Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Historical Hydraulic Fracturing Trends and Data Unveiled in New USGS Publications

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Historical Hydraulic Fracturing Trends and Data Unveiled in New USGS Publications
Source: USGS

This national analysis of data on nearly 1 million hydraulically fractured wells and 1.8 million fracturing treatment records from 1947 through 2010 is used to identify hydraulic fracturing trends in drilling methods and use of proppants (sand or similar material suspended in water or other fluid to keep fissures open), treatment fluids, additives, and water in the United States. These trends are compared to peer-reviewed literature in an effort to establish a common understanding of the differences in hydraulic fracturing and provide a context for understanding the costs and benefits of increased oil and gas production. The publications also examine how newer technology has affected the amount of water needed for the process and where hydraulic fracturing has occurred at different points in time. Although hydraulic fracturing is in widespread use across the United States in most major oil and gas basins for the development of unconventional oil and gas resources, historically, Texas had the highest number of records of hydraulic fracturing treatments and associated wells documented in the datasets.

How climate change could affect corporate valuations

January 30, 2015 Comments off

How climate change could affect corporate valuations
Source: McKinsey & Company

Not surprising, we found that carbon-abatement efforts will put dramatically different levels of stress on the cash flows and valuations of different industries. The level of change for individual public companies within a given sector could of course substantially exceed the average, depending on their current position and their ability to respond to new technologies, changes in consumer behavior, and regulation.

The Global Risks report 2015

January 26, 2015 Comments off

The Global Risks report 2015
Source: World Economic Forum

The 2015 edition of the Global Risks report completes a decade of highlighting the most significant long-term risks worldwide, drawing on the perspectives of experts and global decision-makers.

Over that time, analysis has moved from risk identification to thinking through risk interconnections and the potentially cascading effects that result.

Taking this effort one step further, this year’s report underscores potential causes as well as solutions to global risks.

Not only do we set out a view on 28 global risks in the report’s traditional categories (economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical and technological) but also we consider the drivers of those risks in the form of 13 trends.

In addition, we have selected initiatives for addressing significant challenges, which we hope will inspire collaboration among business, government and civil society communities.

Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water? An Analysis of Global Progress on Community- and Household-Level Access to Safe Water and Sanitation

January 26, 2015 Comments off

Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water? An Analysis of Global Progress on Community- and Household-Level Access to Safe Water and Sanitation
Source: PLoS ONE

Safe drinking water and sanitation are important determinants of human health and wellbeing and have recently been declared human rights by the international community. Increased access to both were included in the Millennium Development Goals under a single dedicated target for 2015. This target was reached in 2010 for water but sanitation will fall short; however, there is an important difference in the benchmarks used for assessing global access. For drinking water the benchmark is community-level access whilst for sanitation it is household-level access, so a pit latrine shared between households does not count toward the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target. We estimated global progress for water and sanitation under two scenarios: with equivalent household- and community-level benchmarks. Our results demonstrate that the “sanitation deficit” is apparent only when household-level sanitation access is contrasted with community-level water access. When equivalent benchmarks are used for water and sanitation, the global deficit is as great for water as it is for sanitation, and sanitation progress in the MDG-period (1990–2015) outstrips that in water. As both drinking water and sanitation access yield greater benefits at the household-level than at the community-level, we conclude that any post–2015 goals should consider a household-level benchmark for both.

See: Study calls for new global standard for safe drinking water and sanitation (Science Daily)

Green Growth: Environmental policies and productivity can work together – OECD Policy Brief

January 22, 2015 Comments off

Green Growth: Environmental policies and productivity can work together – OECD Policy Brief (PDF)
Source: OECD

  • Stringent environmental policies can be introduced without hurting overall productivity
  • Letting up on environmental policies would not necessarily support a recovery
  • The design of environmental policies is key, emphasising the importance of flexible, market-based instruments, such as taxes, in the policy mix
  • Sending a strong signal to the market through stringent policies that do not create unnecessary barriers to entry and competition, will allow new, cleaner technologies and business models to develop
  • To help policymakers set the right balance, a set of new OECD environmental policy indicators has been developed: Environmental Policy Stringency (EPS) and the Burdens on the Economy due to Environmental Policies (BEEP)

See also: Productivity and long term growth — Do environmental policies matter for productivity growth?

Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention

January 19, 2015 Comments off

Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention
Source: Keep America Beautiful

A cigarette butt or cigar tip dropped to the ground seems insignificant. But follow that butt as it’s carried off by rain into storm drains and eventually to streams and rivers. It now adds up to a big impact on the places we live: In fact, 32% of litter at storm drains is tobacco products.

Cigarette butt litter creates blight. It accumulates in gutters, and outside doorways and bus shelters. It’s the number one most littered item anywhere. Increasing amounts of litter in a business district, along riverfronts, or recreation areas create a sense that no one cares, leading to more community disorder and crime.

Cigarette butts and cigar tips don’t disappear. About 95% of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic which does not quickly degrade and can persist in the environment. Cigar tips, too, are predominantly plastic.

Filters are harmful to waterways and wildlife. Litter traveling through storm drains and water systems, ends up in local streams, rivers, and waterways. Nearly 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources. Cigarette butt litter can also pose a hazard to animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food.

Recent shifts in the occurrence, cause, and magnitude of animal mass mortality events

January 17, 2015 Comments off

Recent shifts in the occurrence, cause, and magnitude of animal mass mortality events (PDF)
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Mass mortality events (MMEs) are rapidly occurring catastrophic demographic events that punctuate background mortality levels. Individual MMEs are staggering in their observed magnitude: re- moving more than 90% of a population, resulting in the death of more than a billion individuals, or producing 700 million tons of dead biomass in a single event. Despite extensive documentation of individual MMEs, we have no understanding of the major features characterizing the occurrence and magnitude of MMEs, their causes, or trends through time. Thus, no framework exists for contextualizing MMEs in the wake of ongoing global and regional perturbations to natural systems. Here we present an analysis of 727 published MMEs from across the globe, affecting 2,407 animal populations. We show that the magnitude of MMEs has been intensifying for birds, fishes, and marine invertebrat es; invariant for mammals; and decreasing for reptiles and amphibians. These shifts in magnitude proved robust when we accounted for an increase in the occurrence of MMEs since 1940. However, it remains unclear whether the increase in the occurrence of MMEs represents a true pattern or simply a perceived increase. Regardless, the increase in MMEs appears to be associated with a rise in disease emergence, biotoxicity, and events produced by multiple interacting stressors, yet temporal trends in MME causes varied among taxa and may be associated with increased de- tectability. In addition, MMEs with the largest magnitudes were those that resulted from multiple stressors, starvation, and disease. These results advance our understanding of rare demographic processes and their relationship to global and regional perturba- tions to natural systems.

See: Mass Die-Offs of Birds and Fish on the Rise (


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