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Ascot, United Kingdom

Center for Environmental Policy

Ascot, United Kingdom
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News Article | May 2, 2017

Foes of the Paris climate agreement have gained the upper hand in the ongoing White House debate over whether the U.S. should pull out of the historic pact, according to participants in the discussions and those briefed on the deliberations, although President Trump has yet to make a final decision. Senior administration officials have met twice since Thursday to discuss whether the United States should abandon the U.N. accord struck in December 2015, under which the United States pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The president’s aides remain divided over the international and domestic legal implications of remaining party to the agreement, which has provided a critical political opening for those pushing for an exit. On Thursday several Cabinet members — including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who’s called for exiting the accord, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who wants it renegotiated, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who advocates remaining a party to it — met with top White House advisers, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Both Ivanka Trump and Kushner advocate remaining part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, even though the president has repeatedly criticized the global warming deal. During that meeting, according to several people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, White House counsel Don McGahn informed participants that the United States could not remain in the agreement and lower the level of carbon cuts it would make by 2025. The administration is working to unravel many Obama-era policies underpinning that pledge, and the economic consulting firm Rhodium Group has estimated that the elimination of those policies would mean the United States would cut its emissions by 14 percent by 2025 compared with 21 percent if they remained in place. This interpretation represented a change from the White House counsel’s earlier analysis and is at odds with the State Department’s view of the agreement. [Trump puts critic of renewable energy in charge of Energy Department’s renewable energy office] Susan Biniaz, who served as the State Department’s lead climate lawyer from 1989 until earlier this year, said in an interview Tuesday that the agreement reached by nearly 200 nations in Paris allows for countries to alter their commitments in either direction. “The Paris agreement provides for contributions to be nationally determined and it encourages countries, if they decide to change their targets, to make them more ambitious,” Biniaz said. “But it doesn’t legally prohibit them from changing them in another direction.” Ivanka Trump urged White House staff secretary Rob Porter to convene a second meeting Monday with lawyers from both the White House and the State Department. That session addressed the question of America’s obligations under the 2015 deal as well as whether remaining in the agreement would make it more difficult for the administration to legally defend the changes it was making to the federal government’s existing climate policies, but it did not reach a final decision. Pruitt, who is spearheading the effort to rewrite several Obama-era rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, has argued that exiting the agreement will make it easier to fend off the numerous legal lawsuits he will face in the months ahead. At a rally with supporters Saturday, Trump said he would make a “big decision” on Paris within the next two weeks and vowed to end “a broken system of global plunder at American expense.” Administration advisers on both sides of the political spectrum, however, emphasized that the president himself would decide what path to pursue when it came to the climate agreement. “In the end, President Trump will make the final decision, regardless of where the staff conversations end up,” Thomas J. Pyle, who heads the conservative Institute for Energy Research and led the Trump transition team for the Energy Department, said in an email. “The environmental lobby is going to cause litigation problems on nearly every aspect of President Trump’s energy and environmental agenda whether or not the administration stays in the Paris Agreement. Staying in Paris only gives them another target to shoot at.” But Paul Bledsoe, who served as a White House climate adviser under Bill Clinton and is now a lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy, warned that the administration might face serious pushback from abroad if Trump seeks to withdraw from the agreement. “The Trump team seems oblivious to the fact that climate protection is now viewed by leading allies and nations around the world as a key measure of moral and diplomatic standing,” Bledsoe said in an email. “The U.S. would be risking pariah status on the international stage by withdrawing from Paris, and even a fig leaf approach of technically staying in the agreement while ignoring most of its provisions would be better than pulling out altogether.”

Smyth R.L.,Smithsonian Environmental Research Center | Akan C.,University of South Florida | Tejada-Martinez A.,Center for Environmental Policy | Neale P.J.,Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans | Year: 2017

