Emerging Environmental Security Issues


- Monthly Reports -

Your views on these items and/or your suggestions of additional items are most welcome; please email Elizabeth Florescu at millennium-project@igc.org.

The Millennium Project defines environmental security as environmental viability for life support, with three sub-elements:
· preventing or repairing military damage to the environment,
· preventing or responding to environmentally caused conflicts, and
· protecting the environment due to its inherent moral value.

For an organization of the items in cathegories around the structure of this definition, please see:
- ES-scanning-09.pdf for items identified between August 2002 and June 2009, or
- ES-2006-08.pdf (includes potential military implications) for items identified between July 2006-June 2008, or
- ES-2008-09.pdf (includes potential military implications) for items identified between July 2008-June 2009.

For a complete version of the monthly reports with Military Implications, see the Army Environmental Policy Institute web page http://www.aepi.army.mil/reports/

This webpage lists the items identified since January 2006. For the 2002-2005 items, please see the links below or the webpage es-scann-2005.html.
Following are the items organized by the months they were identified -- updated monthly.

2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

2009
December 2009
November 2009

October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009

January 2009

2008
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
July-August 2008

June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008

2007
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007

June 2007
May 2007

April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

2006
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006

Items identifed over 2002-2005:

2005
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005

August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005

2004
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004

2003
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
August-September 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003

2002
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002


April 2010

The Chaos Caused by the Volcanic Eruption in Iceland Revealed Lack of a Global Framework to Deal with Large-Scale Air Traffic Disturbances
The total or partial closure of 313 European airports (75% of the European airport network) in the period April 15-21 due to the ash cloud following the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano affected over 100,000 flights, 10 million passengers, and loss of €2.5 billion ($3.31 billion). The concurrent decision-making chaos exposed the lack of an adequate international framework and coordination strategy to deal with such large-scale disruptions (natural or manmade). The event might lead to new EU agreements such as the “Single European Sky” project, establishment of a single air network management solution, harmonization of all aviation-related national regulations, and eventually the creation of a global response strategy. The number and scale of air traffic disruptions could increase due to a combination of increasing travel and the larger scale of unexpected natural (and/or manmade) events as climate change continues.
Sources:
Europe scales down response to ash cloud
http://euobserver.com/9/29892/?rk=1
The impact of the volcanic ash cloud crisis on the air transport industry. Information Note to the Commission. SEC(2010) 533
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kallas/headlines/news/2010/04/doc/information_note_volcano_crisis.pdf
Will Global Warming Make Iceland's Volcanoes Angry?
http://news.discovery.com/earth/will-global-warming-make-icelands-volcanoes-angry.html

International Legal Frameworks Needed for Cybersecurity
After land, sea, air, and space, cyberspace became the “fifth battlespace” on the agenda of security experts. The next ‘Pearl Harbor’ is likely to be a cyberattack, says CIA director Leon Panetta. The disruption of critical infrastructure such as water or electricity by cyberattacks in an IT-dependent world calls for exceptional strategies. “A new legal and policy framework is needed for addressing cybersecurity challenges”, noted Lt. General Keith A. Alexander, nominee to head the Pentagon’s new CyberCommand in testimony before the U.S. Congress, April 15, 2010. Some experts identify three levels of severity for cybersecurity: cybercrime, cyberespionage and reconnaissance, and cyber-leveraged war. There are documented massive cyberespionage schemes such as the one managed from China against several countries (including India and Pakistan). Additionally, electromagnetic pulses could be used for destroying critical infrastructure (see item International Standards Needed to Reduce Hi-tech SIMAD Threats in May 2009 environmental security report.)
Efforts to improve managing cyber-leveraged war, so that damage is contained and reduced, include NATO’s recent gathering of top cyber-minds to address the evolution of conflict in an Internet-dependent world, and National Security Agency and other cyber security experts' participation in the Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX) hosted by Lockheed Martin - Greenbelt (for the eighth year). The European Commission will conduct a feasibility study for creating a body that would assess trends in cybercrime across the EU and facilitate harmonization of related legislation among the different legal systems of the 27 EU countries (while the EU states have yet to ratify the Convention on Cybercrime adopted in 2001). In the meantime, there are proposals to include in the WEEE directive (for waste electrical and electronic equipment) provisions to facilitate protection of data stored on discarded devices.
Sources:
NATO's cyber-brains gaze at the future of war
http://www.spacewar.com/reports/NATOs_cyber-brains_gaze_at_the_future_of_war_999.html
Shadows in the Cloud: An investigation into cyber espionage 2.0
http://www.infowar-monitor.net/2010/04/shadows-in-the-cloud-an-investigation-into-cyber-espionage-2-0-2/
LockMart Supports National Security Agency's 2010 Cyber Defense Exercise
http://www.spacewar.com/reports/LockMart_Supports_National_Security_Agency_2010_Cyber_Defense_Exercise_999.html
EU to set up anti-cybercrime body
http://euobserver.com/9/29946/?rk=1

Proliferation of Sensors in and on Oceans Requires an International Legal Framework, but Might Affect Freedom to Conduct Ocean Research
The Argo Project is an array of 3,255 (as of March 23, 2010) free-floating seawater quality monitoring devices supported by 46 nations. It operates in the framework of WMO (World Meteorological Organization) Integrated Global Observing Systems since 2007, and contributes to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) with Guidelines adopted in June 2008. There are controversies over information collection systems and sometimes violations of exclusive economic zones. The results of these controversies might determine the evolution of the debate among scientists and diplomats over freedom of conducting oceanic research. Deploying new technologies on the high seas is sometimes seen as conflicting with regulations protecting coastal states’ sovereign rights. The 43rd session of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Executive Council meeting in June is expected to address issues of relevance to the “soft-law guidelines or codes of conduct” and the legal regulations affecting the scientific work of several environmental early warning systems.
Sources:
Climate Change and Guidelines for Argo Profiling Float Deployment on the High Seas http://www.asil.org/insights100408.cfm
IOC/EC-XLIII 43rd Session of IOC Executive Council, 8 - 16 June 2010, Paris, France http://www.ioc-unesco.org/index.php?option=com_oe&task=viewEventRecord&eventID=521

Draft International Standards for Measuring Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Cities
The Draft International Standard for Determining Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Cities is setting a common framework for calculating the emission amounts of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The computation is done on a per capita basis, allowing comparison and analysis among cities. Measurements are now completed for more than 40 cities, with the aim of completing it for all world cities. The Draft was launched by UNEP, UN-HABITAT, and the World Bank. It is now open for public comment.
Sources:
Cities Get Common Standard for Measuring Greenhouse Gas Emissions http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=617&ArticleID=6508&l=en&t=long
Draft International Standard for Determining Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Cities http://www.unep.org/urban_environment/PDFs/InternationalStd-GHG.pdf
UN-HABITAT Annual Reporthttp://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2938
Executive Order 13514—Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-24518.pdf

Environmental Courts and Tribunals Are Rapidly Increasing Around the World
According to an international study by the World Resources Institute (WRI), there are about 350 environmental courts in 41 countries. About half of them were created over the last five years, increasing public access to environment-specialized legal systems. The increasing number of courts dedicated to environmental issues should lead to accelerated changes in environmental lawsuits, creating precedents around the world. It reinforces the trends toward improved enforcement and applications of the “polluter pays” principle.
Surces:
Environmental Courts Becoming More Popular Worldwide, but Steps Needed for Improvement http://www.wri.org/press/2010/04/news-release-environmental-courts-becoming-more-popular-worldwide-steps-needed-improve
Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals http://www.accessinitiative.org/resource/greening-justice

Morocco Adopts First National Earth Charter in the Arab World and Africa
The National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development adopted by the Kingdom of Morocco represents the first such commitment in Africa and the Arab World. The Charter sets a framework for future regulations for natural resources, the environment, and sustainability policy. It was launched at the celebration of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, April 22, 2010.
Source:
Morocco's National Earth Charter a First for the Arab World http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2010/2010-04-22-01.html
Morocco Announces National Earth Charter for 40th Anniversary of Earth Day http://earthday.net/blog/2010/03/19/morocco-announces-national-earth-charter-for-40th-anniversary-of-earth-day/

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Increasing Energy Efficiency and Green Technologies

Genetically Modified Virus Claimed to Separate Hydrogen from Water
Scientists at MIT have used a genetically modified virus to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, similar to photosynthesis.
Sources:
MIT researchers harness viruses to split water http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/virus-water.html
MIT Trains Viruses to Split Water, Make Stored Solar Power http://www.dailytech.com/MIT+Trains+Viruses+to+Split+Water+Make+Stored+Solar+Power/article18119.htm

Fiber Bundles Claimed Safe for Hydrogen Storage and Cuts Costs and Weight
Israeli scientists working for C. En Ltd. in Geneva claim that their new hydrogen-filled capillary fiber bundles provide safe storage of hydrogen for less than half the space and weight of tanks installed in existing hydrogen cars. A unit containing 4 million of the hair-thin capillaries will store enough gas for 400 km of auto travel, according to the researchers.
Sources:
Hydrogen still in the eco-car race http://www.physorg.com/news190778451.html
C.En Company http://www.cenh2go.com/

Fiber-based Solar Cells Decrease Cost and Double Output
Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials has announced a new technology that inexpensively produces solar cells with double the power output of other designs. The cells are based on microscopic plastic optical fibers, enhanced with red dye or other absorbent. This raises the prospect of shipping the untreated cells to less developed areas for finishing with dye from pokeberries, which thrive under sub-optimal conditions, and where costs for such a processing facility would be low. The technology has been licensed to FiberCell Inc. in Winston-Salem NC.
Sources:
A brighter idea. Wake Forest receives patent for new fiber solar cells http://www.wfu.edu/wowf/2010/20100407.solar.php
Red dye from pokeberries holds secret to affordable solar power http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15962.php

New Materials May Be Solar Cell Breakthrough
Two technologies developed by Prof. Benoît Marsan and colleagues at the Chemistry Dept. of the Université du Québec à Montréal may allow commercialization of the Grätzel dye-synthesized solar cell, a promising design based on the principle of photosynthesis, but whose application has been blocked by having a corrosive, opaque electrolyte and an expensive platinum electrode. Prof. Marsan's variant uses a newly formulated transparent and neutral electrolyte and an electrode coated with relatively inexpensive cobalt sulphide.
Sources:
Researchers solve two 20-year old problems that could transform solar cell technology
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15659.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29CoS Supersedes Pt as Efficient Electrocatalyst for Triiodide Reduction in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja905970y
An organic redox electrolyte to rival triiodide/iodide in dye-sensitized solar cells http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v2/n5/abs/nchem.610.html

Landslide-Predicting Sensors to Be Developed
Dr. Kirk Martinez, from Southampton University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science, and Prof. Jane Hart, of the School of Geography, are continuing to develop fist-sized sensors that will monitor such soil parameters as light, conductivity, tilt, temperature, and movement, and transmit the data by radio, enabling the prediction of imminent landslides.
Source:
New sensors to predict landslides http://www.soton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2010/apr/10_40.shtml

Plastic Waste Yields Porous Paving for Walks and Drives
Civil and Environmental Engineering Prof. Naji Khoury of Temple Univ. has developed a technique for turning plastic bottle waste and coarse aggregate into a cement-like material, Plastisoil™, that he says is both cheaper and more energy-sparing than concrete or asphalt and that also has the advantage of being porous, so that rainwater drains through it. It also, of course, disposes of plastic bottles (30,000 per ton).
Source:
Cement-like creation could help the environment http://www.physorg.com/news190999420.html

