Environment

Spotlight on National Young Woman of Distinction, Catherine Riordan

Girl Scouts of America - 2 hours 41 min ago
The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measureable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.
Catherine Riordan: Bringing the Simple Pleasures of the Outdoors to AllAge: 17Hometown: Solon, Ohio
Inspiration:
The pleasure of a picnic on a beautiful day should be available to anyone, right? Sounds simple enough. But in northeast Ohio, Catherine noticed a group of people missing out. Due to the particular design of picnic tables and benches, handicapped and elderly individuals in wheelchairs couldn’t share in the fun. In fact, table and bench designs that would accommodate these people weren’t available at all. Catherine decided to fix this.
How Catherine Is Changing the World:
Catherine designed and built 4 elevated tables and 16 half-benches that split in the middle in order to accommodate any person in a wheelchair. Catherine also designed sensory boards that sit on wheelchair trays and have sensory stimulating items, like plastic flowers, attached to them.
Catherine worked with Hattie Larlham, a nonprofit organization that provides long-term care to people with disabilities in her area. With their helping hand, the designs were made available in two handicapped group homes in her neighborhood. To ensure that her designs were totally available without cost, Catherine obtained provisional patents.
On top of all that action, she showed her designs off at the Tolerance Fair, an annual event that raises public awareness and provides resources to people with disabilities. At the fair, Catherine chatted with over 100 people interested in her project!
Attention to detail and organizational skills were keys to this project’s success, Catherine noted. She nailed it! Her efforts truly show what a person can accomplish when they are committed to helping others. The grand finale of the project was a picnic for the residents, their families, and the staff. Catherine’s designs have been and continue to be well loved, with residents enjoying the opportunity to spend more time in the great outdoors.
Next Steps:
This fall Catherine will enter her senior year of high school. She is also working on getting her designs up on Home Depot and Lowe’s “How To” pages so that everyone has their fair share of fun in the sun!
Categories: Environment

A Watery Wilderness

The EnvironmentaList - 3 hours 34 min ago
The ocean is the biggest wilderness on the planet. But legal protections are scant.
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

In Seattle, an Ongoing Effort to Save the Region’s Green Spaces

The EnvironmentaList - September 01, 2014
The Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust aims to find a happy balance between development and wildlands protection
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

UPDATE: An Ominous Ebola Forecast from the World Health Organization

Operation USA - August 29, 2014

From the New York Times, August 28, 2014:

The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, already the largest outbreak ever recorded, is going to get much worse over the next six months, the shortest window in which it might conceivably be brought under control. By then, the organization said, the virus could infect more than 20,000 people, almost seven times the current number of reported cases.

CLICK HERE TO HELP OPERATION USA SUPPORT THE FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA IN WEST AFRICA WITH A DONATION TODAY.

It is a frightening prospect that requires an urgent infusion of aid from public and private donors around the world. The situation as described by the health agency is so dire and the resources needed so daunting that it is hard to see how they can be supplied anytime soon.

The agency issued a road map listing tasks that must be carried out by countries with Ebola cases, nearby countries, the international community and nongovernmental organizations if the epidemic is to be contained.

A top official said the road map would require at least 750 international and 12,000 local health workers on the front lines delivering care. How can impoverished countries whose health workers are falling ill and dying or fleeing in fear possibly supply that many caregivers? If they cannot muster those workers, it seems inevitable that wealthier nations will need to step in with more personnel, but they, too, may have difficulty recruiting people.

The World Health Organization is belatedly catching up to a warning issued in June by Doctors Without Borders, a group that has been delivering care in some of the hardest hit areas, that said the epidemic was out of control. On Thursday, the health agency said that the reported death toll had risen to 1,552, from 3,069 cases of infection in four West African countries — Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria — and that the actual toll could be up to four times higher because many cases go undetected or unreported. That suggests there could already be up to 12,000 cases.

A top American official on the scene in West Africa said the situation is far worse than anticipated and raised concerns that, with each passing day, the virus might spread to additional countries. More than 40 percent of the total number of reported cases have occurred in the past three weeks. Most of those cases are concentrated in a few localities, offering hope that the outbreaks can be contained if more resources are sent to those places.

The road map could cost almost half-a-billion dollars over the next six months, not including broader support to provide food, sanitation and other necessities or to strengthen systems in afflicted countries that are so overwhelmed with Ebola cases that they can’t provide basic health services. Some local workers have shown immense courage in tending to the sick, but they need more protective gear, disinfectants, tents and body bags to prevent infection, which the health agency intends to deliver.

