IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [8/18 - 8/25/2018]

Release time:2018-08-27

1. Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record

Global warming is the focus of attention among environment scientists.  On the 21st , scientist detected that The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up. The sea off the north coast of Greenland is normally so frozen that it was referred to,as “the last ice area” because it was assumed that this would be the final northern holdout against the melting effects of a hotter planet. But abnormal temperature spikes make the Arctic ice cover declined dramatically.

The events of the last week suggest that, actually, the last ice area may be further west. Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, said: “The ice is being pushed away from the coast by the winds.”

“I think that solar heating of the water column will increase during this opening and this will delay freeze-up and ice formation,” said Rasmus Tage Tonboe, a sea ice expert at the the Danish Meteorological Institute.

Not only the ice cover will dismissed but also the sea level will increase. The Hothouse state would trigger the polar vortex and more serious disasters  

Source: The Guardian

2.China's sulfur dioxide emissions fell significantly while India's grew over last decade

Science Daily indicates that in 2016 India would become the world's top sulfur dioxide emitter.

Although China and India remain the world's largest consumers of coal, a new University of Maryland-led study found that China's sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 75 percent since 2007, while India's emissions increased by 50 percent. The results suggest that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world's top sulfur dioxide emitter.

"The rapid decrease of sulfur dioxide emissions in China far exceeds expectations and projections," said Can Li, an associate research scientist in UMD's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and first author on the study. "This suggests that China is implementing sulfur dioxide controls beyond what climate modelers have taken into account." "Right now, India's increased sulfur dioxide emissions are not causing as many health or haze problems as they do in China because the largest emission sources are not in the most densely populated area of India,"

Li said. "However, as demand for electricity grows in India, the impact may worsen.

Starting in the early 2000s, China began implementing policies such as fining polluters, setting emission reduction goals and lowering emissions limits. According to the results of the current study, these efforts are paying off.

Source: Science Daily

3.The last straw: Is time up for this plastic relic?

Every day, Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws. eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans every year. Straws were made from fossil fuels, they are almost never recycled because they're too small and could be made from several different types of plastic

"This seemed like a huge waste. Straws are made of oil, a precious and finite resource. Is making single-use plastic straws, which will be used for a matter of minutes before being tossed away, really what we want to do with this resource?" Milo Cress, the founder of Be Straw Free.

The anti-straw sentiment has crossed borders into the UK, where straws have been included in a government plan to ban all plastic waste by 2042. Last year, large pub chain Wetherspoons announced that it would replace plastic straws with paper alternatives across 900 outlets. After the announcement, many smaller chains and pubs across the country followed suit. it's much more effective to encourage people to make the choice not to use them

Source: CNN

4.Plastic pollution: 'Stop flushing contact lenses down the loo'

The Arizona State University study suggests that much of the plastic material then ends up in wastewater treatment plants.

To work out the impact of waste water plants on these materials, the researchers exposed five polymers in contact lenses to anaerobic and aerobic microorganisms commonly found in these treatment facilities.

Over the last decade, the use of softer plastic contact lenses has grown rapidly with people using daily, weekly or monthly disposables in greater numbers than ever before. The authors estimate that around 13,000kg of contact lens plastic ends up deposited in this way. "If earthworms consume the soil and birds feed on it, then you could see that plastic make the same journey as is done by plastics debris in oceans, they are incorporated by biota that are also part of the human food chain," said Prof Halden.

The researchers want manufacturers to provide information on the label, informing people how to properly dispose of their contacts.


5.The Australians putting the brakes on fast fashion, fearing for environment

Australians' love of fast fashion is not only hitting their hip pocket - but the environment too. In a small shop along one of Sydney's busiest streets, Sarah Freeman is encouraging Australians to slow down and break their addiction to fast fashion.

"Today's society just seem to wear clothes like condoms. They wear them once and they throw them away, That's not how clothes are supposed to be designed. The clothes nowadays are manufactured for six wears, I think, which is terrible." the passionate vintage-garment lover told AFP at her Clothes Library in the inner suburb of Potts Point.

Globally, clothing production doubled from 2000-2014, with the number of garments bought each year by consumers soaring by 60 per cent, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Source: SBS News

6.Airpocalypse’ over? Beijing breathes easier as clean air drive pays off, US embassy smog readings suggest

Since restricting coal burning in Beijing, the air quality has been improved rapidly. Beijing residents get benefits from China’s anti-smog policies. According to US embassy smog readings, the pollutions point is 44 micrograms of airborne particles per cubic meter in July. This pollutions point is the seventh lowest record, since 2008.

Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said: “China has made a very clear pledge to ‘bring back the blue skies.’”

China is seeking to update its domestic energy mix. The government plan to develop new cleaner fuels for home heating, such as natural gas, industrial boilers, and nuclear reactors. The aim of the series of projects is that reducing the demand for coal from 60% to 58% of the country's energy consumption. However, it is a long way for China to change   its energy mix, due to the increased cost of cleaner fuels, under current China-U.S. trade war.

Source: South China Morning Post

7.Is China Worsening the Developing World’s Environmental Crisis?

Currently, the developing countries suffer from the severe environmental crisis. Simply breath is becoming the primary cause of death in the developing world. In 2015, there are more than 9 million people died because of the toxins or other dangerous substances in the air. However, 92 percent of those deaths are from the developing states. Meanwhile, China has played the most significant trade role in the developing worlds.

Are the two trends linked with each other?

The article shows that the pollution level of a developing country is not only related to China’s development but also due to its internal governance ability. The state, with high governance ability, has a low level of pollution. On the contrary, low governance ability country lead to a high pollution level in domestic. The author proposes two ways to solve this problem. At first, the developing countries need to improve its governance ability. Secondly, China could push forward building some environmental laws in the developing world, representing China’s global leadership in the environmental protection area.

Source: Ecowatch

8.Behind Most Wildfires, a Person and a Spark: ‘We Bring Fire With Us’

This year, investigators have found some reasons for the wildfires, after battling a blaze. A person or a spark could lead to an intense fire. There is a belief that climate change gives rise to some massive fires. However, Trump administration has rejected this idea.

Jennifer K. Balch, a professor of geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, believes that rapidly increased human population is the main reason for the massive wildfires. She said:” We always bring fire with us.” For example, a considerable population leads to the total number of vehicles increased.What's more, vehicles are one of the common reasons result in a fire. Thus, the increased human population arise a high possibility of wildfires.

In California, there are 95% of the number of fires could be considered as human-made fires. Thus, the California state government has held people accountable with a more aggressive attitude in recent years. Additionally, Edward Struzik, a fellow at the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy in Ontario, mentions that education is an efficient way to attracts people attention to avoid wildfires.

Source: New York Times

9.Lithium-oxygen batteries are getting an energy boost

A new type of lithium-oxygen battery could pack more energy and last longer than its predecessors.

Lithium-oxygen batteries, which are more energy-dense and made of more sustainable materials than typical lithium-ion cells, are promising candidates for the next generation of rechargeable batteries . But lithium-oxygen batteries aren’t widely used yet because they die so quickly. By tweaking the building materials, researchers have now constructed a lithium-oxygen battery that can release nearly 100 percent of its stored charge and be recharged at least 150 times. This battery could one day become a more reliable, energy-dense power source for electric cars or other electronics.

These new batteries may eventually be used to power electric cars, but there is still “a ways to go before they can actually be used in vehicles,” Curtiss says. That’s because the new batteries have to be heated to at least 150° Celsius to work. “You’d have to find some way to heat this up when you start up the car,” he says.

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