Nanoporous Alumina Membranes Useful for EHS Applications
A paper with senior author Dr. Roger Narayan, of the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, Univ. of North Carolina and NC State University, reports the use of atomic layer deposition onto nanoporous alumina membranes to produce a material for use in a variety of medical and environmental health applications; e.g., water purification using a zinc-oxide-coated membrane able to neutralize E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Sources:
Incorporating biofunctionality into nanomaterials for medical, health devices http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15441.php
Atomic layer deposition-based functionalization of materials for medical and environmental health applications http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1917/2033

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Advancements on Denuclearization
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed by the U.S. and Russia (together holding more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons) requires each to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed warheads (from the present 2,200-weapon limit) and to 800 launchers within seven years. The Treaty will enter into force after being approved by the two countries’ legislatures. Critics note that the treaty doesn’t address the disposal of the nuclear material contained in the weapons. Also, the newly released U.S. Nuclear Posture Review aims to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. national security strategy. A two-day nuclear security summit held in Washington DC, gathering leaders of 47 nations, addressed measures to secure vulnerable nuclear materials by 2014 and avoid nuclear terrorism.
Egypt plans to increase pressure for beginning negotiations before 2012 for establishing a nuclear weapon-free Middle East. The Malaysian Strategic Trade Bill vigorously enforces legislation concerning illicit trafficking of WMD materials or technology. Meanwhile, in India, the proposed law limiting the liability to foreign nuclear power companies in the event of an accident triggers worries over potential lax safety standards and nuclear disaster. [Related item: Australia to Propose Panel to Advance Work for the NPT Review in 2010 in June 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) http://www.state.gov/t/vci/trty/126118.htm
Nuclear Posture Review http://www.defense.gov/npr/
Nuke-Free Middle East Needed to Resolve Iran Dispute, Egypt Asserts http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100428_9811.php
Malaysia Pledges to Carry Out WMD Smuggling Penalties http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100415_4276.php
Controversial Indian law on nuclear liability spells disaster – activists http://www.alertnet.org/db/an_art/55867/2010/03/14-111827-1.htm

New Measures for Protecting the Marine Environment
The UK government has created the world's largest marine reserve (545,000 sq km) around the Chagos Islands, regarded as one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems.
The sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean adopted a 25-year program of action for efficient management of the marine and coastal environment in the larger Eastern and Southern African region, as well as a Protocol to the Convention considering new emerging issues, such as climate change and the need for an ecosystem-based management approach. [Related item: New Measure to Enforce Maritime Environmental Protection in March 2010 environmental security report.]
Sources:
UK sets up Chagos Islands marine reserve http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8599125.stm
Ministers Launch Rejuvenated Nairobi Convention to Protect the Western Indian Ocean's Environment
http://www.unep.org/environmentalgovernance/News/Press-Release/tabid/427/language/en-US/Default.aspx?DocumentID=620&ArticleID=6521&Lang=en

Genetic Patenting and GMO Face New Challenges
A National Research Council study on the impacts of GM crops on economic and environmental security found that at least nine species of weeds in the U.S. have developed resistance to glyphosate since the introduction of GM crops in 1996. Glyphosate is a major component in commercial herbicides and GM crops are designed to tolerate it. Insufficiently diverse farming practices and excessive reliance on a single technology could undermine the economic and environmental benefits of GMOs use. In the U.S., GM crops account for more than 80% of soybeans, corn, and cotton.
The first U.S. federal ruling declaring patents on genes invalid concerns the BRCA 1 and 2 genes (related to breast and ovarian cancers), and was made on the grounds that it is “a valuable scientific achievement … but …not …something for which they are entitled to a patent”. Approximately 2,000 human genes (20% of the human genome) are currently covered by patents, including those associated with certain degenerative disorders and cancers. The ruling may have broad implications for the validity of gene patents in general, including patents on GMOs. [Related item: International Biodiversity Meetings Make Decisions and Tougher Systems to Control GMO Suggested in March 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Gene Patents Ruled Invalid http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/24986/
Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12804

India Further Loosens Already Lax Rules on Waste Importing
Illegal waste shipping to India might worsen due to new amendments made by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Hazardous Wastes Rules. While previous rules allowed only ‘recyclers’ to bring in certain waste, the new amendments will also allow ‘traders’ to do so, making control and enforcement potentially more difficult. This could be an additional factor increasing India’s pollution; threatening its already precarious environment, health conditions, and falling water tables. [Related items: Hazardous Waste Disposal of Increasing Concern in September 2009 and other previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Is India a global trash can? http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Is-India-a-global-trash-can-/articleshow/5851954.cms
Got hazardous waste? Send it to India http://www.livemint.com/2010/04/25233450/Got-hazardous-waste-Send-it-t.html

Russia and Norway Agree on Maritime Delimitation of Disputed Arctic Territory
Norway and Russia reached agreement over the borders and use of a disputed territory of 175,000 square kilometers (108,740 sq miles) of Arctic shelf, concluding some 40 years of negotiations. The joint declaration signed on April 27, 2010 stipulates the maritime delimitation lines and creates cooperation opportunities for exploitation of the area’s rich natural resources. Some further technical details need to be worked out until the final treaty, which then will need to be ratified by the two countries’ parliaments. The agreement might also represent an important step forward in the multilateral negotiations concerning the Arctic territories. [Related items: Arctic Debates Continue in March 2010 and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Russia-Norway pact defuses Arctic tension http://euobserver.com/9/29958/?rk=1
Norway, Russia Strike Deal to Divide Arctic Undersea Territory http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/norway-russia-strike-deal-to-divide-arctic-undersea-territory/404939.html

Climate Change

Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
In March 2010, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA and confirmed by NASA. NOAA found the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature 1.39ºF (0.77ºC) above the 20th century average, while NASA found the March combined average global land-surface air temperature a record 1.9ºF (1.05ºC) above the 20th century average.
Climate change and man-made CO2 emissions are changing ocean chemistry and marine ecosystems, reveal new studies. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean by the National Research Council, warns that the level of ocean acidity is increasing at an unprecedented rate and since the ocean absorbs approximately a third of CO2 emissions, unless man-made CO2 emissions are substantially curbed or controlled by technological means, the ocean will continue to become more acidic. Meantime, global warming is changing oceans salinity, making some regions saltier, while other are getting fresher, according to research conducted by the Australian government’s research agency CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship using data gathered by the global network of 3,200 Argo buoys.

Food and Water Security
Arab countries do not disclose enough information on their water out of concern that transparency could fuel unnecessary public concern and unrest,” noted Hosny Khordagui, Regional Program Director of the UNDP Water Governance Programme for Arab States http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6300FO.htm. According to the UNDP’s Arab Human Development Report, people in the Middle East and North Africa have access to an average of only 1,000 cubic meters of water a year, one-seventh the worldwide rate, which by 2025 might be further reduced to 460 cubic meters due to high population growth and the effects of climate change. Arable land is also expected to shrink due to climate change, further jeopardizing poor farmers’ livelihood and pushing people to move to overcrowded cities.
The worst drought in at least 50 years in southern China left tens of millions of people short of water and fuels disputes with countries that share the Mekong River, especially Thailand, over the role of Chinese dams in decreasing river flows. Some argue that more dams in China could help mitigate the Mekong’s seasonal variations by storing or releasing water as necessary.

Health
To celebrate World Health Day on April 7th, WHO and the Commonwealth Secretariat released publications that underline the linkages between urban health and climate change. “Why Urban Health Matters” notes that urban areas concentrate both emitters of greenhouse gases and people at risk from climate change impacts such as heat waves, water scarcity, increasing levels of air pollution, or rising sea levels. A discussion paper by the Commonwealth Secretariat, “The State of the Cities: Why, and how, the Commonwealth must address the challenge of sustainable urbanization”, stresses that climate change and slum-based poverty are exacerbated by today’s urban growth.

Melting Glaciers
Andean glaciers in Latin America lost more than 40% of their surface area between 1956 and 2006, according to a study to be published by Ecuadorean glaciologist Bolivar Cáceres.
In Europe, almost 90% of Austrian glaciers shrank in 2009, some by as much as 46 meters (150 feet), reports the Austrian Alpine Association.

Migration
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran announced that WFP will step up its support to address the intense droughts in Niger, which are escalating the humanitarian crisis and are contributing to mass migration from rural to urban areas as well as to neighboring countries. In Southern Niger, the food crisis is estimated to be affecting 7.8 million people.
The flooding and landslides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, killed over 200 people and greatly affected the impoverished communities. In response, authorities ordered the eviction of thousands of poor people from the favellas, despite their opposition and threats of revolt.

Adaptation
At the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) Second Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), held April 14-16, 2010, in Nairobi, Kenya, African Ministers adopted the Programme of Action for the Implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (2006–2015) and a Ministerial Declaration. The Programme aims to mainstream risk reduction management and climate change adaptation as an integral part of sustainable development. The Ministerial Declaration calls on the AU Summit to make disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change a national education priority through integration into the educational system. The 2010 Economic Report on Africa, “Promoting High-level Sustainable Growth to Reduce Unemployment in Africa” warns that conflicts in the region will probably increase due to diminishing resources, and emphasizes the need for Africa to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies. Noting that the costs of adaptation and mitigation are beyond the means of African countries, the report calls on the international community to increase help for financing these strategies.
At the 16th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), held April 8-9, 2010, in Hanoi, Viet Nam, under the theme “Towards the ASEAN Community: from vision to action”, the leaders released a joint statement calling for a legally binding global pact on climate change and urged richer nations to provide them with ‘scaled-up’ financial help to combat climate change. The development of an ASEAN action plan to better understand and respond to climate change is also considered.

Post-Copenhagen Negotiations
The first round of UN climate change negotiations since the Copenhagen conference was held in Bonn, April 9-11, 2010, with the main objective to agree on the organization and methods of work for 2010. More than 1,700 delegates attended from 175 countries. In order to advance the negotiations towards a treaty in Mexico, it was decided that, in addition to the negotiating sessions already scheduled for 2010, two additional meetings would be held of at least one week each, to take place between the 32nd session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) Convention subsidiary bodies—May 31-June 11, 2010, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Mexico— November 29-December 10, 2010.
In an effort to get developing countries on board for an international global warming deal, the U.S. State Department announced that countries opposing the Copenhagen accord will be denied climate change assistance from the promised $30 billion climate aid fund.
Sources:
Global Temperatures Last Month Broke Heat Records for March
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2010/2010-04-16-01.html
CO2 Emissions Causing Ocean Acidification to Progress at Unprecedented Rate
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12904
Oceans' Saltiness Reaching Extremes
http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans-saltier-salinity-warming.html
Arab states urged to be open on water scarcity
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6300FO.htm
Countries Blame China, Not Nature, for Water Shortage
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/world/asia/02drought.html?ref=world
World Health Day Website
http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2010/en/index.html
Why Urban Health Matters
http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2010/media/whd2010background.pdf
The State of the Cities
http://www.thecommonwealth.org/document/222182/the_state_of_the_cities.htm
Scientists investigate Ecuador's receding glaciers
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8629527.stm
WFP Steps Up Response to Growing Food Crisis in Niger
http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/wfp-steps-response-growing-food-crisis-niger
Rio slum dwellers face forced eviction after landslides
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/11/rio-brazil-slum-forced-evictions
African ministers adopt the extended Programme of Action
http://www.unisdr.org/news/v.php?id=13655
16th ASEAN Summit Website
http://asean2010.vn/asean_en/news/46
UNFCCC Parties Agree on Additional Meeting Sessions Before COP 16
http://climate-l.org/2010/04/12/unfccc-parties-agree-on-additional-meeting-sessions-before-cop-16/
US denies climate aid to countries opposing Copenhagen accord
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/09/us-climate-aid

