December 16, 2014

New York State moves to ban disposal of e-waste in regular trash

Beginning January 1, all residents of New York State will be required to throw out most forms of e-waste at designated locations throughout the state. Any electronic materials disposed of in regular trash and recycling will be subject to a $100 fine. “This new law will help keep electronics, and their potentially harmful components, out of our waste stream,” said New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in a statement. “By recycling electronics, New Yorkers can help decrease disposal costs and protect the environment.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently called upon state and municipal governments to help curb the fastest growing category of solid waste in the country. Treehugger points out that the United States generates more e-waste per resident than any other country in the world. Residents are being asked to drop off e-waste at electronics recycling events around the state, as well as dozens of participating retailers such as Best Buy or Staples.


Combating fears that new buses and trains will bring “unsavory people” into neighbourhoods

Atlanta is a sprawl-heavy city that was built for the automobile (made especially clear after taking a look at this map). City officials and transit advocates have been trying in recent decades to shift the city toward a denser, transit-oriented future. It scored a major victory last month when suburban Clayton County voted to join the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). Yet, in a city with a long history of housing discrimination against African Americans, there remain many prejudices that associate mass transit expansion with the spread of crime in the suburbs. CityLab decided to take a look at the academic research on the relationship between crime and mass transit expansion and found that the opposite was true. One researcher put it best: “It is ironic that rail access is actually found to reduce crime in the representative white suburban neighborhood, because most of the opposition to rail transit has come from white suburban residents. This opposition, however, may only superficially have to do with concerns over crime. The real motivation may be racial bigotry.”


Investors controlling $2.4 trillion commit to grow the green bonds market

Investors with $2.4 trillion of assets under management declared their support for the burgeoning green bonds movement today and called on governments and the private sector to help do the same. Investors include Aviva, Zurich and BNP Paribas, along with 14 other companies. Green bonds are innovative financial instruments that are issued to fund projects with climate benefits. The Green Bonds Initiative estimates that the market is expected to reach $40 billion by the end of 2014 and more than double in 2015. “We, as investors and fiduciaries, understand that we have a responsibility to address threats to the future performance of our investments from climate change as well as a responsibility to secure our clients’ savings through sustainable and responsible investments,” the document reads. “We believe green bonds can be part of our strategy to accomplish both of these aims.” One of the impediments to the growth of the market is a lack of standardization, reported Anne Field last week. For example, no systematic set of criteria exists for defining just what a green bond is and how to measure its environmental effectiveness.


Guelph scientists make breakthrough on bee health

Researchers at the University of Guelph have made a breakthrough regarding a pathogen linked to increasing bee deaths over the past decade. Researchers agree that a confluence of factors is driving honey bee deaths, while also serving to weaken the remaining population. One of the biggest contributors to declining bee health involves a disease called American foulbrood. Guelph scientists have identified a toxin released by the pathogen and developed a lead-based inhibitor that may be able to stop the disease. “Our approach is designing tools that disarm bacteria without killing them,” said Rod Merrill, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in an announcement. “It does not put pressure on them to mutate because it’s not threatening their survival, it’s just saying, ‘You cannot hurt us, go away.’” The Guelph-based research team will begin field studies of the drug next spring.


Recent findings and possible responses to one of climate change’s biggest threats

Climate-related impacts are already affecting the poorest, most vulnerable and most aggrieved segments of the global population, according to a recently completed set of field studies by the Foundation for Environmental Security and Sustainability. Climate change was found to have important implications for livelihoods and economic development, state-society dynamics, resource governance, institutional performance and relations among privileged and disadvantaged identity groups. These case studies illustrate challenges that international assistance agencies and governments may encounter. It also suggests ways to prevent or mitigate the potential for conflict.

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