Science for Environment Policy, Issue 396

A service from the European Commission...

8. prosinece 2014
Science for Environment Policy, Issue 396

Semiconductor and aluminium industries underestimate greenhouse gas emissions
Emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) tetrafluoromethane (TFM) and hexafluoroethane (HFE) reported by industry accounted for only around half actual levels measured in the atmosphere between 2002 and 2010, new research reveals. The semiconductor and aluminium production industries, the two main sources of these gases, have reported success in their voluntary efforts to control these emissions. However, this does not match 'top-down' atmospheric monitoring, the researchers say.
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Producing environmentally friendly biodegradable plastics from vegetable waste
Using vegetable waste to produce bioplastics can provide sustainable alternatives to non-biodegradable plastic, new research has found. The biodegradable plastic developed for this study, produced using parsley and spinach stems, cocoa pod husks and rice hulls, have a range of mechanical properties comparable to conventional plastics which are used for products from carrier bags to kitchenware and computer components.
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Hydraulic fracturing consumes the largest share of water in shale gas production
An average shale gas well in the Marcellus formation will use around 20 000 m3 of freshwater over its life cycle, new research suggests. In total, 65% of this is directly consumed at the well site and 35% is consumed further along the supply chain.
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Rising temperatures and acidification in the oceans spell danger for shark populations
Increasing temperatures and rising ocean acidification could reduce the health and survival of young sharks, new research has shown. Bamboo shark embryos incubated under ocean temperatures and acidity predicted for 2100 showed survival rates of 80% compared to 100% survival under present-day conditions. Once hatched, survival measured at 30 days was only 44% for those under predicted climate change conditions, again compared to 100% for those experiencing current temperature and acidity.
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Soil erosion study brings ecosystem services approach into regional planning
How best to integrate the ecosystem services concept into regional planning? A recent study provides a practical example for an area in Germany that is faced with an increased risk of soil erosion under climate change. Researchers used a decision-support system incorporating ecosystem services to show that measures to reduce soil losses could also support a number of other services.
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Regional air pollution improvements have global health benefits
Reductions in emissions of fine particle air pollution can prevent premature deaths, not just locally, but also in countries thousands of kilometres away, new research illustrates. The transcontinental study examines the effects of reducing air pollution emitted from Europe, North America, South and East Asia by 20% and shows that, for example, reductions in the EU would mean 3700 fewer premature deaths in the other three regions every year.
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Shifts in Mediterranean fish farming increase pressure on wild fish stocks
Fish farming in the Mediterranean has increasingly shifted from producing fish such as grey mullet, which are herbivores near the bottom of the food chain, to species such as sea bass, which are predators. This 'farming up' the food chain requires wild fish to be caught to provide feed. A return to farming fish lower in the food chain would use marine resources more efficiently, a new study says.
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