Global Climate Change Situation Room in Gimcheon, South Korea
The initial set of Bata collective intelligence software for the Global Climate Change Situation Room is planned to be installed in Gimcheon, South Korea during the last week in June. Initial staff training was conducted this month. International expert discussion groups are being established on climate science, energy, green technology, and policy integration to feed information to and be fed questions from the Situation Room. The Bata software development platform is available for viewing at http://www.new.webserver9.com/manage/node. Updates and improvements are ongoing. [Related item: Gimcheon, South Korea to Create a Global Climate Change Situation Room in August 2009 environmental security report]
Source:
Global Climate Change Situation Room – Bata software development platform http://www.new.webserver9.com/manage/node

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

Health Canada Seeks Comments on Nanomaterials Definition
Health Canada has developed an interim policy statement that establishes a working definition for nanomaterials, in order to provide a basis for applying current legislation and regulations to nanotechnology products. They are seeking informal feedback from international stakeholders; comments will be accepted until 31 August 2010.
Source: Interim Policy Statement on Health Canada's Working Definition for Nanomaterials
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/sr-sr/consult/_2010/nanomater/index-eng.php

First Sri Lankan Information Portal for Nanotechnology
The Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology Pvt. Ltd (SLINTEC) has announced the launch of the first Sri Lankan information portal for nanotechnology, <www.susnanotec.lk>, an interactive site that will act as an information hub for nanotechnology research in Sri Lanka. According to the announcement, "The purpose of the website [is] creating awareness on nanotechnology amongst students, educate potential investors and clients on the research being done, enable the government to measure the performance of funding, provide a forum for scientists to share their thoughts, attract potential human resources, satisfy public curiosity and aid business sector decision makers in their planning and evaluation of nanotechnology."
Source:
Pyxle Develops Nano-Based Information Portal for Sri Lanka
http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=16657 8.8.3

Two New Reports on Nanotech EHS
Two presentations from the German FramingNano Workshop in March 2010 are available:
• Key regulatory developments in the field of nanotechnology (24 slides), Dr. Hans-Jürgen Klockner, German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) (http://www.framingnano.eu/images/stories/german-workshop/3.pdf)
• Nanoscale Materials: a new challenge for toxicology (11 slides), Andreas Falk, BioNanoNet Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (http://www.framingnano.eu/images/stories/german-workshop/5.pdf)

Conference on The Global Regulation Of Nanotech to Be Held
A Conference On The Global Regulation Of Nanotechnologies will be held at the Northeastern Univ. School of Law in Boston MA on May 7-8, 2010. The announcement states its objectives: "…determining what is the applicable law, domestically and internationally, exploring what the regulatory framework should be, [and] proposing governance models to achieve stakeholders’ objective".
Source:
Global Regulation Of Nanotechnologies conference website http://www.northeastern.edu/law/academics/conferences/nano-conference/index.html

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

World Bank Development Indicators Database Available Free
The World Bank has made freely available online < http://data.worldbank.org/ > its databases of more than 2,000 indicators from countries around the world, many with historical data for 50 years. This includes a large section on the environment.
Source:
WDI http://data.worldbank.org/

Report Suggests New Approach to Technology Assessment
Reinventing Technology Assessment: A 21st Century Model, a report by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, looks at closing the gap between the rhetoric of “engaging the public” in S&T debate and practice. It provides a comprehensive overview of participatory technology assessment (pTA) and applications in the EU and U.S., and recommends creation of “an institutional network that can integrate public engagement into future technology assessment activities.”
Source:
Reinventing Technology Assessment: A 21st Century Model http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1414&fuseaction=topics.event_summary&event_id=605820

Reports addressing the Link between Climate Change and Conflict
'Human Securitising' the Climate Security Debate, by Lorraine Elliott, is a working paper of the Asia Security Initiative Policy Series. It assesses the connection between climate change and national, regional and international security from a human security point of view. The recommendations basically advocate pro-active rather than reactive strategies based on vulnerability vs. risk and adaptation and social resilience vs. mitigation. In order to avoid conflict, scarce resource management should include equity provisions regarding those most vulnerable to environmental scarcities.
Climate Conflict: How Global Warming Threatens Security and What to Do about it, by Jeffrey Mazo from the IISS Environmental Security and Science Policy, provides a view of how climate changes affects security from a historical perspective. It points out that the most vulnerable countries are not necessarily the fragile states or those most affected physically by the effects of climate change, but those that fail to overcome cultural, social, political, and economic barriers to successful adaptation to a changing climate.
Sources:
'Human Securitising' the Climate Security Debate http://www.rsis.edu.sg/NTS/resources/research_papers/MacArthur_working_paper_Lorraine%20Elliott.pdf
Climate Conflict: how global warming threatens security and what to do about it - Launch http://www.iiss.org/whats-new/iiss-podcasts/adelphi-webcasts/climate-conflict/
Climate conflict: how global warming threatens security and what to do about it http://sustainablesecurity.org/article/climate-conflict-how-global-warming-threatens-security-and-what-do-about-it

Back to top
 


March 2010

UN Panel Meeting on World Water Day to Discuss How to Avoid Water Wars
The UN General Assembly held a high-level dialogue on World Water Day with three panels on: water related to the Millennium Development Goals; water, climate change and disasters; and water and peace and security. Since potential water wars could be triggered by combinations of climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization, and increasing inequalities between those who could and could not cope with water scarcity, several participants suggested that greater efforts by the international community to promote dialogues for equitable and sustainable use and management of transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers are needed. It was also suggested that water issues be included on the agenda of the next session of the Conference of Parties (COP16) of the UNFCCC, to be held in Mexico at the end of the year, and that 2012 be declared the International Year of Water Diplomacy.
More people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence, including wars, notes the UNEP report, Sick Water? Some two million tons of waste, estimated to equal two or more billion tons of wastewater, is being discharged daily into rivers and seas, harming key ecosystems and human health. The report underlines the need for global and comprehensive water-related regulations and enforcement mechanisms, including international standards and guidelines for water and ecosystem quality management.
Sources:
Sustainable Management of Water Resources
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2010/ga10925.doc.htm
World Water Day Website:
http://www.unwater.org
Time to Cure Global Tide of Sick Water
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=617&ArticleID=6504&l=en

Nanomaterials Guidelines Adopted by 53 African Countries
Representatives of 53 African governments attending the African regional meeting on Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management adopted a non-binding resolution on handling manufactured nanomaterials. The resolution calls for: 1) a ban on shipment of wastes containing nanomaterials to countries that lack capacity for adequately managing them; 2) the establishment and implementation of legal frameworks for the safe production, use, transport, and disposal of nanomaterials; 3) a health assessment of people exposed to nanomaterials; 4) the establishment of partnerships for capacity building related to nanotechnology. In the preamble to the International Conference on Chemical Management focusing on nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials, to be held in 2012, the delegates suggested that the report should address all the aspects relative to nanotechnology and safe handling of nanomaterials throughout their life cycles and application of the ‘no data, no market’ principle prior to commercialization. [Related items: Nanotechnology Safely Issues in the monthly environmental security reports.]
Sources:
African Resolution Urges Nations Worldwide to Ensure Safe Handling of Nanomaterials
http://www.merid.org/nanodev/more.php?id=2459
CIEL welcomes and supports African resolution on nanomaterials
http://www.ciel.org/Chemicals/African_Nano_17Feb10.html

UN Economic Commission for Europe Adopts Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Regulations
The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) adopted the first international technical regulation on safety for fully electric and hybrid cars, within the 1958 UNECE framework. The Regulation will ensure that cars with a high voltage electric power train, such as hybrid and fully electric vehicles, are as safe as conventional cars. These standards on manufacturing and marketing are expected to increase sales and will apply not only in the EU, but in a number of other markets, such as South Korea, Japan, and Russia. Mutual recognition of approvals among contracting parties of the 1958 agreement will be possible as soon as the Regulation is applied.
Sources:
Car safety: European Commission welcomes international agreement on electric and hybrid cars
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/260&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Iran and Qatar Sign Environmental MOU
Qatar and Iran have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding preservation of the environment. The agreement covers managing green reserves and various flora and fauna aspects, as well as the environmental management of coastal areas, desertification control, and know-how exchange. Qatar has already undertaken several environmental projects, including a green convention center in Doha and an agreement between the Doha Bank and UNESCO to "Green the Middle East". [Related item: Jordan Armed Forces Upgrade, Part of Global Warming Debate in the February 2010 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Iran and Qatar Align to Help the Environment
http://www.greenprophet.com/2010/02/28/17972/qatar-iran-environment

Thailand, Other Asian Countries, May Tighten Environmental Regulations
A Thai court has sided with the country’s growing green movement and suspended $12 billion in industrial investments until their environmental impacts can be properly assessed. The government hopes to set up a new environmental monitoring agency within five months to quickly assess and approve new projects. Environmental activists have similarly increased their pressures in Indonesia, Vietnam, and China over the past few years. [Related item: International Lawsuits for Environmental Crime Proliferate in January 2010 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Thailand Tightens Environmental Regulation
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704182004575056421383885014.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Desalination Reverse Osmosis Improved by Ion Concentration Polarization
Sung Jae Kim and Prof. Jongyoon Han of MIT’s Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and colleagues in Korea, have developed a new technique – ion concentration polarization – which promises to avoid two of reverse osmosis's problems: large power consumption and membrane fouling. The system is based on using microfluidics fabrication methods to produce microscopic filtration cells that could be assembled into an array with 1,600 units on an 8-inch-diameter wafer, capable of producing about 15 liters of water per hour. Since the system removes only salts and larger particles, it may need to be supplemented by a conventional filtration component (e.g. charcoal) for certain types of pollutants.
Sources:
A system that's worth its salt: New approach to water desalination could lead to small, portable units
http://www.physorg.com/news188399888.html
Direct seawater desalination by ion concentration polarization
http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2010.34.html

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques

New Polymer Fights Both Biological and Chemical Toxins.
A team led by Dr. Alan Russell of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, claims synthesis of a single, multifunctional polymer material that can decontaminate both biological and chemical toxins, such as are used in weapons. According to an announcement, it comprises a “polyurethane fiber mesh containing enzymes that lead to the production of bromine or iodine, which kill bacteria, as well as chemicals that generate compounds that detoxify organophosphate nerve agents.”
Sources:
Multifunctional polymer neutralizes both biological and chemical weapons
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-03/uops-mpn031810.phpProject Developing Sensors for Engineered Nanoparticles
According to Nanowerk News, Prof. Omowunmi Sadik, director of SUNY's Binghamton University Center for Advanced Sensors and Environmental Systems, is leading research on developing sensors that will detect and identify engineered nanoparticles. This should advance understanding of the risks associated with the environmental release and transformation of these particles, as well as naturally occurring cell particles.
Sources:
Chemist monitors nanotechnology's environmental impact
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15415.phpNew Material Will Aid Radioactive Cleanup
Mercouri Kanatzidis, at the Argonne National Laboratory, and Nan Ding, a chemist at Northwestern University, report developing a new material, composed of metal sulfides, that binds radioactive cesium isotope ions to sulfur atoms inside its crystalline structure, giving it the ability to aid clean-up at radioactively contaminated sites.
Sources:
Snag radioactive waste like a Venus flytrap
http://futurity.org/science-technology/snag-radioactive-waste-like-a-venus-flytrap/
Selective incarceration of caesium ions by Venus flytrap action of a flexible framework sulfide
http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nchem.519.htmlGenetically Engineered Tobacco Plant May Clear Polluted Water
Dr. Pascal M.W. Drake from the Centre for Infection at St. George's University of London and his team claim success in genetically engineering a strain of tobacco that produces an antibody to microcystin-LR (MC-LR), an environmental toxin pollutant produced by a species of cyanobacteria that makes water unsafe for human use. The authors claim that this plant could serve as a major tool for helping keep water sources safe to use, especially in developing nations.
Sources:
Genetically engineered tobacco plant cleans up environmental toxin
http://www.physorg.com/news186660152.html
Generation of transgenic plants expressing antibodies to the environmental pollutant microcystin-LR
http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/24/3/882?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=tobacco&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&volume=24&issue=3&resourcetype=HWCIT