Southern Ocean phytoplankton assemblages acclimated to low-light environments that result from deep mixing are often sensitive to ultraviolet and high photosynthetically available radiation. In such assemblages, exposures to inhibitory irradiance near the surface result in loss of photosynthetic capacity that is not rapidly recovered and can depress photosynthesis after transport below depths penetrated by inhibitory irradiance. We used a coupled biophysical modeling approach to quantify the reduction in primary productivity due to photoinhibition based upon experiments and observations made during the spring bloom in Ross Sea Polynya (RSP). Large eddy simulation (LES) was used to generate depth trajectories representative of observed Langmuir circulation that were passed through an underwater light field to yield time series of spectral irradiance representative of what phytoplankton would have experienced in situ. These were used to drive an assemblage-specific photosynthesis-irradiance model with inhibition determined from a biological weighting function and repair rate estimated from shipboard experiments on the local assemblage. We estimate the daily depth-integrated productivity was 230 mmol C m-2. This estimate includes a 6-7% reduction in daily depth-integrated productivity over potential productivity (i.e., effects of photoinhibition excluded). When trajectory depths were fixed (no vertical transport), the reduction in productivity was nearly double. Relative to LES estimates, there was slightly less depth-integrated photoinhibition with random walk trajectories and nearly twice as much with circular rotations. This suggests it is important to account for turbulence when simulating the effects of vertical mixing on photoinhibition due to the kinetics of photodamage and repair. © 2017. American Geophysical Union.

Heuberger C.F.,Center for Environmental Policy | Staffell I.,Center for Environmental Policy | Shah N.,Center for Process Systems Engineering | Dowell N.M.,Center for Environmental Policy
Computers and Chemical Engineering | Year: 2016

A new approach is required to determine a technology's value to the power systems of the 21st century. Conventional cost-based metrics are incapable of accounting for the indirect system costs associated with intermittent electricity generation, in addition to environmental and security constraints. In this work, we formalise a new concept for power generation and storage technology valuation which explicitly accounts for system conditions, integration challenges, and the level of technology penetration. The centrepiece of the system value (SV) concept is a whole electricity systems model on a national scale, which simultaneously determines the ideal power system design and unit-wise operational strategy. It brings typical Process Systems Engineering thinking into the analysis of power systems. The model formulation is a mixed-integer linear optimisation and can be understood as hybrid between a generation expansion and a unit commitment model. We present an analysis of the future UK electricity system and investigate the SV of carbon capture and storage equipped power plants (CCS), onshore wind power plants, and grid-level energy storage capacity. We show how the availability of different low-carbon technologies impact the optimal capacity mix and generation patterns. We find that the SV in the year 2035 of grid-level energy storage is an order of magnitude greater than that of CCS and wind power plants. However, CCS and wind capacity provide a more consistent value to the system as their level of deployment increases. Ultimately, the incremental system value of a power technology is a function of the prevalent system design and constraints. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | November 3, 2016

