IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [9/13 - 9/20/2018]

Release time:2018-09-25

1.Prickly cactus species 'under threat'

Despite the international ban on uncontrolled trade in cacti, policing the smuggling faces many problems and semi-professional hunters continue to uproot plants to order, stealing from National Parks, Indian Reservations, but more significantly from the wild.

many of the approximately 2,000 identified Cactaceae species have a very restricted range which make them vulnerable. "Cactaceae are considered one of the most threatened plant groups in the world," according to Paul Rees, who is in charge of the tropical nursery at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

According to wildlife conservationists in the United States, cacti are being dug up at an ever accelerating rate for zealous collectors looking for niche species。 Additionally narco-tourists are mining desert regions for small, psychotropic peyote plants and so feeding the market for mind-altering drugs.

Cacti now rank just below drugs and guns as the most popular goods smuggled out of Mexico, according to conservationists.

Source: BBC

2.Air pollution particles found in mothers' placentas, new st

Scientists believe they have discovered the first examples of air pollution traveling through the lungs of pregnant women and into their placentas, potentially reaching their fetuses.

The study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Paris, examined the placentas of five pregnant women in the United Kingdom and found that sooty particles had made their way into their placentas.

Dr. Mina Gaga, president of the European Respiratory Society, added that "this new research suggests a possible mechanism of how babies are affected by pollution while being theoretically protected in the womb."

The research is at an early stage, but the findings build on previous research highlighting links between the exposure of pregnant mothers to air pollution and infant mortality, premature birth and low birth weight.

A report published by UNICEF in December 2017 said almost 17 million babies under the age of one live in areas where pollution is at least six times higher than international limits.

Source: CNN

3.Can design solve the world's plastic problem?

It's estimated that, since the 1950s, humanity has produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic. Almost 80% of this is sitting in landfill, or has been left to clog our seas, cities and countryside. By 2050, it is predicted plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish.

Historically, design has been a huge part of the problem, from the graphic design that lauded this miraculous material in early adverts to the product specifications that render some unrecyclable; from packaging design to industrial waste in manufacturing.

The most ambitious efforts remain largely at grassroots level, with emerging design studios leading the way, rather than the established furniture brands that have historically been responsible for elevating the desirability of clear, clean, first-use plastic in design. The recent anti-plastic movement puts them under unique pressures.

While all of the pieces are recyclable, Kartell does not use recycled plastic. That, Luti says, will not change. "(Recycled plastic's) final output does not guarantee the quality and perfection we want to achieve for our product," she explains. "The raw material must be pure in order to have quality processing."

Design is front and center in each instance. In collaboration with science and engineering, we may design ourselves out of the problem after all.


4.Climate change is making storms like Hurricane Florence worse

Extreme weather events are often pointed to as harbingers of what is to come,thanks to manmade climate change. Unfortunately, Hurricane Florence, like Hurricane Harvey last year, is an example of what climate change is doing to storms right now. The planet has warmed significantly over the past several decades, causing changes in the environment in which extreme weather events are occurring. Some are small and inconsequential, and some -- such as increased wind shear that tears apart hurricanes, could actually be beneficial. But there can be destructive consequences.

Human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association. Ocean heat content, a measure of the amount of heat stored in the upper levels of the ocean, is a key indicator of global warming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's tide gauge at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, surged more than 4 feet above the normal high as the storm was making landfall, breaking a record set by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 by more than a foot.


5.Build walls on seafloor to stop glaciers melting, scientists say

Building walls on the seafloor may become the next frontier of climate science, as engineers seek novel ways to hold back the sea level rises predicted to result from global warming.

By erecting barriers of rock and sand, researchers believe they could halt the slide of undersea glaciers as they disintegrate into the deep. It would be a drastic endeavour but could buy some time if climate change takes hold, according to a new paper published on Thursday in the Cryosphere journal, from the European Geosciences Union.


Though the notion may sound far-fetched, the design would be relatively straightforward. “We are imagining very simple structures, simply piles of gravel or sand on the ocean floor,” said Michael Wolovick, a researcher at the department of geosciences at Princeton University in the US who described the plans as “within the order of magnitude of plausible human achievements”.


The structures would not just be aimed at holding back the melting glaciers, but at preventing warmer water from reaching the bases of the glaciers under the sea. New research is now being undertaken by scientists showing how the effects of the warmer water around the world, as the oceans warm, may be the leading cause of underwater melting of the glaciers.

Source:The Gardian.