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies

Advances in Generating Electricity from the Body
The Parametric Frequency Increased Generators (PFIGs) developed by researchers of the Univ. of Michigan’s Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems are reported to be able to generate 0.5 milliwatts from typical vibrations in the human body. Both piezoelectric and electromagnetic induction types have been tested and are claimed to be more efficient than previous devices with vibrations that are non-periodic and occur at low frequencies. [Related item: “Energy Harvesting” Offers Possibilities for Environment-sparing Power in December 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Mini generators make energy from random ambient vibrations
http://www.physorg.com/news188569711.html

Biofuels Production from Sunlight and CO2
Prof. David Wendell and colleagues at the Univ. of Cincinnati describe a design for foam loaded with natural (e.g. algal) enzymes that produce sugars from sunlight and carbon dioxide. The sugars can then be converted into biofuels. The process is more efficient than the natural one since all the incoming solar energy is used for the conversion, without part being diverted to support a living organism.
Meantime, Joule Biotechnologies, Inc. of Cambridge, MA announced arrangements for building its first pilot plant, in Leander TX, for developing and testing its continuous process system that uses genetically engineered organisms to directly convert sunlight and CO2 into ethanol or other fuels. It claims that its lab-scale ethanol tests have already reached productivity rates exceeding 6,000 gallons/acre/year.
Sources:
Frogs, Foam and Fuel: Researchers Convert Solar Energy to Sugars
http://www.physorg.com/news187951045.html
Joule Biotechnologies Secures Pilot Site for Renewable Solar Fuel
http://joulebio.com/news/2010/joule-biotechnologies-secures-pilot-site-renewable-solar-fuel

New Developments in Hydrogen Production
Several new techniques have been added to the published set of tools for economical production of hydrogen; e.g. as input to fuel cells. Sun Catalytix of Cambridge, MA has been awarded $4 million through ARPA-E for work on its artificial photosynthesis based on a cobalt-phosphate catalyst that converts water and carbon dioxide into hydrogen and oxygen. The laboratory of Prof. Craig Hill at Emory Univ. has announced the fastest homogeneous carbon-free molecular water oxidation catalyst (WOC) yet created, based on cobalt. Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison geologist and crystal specialist Huifang Xu and colleagues have designed “a simple and cost-effective technology for direct water splitting that may generate hydrogen fuels by scavenging waste energy, such as noise or stray vibrations from the environment”, according to the developers. The new piezoelectric device uses zinc oxide and barium titanate nanofibers placed in water. Dr. Di Zhang, of Shanghai Jiao-Tong University, and collaborators have embedded a nitrogen-doped titanium dioxide catalyst in a complex physical structure modeled on natural plant leaves’ micro-architecture to produce, “enhanced light-harvesting and photocatalytic hydrogen evolution activities”.
Sources:
Catalyst could power homes on a bottle of water, produce hydrogen on-site (w/ Video)
http://www.physorg.com/news187031401.html
Water oxidation advance boosts potential for solar fuel
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15268.php
Scavenging energy waste to turn water into hydrogen fuel
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15264.php
Nanotechnology artificial leaves for hydrogen production
http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=15381.php
Light Harvesting: Artificial Inorganic Leafs for Efficient Photochemical Hydrogen Production Inspired by Natural Photosynthesis (Adv. Mater. 9/2010)
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123301807/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 (Requires cookie download permission.)

Carbon Nanotubes Yield Threefold Increase in Thermocell Efficiency
Dr. Ray Baughman, director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at the Univ. of Texas at Dallas, and an international team of collaborators, report a way to use carbon nanotubes in large thermocells to generate electricity from heat at about 60% of the cost per watt of existing solar cells. [Related item: Quantum Dots Offer New Possibilities for Energy from Waste Heat in November 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Nanotube Thermocells Hold Promise as Energy Source
http://www.physorg.com/news186409698.html
Harvesting Waste Thermal Energy Using a Carbon-Nanotube-Based Thermo-Electrochemical Cell
http://www.me.gatech.edu/nest/images/nl903267n.pdf

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

New Measure to Enforce Maritime Environmental Protection
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 60th session held March 22-26, 2010, made further steps to strengthen maritime environmental regulations, such as:

  1. adopted amendments to the MARPOL Convention to formally establish a North American Emission Control Area in which emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter from ships will be subject to more stringent controls than the limits that apply globally—expected to enter into force on August 1, 2011
  2. adopted a new MARPOL regulation to protect the Antarctic from pollution by heavy grade oils—expected to enter into force on August 1, 2011
  3. worked on developing guidelines related to safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, and agreed on the need to develop guidance concerning the recycling of flag-less and non-Party ships by Parties to the Convention—progress to be reported to MEPC 61
  4. agreed that the discharge requirements for the Wider Caribbean Region Special Area under MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships are to take effect on May 1, 2011
  5. prepared draft text on mandatory requirements for the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new vessels and on the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships in operation; but negotiations continue on details, including target dates and reduction rates
  6. in order to advance work on measures to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping, the Committee decided to establish an intersessional Working Group on technical and operational measures to increase the energy efficiency of ships and an Expert Group to assess the impact of various market-based instruments for international maritime transport—both to report to the MEPC 61st session, to be held in September 2010.

[Related items: Tougher Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships in October 2008 and other previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
IMO environment Committee makes progress. MEPC – 60th session: 22-26 March, 2010
http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1859&doc_id=12724

European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators to Become Operational in March 2011
The new European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) will complement and coordinate the work of National Regulatory Authorities, supporting the liberalization of the energy markets and the creation of European network rules. While encouraging international cooperation and integration to achieve energy security and combat climate change, the agency might restrict national policymaking, as its decisions will be binding. Its tasks involve advancing green energy development policies (potentially including a European ‘supergrid’.) The Agency will open in March 2011, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. [Related item: European Climate and Energy Package Formally Adopted in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
European energy agency could form super-regulator
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/29/european-commission-energy-regulator
Ljubljana designated as seat of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators
http://www.eumonitor.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=141533&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

New UN Satellite Standards to Help in Natural Disaster Situations
The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approved a set of new recommendations for radio-communication standards for satellite services in case of natural disasters. They refer to radio frequencies that can be used by both fixed-satellite service (FSS) and mobile-satellite service (MSS) systems for facilitating emergency and disaster relief operations. The ITU calls on the international community, policymakers, and service providers to further enhance efforts for developing robust and comprehensive systems for early warning, relief, and mitigation in case of emergencies and disasters at international, regional, and national levels. [Related item: Increased Use of Space Technology for Monitoring Environmental Events in September 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
New ITU standards enhance satellite communications for emergencies
http://www.itu.int/newsroom/press_releases/2010/13.html

Dialogues for Creating a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone
Representatives of the Japanese and Republic of Korea parliaments held the first in a series of regional parliamentary dialogues for creating a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone. The joint declaration calls on the governments of the Republic of Korea and Japan to advance the proposal at the May 2010 Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. The subject was also informally discussed by the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and with government officials of Japan, Korea, and the United States. [Related item: Entire Southern Hemisphere Covered by Nuclear-Free Zone Treaties in August 2009 environmental security report.]
In the meantime, Australia and Japan submitted a proposal for the NPT Review Conference containing 16 nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation measures for achieving a world without nuclear weapons and a successful outcome at the NPT review conference. [Related item: Australia to Propose Panel to Advance Work for the NPT Review in 2010 in June 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Joint Statement by Parliamentarians of Japan and the Republic of Korea toward the Denuclearization of Northeast Asia
http://www.gsinstitute.org/pnnd/docs/02_28_10_Japan-ROK_Statement.pdf
Treaty on the Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (tentative translation)
http://www.gsinstitute.org/pnnd/docs/NEA-NWFZ.pdf
Australia, Japan Submit Disarmament Proposals For NPT Review Conference
http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100324_4743.php

New Measures to Continue the Fight against Biodiversity Loss
The summit of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) decided to include several reptiles and amphibians in its endangered species trade list—some species of iguanas, an entire genus of tree frogs from Central America, and Kaiser’s newt salamander from Iran. In the meantime, the EU, admitting to have missed the target of stopping biodiversity loss by the end of 2010, decided to set two new targets: a mid-term one that all species loss within the EU be ended by 2020, and a long-term target to protect and restore all ecosystems by 2050 to prevent future losses. [Related item: International Year of Biodiversity is 2010 and Convention on Biological Diversity COP10 to Meet in Japan This Year in January 2010 environmental security report.]
Sources:
More terrestrial fauna placed under CITES
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=617&ArticleID=6506&l=en
'We failed' on species extinction, admits EU
http://euobserver.com/9/29685/?rk=1

Two New Pesticides Added to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Watch List
Endosulfan and azinphos-methyl were added to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade watch list by the Chemical Review Committee. Endosulfan is a persistent organic pollutant (POP), while azinphos-methyl is derived from nerve agents developed during World War II. Both pesticides have been linked to reproductive and developmental damage in humans and animals. [Related item: New Compounds Considered under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions in October 2008.]
Sources:
New Chemicals Recommended for Listing Under the Rotterdam Convention
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=617&ArticleID=6503&l=en

Factors to Consider in Establishing and Operating Marine Protected Areas
Although the number of marine protected areas increased over the past years, the world is still far from the commitment that by 2012, 10%-30% of waters will be protected. Scientists now warn that in order for the protection to be efficient, marine protected areas, which currently limit fishing in 1.6% of the waters claimed by countries, need to be located in the right spots. [Related items: World Database on Marine Protected Areas in June 2009 and “Roving” Marine Protected Areas as Climate Change Affects Migration in March 2008.]
Sources:
Placement of marine reserves is key. Focusing on the heaviest-fished areas can help meet conservation goals
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/56511/title/Placement_of_marine_reserves_is_key

Arctic Debates Continue
As foreign ministers of five Arctic states—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the U.S.—met in Chelsea, Quebec, on March 29, 2010, states member of the Arctic Council that were left out of the talks (Iceland, Sweden, and Finland) along with various northern aboriginal groups publicly expressed their frustration. Although the outcomes of the meeting were not available at the time of this writing, there are speculations that in view of some military strategies calling for measures to ensure that the Arctic remains free of nuclear weapons, Canada might declare the Northwest Passage a nuclear-free-zone.
The Russian Security Council announced that over the next 10-15 years, Russia might face serious national security problems as melting permafrost—that covers roughly 60% of Russian land—could jeopardize important infrastructure, including pipelines, railways, roads, and several urban areas. [Related items: Arctic Opens to International Commercial Use in January 2010 and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Canada's 'Arctic Summit' highlights global tensions, competing interests
http://www.canada.com/news/Canada-Arctic-Summit-highlights-global-tensions-competing-interests/2736963/story.html
Medvedev says that Russia must push its claim to Arctic resources
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100317/world/eu_russia_arctic_claim
National security challenged by Arctic climate change. BarentsObserver, 2010-03-23
http://www.barentsobserver.com/national-security-challenged-by-arctic-climate-change.4762526-58932.html
Arms Control Advocates Call for Nuke-Free Arctic Zone
http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100310_5264.php