In this election season science and health have taken a backseat. Worse, presidential candidate Donald Trump dismissed climate change as a Chinese hoax. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, vowed to dig up what the government knows about UFOs. Science is hardly getting its due. Meanwhile in labs and institutions around the country, scientists are hard at work: inventing technologies to make guns safer, developing antibiotics to quell treatment-resistant infections and searching for more efficient forms of renewable, clean energy. This research addresses complex scientific and social issues that require thoughtful policy-making and debate. The country's next Congress and president will have much to consider. To that end, Scientific American corralled some of the key scientific issues that U.S. politicians should be paying attention to, but aren’t—from the threat of nuclear Armageddon to the ethics of medically assisted suicide. We spoke with top thinkers in each field—policy experts at universities, members of foundations and nonprofits, and the scientists themselves. What, our reporters asked, should government be doing to keep Americans healthy, safe and productive? To learn the answers, read on. We hope those who would be our leaders will do the same.—Emily Laber-Warren Tuberculosis. Gonorrhea. Pneumonia. All these infections were once readily cured but overuse of antibiotics has created “superbugs”—bacteria that are resistant to even last-resort medicines. Twenty-three thousand people die in the U.S. each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, and by 2050, experts estimate that rogue bacteria will kill more people than cancer. The United Nations recently held an unprecedented conference on how to combat superbugs. Here in the U.S. experts endorse a three-pronged approach: Congress should invest in drug development, ban the wanton feeding of antibiotics to cows and pigs, and attempt to reduce the number of patient infections. Hopefully, says Kathy Talkington, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Project at The Pew Charitable Trusts, “we can move something in the near future through Congress while the iron is hot.” Unlike medicines for heart disease or diabetes, a good antibiotic is usually used by patients for just a single occurrence of an illness, which makes pharmaceutical companies reluctant to pour money into developing new ones. Congress could help by funding some of the research as well as by enacting legislation that eases the economic burden of testing new antibiotics. Meanwhile 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to cattle and other food animals, so legislators like Rep. Louise Slaughter (D–N.Y.) are turning their attention to the farmyard. Antibiotics make animals grow faster, and poultry, beef and pork farmers include regular doses in their animals’ feed. Slaughter has proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of antibiotics in healthy animals. Experts say we should also try to prevent the spread of infections in the first place—by encouraging hand washing and safe cooking practices.—Elyssa Bernfeld In Flint, Mich., thousands of children live with brain damage because lead from aging pipes leached into their drinking water. More than 360,000 underground water reserves have been polluted by waste from industrial processes. Severe droughts in the western states threaten water supplies for some 43 million people. Of all the services Americans depend on, clean drinking water is the most precious. But crumbling infrastructure, contamination from fracking and farming, and climate change–related drought are depriving many Americans of this essential resource. Experts say Congress must take a range of actions—from helping cities identify toxins in their water systems to setting stricter limits for the dumping of industrial waste. “Drinking water is a basic human need,” says Erin Derrington, a Pacific Northwest–based environmental consultant who specializes in wetlands. “Without wise management—a goal that does not seem to be at the top of either the Republican or Democratic nominees’ agenda—we face real risks of degraded drinking water quality.” Experts say Congress should close a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows energy companies to inject wastewater into the ground, where it contaminates underground water supplies that could be useful in the future. In addition, they say, the federal government needs to invest more than the $5.4 billion it spent in 2014 to help states replace old water mains and pipes—an investment that will pay off by preventing costly public health crises like the recent one in Flint.—Nicole Lewis When the automobile was introduced, it was a death trap. But in the 1950s universities began crash testing—research that ultimately led to safer cars, better driver education and speed limits—and that slashed vehicular fatalities by 90 percent. Now public health experts—including the American Medical Association, which put out a statement in June—want the government to take a similar approach to gun violence, which is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths a year. The question of whether to regulate guns has become polarized, quelling progress on reducing deaths. But scientific research could liberate the issue from politics. Instead of debating whether people should have guns, science can suggest ways to make people safer: For example, how to prevent accidents and suicides in the 22 percent of U.S. homes where there are guns—by understanding how to best keep loaded guns out of the hands of children and distraught people who might act impulsively., a leading gun violence prevention organization, wants Congress to fund research into technology such as biometric gun locks and safeties that would make it impossible for anyone but a gun’s owner to fire it. “The truth is, whether you want gun rights or you support gun control, you should want these kinds of detailed academic, scientifically rigorous studies,” says Adam Winkler, a constitutional law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles. “That is what a public health approach takes.”—Stephanie Daniel U.S. scientists and engineers produced the defining technologies of the modern era: the car, the airplane, the atom bomb, the iPhone. But the nation is quickly losing its edge. Foreign-born scientists and engineers are filling key slots at universities and in private labs, in part because of a dearth of qualified Americans. Most experts trace the problem to the U.S. educational system. Our students rank far below other industrialized countries in math and science. The average American 15-year-old has difficulty solving an equation using pi. But there is a huge variation in how students fare depending on the state they live in; some Bible belt states shirk teaching evolution science or present it as a competing theory with religious creationism whereas states like New Hampshire offer excellent math and science instruction. The solution, policy experts say, is for the federal government to create uniform, up-to-date requirements for the science and math concepts students should know at each grade level, as is done in other countries. But recent attempts at implementing national curricular conformity such as the Common Core have met resistance. For now, experts say, the best approach is to suggest, not require. The Next Generation Science Standards, led by educators from nonprofits, philanthropies and state governments, are an attempt to codify a national baseline of math and science achievement. But so far only 18 states and the District of Columbia have signed on. The standards are optional but their authors hope that more state legislatures will sign them into law.