6.Germany launches world's first hydrogen-powered train

Germany launches world's first hydrogen-powered train, signing that Germany tries to use more expensive but more environmental technology to replace diesel trains. On Monday, the hydrogen-powered train, which is designed by Alstom, starts to run in a 62-mile route, a stretch generally plied by diesel trains, in northern German.

Henri Poupart-Lafarge,  Alstom CEO, said: “ The eco-friendly train is in the commercial service status, designing for serial production.” Alstom believes that the hydrogen-powered train is an eco-friendly replacement for traditional diesel trains. Because steam and water are the only emissions of the hydrogen-powered train, based on a combination design of hydrogen and oxygen.

Stefan Schrank, the project’s manager at Alstom, said: “of course, buying a hydrogen train costlier than a diesel train, but the cost of running a hydrogen train is lower than that of a diesel train. ”

Source: The Guardian

7.Ohio Brewery Makes Green Beer That Looks Like Algae

Maumee Bay Brewing Co. made a ghastly-looking "Alegae Bloom" beer. The idea of creating a beer is camped up in last summer, because toxic algae that show up in a creek alongside the Maumee Bay Brewing Co. This company, which is located in Ohio, hope to build a link between the public and the environmental debate through its products.

Craig Kerr, manager at Maumee Bay Brewing Co., said: “We plan to keep making the ghastly-looking "Alegae Bloom" beer until the Algae Bloom issue has been solved. The goal is that never make this kind of beer in the future. ”

The brewers, like Maumee Bay, try to attract the public attention to the environmental debate through their products, increasing public discussion about environmental issues. Meanwhile, some brewers cooperate with the Natural Resources Defense Council to against the repeal of an Obama-era clean water rule for reducing the pollution in lakes and rivers.

Source: The Guardian

8.ICESat: Space will get unprecedented view of Earth's ice

The American space agency will get an unprecedented view to measure the condition of Earth's ice cover through launching a laser into orbit. The aim of this satellite mission, called ICESat-2, is that collecting the more precise information about Earth’s ice for understanding how global warming influence the Earth's ice cover.

Recent decades, the ice cover of Antarctica and Greenland has declined billions of tonnes. Dr. Tom Neumann, Nasa's ICESat-2 deputy project scientist, mentioned that most of the ice change is precise and quite subtle. Thus, monitoring the condition of Earth's ice cover requires an accurate tool. Furthermore, ICESat-2 meets all requirements of tracking all changes in unprecedented detail of ice from some 500 km above the planet.

Meanwhile, ICESat-2 can build the first maps of sea-ice in the Antarctic. Currently, the technique for monitoring sea-ice only works in the Arctic. Therefore, ICESat-2 can help scientists fill this gap.

Source: BBC News

9.Trump administration rewrites Obama-era rule for potent greenhouse gas

Trump administration rewrites the Obama-era Waste Prevention Rule to regulate the new level of methane emissions in public land. However, the new vision of Waste Prevention Rule is a controversial regulation, like the old vision. The Interior Department mentioned that rewrites Waste Prevention Rule could decline the complexity of oil operation and reduce the cost of the oil company. Unfortunately, the environmental organization accuses the new vision of Waste Prevention Rule damage current air environment because methane has a more significant adverse effect on global warming.

Currently, the Waste Prevention Rule to allow oil operation to burn and release in the public environment. Obama administration requires the producers to snatch the gases instead of wasting them. Moreover, the different level of gas emissions requires the producers to pay different amounts of fine. Furthermore, Interior Department officials refuse to provide more details about how new rules influence the gas emission. They explained the more information would be published in the coming days.

The Environmental Defense Fund describes the IBM rules as “a weak federal framework.” Meanwhile, Western Values Project, advocating on federal land issues, mentions this new rule is that pacifying industry with the cost of the taxpayer."

Source: CNN News

10.Giant towers proposed to clean Delhi's toxic smog

Delhi plans to solve smog issue through building several giant towers. The Smog Project designed by Dubai-based architecture firm Znera Space. These giants look like only occurs in science fiction, but they will be built in Delhi in reality.

Delhi's citizens suffer from dangerous smog pollution. At the end of 2017, the residents at Delhi breath the smog was equivalent to smoke 44 cigarettes per day. According to the data of the World Health Organization, Indian cities are the top 20 in the most-polluted cities ranking.

Giant towers projects plan to utilize giant towers to clean air. To be more specific, the polluted air inflows at the base of a tower, then the dirty air will be cleaned inside the tower through five stages of filtration. Meanwhile, solar hydrogen cell system will power these Giant towers instead of traditional fuel. Also, Giant towers can capture Carbon, which has been collected through the five stages of filtration, to produce Carbon products such as graphene, concrete, fertilizer, and ink.

Source: CNN News

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