Climate Change

Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
Global temperatures have risen steadily since the 1970s, reveals the ‘Current GISS Global Surface Temperature Analysis’ by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Comparing the global surface and ocean temperature changes, researchers conclude that global temperature continued to rise at a rate of 0.15-0.20ºC per decade, despite large year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Niño-La Niña cycle.
Australia’s temperatures rose 0.7ºC (0.4ºF) over the past 50 years, with warming occurring across the country, with the last decade being the hottest on record, reveals the “State of The Climate" report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The report also shows that sea levels rose 7-10 millimeters (0.3-0.4 inches) per year around Australia’s north and west, while rainfall patterns varied sharply among regions. The past southern hemisphere summer was 0.2ºC (0.32ºF) warmer than the previous high in 1997-1998, reaching an average of about 29.6ºC (85.3ºF).
Severe droughts affecting some East and Southeast Asian countries caused water levels of rivers and reservoirs to drop at dangerous levels. China’s State Commission of Disaster Relief announced that the worst drought in Southwest China in 60 years is affecting 51 million people and is having a devastating effect on regional power supply and farming. In the Philippines, what seems to be the worst drought since 1998 affects 23 provinces. In Vietnam, drought dried up riverbeds and aggravated saline water intrusion into coastal areas, threatening the country’s southern Mekong Delta. Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation announced that nearly 4 million people in some 36 out of Thailand’s 76 provinces have been affected by drought since November.
CO2 levels rose to a median 393.71 parts per million in the first two weeks of March, from 393.17 ppm in the same period of 2009, and the increase seems accelerating, reveal new measures at Norway’s Zeppelin station on the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. Similarly, a 2009 study of the ocean off Africa indicated CO2 levels in the atmosphere were at their highest in 2.1 million years.Food and Water Security
The multiple crises in the Arab world, exacerbated by the effects of climate change, might increase the number of emergency situations, requiring food and water distribution to millions of people, warned officials attending the third conference of humanitarian organisations in the member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Similarly, the UNEP report “Environment Outlook for the Arab Region: Environment for Development and Human Well-being,” compiled at the request of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment, outlines the multiple challenges facing the Arab region, ranging from climate change and food insecurity to decreasing water availability and unemployment. Highlighting that the region is one of the most water-scarce in the world, the report notes that biofuels and food security are key emerging and intertwined challenges facing the region. The region is predicted to be among the hardest hit by the potential direct and indirect climate change impacts, including: loss of coastal zones; more severe droughts and desertification; increased groundwater salinity; and a surge in epidemics and infectious diseases.
Experts warn that unless swift action is taken to improve water management, Lebanon might lack freshwater by 2015, due to the interplay of several factors, including: the 1975-1990 civil war and years of political unrest, water rights disputes with Israel, weak water management, and inappropriate infrastructure, exacerbated by a growing population. Additionally, some transboundary rivers are not exploited due to their strategic locations—such as the Nahr al-Kabeer and Orontes shared by Lebanon and Syria, and the Wazzani and Hasbani shared with Israel.
The report “An Overview of the Food Security Situation in Eastern Africa” by the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) is an assessment of food security-related initiatives, plans, and strategies in the SRO-EA mandate area. Describing the status of food security in six specific Eastern African countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), it concludes that East Africa is the sub-region in Africa most affected by food insecurity. Recommendations include: increase investments in the agricultural sector to at least 10% of national budget; promote domestic and regional trade of agricultural products; and implement targeted input subsidies programs to enhance production and productivity.

Health
The WHO and UNDP has launched the first global project on public health adaptation to climate change. It involves a series of pilot projects that will seek to increase the adaptive capacity of national health system institutions. The projects will be undertaken by Ministries of Health and other relevant national partners in Barbados, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Kenya, Jordan and Uzbekistan, with varying foci. The project in China, for example, will focus on strengthening early warning and response systems to extreme heat in urban settings.

Melting Glaciers
A new study reveals that Greenland ice loss is happening faster than anticipated and spreading along the northwest coast, with acceleration likely since late 2005. The research is based on results from a combination of satellite [Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)] and by GPS measurements. They estimate the mass loss equivalent to be about 0.02 inch of global sea-level rise per year.
The Arctic melt might cost from $2.4 trillion to $24 trillion by 2050, due to rising sea levels, floods, and heat waves, according to the report “Arctic Treasure, Global Assets Melting Away” by the Pew Environment Group. It is estimated that the loss of Arctic sea ice and snow cover has already cost the world about $61 billion to $371 billion annually.

Rising Sea Level
A tiny island in the Bay of Bengal, known as New Moore Island to the Indians and South Talpatti Island to the Bangladeshis, claimed for years by both countries, has disappeared beneath the rising sea, says the Indian School of Oceanographic Studies in Calcutta. Studies reveal that sea levels in this part of the Bay of Bengal have risen much faster over the past decade than in the previous 15 years. Therefore, it is likely that other islands in the Sundarbans delta region will be covered by the sea, forcing large numbers of people to move.

Adaptation
The number of people around the world needing humanitarian assistance due to natural catastrophes triggered by climate change might increase from 250 million today to more than 375 million, by 2015. Therefore, the British Government announced that it would recommend a doubling of the UN relief funds budget from the current $500 million to $1 billion, along with a reconsideration of the entire system.
The UNDP released a report titled “Screening Tools and Guidelines to Support the Mainstreaming of Climate Change Adaptation into Development Assistance – A Stocktaking Report” which summarizes existing tools and good practices from a range of organizations to guide development practitioners in their climate change mainstreaming efforts. The report provides a comparative overview of existing tools and guidelines, explores the components and entry points of the mainstreaming process, and presents definitions of key climate change

Post-Copenhagen Negotiations
On March 9, 2010, China and India formally announced at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that they agree to be listed as parties to the Copenhagen accord. India specifically stipulates that the accord is not legally binding, but serves as a negotiating framework for a post-Kyoto treaty. There is increased agreement that it is unlikely that a treaty will be signed at the Mexico meeting in 2010, but rather hopes for it to happen at the December 2011 meeting to be held in South Africa.
Sources:
Current GISS Global Surface Temperature Analysis
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/paper/gistemp2010_draft0319.pdf
Global cooling is bunk, draft NASA study finds
http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2010/03/global-cooling-is-bunk-draft-nasa-study-finds
Australia '0.7 degrees warmer over past 50 years'
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gSMhzJlxY-feCKAbLpnD0sZy3G1Q
Droughts bring severe damage to some Asian countries
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100327120018/Article/index_html
CO2 at new highs despite economic slowdown
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62E2KJ20100315
The Environment Outlook for the Arab Region
http://www.unep.org/dewa/westasia/eoar/
Lebanon's liquid treasure is just trickling away
http://www.france24.com/en/20100321-lebanons-liquid-treasure-just-trickling-away
An Overview of the Food Security Situation in Eastern Africa:
http://uneca.org/eca_programmes/srdc/ea/meetings/srcm2010/Food%20Security%20OVERVIEW.pdf
WHO and UNDP launch new project for Health adaptation to climate change
http://www.who.int/globalchange/news/climate_change_adaptation/en/index.html
Spread of ice mass loss into northwest Greenland observed by GRACE and GPS
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL042460.shtml
Arctic Melt To Cost Up To $24 Trillion By 2050: Report
http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/56999
Disputed Bay of Bengal island 'vanishes' say scientists
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8584665.stm
UN faces problems coping with natural disasters, minister warns
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/28/un-disasters-policy
Global Futures. New project to identify best approaches to improve agriculture in developing countries
http://www.ifpri.org/pressrelease/global-futures?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Ifpriupdate+%28IFPRI+Website+Update%29
India and China to be Listed in Chapeau of Copenhagen Accord
http://climate-l.org/2010/03/10/india-and-china-to-be-listed-in-chapeau-of-copenhagen-accord/

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

Review of US National Nanotechnology Initiative
The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) discussed a review of the US National Nanotechnology Initiative Program Report in a meeting on March 12. The webcast of the meeting is archived athttp://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast/meetings ; the nanotech portion is at 5:30 into the recording.
Sources:
President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, March 12, 2010 meeting
http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast
webcast: http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/pcast/100312/Comments Solicited on Proposed UN Nanotech Safety Report
According to Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, "The United Nations' (UN) Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world, has developed an outline for a report focusing on nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials including, in particular, issues of relevance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition… Comments are invited and may be submitted until May 1, 2010. The final report will be submitted at the first meeting of the Open ended Working Group, in 2011, and at the third session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management.”
Souces:
Report on Nanotechnologies and Manufactured Nanomaterials
http://www.merid.org/nanodev/more.php?articleID=2481&search=%2Fnanodev%2Farchive.php%3FdoSearch%3D1%26items%3D20%26q%3DSAICM%26sortField%3DPosted%26submit%3DSearch&scorePrecent=73Nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials (resolution II/4 E) (report request)
http://www.saicm.org/index.php?menuid=9&pageid=425&submenuheader=

UK Nanotechnologies Strategy: Small Technologies, Great Opportunities report
The UK government published Nanotechnologies Strategy: Small Technologies, Great Opportunities, a comprehensive overview of all aspects related to regulations, standardization, policies, and strategies for advancement of nanotechnology in a safe and economically sound way. According to Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, "The overall aims of the strategy are as follows: 1. Transparent, integrated, responsible and skilled nanotechnologies industry with good links to, and support from Government; 2. Better understanding of the risks associated with the use of, and exposure to, nanomaterials, and enough people with the right skills to assess them; 3. Better informed policies and regulations relating to nanomaterials and nanotechnologies; and, 4. Well-informed public and stakeholders and a leading position on nanotechnologies for the UK on the world stage."
Sources:
UK Nanotechnologies Strategy: Small Technologies, Great Opportunities
http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/nano/
UK Nanotechnologies Strategy; Small Technologies, Great Opportunities
http://bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/docs/n/10-825-nanotechnologies-strategy
The UK Nanotechnologies Strategy – disappointing (commentary article by Dr. Andrew Maynard of PEN)
http://2020science.org/2010/03/18/the-uk-nanotechnologies-strategy-disappointing/

Guide for Unbound Nanoparticles in Occupational Settings Made Available
According to Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, ASTM International offers for purchase its Standard Guide for Handling Unbound Engineered Nanoscale Particles in Occupational Settings, which, in addition to providing handling principles and techniques, describes actions that can be taken to minimize human exposure to the particles.
Sources:
ASTM E2535 - 07 Standard Guide for Handling Unbound Engineered Nanoscale Particles in Occupational Settings
http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2535.htm
Standard Guide for Handling Unbound Engineered Nanoscale Particles in Occupational Settings
http://www.merid.org/nanodev/more.php?articleID=2496&search=%2Fnanodev%2Farchive.php%3FdoSearch%3D1%26items%3D20%26q%3DASTM%2Bunbound%26sortField%3DPosted%26submit%3DSearch&scorePrecent=100

Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology
Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology, according to a review, "makes a significant contribution to the issues it sets out to address, namely how government confronts conditions of acute uncertainty about environmental and health risks, and how, given such uncertainty, government structures its regulatory policy," And, Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News says, "it addresses the dilemma faced by governments wanting to satisfy the desire for scientific innovation while also taking into account the direct and indirect effects of such emerging technologies."
Sources:
Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology
http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?tabid=102261
Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology
http://www.rffpress-earthscan-usa.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=236827
Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology
http://www.merid.org/nanodev/more.php?articleID=2508&search=%2Fnanodev%2Farchive.php%3FdoSearch%3D1%26items%3D20%26q%3Duncertainty%26sortField%3DPosted%26submit%3DSearch&scorePrecent=10

New Book on Nanotechnology and Ethics
Nanoethics Group announced the release of a new book, What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?: From Science to Ethics, published by Wiley-Blackwell and resulting from a collaboration between ethicists and nanotechnology scientists. The book comprises three units. Unit 1 — What is Nanotechnology; Unit 2 — Risk, Regulation, and Fairness— risk, precaution, regulation, equity, and access. Unit 3 —Ethical and Social Implications— urgent issues: environment, military, privacy, medicine, and enhancement.
Sources:
Collaboration between ethicists and nanotechnology scientists reveals unique synergies and insights
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15191.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%2