—W. Harry Fortuna America’s national parks and forests are facing many challenges. In recent years legislators have stymied attempts to increase park funding and pushed for privatization of publicly owned lands. The National Park Service is some $11 billion behind on repairs and maintenance. Meanwhile, Arizona’s congressional representatives support new uranium mines on public land near the Grand Canyon—and legislators from other states have similar projects such as oil and gas development in the lands around Arches National Park in Utah. “There’s constant pressure to develop the land surrounding parks,” says Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association. But Pres. Barack Obama has taken steps to protect public lands. Earlier this year the U.S. Bureau of Land Management created a plan to protect Utah’s public landscapes from energy developers. The Department of the Interior also recently canceled an oil-and-gas lease that threatened wildlife-rich regions around Montana’s Glacier National Park. Meanwhile private groups are taking their own steps to protect the nation’s public lands. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land recently worked with a philanthropist to add 282 acres to Arizona’s Saguaro National Park. But whether the money comes from Congress or private pocketbooks, some advocates say it would be better spent readying parks for the impacts of climate change or fixing trails and roads at heavily-visited sites like Yellowstone. “We shouldn’t be expanding our parks. We should be maintaining them,” says Bonner Cohen, senior fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research.—Samantha Lee Last year in Paris the U.S. was one of 191 countries to sign a global agreement to slash the emissions that fuel climate change. It was an historic moment, but the hard work is yet to come: figuring out how to reduce the country’s greenhouse gases to at least 26 percent below 2005 levels within the next nine years. Climate change has gotten little attention during this presidential election season. Although Democrat Hillary Clinton has called climate change an “urgent threat” and pledged to carry on Obama’s climate initiatives, GOP candidate Donald Trump has openly denied climate change and said he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement. Part of the Obama administration’s solution—dubbed the Clean Power Plan—would require power plants to limit their emissions, but it has been blocked both by the Republican-controlled Congress and the Supreme Court. Most policy experts agree that Obama’s power plan is the best tool to meet the nation’s emissions reduction target. If Democrats win the presidency and control of both houses of Congress, the Clean Power Plan might get new legs. Other solutions include taxing carbon or allowing companies to profit when they reduce emissions more than required, says Daniel Fiorino, director of the Center for Environmental Policy at American University. If Republicans remain in control, experts say, Congress might do better to focus on investing in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, an approach that might appeal to the GOP because it could stimulate the economy by adding new jobs.—Suzanna Masih Scientists are inching closer to the holy grail of genetic engineering—the ability to add or remove DNA from an organism to change specific traits. Genetic engineering, also known as gene editing, has been used for years to enhance agriculture and treat disease. But a new technology that harnesses the CRISPR–Cas9 gene–protein complex makes it possible to add and remove genes with unprecedented speed and precision, bringing designer babies and other sci-fi capabilities closer to reality. Scientists are testing whether gene editing can help treat diseases such as HIV and hemophilia. But CRISPR opens the door to editing for human enhancement—such as adding genes for bigger muscles or whiter teeth—possibilities that are “soon to be on the horizon,” says Fyodor Urnov, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley. There are as yet no laws regulating gene editing for enhancement. Bioethicist Jonathan Moreno of the University of Pennsylvania says that’s proper, because the technology is not yet developed, and “once you legislate, it’s very hard to unlegislate [sic].” For now experts are wrestling with the ethical implications of gene editing and making recommendations: In December a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, comprising specialists in health, science and bioethics, will publish their recommendations on how to legislate as the technology develops.—Michael R. Murphy Nuclear war is no longer a two-player game, as it largely was during the cold war, with the U.S. and NATO facing off against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. The geopolitical nuclear landscape has grown more fraught and complex than ever. China, India, Pakistan and Israel all have nuclear weapons. North Korea’s dictator is conducting missile tests with great fanfare. These new configurations multiply exponentially the rivalries and passions, global and regional, that could ignite a regional or global nuclear conflict. Experts are divided over how the U.S. should act to minimize the threat. Some say we should publicly embrace a “no first use” policy, solidifying our implicit vow never to be first to push the button. But Obama’s advisers maintain that any change of policy could upset the status quo—and hence the safest action is no action at all. Another issue is how to respond to a perceived nuclear attack. The current policy is “launch on warning,” meaning that we will fire as soon as we learn that another country has attacked us. This policy has led several times to near-catastrophe, when our warning systems were mistakenly tripped by a satellite, a faulty computer chip and even the moon. A safer doctrine, say experts including former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, is to avoid mistakes by retaliating only after being struck. Once nukes have been launched against us, there’s nothing we can do to stop them. But we can strike back—even after being hit—using our fleet of nuclear subs and bombers. “We’re not going to change,” Perry says, “until people understand what those dangers are.”—Michael O’Brien Two years ago, a 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard who was dying of brain cancer decided to end her life. But she did not want to swallow a bunch of pills. She wanted to die safely and without pain, under a doctor’s supervision. That meant Maynard had to move from California to Oregon, one of the few states where medically assisted suicide was legal at the time. Maynard’s story made the cover of People magazine. Suddenly the “right to die” had become a national issue—a far cry from the 1990s, when physician Jack Kevorkian was nicknamed “Dr. Death” and convicted of murder for helping his dying patients end their lives. