on hold, garbage piles up in the streets

The Italian government has put the opening of a new waste dump near Naples on hold after weeks of protests by residents, but demonstrators said the proposal was not enough and garbage continued to pile up in the streets. The head of the civil protection authority, sent to Naples by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to deal with the latest garbage crisis, has suspended indefinitely the opening of the new dump "to pursue optimal environmental and health conditions." Civil Protection chief Guido Bertolaso initially made the compromise offer conditional on the protests ending, but new clashes erupted in the outskirts of Naples as demonstrators demanded legal guarantees the new dump would be abandoned. Mayors of garbage-strewn towns near the planned new dump, where residents complain of the stench and of toxic waste coming from an existing landfill, refused to sign up to Bertolaso's proposal on Sunday.