Final FramingNano Governance Platform Now Available
The final version of the FramingNano Governance Platform [See European FramingNano Governance Platform Draft Now Available in the January 2010 issue of these reports] is now available. According to Nanowerk News, it, "describes a heuristic process of how current and future challenges in nanotechnology governance can be identified, assessed and decided on, and proposes a number of structural elements to achieve this", among them, " governance and regulation of nanotechnologies must be considered a dynamic affair which needs to be continuously adapted", and, "the relevant stakeholders and the interested public have to be meaningfully included in the definition of commonly accepted principles, criteria and values to be used for the assessment of these changes.[Same as previous on this issue] Given the close collaboration between EU and U.S. nanotech experts and the high level of the Governance Platform, it is likely that it will set the stage for an international regulatory framework for responsible nanotech development. Military personnel concerned with nanotech regulation policy should review this [possibly revised] document for potential guidelines and collaboration.
Sources:
FramingNano report on current and future challenges in nanotechnology governance
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14269.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29FramingNano Project: A multistakeholder dialogue platform framing the responsible development of Nanosciences & Nanotechnologies
http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/media/archive2/publikationen/FramingNano_Complete_Final_Report.pdf

ENPRA (Engineered NanoParticle Risk Assessment) Newsletter Available
The first ENPRA Newsletter is now available. ENPRA (Engineered NanoParticle Risk Assessment) is a major new EU FP7 project to develop and implement a novel integrated approach for engineered nanoparticle risk assessment. According to the Newsletter, the approach, "uses in vitro, in vivo and in silico models to assess the hazard of ENP and then combines the results with an assessment of workplace and consumer exposure of these materials for a rigorous final assessment of the potential health risk."
Sources:
European project for Engineered NanoParticle Risk Assessment publishes first newsletter
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15139.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29ENPRA Newsletter
http://www.enpra.eu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=x1ipU9U4IPI%3d&tabid=78&mid=435

"Nano Meets Macro: Social Perspectives on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology"
According to the announcement, "This book explores the enormous diversity in social perspectives on the emergence of nanotechnologies. The diversity is structured by applying five broad categories: Philosophy, governance, science, representations and arts."
Sources:
Nano Meets Macro: Social Perspectives on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
http://www.researchandmarkets.com/product/8aa2c4/nano_meets_macro_social_perStudy Shows Nano Damage Differs by Medium, Target Kingdom
Research by Prof. Pu-Chun Ke of Clemson Univ. indicates that the biological damage from carbon nanoparticles varies both with the state of the particles (pristine vs. well-functionalized fullerene) and whether the target cells are plant or mammalian, reports a story in nanowerk.com.
Sources:
Nanotoxicology - mammalian and plant cells respond differently to fullerenes
http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=15231.php

New Technique Allows Study of Nanoparticles in Embryos
Prof. David Cramb of the Univ. of Calgary Chemistry Dept. and colleagues report development of a methodology to measure various aspects of nanoparticles in the blood stream of chicken embryos. This will allow measurement and understanding of nanoparticle uptake into embryonic tissues, to aid in bioaccumulation studies involving embryos.
Sources:
Vigilance needed in nanotechnology
http://www.physorg.com/news186839917.html
Measuring properties of nanoparticles in embryonic blood vessels: Towards a physicochemical basis for nanotoxicity
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TFN-4YCG05D-1&_user=10&_coverDate=02%2F12%2F2010&_alid=1233416266&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_cdi=5231&_sort=r&_docanchor=&view=c&_ct=4&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=885fe697f75d566b4bc79ca84701d2ef

Paper Examines "Nanotechnology: Safe By Design?"
As summarized by Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, this paper discusses the idea that the safety aspects of nano products can be ensured by proper design, pointing out the difficulties of identifying the specific physical and chemical properties that produce the distinct sets of beneficial or adverse effects, and manipulating those properties to produce the final product objective.
Sources:
Examining the Holy Grail of Nanotechnology: Safe By Design
http://www.azonano.com/details.asp?ArticleId=2508

"Greener Nanotechnology" Conference to be Held in June
The Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative's 5th annual conference, GN10: Reducing principles to practice will be held June 16-18, 2010 in Portland, Oregon. According to the Conference announcement, it "will feature the latest developments in the design and production of greener nanomaterials, discuss and debate how to move the technology forward while developing environmentally sound products and processes, and focus on a few critical developments that will determine whether the U.S. will be a leader or a follower in this critical field."
Sources:
5th Annual Greener Nanoscience Conference & Program Review. Reducing principles to practice
http://oregonstate.edu/conferences/greenernano/

Conference on Nanotech and Sustainable Energy to Be Held
There will be a "Nanotechnology for Sustainable Energy" conference, July 4-9, 2010, at the Universitätszentrum Obergurgl, Austria. The conference announcement states, "Topical areas covered by this conference are those where Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (N&N) will, or may, have an impact on the development of a sustainable energy system, including environmental aspects. The conference includes both basic science of relevance for energy/environmental technology and more application oriented research. The objective is to gather experts in the respective fields at one conference, with the aim to make both an inventory and exposure of the state-of-the-art N&N based energy research, technologies and opportunities."
Souces:
Nanotechnology for Sustainable Energy conference
http://www.esf.org/index.php?id=6489

Nanotech Agriculture and Water Conferences to Be Held In Cairo
The 2010 NanoAgri and NanoAqua Conferences will be held in Cairo April 11-12, 2010 to review current developments in applications of nanotechnology to agriculture and water management. They will both feature discussions on environmental health and safety issues.
Sources:
NanoAgri 2010 Conference
http://www.merid.org/nanodev/more.php?articleID=2453&search=%2Fnanodev%2Farchive.php%3FdoSearch%3D1%26items%3D20%26q%3Dcairo%2BNanoAgri%26sortField%3DPosted%26submit%3DSearch&scorePrecent=100

Back to Top


February 2010

The Convention on Cluster Munitions Enters into Force on August 1, 2010
The Convention on Cluster Munitions received the 30th ratification and thus will enter into force on August 1, 2010, two years after its adoption in May 2008. The Convention bans the use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions, and sets deadlines for stockpile destruction and clearance of contaminated land, as well as prescribing responsibilities towards affected communities. The Oslo process, based on close collaboration among governments, civil society (led by the Cluster Munitions Coalition), the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as UN agencies, set a precedent on how a “coalition of the willing” can successfully lead to international regulations. As of February 16, 2010, 30 countries ratified and 104 signed the convention. The first meeting of States Parties is scheduled for November, to be held in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. [Related item: The Cluster Munitions Treaty Signed by 94 Nations in December 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Cluster bomb ban treaty reaches 30th ratification milestone
http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=2040
The Convention on Cluster Munitions
http://www.clusterconvention.org/

First Joint Meeting of the Main Conventions on Hazardous Chemicals to Improve International Environmental Governance
The first simultaneous extraordinary meeting of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (ExCOPs) to foster synergies among the three main conventions addressing hazardous chemicals and waste was held in Bali, Indonesia, February 22-24, 2010. The synchronization includes all main aspects, ranging from joint activities, management, and services, to budget cycles and audits, as well as a review mechanism and follow-up work on enhancing coordination and cooperation among the three conventions. The negotiations’ results are stipulated in the omnibus decision simultaneously adopted at the final plenary by the COPs of all three Conventions. This could be a test case for improved global environmental governance by increasing coherence in decisionmaking and monitoring at international, regional, and national levels. Reform of the international system of environmental governance was further discussed as a key theme at the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GCSS-11/GMEF), held February 24–26 (the outcomes were not yet available at the time of this writing.) [Related item: UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum Makes Progress on Global Environmental Governance in February 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
UN launches global campaign to strengthen synergies in chemicals and waste management
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=612&ArticleID=6466&l=en&t=long
Simultaneous Extraordinary Meeting of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (ExCOPs), and Eleventh Special Session of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GCSS-11/GMEF)
http://www.iisd.ca/unepgc/unepss11/

Biosafety Protocol Advances
The second meeting of the Friends of the Co-Chairs on liability and redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, held February 8-12, 2010, in Putrajaya, Malaysia, focused on international rules and procedures for damage resulting from transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs), including a supplementary protocol on liability and redress, civil liability, and capacity-building measures. Although not concluding a supplementary protocol, significant progress was made on several of the most contentious issues, including the elaboration of a legally binding provision on civil liability. Outstanding issues include language, terminology, and financial security. The first drafts of the supplementary protocol include a provision for exemptions in case of acts of God or force majeure, and war or civil unrest, and parties’ right to provide other exemptions or mitigations in their domestic law, as necessary. The negotiations will continue in June 2010, so that the supplementary protocol can be adopted at the 5th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP/MOP5) to the Biosafety Protocol, to be held in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. Reviews, if necessary, would be at five years (after its coming into force.) Note: UNEP Year Book 2010 remarks that biodiversity changes due to human activities in the past 50 years were the most significant in human history. The IUCN Red List shows that 17,291 species out of 47,677 assessed are under threat: 21% of mammals, 70% of plants, 37% of freshwater fish, 35% of invertebrates, 30% of amphibians, and 12% of birds.
Sources:
Summary of the Second Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Co-Chairs on Liability and Redress in the Context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, 8–12 February 2010
http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09495e.html
COP-MOP 5
http://www.cbd.int/mop5/
UNEP Year Book 2010
http://www.unep.org/yearbook/2010

Jordan Armed Forces Upgrade, Part of Global Warming Debate
Jordan is the only developing country that included upgrading military energy efficiency in its greenhouse emissions reduction plan submitted to the UN as per the Copenhagen agreement. The government in Amman stated that its armed forces would seek to upgrade equipment and use energy saving technologies by 2020.
Source:
Jordan enlists army in climate fight
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE61H0TH20100219?type=marketsNews

Joint Afro-Arab Strategy for Addressing Agricultural Development and Food Security
At the Joint Afro-Arab Ministerial Meeting on Agricultural Development and Food Security, held February 14-16, 2010, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, delegates agreed on an action plan to guide their collaboration in agriculture and food security, including climate change-related elements. The action plan includes a section on transboundary and environmental challenges, proposing mitigation and adaptation tools such as: implementation of international and regional environmental conventions and initiatives, development of a common position in international negotiations; creation of joint mechanisms and networks to coordinate and monitor climate change and other environmental issues; and strengthening the institutions dealing with environmental protection and climate change issues.
Sources:
African Union Press Release
http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Conferences/2010/feb/afroarab/Afro%20Arab%20PR%203.doc
Background Document on the Status and Prospects of Agricultural Development and Food Security in Africa and the Arab World
http://www.africa-union.org/root/ua/Conferences/2010/SA/fev/14-16fev/doc/Official%20Final_Summary_of_The_Study%20_%2029%20Sept%20.doc

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Liquid Spray Glass Offers Rugged Surface Protection
A new spray-on liquid glass produces a water-resistant 100 nm-thick coating claimed to be environmentally harmless and easily wiped clean. Reportedly, it is “transparent, non-toxic, and can protect virtually any surface against almost any damage from hazards such as water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections”, and is also flexible and breathable. The spray is being marketed by Nanopool GmbH of Hülzweiler-Schwalbach, Germany.
Sources:
Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything
http://www.physorg.com/news184310039.html
Liquid Glass is probably the world’s most versatile new technology?
http://www.nanopool.eu/couk/index.htmMicrocantilevers Provide Ultrasensitive Detection
A tuned-microcantilever-based chemical sensor that is far more sensitive than current devices has been developed by a team led by Panos Datskos, of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Nanosystems & Structures Group. The researchers believe that the technology could be incorporated into a handheld instrument and therefore could be used for environmental assessment.
Source:
Novel sensor exploits traditional weakness of nano-devices
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14813.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies