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the right to medically assisted death is not constitutionally protected, leaving legislation up to the states. Assisted suicide is now legal in Montana, Vermont, Washington State and California as well as Oregon—and 20 other states and the District of Columbia are considering the move. But as right-to-die legislation gains traction, it is becoming as polarizing as the abortion debate, raising similar religious and ethical questions about an individual’s rights and who should have authority in matters of life and death.—Alyssa Pagano In 2013 the U.S. threw away more than 32.5 million tons of plastic waste, up from around 390,000 tons in 1960. Much of this plastic litter reaches rivers and makes its way to the sea. Plastic bags, balloons and six-pack rings pose known dangers to birds, sea turtles and other wildlife. But recent research suggests that once in the ocean, plastics degrade into microscopic particles that can be hazardous not only to animals and the environment but to humans as well. These so-called microplastics—particles smaller than one fifth of an inch—are ingested by fish, then by people if they eat the affected seafood. A new study by researchers at Plymouth University in England found that a single washing machine cycle can release hundreds of thousands of microplastic particles from fleece and other synthetic fabrics. The U.N. has singled out microplastics for their potential to cause infertility and other health issues. One approach to the problem has been to institute bans or taxes on plastic shopping bags, but only three of 77 such proposals have passed in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Similar efforts are being made to ban so-called microbeads—tiny plastics manufactured for use in soaps and cosmetics. Conservation groups also organize beach and road cleanups, to prevent plastics from lingering in the environment.—Michael H. Wilson Obesity now affects more than a third of American adults. It’s associated with myriad diseases—the treatment of which costs over $147 billion a year. And almost one in five children are now obese, detracting from their self-esteem, emotional well-being and health. “If we continue on this course, this generation of children could be the first in U.S. history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents,” Donald Schwarz, vice president, Program, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest public health philanthropy, said during a telephone press conference. Experts say there is no single way to reduce obesity, because so many factors can impact weight—income, education, access to healthful food, physical activity. This is confounded by the fact that weight is not necessarily an indicator of overall health. States and even city governments have introduced policies aimed at changing people’s exercise and eating habits and fighting the hold fast food has on the U.S. diet. For example, the cities of Philadelphia and Berkeley, Calif., recently instituted a tax on sugary sodas—something that New York City tried and failed to do several years ago. Critics reject such programs as government overreach, calling them behavior taxes, but a similar program in Mexico has curbed soda consumption substantially. “We know it works,” says spokesperson David Goldberg of Healthy Food America, a science-based nonprofit.—Kazi Awal Hurricane Matthew, which devastated Haiti and deluged huge swaths of North Carolina earlier this month, was the latest in a barrage of catastrophic storms to hit U.S. coastlines in recent years. With storms and flooding along the coasts intensifying due to climate change, experts say it is time for a paradigm shift in how we think about our coasts, home to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population. “I wouldn’t put my money in investing in real estate at the coast, certainly not in the long term,” says Jeff Williams, a coastal marine geologist and scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey. The most sensible strategy, however difficult to stomach, is for the government to buy damaged property so that it never gets built on again, and people need to move inland. “Basically coastal communities in this country are staring down the loaded gun of climate change,” says Shiva Polefka, an ocean policy analyst with the liberal-leaning think tank, the Center for American Progress. “Due to sea level rise, we’re going to have to pull back from the coast.” Instead, the approach that towns and cities have been taking, with financial support from the federal government, has been to build walls around their shorelines or dump tons of sand on eroding beaches. Experts say Congress should reallocate money into large-scale programs to buy property from coastal homeowners. Buyout programs do exist, but they are tiny. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, for example, New York City helped rebuild more than 10,000 houses, but bought fewer than a thousand.—Meaghan Lee Callaghan The next president will inherit a national patchwork of renewable energy policies. Only 30 states mandate renewable energy. Top on the list are Maine and Idaho, which derive 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources such as biomass and hydropower. But Pennsylvania produces a paltry 4 percent of its energy from renewables. And the states that have set no requirements lag even further behind. Wyoming, for instance, generates less than 1 percent of its energy from renewables. The U.S. has around 4 percent of the world’s population but emits some 25 percent of global CO , the main driver of climate change. Yet only about 13 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, hydropower and biomass. Many believe it is high time for Congress to create a national standard. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group, points out that half of U.S. wind production between 2001 and 2006 was the result of state energy standards. Others contend that, given the huge differences in natural resources around the country, it makes sense for states to retain flexibility on how to meet their energy needs. A Great Plains state like Iowa, for example, may be well situated to harness energy from windmills whereas sunny Arizona would do better to rely on solar. Most attempts at national renewable energy policy take this geographic variability into account, allowing states to develop individualized portfolios while adhering to strict standards that increase over time. Standards aside, experts say the federal government needs to modernize the energy grid. Renewable energy is not evenly distributed across the country. For example, lots of wind is collected in the western plains, and most solar energy is generated in the Southwest, but the areas with highest energy demand are on the coasts. Territorial battles among the states hold up necessary permits, leading to delays in connecting the isolated segments of the energy grid, according to policy expert Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit research center in Colorado. Kortenhorst suggests that a future president could institute a “federal override” that would allow the government to step in and force the integration of various regional grids, as it currently does with pipelines.—Roshan Abraham The reporters are students in Emily Laber-Warren's science journalism class at the C.U.N.Y. Graduate School of Journalism.