In a detailed timeline, the organization says its goal is to reverse the trend in new Ebola cases within three months and stop all residual transmission in six to nine months. It also hopes to stop any new transmissions in a country within eight weeks of a first case being identified. That seems achievable with a vigorous effort to trace and isolate anyone who has come into contact with an infected person although some contacts in a large country or city will probably be missed.

The World Health Organization emphasized the importance of preventing the spread of the virus to other nations by screening travelers at international airports, seaports and major land crossings to bar travel by people with illnesses that could be Ebola. Some airlines have canceled flights to the afflicted countries. But that is an overreaction, if good screening programs are established. It will be critical to keep air and shipping links operating to deliver medical supplies and other essential goods.

Read the article at NyTimes.com here.

CLICK HERE TO HELP OPERATION USA SUPPORT THE FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA IN WEST AFRICA WITH A DONATION TODAY.

Categories: Environment

New Database Tracks Ecologic Health Impacts of Dams on World's Rivers

Yale Environment 360 - August 29, 2014
A newly launched online database illustrates the impacts of nearly 6,000 dams on the world's 50 major

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Dams in the Yangtze basin river basins, ranking their ecological health according to indicators of river fragmentation, water quality, and biodiversity. The "State of the World's Rivers" project was developed by the advocacy organization International Rivers and created using Google Earth. Users can compare the health of individual river basins, see the locations of existing and planned dams, and explore 10 of the most significant river basins in more depth. The 6,000 dams represented in the database are a small percentage of the more than 50,000 large dams that impact the world's rivers, the organization notes.
Categories: Environment, Health

In Conversation: Darren Aronofsky

The EnvironmentaList - August 29, 2014
Hollywood director wrestles with Alberta’s “out of whack” tar sands on a trip with the Sierra Club and Leonardo DiCaprio
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

US Forest Service Moves to Start Clearcutting in Rim Fire Area

The EnvironmentaList - August 28, 2014
Massive logging proposal threatens many spotted owls, currently thriving in the fire-affected acres of Stanislaus National Forest
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Rail Transport of U.S. Oil Up By 9 Percent, Creating Rail Car Shortage

Yale Environment 360 - August 28, 2014
The amount of U.S. oil shipped by rail rose 9 percent during the first seven months of the year compared to 2013, reaching 16,000 carloads per week in July,

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Rise in rail oil transport according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. crude oil production reached an estimated 8.5 million barrels per day in June for the first time in 18 years and is driving the increase in rail transport, the EIA said. Only 3 percent of petroleum shipped by rail in 2009 was crude oil; now crude accounts for more than half. Over the past three years, much of the oil has come from the Bakken Shale, primarily in North Dakota. Between 60 and 70 percent of the more than 1 million barrels per day of oil produced in North Dakota has been transported by rail so far in 2014, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. The demand for rail cars has created a backlog that's been particularly worrisome for farmers, who say their grain is rotting before shipping space is available to take it to market.
Categories: Environment, Health

Can A Drive-Thru Really Be Green?

The EnvironmentaList - August 28, 2014
LEED certified buildings can’t negate the emissions from a long line of idling cars
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Fate of the Passenger Pigeon Looms as a Somber Warning

Yale Environment 360 - August 28, 2014
This September 1 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the last known passenger pigeon on earth. The extinction of this once-abundant North American bird still stands as a cautionary tale. BY JOEL GREENBERG
Categories: Environment, Health

Obama Seeks International Climate Accord Without Congressional Approval

Yale Environment 360 - August 27, 2014
The Obama administration is aiming to forge a legally binding, international agreement that would cut fossil

Barack Obama fuel emissions and direct funds to poor nations dealing with climate change, without ratification from Congress, The New York Times reports. The agreement would combine legally binding updates to an existing 1992 climate change treaty — allowing Obama to sidestep the constitutional requirement that treaties be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate — with voluntary pledges for specific emissions targets and aid to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. Nations would then be legally required to report progress toward their emissions targets at international meetings that would "name and shame" countries making slow or no progress, the Times reports. Lawmakers from both political parties say that no climate agreement requiring congressional approval could be reached in the near future. Republican leaders are expected to oppose the agreement being worked on by the administration and say it would be an abuse of executive authority.
Categories: Environment, Health

Can Trophy Hunting Save the Endangered Markhor Goats?