New Wearable Energy Charger Technologies
A wearable electrocardiograph energy-harvesting device, which provides tens of microwatts of energy per square centimeter, was developed by two R&D organizations, Holst Centre of Eindhoven, Netherlands, and IMEC of Leuven, Belgium. Reportedly, they combined a thermal harvester, matched specifically to a human body, with a large reduction in the power consumption of the driven wearable electronics. The system was able to charge two 2.4 v. batteries, can be easily integrated into fabrics, and can be well protected against damage. It earned the inventors the 2009 European Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation.
A technology for dye-based solar cells developed by Dr. Michael Grätzel, a chemist and professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, has been licensed for application by G24 Innovations of Campbell CA, and other companies. The cells are being installed in sport bags, backpacks, and the like to allow users to recharge cell phones and other devices as they go about their activities; six to eight hours of sunlight is required for a full charge. Reportedly, companies like Nokia, Intel, Texas Instruments, Varta, and PG&E are carrying out R&D in this new field of “energy scavenging.” [Related item: Energy Harvesting Offers Possibilities for Environment-sparing Power in the December 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Holst Centre and imec recognized for their path breaking wearable energy harvester technology
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14625.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29Recharging Your Cellphone, Mother Nature’s Way
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/business/31novel.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
Energy scavenging
http://www.shapingtomorrow.com/trends.cfm?trendAlert=1 (by free subscription only)Highly Conductive Fabrics Promise More Efficient Energy Storage
Dr. Liangbing Hu of Stanford University and colleagues have developed a family of highly conductive fabrics that hold out the promise of providing battery and supercapacitor electrodes with much higher energy density and durability than current exploratory materials like paper.
Sources:
Turning your T-shirt into a battery
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14701.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29Stretchable, Porous, and Conductive Energy Textiles
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl903949m

Nanofibers Provide Energy-efficient White Light
Researchers at RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina report developing an energy-saving light source using polymer nanofibers. The device produces 55 lumens/watt of light output, more than five times as much as traditional incandescent lamps, provides excellent color-rendering, and, unlike CFLs, does not contain mercury.
Sources:
Researchers Develop Nanofiber-Based Technology to Make Energy-Efficient Lighting
http://www.physorg.com/news185048189.html

New Low-cost, Durable Hydrogen Producing System
A team led by Thomas Nann and Christopher J. Pickett at the University of East Anglia reports a new technique for light-driven catalytic production of hydrogen from water. The new system consists of a gold electrode covered with layers of indium phosphide (InP) nanoparticles, combined with an iron–sulfur complex, Fe2S2(CO)6, and irradiated while immersed in water with a small electric current. The system produces hydrogen with an efficiency of 60%, and lasts much longer than present systems with organic components. Another improvement in hydrogen production may come from the work at the laboratory of Prof. Jin Zhang at UC Santa Cruz, where a combination of elemental doping and quantum dot sensitization has produced improved photoanodes for photoelectrochemical cells.
Sources:
New photocatalytic method for the clean production of hydrogen from water
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14748.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29Water Splitting by Visible Light: A Nanophotocathode for Hydrogen Production
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123275459/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 (Requires acceptance of cookies.)

Nano Gold May Offer Miniaturized Photoelectric Cell
Prof. Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues have announced a technology that uses gold nanoparticles to increase the efficiency of production of current in photovoltaic cells by factors of 4 to 20 over present structures. “If the efficiency of the system could be scaled up without any additional, unforeseen limitations, we could conceivably manufacture a one-amp, one-volt sample the diameter of a human hair and an inch long,” says Prof. Bonnell.
Sources:
Scientists turn light into electrical current using a golden nanoscale system
http://www.physorg.com/news185378650.html
Plasmon-Induced Electrical Conduction in Molecular Devices
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn901148m

ARPA-E Awards Funding to 37 Transformational Energy Projects
The DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (“ARPA-E”) awarded $151 million in funding to 37 transformational energy projects, including; for example, new thermoelectric power generation devices.
Source:
Bold, Transformational Energy Research Projects Win $151 Million in Funding
www.energy.gov/news2009/8207.htm 

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Renewed Calls for Strengthening E-Waste Management Regulations
According to a UNEP report “Recycling - from E-Waste to Resources,” e-waste grows globally by 40 million metric tons a year and is expected to rise dramatically in the developing countries, which are vulnerable to illegal trafficking of hazardous waste unless regulations are strengthened and enforced. Computer waste in India alone is projected to grow by 500% by 2020 compared to 2007 levels. China, Brazil, and Mexico are also among the countries highly vulnerable to rising environmental damage and health problems from hazardous waste. Nevertheless, properly managed e-waste could represent business opportunities, by creating new jobs and income from recovering valuable materials, such as gold and cupper. [Related items: Hazardous Waste Disposal of Increasing Concern in September 2009, Organized Crime Targets Electronic Waste Recycling in July 2009, and other previous environmental security reports.]
The European Commission is exploring creation of a new body dedicated to enforcing European waste regulations, as recommended by its recent “Study on the feasibility of the establishment of a Waste Implementation Agency”. In the EU, an estimated 2.6 billion metric tons of waste are generated each year, out of which about 90 million metric tons are classified as hazardous. A recent large-scale inspection involving 22 Member States and some neighboring countries found that around 19% of waste shipments were illegal, most destined to countries in Africa and Asia. [Related items: Half of Transported European Hazardous Waste Could Be Illegal––How Much More Elsewhere? in April 2008, EU Updates the REACH System, and WEEE and RoHS Directives in December 2008, and other previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Urgent Need to Prepare Developing Countries for Surge in E-Wastes
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=612&ArticleID=6471&l=en
Recycling – From E-waste to Resources (report)
http://www.unep.org/PDF/PressReleases/E-Waste_publication_screen_FINALVERSION-sml.pdf
Dedicated EU body needed to ensure enforcement of European waste law, says Commission study
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/113&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Study on the feasibility of the establishment of a Waste Implementation Agency
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pdf/report_waste_dec09.pdf
Report on joint enforcement actions on waste shipments
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pdf/impel_report_09.pdf

European Commission Creates New Directorate-General for Climate Action
The EC’s new Directorate-General for Climate Action will take over the relevant activities from the other EC DGs, and those related to international negotiations on climate change from the External Relations DG. This should give more focus and effectiveness for the EU’s role in world efforts to address climate change. [Related item: European Climate and Energy Package Formally Adopted in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
Commission creates two new Directorates-General for Energy and Climate Action
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/164&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Spain Promotes European Common Strategy on Electric Cars
A February 9th meeting of EU industry ministers focused on plans to establish a common strategy for electric cars. Spain, the strongest promoter of the plan, suggests that the electric car be included in EU’s 2020 agenda and is pushing the European Commission to adopt a common strategy. Germany also supports the idea. Nevertheless, environmental-protection NGOs warn that unless developed in concordance with “smart” power grids, large-scale use of electric cars could be counterproductive to reducing CO2 emissions. [Related item: European Climate and Energy Package Formally Adopted in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Spain pushes for common strategy on electric cars
http://euobserver.com/880/29443

Climate Change Requires Water Management Changes
The UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) released the Hashimoto Action Plan II. It aims to support meeting the water-related Millennium Development Goals over the next three years. The Plan includes adaptation to climate change, water issues and disaster, and linking water-related disasters to climate change and sustainable development.
Meanwhile, experts warn that the approximately 300 agreements among States that border a shared river might not adequately address future pressures, mostly those caused by climate change. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute notes, “New disputes are already arising in transboundary watersheds and are likely to become more common.” Pacific Institute’s report “Understanding and Reducing the Risks of Climate Change for Transboundary Waters” recommends: 1) conducting climate impact, vulnerability, and adaptation assessments, 2) evaluating existing treaties’ and agreements’ flexibility in light of changing conditions, 3) enforcing and expanding the scope of existing international legal frameworks, and 4) establishing new agreements for transboundary basins. The study also contains some specific case studies of regions where climate change, water issues, and international politics collide (including the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, the Guaraní Aquifer in South America, and the Nile River in Africa).
Sources:
Climate Change and Transboundary Waters
http://www.pacinst.org/reports/transboundary_waters/index.htm
Understanding and Reducing the Risks of Climate Change for Transboundary Waters
http://www.pacinst.org/reports/transboundary_waters/transboundary_water_and_climate_report.pdf
Water and Conflict Chronology
http://www.worldwater.org/conflict/index.html
The Hashimoto Action Plan II
http://www.unsgab.org/HAP-II/HAP-II_en.pdf

Increased Protection Needed for the Marine Environment
The East Asian Seas region has some of the world’s highest concentrations of shipping and fishing vessel activity, accounting for 50% of global fisheries production and 80% of global aquaculture production. The UNEP report “The East Asian Seas State of the Marine Environment” warns that the coastal habitats and ecosystems are experiencing stress due to pollution, alien invasive species and other factors, which could negatively impact the region’s economy. Nearly 75% of the region’s population depends directly or indirectly on coastal areas, and 80% of the region’s GDP is linked to coastal natural resources. Already, 40% of coral reefs and 50% of mangrove swamps have been lost. Coral reefs generate an estimated $112.5 billion and mangrove habitats $5.1 billion annually. Unless adequate environmental regulations are adopted and marine environment factored into economic planning, increasing poverty might add to social unrest and migration.
According to a study by researchers at Carnegie Institution published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the current rate of ocean acidification is up to 10 times faster than 55 million years ago—the last time deep oceans were so acidic. The main cause is considered to be the rapidly rising concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Scientists warn that if present trends continue, some marine life is threatened with extinction, while coral reefs will begin to disintegrate before the end of the century. Coral bleaching is already damaging many reefs worldwide.
Sources:
East Asia’s economy could suffer if seas are not protected, says UN report
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33829&Cr=unep&Cr1
Oceans' acidity rate is soaring, claims study
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/oceans-acidity-rate-is-soaring-claims-study-1899536.html
World's coral reefs could disintegrate by 2100
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/23/worlds-coral-reefs-disintegrate-2100

Canada to Map about 2,500 miles of Arctic Seafloor
While national claims over the Arctic’s potentially mineral-rich seafloor are increasing, only about 5% of the Arctic floor has been mapped with modern sonar technology. Canada will send two robot submarines in March 2010 to gather evidence to help Canada’s claims for extending its continental area. The two 20-foot autonomous underwater vehicles will be equipped with specialized echo-sounder equipment, potentially helping scientists create a three-dimensional geographical map, as well as continuously collecting data for about 250 miles at a time, creating images of the expedition’s 2,500 or so miles. [Related items: Arctic Opens to International Commercial Use in January 2010 and others in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
About five percent of the Arctic floor has been mapped with modern sonar technology.
Canada Will Use Robot Subs to Map Arctic Sea Floor, Boost Territorial Claims
http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/02/10/10greenwire-canada-will-use-robot-subs-to-map-arctic-sea-f-45098.html

European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Mission to Help Improve Water Management
ESA’s SMOS is consistently mapping soil moisture in land and salinity in oceans, documenting their variations and thus advancing understanding of the water cycle and helping weather and climate modeling, as well as improving water resource management. [Related item: A New Water Management Tool in September 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
First images from ESA’s water mission
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/smos/SEMOGN3KV5G_0.html

Organophosphate Flame Retardants May Pose Health Risk
New findings indicate that house pollution from organophosphate flame retardants (widely used as replacements for the now banned polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs)) may present a health risk, inducing altered hormone levels and declined semen quality in men.
Sources:
Dust harbors new fire retardants associated with hormone, sperm changes
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/op-fire-retardants-in-dust-linked-to-hormone-sperm-changes/
House Dust Concentrations of Organophosphate Flame Retardants in Relation to Hormone Levels and Semen Quality Parameters
http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2009/0901332/abstract.html

Climate Change

Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
The UNEP information note “How Close Are We to the Two Degree Limit?” reveals that under present pledges by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, there are slim chances of reaching the goal of keeping a global temperature rise at below 2ºC (3.6ºF) at the end of the century.
The Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Tasmania found evidence of interdependence between drought in Western Australia and snowfall in Antarctica: the heavier the snowfall is in Antarctica, the less the rainfall is in Australia’s southwest. The conclusions are based on studying 750-year-old ice-core samples.
In 2009, the average temperature in the Tibet Autonomous Region reached a record high of 5.9ºC (42.62ºF), 1.5ºC (2.7ºF) higher than “normal” (an average over several decades.). Chinese climatologists report that temperatures in Tibet rose by an average 0.32ºC (0.58ºF) per decade since 1961, when meteorological records began, which is considerably higher than the global average of 0.2ºC (0.36ºF) per decade.