Bateman I.J.,University of East Anglia | Brouwer R.,VU University Amsterdam | Ferrini S.,University of East Anglia | Ferrini S.,University of Siena | And 10 more authors.
Environmental and Resource Economics | Year: 2011

We implement a controlled, multi-site experiment to develop and test guidance principles for benefits transfers. These argue that when transferring across relatively similar sites, simple mean value transfers are to be preferred but that when sites are relatively dissimilar then value function transfers will yield lower errors. The paper also provides guidance on the appropriate specification of transferable value functions arguing that these should be developed from theoretical rather than ad-hoc statistical approaches. These principles are tested via a common format valuation study of water quality improvements across five countries. While this provides an idealised tested, results support the above principles and suggest directions for future transfer studies. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Neugarten R.A.,Cornell University | Wolf S.A.,Cornell University | Wolf S.A.,Center for Environmental Policy | Stedman R.C.,Cornell University | Tear T.H.,Cornell University
BioScience | Year: 2011

Large-scale sell-offs of industrial timberlands in the United States have prompted public and private investments in a new class of "working forest" land deals, notable for their large size and complex divisions of property rights. These transactions have been pitched as "win-win-win" deals that provide social, economic, and ecological benefits. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested in these transactions, we found a paucity of evidence that their supposed benefits are being realized. Monitoring programs necessary to gather such evidence tend to be underfunded, short term, and focused on a limited set of indicators. The few projects with more comprehensive monitoring programs had long-term funding sources, formal mechanisms for incorporating data into subsequent management decisions, and combined multidisciplinary monitoring techniques. We propose that a relatively modest allocation of funds to monitoring could help assess and hopefully improve the effectiveness of current and future transactions, to see if the promise of "win-win-win" is actually delivered. © 2011 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved.

Johnston B.D.,University of Exeter | Scown T.M.,University of Exeter | Moger J.,University of Exeter | Cumberland S.A.,University of Birmingham | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2010

Nanoparticles (NPs) are reported tobeapotential environmental health hazard. For organisms living in the aquatic environment, there is uncertainty on exposure because of a lack of understanding and data regarding the fate, behavior, and bioavailability of the nanomaterials in the water column. This paper reports on a series of integrative biological and physicochemical studies on the uptake of unmodified commercial nanoscale metal oxides, zinc oxide (ZnO), cerium dioxide (CeO2), and titanium dioxide (TiO2), from the water and diet to determine their potential ecotoxicological impacts on fish as a function of concentration. Particle characterizations were performed and tissue concentrations were measured by a wide range of analytical methods. Definitive uptake from the watercolumnandlocalizationofTiO 2NPsingillswasdemonstrated for the first time by use of coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering(CARS)microscopy. Significant uptake of nanomaterials was found only for cerium in the liver of zebrafish exposed via the water and ionic titanium in the gut of trout exposed via the diet. For the aqueous exposures undertaken, formation of large NP aggregates (up to 3 μm) occurred and it is likely that this resulted in limited bioavailability of the unmodified metal oxide NPs in fish. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

