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Daily Archives: June 6, 2012

Earth nearing ‘tipping point,’ study warns

Read the full story at MSNBC.

Earth is rapidly headed toward a catastrophic breakdown if humans don’t get their act together, according to an international group of scientists.

Writing Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature, the researchers warn that the world is headed toward a tipping point marked by extinctions and unpredictable changes on a scale not seen since the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago.

Citation for the research article: Anthony D. Barnosky, Elizabeth A. Hadly, Jordi Bascompte, et al  (2012). “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere.” Nature 486, 52–58. doi:10.1038/nature11018.

Abstract: Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale ‘tipping point’ highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.

 
 

Fighting Climate Change, One Gorgeous Building at a Time: Chicago’s Commercial Building Initiative

Read the full post at NRDC Switchboard.

Today Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced plans to tackle one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases in Chicago (or any city), and a key part of the City’s economy at the same time– the energy we use in commercial buildings.  With the Mayor’s leadership, fourteen of the biggest and most recognizable downtown buildings have signed up to be leaders in creating a leaner, cleaner and more sustainable and affordable city, by curbing their energy use by at least 20% over the next 5 years.

 

EPA and Partners Announce “My Air, My Health Challenge”

To help researchers, communities, and doctors better understand the connection between air quality and a person’s health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced a nationwide challenge called My Air, My Health (MAMH).  The MAMH challenge offers awards for the invention of personal, portable sensors that measures air pollution and a person’s physiological response to pollution.

“This challenge provides an opportunity to tap into the ingenuity of Americans to build technology to improve health. In the future, these types of personalized devices will enable people to make better informed choices about their own health and their environment,” said Glenn Paulson, EPA Science Advisor.

Men, women, children — we’re all different, and our bodies react in different ways to pollution and other harmful toxins in our environment,” said Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS Director. “We believe pairing health researchers with technology innovators will help us get the tools we need for a more complete picture of what people are breathing and how it might affect their health.”

Responders to the challenge will propose designs for sensors that can be easily worn or carried, and take into account a known or plausible link between airborne pollutants and health measurements (such as, heart rate and breathing) in certain individuals or communities. The proposals should also address how to make the collected health and environmental data available to researchers, public health institutions, and other interested parties.

Four finalists will each receive $15,000 and will be invited to develop their proposals into working prototypes to demonstrate how their systems can be integrated for practical use by health and environmental agencies, and by individual citizens. One of the four finalists will then be awarded $100,000 for the most effective solution for integrating physiological and air quality data that is usable and meaningful to long-term health outcomes.  The awards will further scientific research on air quality and public health.

The MAMH Challenge announcement was made at HHS’s Health Data Initiative Forum by EPA Science Advisor Glenn Paulson, Ph.D and NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.  Interested parties can learn more about the challenge during a webinar on June 19 at 4:00 p.m.

 

The Simple, Inexpensive Breakthrough That Is Transforming American Cities

Read the full story at AlterNet.

The Green Lane Project brings bicycling into the 21st century — with positive results for the nation’s health, economy, environment and commutes.
 
 
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