The EnvironmentaList - August 27, 2014
A controversial program in Tajikistan tests the idea
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Global Meat Production, Especially Beef, Strains Land and Water, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - August 26, 2014
Global meat production has expanded more than four-fold over the last 50 years — and 25-fold since

Beef cattle graze in Colombia 1800 — due to growing purchasing power, urbanization, and changing diets, according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute. Consumers in industrial countries still eat much larger quantities of meat (75.9 kilograms per person) than those in developing nations (33.7 kilograms), though that gap is beginning to close, the report says. Nearly 70 percent of the planet's agricultural land and freshwater is used for livestock, with additional land and water used to grow grains for livestock feed. Beef production alone uses about three-fifths of global farmland and yields less than 5 percent of the world's protein, according to the report. Sustainable agricultural practices such as feeding livestock with grasses instead of grains and using natural fertilizers could reduce these impacts, the report notes, but alternative dietary choices hold the most immediate promise for reducing the environmental footprint of meat production.
Categories: Environment, Health

Federal Judge Overturns Kaua‘i GMO, Pesticide Regulatory Law

The EnvironmentaList - August 26, 2014
Ordinance 960 preempted by state law, says ruling; appeal likely
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Spotlight on National Young Woman of Distinction, Anna Krauss

Girl Scouts of America - August 26, 2014
The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.
Anna Krauss: A Voice for Those Who Can’t ListenAge: 18Hometown: Manorville, New YorkYears of Girl Scouting: 14
Inspiration:
No matter the number of times a test proctor of the English Language Arts regent exams reads a passage aloud, Anna could not hear them. Anna is deaf, and, like all other students in the state, for her the listening portion of the exam was mandatory. The only additional accommodations afforded to students like Anna were extended time and a third or fourth reading of the passage.
For Anna and other deaf students, these accommodations were not so accommodating after all. Unable to hear, they were unable to listen. As Anna says, it turned what was simply one part of her identity into a disability. Lip reading and sign language couldn’t fill the gap. There was a much larger problem in need of fixing. So Anna decided to be the one to take on the task.
How Anna Is Changing the World:
The challenge was how to make the information equally accessible to all students. And the solution, Anna found, was simple: Allow deaf students to read the passage themselves.
With hundreds of emails, website submissions, and letters written, Anna got the attention of the state board of education, the governor’s office, and the senator’s office. It took three years of lobbying before a letter came from New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. affirming that the Test Access Accommodations Guidelines for students With Disabilities had been altered to provide written transcripts during the listening portion of the exam.
The joy Anna experienced completing her project came from knowing that she had prevented others from feeling that deafness is a barrier to success, a diploma, or realizing their dreams.
Next Steps:
Anna will be studying biotechnology and molecular bioscience at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Someday, she hopes to be a teacher for the deaf. Until then, she is a proud advocate!
Categories: Environment

Health Care Savings Can Far Outweigh Costs of Carbon-Cutting Policies

Yale Environment 360 - August 25, 2014
Implementing policies to curb carbon emissions dramatically cuts health care costs associated with poor air quality — in some cases, by more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change. Policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions are as effective as laws targeting polluting compounds like ground-level ozone, also known as smog, and fine particulate matter, the MIT researchers say. An analysis of three climate policies — a clean-energy standard, a transportation policy, and a cap-and-trade program — found that savings from avoided health problems could recoup 26 percent of the cost of implementing a transportation policy, and up to to 10.5 times the cost of implementing a cap-and-trade program. A cap-and-trade program would cost roughly $14 billion to implement, whereas a transportation policy with rigid fuel-economy requirements could cost more than $1 trillion, according to the analysis.
Categories: Environment, Health

Mideast Water Wars: In Iraq, A Battle for Control of Water

Yale Environment 360 - August 25, 2014
Conflicts over water have long haunted the Middle East. Yet in the current fighting in Iraq, the major dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are seen not just as strategic targets but as powerful weapons of war. BY FRED PEARCE
Categories: Environment, Health

Passive Carbon Capture Can Clean Clean Up Our Air, But the Technology Lacks Popular Support

The EnvironmentaList - August 25, 2014
Other significant challenges include cost and figuring out where to store the captured carbon
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Passive Carbon Capture Can Clean Up Our Air, But the Technology Lacks Popular Support

The EnvironmentaList - August 25, 2014
Other significant challenges include cost and figuring out where to store the captured carbon
Categories: Environment, News Feeds
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