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Tag archives for pollution

Using the Clean Air Act to Regulate Carbon Emissions

In an attempt to address global changes in climate, the Obama administration set specific deadlines for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the Clean Air Act to cut carbon dioxide pollution from new and existing power plants. Just weeks away from the deadline for release of proposed rules for new power plants (full disclosure: Duke scholars will…

Filmmakers Document the “Weirdness” of Marine Garbage on the Gyre Expedition

On June 6 through 13, a team of scientists, artists, and filmmakers explored remote beaches of Alaska, to assess the impact of debris washing out of the great gyres, or currents, in the Pacific Ocean. Called the Gyre Expedition, the project was launched by the Alaska SeaLife Center and the Anchorage Museum. The multidisciplinary team…

Gyre Expedition Probes Impact of Plastic Pollution on Remote Beaches

Earlier this summer, a team of scientists and artists set out along coastal Alaska, to document the impact that plastic pollution is having on remote beaches. The project, called the Gyre Expedition, was launched by the Alaska SeaLife Center and the Anchorage Museum. The goal is multimedia reportage and art that will be showcased in Anchorage,…

A New Check-Up on the Health of U.S. Rivers

Thanks in large part to the Clean Water Act, many rivers in the United States are cleaner now than when Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire on a Sunday morning in June 1969. But the vast majority of the nation’s rivers and streams still do not measure up as healthy. According to a new assessment by…

Obama Shares Plan for Action on Climate Change

In a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, President Barack Obama outlined a long-awaited executive strategy—comprised mostly of initiatives already underway—to curb greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. “As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say, ‘We need to act,’” Obama said. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet…

Top 10 Headlines Today: Exotic New Matter, Continental Collision…

The top stories on National Geographic’s radar today: An exotic new form of matter may have been discovered in subatomic particles, a new subduction zone between Europe and America is slowly pulling the continents together, and…

As U.S. Carbon Dioxide Footprint Falls, Report Looks at Ways to Continue Emission Decline

As Vice President Joe Biden reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to combat climate change, new data indicates carbon dioxide emissions in the United States in 2012 dropped to their lowest levels since 1994. The report found expansion of renewables, increased efficiency and the increased availability of unconventional natural gas all contributed to the reduction in climate pollution. In fact, by the end…

Kumbh Mela 2013: The Water’s Dirty but Nobody’s Sick

The latest figures on water quality in the Ganges, straight from the Central Pollution Control Board—a government organisation charged with monitoring it daily during the Kumbh Mela—suggest that contrary to earlier reports, it’s neither drinkable nor batheable. Given that 80-odd million people are expected to bathe in the river during the festival, I asked head of medical…

Climate Change under the Microscope in Report, Leaked IPCC Draft

As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., debate the so-called fiscal cliff—when U.S. federal tax increases and spending cuts are due to take effect at the end of 2012—new research in the journal Nature Climate Change says we are already at the edge of a climate cliff. It explores the cost and risk associated with surpassing critical emissions thresholds by 2020, and what would need to…

Newtown Creek: The Unseen Stream That Keeps New York City Flowing

Text and Photos by Gloria Dawson Riverkeeper’s patrol boat glides along Newtown Creek in New York City. Like a cruise ship captain leading a voyage through environmental hell, Phillip Musegaas points out oil slicks, the sewage treatment plant, and the huge pipes where raw sewage flows into the creek every time it rains. He notes…

Situational Awareness

Tonight, anchored along the western shore of Lanai Island, we’re reveling in the briny land smell beneath volcanic seamounts and mountain goat habitat.  Our scientific research is complete and all that remains is a final cleaning of the ship, a barbeque on deck, an alcohol-free swizzle party and another refreshing swim in the Pacific.  Strange…

A Bolder Clean Water Act for the Next 40 Years

As game-changing laws go, the 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act ranks high. With images of rivers like the Cuyahoga burning and fish floating belly up in Lake Erie still fresh in the public’s mind, the Act transformed the nation’s relationship with fresh water.  It forbade cities and industries from using rivers and lakes as waste…

Our Plastic Quarry and the Nets We Carry

Three days and almost 400 miles west of California, the rail is now free of slumped crew feeding the fish.  From my aft berth, I can hear the deck being scrubbed above. Even though we’ve passed beyond the shallow edge of the continental shelf, we’re still amid cold, northern currents.  With the exception of today’s…

Seeing Our Planet Through Children’s Eyes

The winners of Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest were announced today, with first prize going to eight-year-old Anastasya Vorobko from Saint Petersburg in Russia, for her image SOS! This new photo contest, which was launched earlier this summer by National Geographic photographer, Reza, in association with the Azerbaijan-based NGO, IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental…

2012 Mission to the North Pacific Plastic Gyre

In 1988, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers measuring pollution in the Sea of Japan predicted that plastic contamination would show up in much greater quantities in the Pacific Ocean.  Researchers had already confirmed the presence of a new, giant soup of plastics, which the media eventually dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In fact,…