Woods J.,Center for Environmental Policy | Williams A.,Cranfield University | Hughes J.K.,UK Environment Agency | Black M.,Center for Environmental Policy | Murphy R.,Imperial College London
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil resources. Both direct energy use for crop management and indirect energy use for fertilizers, pesticides and machinery production have contributed to the major increases in food production seen since the 1960s. However, the relationship between energy inputs and yields is not linear. Low-energy inputs can lead to lower yields and perversely to higher energy demands per tonne of harvested product. At the other extreme, increasing energy inputs can lead to ever-smaller yield gains. Although fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy for agriculture, the mix of fuels used differs owing to the different fertilization and cultivation requirements of individual crops. Nitrogen fertilizer production uses large amounts of natural gas and some coal, and can account for more than 50 per cent of total energy use in commercial agriculture. Oil accounts for between 30 and 75 per cent of energy inputs of UK agriculture, depending on the cropping system. While agriculture remains dependent on fossil sources of energy, food prices will couple to fossil energy prices and food production will remain a significant contributor to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Technological developments, changes in crop management, and renewable energy will all play important roles in increasing the energy efficiency of agriculture and reducing its reliance of fossil resources. © 2010 The Royal Society.

Gavriel S.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Gazit Y.,The Israel Cohen Institute for Biological Control | Leach A.,Center for Environmental Policy | Mumford J.,Center for Environmental Policy | Yuval B.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata | Year: 2012

The success of the sterile insect technique (SIT) for the control of the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), depends largely on the ability of sterile flies to spread in the target area and compete with the wild males for wild females. Our objectives in the present study were three-fold: (1) to evaluate the dispersal ability of sterile male medflies and compare their spatial dispersion patterns with that of wild males, (2) to evaluate how different release methods affect subsequent spatial dispersal, and (3) to determine whether manipulating the pre-release diet of sterile males affects their dispersal. To achieve these objectives, we conducted three experiments in the field where we quantified and analyzed the spatial and temporal dispersal patterns of sterile medflies and the dispersion of resident wild males. Overall, ca. 5% of the released sterile flies were recaptured 100m from the release point, and ca. 2% were recaptured 200m from the release point. The released flies rarely survived longer than 5-7days. We repeatedly found that the spatial dispersion patterns of sterile males significantly correlated with those of wild males. Release methods strongly affected subsequent fly dispersal in the field as significantly more flies were recaptured following a scattered release vs. a central one. Finally, we show that enriching sterile fly pre-release diet with protein did not affect subsequent dispersal in the field. We conclude that sterile males are able to match the dispersion patterns of wild males, an outcome that is highly important for SIT success. Large releases from central points distant from each other may leave many areas uncovered. Accordingly, scattered releases, repeated twice a week, will provide better coverage of all available aggregations sites. The spatial performance of protein-fed males suggests that pre-release diet amendments may be used without detriment as a sexual stimulant in SIT programs. © 2011 The Authors. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata © 2011 The Netherlands Entomological Society.

Papworth S.,Imperial College London | Papworth S.,Center for Environmental Policy | Milner-Gulland E.J.,Imperial College London | Slocombe K.,University of York
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Responding only to individuals of a predator species which display threatening behaviour allows prey species to minimise energy expenditure and other costs of predator avoidance, such as disruption of feeding. The threat sensitivity hypothesis predicts such behaviour in prey species. If hunted animals are unable to distinguish dangerous humans from non-dangerous humans, human hunting is likely to have a greater effect on prey populations as all human encounters should lead to predator avoidance, increasing stress and creating opportunity costs for exploited populations. We test the threat sensitivity hypothesis in wild Poeppigi's woolly monkeys (Lagothrix poeppigii) in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador, by presenting human models engaging in one of three behaviours "hunting", "gathering" or "researching". These experiments were conducted at two sites with differing hunting pressures. Visibility, movement and vocalisations were recorded and results from two sites showed that groups changed their behaviours after being exposed to humans, and did so in different ways depending on the behaviour of the human model. Results at the site with higher hunting pressure were consistent with predictions based on the threat sensitivity hypothesis. Although results at the site with lower hunting pressure were not consistent with the results at the site with higher hunting pressure, groups at this site also showed differential responses to different human behaviours. These results provide evidence of threat-sensitive predator avoidance in hunted primates, which may allow them to conserve both time and energy when encountering humans which pose no threat. © 2013 Papworth, et al.

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