IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [10/27 - 11/2/2018]

Release time:2018-10-30

1.Air pollution is the ‘new tobacco’, warns WHO head

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, General Director at the World Health Organization, warns that air pollution is the ‘new tobacco,’ affecting the public health. Recently, research states that air pollution has a negative effect on public health, especially children. Tedros said:“ everyone is suffering from the air pollution, no matter he/her is poor or rich. Air pollution is a public health issue.”

Clean air could prevent diseases and reduce the risk of getting sick, which is the foundation for human’s health. The aims of World Health Organization(WHO) are not only to take care of people, suffering from air pollution but also finding more evidence about harmful effects of air pollution issue for lobbying governments to publish more policies and rule for reducing air pollution. The head of WHO believes that any single person, group and country cannot solve the air pollution. It is necessary for the whole world to work together which is the only practical way to reduce air pollution.

Tedros warns, “So far, the world understand the negative influence of tobacco. Now, we need to treat air pollution issue as seriously as dealing with ‘new tobacco’ issue. We should realize that people breath toxic air every day. The public health issue damage everyone’ health.”

Source: The Guardian

2.Oxford-Cambridge Arc: Row over central England mega-plan

A controversial mega-plan along the Oxford, Milton Keynes, Northampton, and Cambridge arc is backed by Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, including building houses and offices and high-speed roads. Government advisers believe that this plan will become a safeguard for economic development of UK’s science and technology center (central England area). However, environmentalists argue this large plan would reduce the green space in Birmingham

Grayling told BBC’s reporter that the local transportation would be worse if we do not build more roads for improving local transit. Nevertheless, environmentalists are angry that there is no formal public consultation, environmental assessment or parliamentary inquiry have been held for this mega-plan.

A spokesman for the National Infrastructure Commission announced that there is some clear condition for pushing forward this mega-plan. At first, this plan cannot influence local residences’ natural environments for now or in the future. Secondly, the mega-plan cannot reduce new green space or green belt protections.

Source: BBC News

3.Mount Etna is sliding into the sea. History shows that could be catastrophic.

Mount Etna is one of most active volcanic in the world. A new study state that Mount Etna is sliding into the sea, increasing the possibility of sudden collapse and causing a catastrophic tsunami which could destroy the region around the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Since the 1990s, it is known that Mount Etna is sliding into the sea. However, John Murray, a professor at a geologist at the Open University in the U.K., said that he is so surprised about that Etna moved so much over just an eight-day period. Mount Etna suddenly collapse will bring a catastrophic situation to the relative areas.

Fortunately, Professor John Murray, who spends decades to research Mount Etna said: “So far, there is no obvious evidence to show that Mount Etna would collapse at present. We still need more information to make any predictions.”

Source:NBC News

4.Against the grain: Soil constraints holding back Australian wheat

Researchers at The University of Queensland built a model to address that soil constraints would lead Australia's wheat producers to lost around 2 billion dollars. Dr.Yash Dang, who is from UQ's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, said that this model could analyze the impact of soil constraints on economic development. Meanwhile, it could guide some investments decisions for cutting cost maximumly.

Soil sodicity, salinity and acidity influence yield of Australian grain deeply. Every soil constraints has been caused by different reasons, leading to different economic costs and opportunities.  

Dr. Yash Dang said:“ We will design a software tool measure the soil situation in farms and analyze different soil constraints for predicting the potential economic costs. We not only hope to increase farmer’s benefits, but also aim to improve global food security.”

5.Ghana must move from coping with floods to adapting for them

Ghana has a serious flood issue. Although flood issue is not common in West Africa, rainfall variability and land use changes lead flood issue to become more common in this area.

In Ghana’s urban area, such as Accra and Kumasi, flood is caused by increased rainfall,poor drainage, and dumping trash into drainage. The flood issue give rise to the risk of food shortage and mental pressure, which local community have to face.

For solving flood issue, Ghana’s government must move its flood strategies from coping with floods to adapting for them. After every flood, the government organize offices, organizations and military to emergency relief. However, these strategies cannot solve or prevent the flood issue which are very expensive. Local government need to take some long-term flood control measures, such as building more drains and culverts in Accra.


6. Amazon is investing millions to keep packaging out of landfills

Efforts to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills in the United States is attracting big-name investors.

