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Mining in El Salvador: Can Corporate Behaviour be Changed?

Guest article by Vladimir Pacheco Central America remains a land of tremendous potential but persistent poverty. In vulnerable states recovering from civil strife and growing inequality, foreign corporate investment has additional obligations to ensure community consent through patient engagement. In this guest article, Vladimir Pacheco, a social scientist who has worked on mining and human…

Air Pollution Now Top Environmental Health Risk

New analysis from the World Health Organization (WHO) links exposure to air pollution to roughly 7 million deaths annually. The report confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest environmental health risk. It estimates 4.3 million people died in 2012—mainly due to cooking inside with coal or wood stoves. Another 3.7 million died from outdoor pollution, including…

Clean Air Rules Face Scrutiny as World’s Largest Emitter Develops Climate Plan

Oral arguments were held Tuesday to determine the legality of a rule that regulates air pollution crossing state lines. Before the U.S. Supreme Court was the issue of whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority by designing state limits for air pollution when it developed the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was intended to take…

Report Warns of Sudden Climate Change Impacts

Hard-to-predict sudden changes to Earth’s environment are more worrisome than larger but more gradual impacts of climate change, according a panel of scientists advising the federal government. A 200-page report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences repeatedly warns of potential climate “tipping points” beyond which “major and rapid changes occur.” And some of these changes—happening in years…

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenges to EPA Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court opted Tuesday to hear challenges raised by states and industry groups to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. Six of nine petitions were granted review. The specific issue in the case deals with the GHG permitting program that the EPA implemented in January 2011 (commonly…

Frank Ocean, Miley Cyrus, and Sex in the Sea

I was shocked to read that soulful gay hip hop artist Frank Ocean who got into that parking lot altercation with rapper Chris Brown just admitted to Oyster magazine he once sold cocaine and…Say what? OK, I confess I know more about this than I should and by the way, Oyster magazine is all about…

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…