Amazon (AMZN) announced last week that it would invest $10 million in the Closed Loop Fund, joining other companies including Coca-Cola (KO), Walmart (WMT), PepsiCo (PEP) and Unilever (UL).

Closed Loop invests in recycling programs, sustainable goods and landfill reduction efforts. It does so through venture capital and impact investment funds designed to produce both financial and environmental returns.

There's plenty of work to be done: The United Nations says about 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced every year, and global plastic production is expected to triple by 2050.

Source: CNN

7. World's top fishing nations to be given millions to protect oceans

Millions of pounds’ worth of funding to tackle global overfishing and protect coral reefs will be announced at a major conference in Indonesia this week.

Politicians, marine experts and philanthropists will convene in Bali at the Our Ocean conference on Monday to agree commitments on how to address the pressures facing our oceans, including rising sea temperatures, unsustainable fishing practices, marine pollution and coral bleaching.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will announce a cash injection of $86m [£67m] to support coastal communities across 10 countries, including Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Tanzania, Peru and the US.

The chosen countries are among the world’s top fishing nations, have coral reefs in their waters, or are highly dependent on fish for food.

The new funding for 2019-22 will build on Bloomberg’s Vibrant Oceansinitiative launched in 2014, and will continue sustainability projects carried out in Brazil, Chile and the Philippines.

Source:the Guardian

8. How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Environmental Compliance

The broad subject of artificial intelligence makes headlines on a daily basis, whether in the form of self-driving vehicles, virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, dire predictions of automated systems replacing even more human jobs, or woven into pop culture from “Blade Runner” to “Westworld.”

Yet absent from all the attention to AI is any discussion of the Clean Air Act’s permitting requirements or implications under the air law, Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws. Admittedly, these issues aren’t exactly attention-getting topics for the average person or particularly catchy themes for a new movie or TV show. But in the world of environmental law, artificial intelligence is actually an emerging issue of great potential interest.

Philosophers and computer scientists can argue over where sophisticated programming ends and AI begins. From the standpoint of environmental legal requirements, the distinction isn’t important. Or at least not yet. Instead, the real focus is on how this technology interacts with and affects regulatory requirements.

For the purposes of the discussion here, any computer software program that has a modicum of machine learning capabilities will be considered to be AI.

Source: Bloomberg

9. Large amounts of antimicrobial substances in Swedish sewage treatment plants

A large number of antimicrobial substances are found in sludge and water in Swedish sewage treatment plants. Several of them pass through the treatment plants and are released into the aquatic environment. However, with new technologies like ozone and activated carbon, emissions can be significantly reduced. This is shown by Marcus Östman in his dissertation, which he defends at Umeå University on Wednesday, November 7th.

Antimicrobial substances are used to fight bacteria, both in the form of antibiotics, but also as disinfectants and preservatives in cosmetics, etc. It is likely that antibiotics and other antimicrobials in the environment can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. For reasons of caution, it is therefore important to reduce the levels as much as possible.

Marcus Östman shows in the dissertation that many antimicrobial substances are very common in sewage treatment plants and also at high levels. Highest concentrations are found in the sludge, especially of substances known as quaternary ammonium compounds. Treated wastewater effluents contains generally lower levels, but large amounts are still released in total.

10. Marine robots could improve forecasts of European weather in the future

On Saturday 20th October the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook departed on an expedition during which a new automated system of collecting climate data will be trialed. If successful, the new technology could help improve long-range European weather forecasts in the future.

A team of scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) will be on board to acquire data from an array of instruments in the Atlantic Ocean, between the west coast of Africa and the east coast of the USA. Currently data from these instruments, referred to collectively as theRAPIDarray, are gathered once every 18 months by a research ship. However, on this expedition the researchers will be testing a new system that will use marine robots to retrieve data from the instruments.

The scientific instruments that comprise the RAPID array are deployed on 'moorings', wires that extend from an anchor on the seafloor, sometimes more than 5km deep, to just below the sea-surface. A new unit, developed at the NOC's laboratories in Southampton and Liverpool, will be attached to one of these moorings to gather data from all the instruments on the wire and then transmit the data using sound signals to a marine robot called a "Wave Glider" at the sea surface, which will in turn send the data by satellite to scientists at the NOC.

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