Food and Water Security
The 33rd session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), was held February 17-18, 2010 in Rome, Italy. The session underlined the impotence of smallholder farmers in addressing future agricultural challenges posed by climate change. Noting that food security is an integral part of overall security, both national and global, a high-level panel highlighted the importance of creating better market conditions to promote private investment in smallholder agriculture, developing policies that support smallholder farmers, and allowing smallholder farmers to compete for scarce agricultural resources.
Although avoiding meat is generally considered beneficial to the environment and improved food security, a study by Cranfield University (commissioned by WWF) found a substantial number of meat substitutes consumed in the UK, such as soy, chickpeas and lentils, have a higher environmental footprint because they are imported from overseas. Additionally, potential deforestation to create agricultural land for producing those substitute products is counterproductive to addressing climate change. Similarly, the EU objective of obtaining 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 is undermining food security of developing countries as EU companies have taken millions of acres of land for production of biofuels. ActionAid’s new report, “Meals per gallon: the impact of industrial biofuels on people and global hunger,” warns that if all global biofuels targets were to be met, food prices could rise by an additional 76% by 2020 and force an extra 600 million people into hunger.
According to a new report published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 38% of the world area, in eight out of 15 existing eco-regions, is at risk of desertification due to unsustainable land use practices. The areas potentially most affected are: North Africa, the Middle East, Australia, southwest China, the western edge of South America (as well as some coastal areas and prairies), the Mediterranean region, savannahs in general, and the temperate, tropical and subtropical steppes.
A University of Sydney study presented at the Carbon Farming conference warned that more than 80% of the world’s farming land is “moderately or severely eroded” and an estimated 75 billion metric tons of soil is lost annually. Soil in China is being lost 57 times faster than it can be replaced through natural processes, while in Europe it is 17 times faster, 10 times in America, and 5 times faster in Australia.
A recent Egyptian government study warns, “A 30 centimeter rise in sea level is expected to occur by 2025, flooding approximately 200 square kilometers (77 square miles). As a result, over half a million inhabitants may be displaced and approximately 70,000 jobs could be lost.” Given the Nile Delta’s importance for Egypt’s food and economic security, its environmental health should be considered “a matter of national security,” says Mohammed al-Raey of the Regional Disaster Response Centre.
In Niger, food insecurity affecting more than 7 million people and political instability (aggravated by the recent coup d'état) exacerbate each other.

Health
WHO has published a draft discussion paper, “Gender, climate change and health” which aims to provide a framework for gender-differentiated health risk assessment and adaptation/mitigation actions in relation to climate change. It offers information on the health risks for women and men through the perspectives of direct and indirect consequences, and the possible interactions and specificities of biological, economic, and social risk factors in determining these impacts, including migration and displacement, shifts in livelihood as responses to climate change, and gaps in understanding needs.

Melting Glaciers
Greenland’s melting is accelerated by ice sheet erosion caused by winds and currents that drive warmer water into fjords, found scientists led by Fiammetta Straneo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Detailed measurements of the water properties in the Sermilik Fjord revealed that deep warm water 3-4ºC (37.4-39.2ºF) is cutting into the base of the glaciers, accelerating their plunge into the sea. At present, sea level is rising at around 3 mm (0.12 inches) per year, compared to 1.8 mm (0.07 inches) a year in the early 1960s.
The Antarctic Peninsula’s ice front on the southern section has been retreating since 1947, with the most dramatic changes happening since 1990, states a U.S. Geological Survey report. “This is the first time since people have been observing the area, since the 1800s, that that ice shelf has not hitched together Charcot Island and the peninsula,” notes scientist Jane Ferrigno. Even in the Antarctic Peninsula’s coldest part, ice shelves are vanishing.
For the first time, the value of the Arctic’s declining ability to cool the climate has been quantified. The Pew Environment Group found that the cumulative cost of rapid melting of the region could range between $2.4 trillion to $24.1 trillion by 2050, and $4.9 trillion to $91.2 trillion by 2100. The factors considered included thawing permafrost, decline in albedo (reflectivity), and increase in methane emissions. The cost calculations included the impact of Arctic warming on agriculture, energy production, water availability, rising sea levels and flooding. The large range of estimates is due to the high level of uncertainty associated with factors influencing climate change; however, the low end magnitudes are not trivial.

Migration
In northeastern Syria, drought lasting for more than three years triggered one of the largest internal displacements in the Middle East in recent years. Some 300,000 families had to move to urban areas, as their livelihood has been destroyed. Lack of economic alternatives and an adequate government response continue to worsen the deteriorating situation.

Adaptation
According to the World Bank, urban populations in areas with significant probability of major earthquakes will increase from 370 million to 870 million between 2000 and 2050. As a result, The World Institute of Development Economics Research of the UN University recommends that cities set up hazard management as an integral part of urban planning and management, not as a separate activity.

Climate Modeling and Scenarios
New projections by the World Meteorological Organization for tropical cyclones until the end of the century show that although there will be fewer storms in number, they will be stronger and carrying more rain, therefore more damaging. Overall strength of storms measured in wind speed would rise by 2-11%; an 11% increase in wind speed translates to roughly a 60% increase in damage. Another study, analyzing only the Atlantic hurricane basin, predicts double the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes, and a 28% increase in damage near the U.S.
Simulation models developed by Keith Cherkauer, affiliated with the Purdue Climate Change Research Center and the Center for the Environment in Discovery Park, show that Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan could receive 28% more precipitation by the year 2070, with most of it in winter and spring, while summer and fall seasons could be drier. He used three different scenarios based on different amounts of carbon emissions. The results also showed that by 2077, in the four states, winters could be 2.7ºF to 5.4ºF warmer and summers 3.6ºF to 10.8ºF warmer than today. Using the Variable Infiltration Capacity Model—which simulates how precipitation moves through land surface environments—he predicted stream flow for six rivers: the Chippewa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Wabash, Grand, and Rock Rivers.

Post-Copenhagen Negotiations
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) publishes the Copenhagen Accord climate pledges. A total of 55 countries have submitted by February 1st their plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, as set at the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009. Together, these countries account for 78% of the global emissions from energy use. China and India pledged to reduce the growth rate of their emissions by up to 45% and 25%, respectively, compared to 2005 levels. The U.S. pledged to cut its absolute carbon emissions by about 17% below 2005 levels. The EU maintains its pledged 20% cut below 1990 levels and 30% if other nations deepen their reductions. Nevertheless, the Climate Interactive team says that if current proposals would be fully implemented, the average global temperature would still rise by approximately 3.9°C (7.0°F) by 2100, exceeding the 2°C goal.
To advance negotiations for a binding treaty, an extra session of UN climate talks will be held April 9-11, at the Bonn-based UN Climate Change Secretariat, prior to the session scheduled in Bonn for May 31-June 11. Similarly, the UNEP information note “How Close Are We to the Two Degree Limit?” says that the chances of keeping global temperature rise below 2°C are 50/50. The report says that the annual global greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 40 to 48.3 metric Gigatons (Gt) of equivalent CO2 in 2020 and should peak sometime between 2015 and 2021, while based on the pledges, the expected emissions for 2020 range between 48.8 and 51.2 GT. Global emissions should then further fall 48%-72% by 2050.
Sources:
More Ambition Needed if Greenhouse Gases are to Peak in Time, Says New UNEP Report
http://hqweb.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=612&ArticleID=6472&l=en&t=long
WA drought is 'proof of climate change'
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1009360
Tibet temperature 'highest since records began' say Chinese climatologists
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/05/tibet-warming-china
Thirty-third session of the Governing Council of IFAD 17-18 February 2010: Programme of events
http://www.ifad.org/events/gc/33/index.htm
Tofu can harm environment more than meat, finds WWF study
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7023809.ece
EU biofuels significantly harming food production in developing countries
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/15/biofuels-food-production-developing-countries
Egypt's fertile Nile Delta falls prey to climate change
http://www.seeddaily.com/reports/Egypts_fertile_Nile_Delta_falls_prey_to_climate_change_999.html
Over 7 million people in Niger facing food insecurity owing to bad harvest, warns UN
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33860&Cr=+niger+&Cr1=
Gender, Climate Change and Health. Draft Discussion Paper
http://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/reports/final_who_gender.pdf
Climate change melts Antarctic ice shelves: USGS
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61L5OH20100222
Arctic melt to cost up to $24 trillion by 2050: report
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6145M520100205
Drought Blights Syrian Villages, Residents Dying of Hunger
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2010/2010-01-27-01.html
Density and Disasters: Economics of Urban Hazard Risk (UNU-WIDWR)
http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/newsletter/articles-2010/en_GB/02-2010-Lall-Deichmann/
Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nature Geoscience (2010) doi:10.1038/ngeo779 Review
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo779.html
Has Global Warming Affected Atlantic Hurricane Activity?
http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes
UNFCCC receives list of government climate pledges (Press Release)
http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/pr_accord_100201.pdf
The Climate Scoreboard
http://climateinteractive.org/scoreboard

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

Russia Sets Up Nanotech Risk Assessment and Regulation Cooperation
According to Nanowerk News, the CEO of RUSNANO, Anatoly Chubais, and the head of the Russian Federal Medical-Biological Agency, Vladimir Uiba, signed an agreement, "…to work jointly to ensure safe production and safe application of nanotechnology and nanomaterials." The charter of the collaboration is to "…ensure the sanitary and epidemiological well being of the country’s inhabitants during scientific research, development work, production, consumption, and disposal of products, materials, and finished goods created with nanomaterials and nanotechnology and during commercialization of nanotechnology".
Source:
Russian effort to ensure nanotechnology safety
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14832.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Russia and Finland to Cooperate on Nanotech Regulation Development
RUSNANO Deputy CEO Andrey Malyshev and Reijo Munther, Director, Materials Technology, of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, have signed a memorandum on standardization and regulation in nanotechnology. The discussions examined problems in nanotech regulation and approaches to developing coordinated positions for presentation to standardization and safety agencies.
Source:
Russia and Finland Collaborate on Model for Regulating Nanotechnology
http://www.rosnano.ru/Post.aspx/Show/25026

Australia Sets Up Framework for Safe Nanotech
As part of the National Enabling Technologies Strategy, the framework provides funding to support nanotech/biotech policy and regulatory development, industry uptake, international engagement, and strategic research, as well as for public awareness and community engagement to increase understanding of enabling technologies.
Sources:
National Enabling Technologies Strategy Policy
http://www.innovation.gov.au/Industry/Nanotechnology/Pages/NationalEnablingTechnologiesStrategyConsultations.aspx
Australia launches national framework for safe development of bio- and nanotechnology
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14962.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

India to Establish Nanotechnology Regulatory Board
The Indian Nano Mission Council has announced the establishment, probably in March, of a Nanotechnology Regulatory Board to regulate industrial nanotech products.
Sources:
India to have Nanotechnology Regulatory Board soon
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/india-to-have-nanotechnology-regulatory-board-soon/86186/on
Nano Mission Council
http://www.dst.gov.in/about_us/ar07-08/nano-mission.htm

Detailed Report on ICPC-NanoNet Project
An article prepared for NanoWerk Spotlight presents in updated and expanded detail the various information services available through the EU FP7 ICPC-NanoNet project (ICPC is the International Cooperation Partner Countries to the EU). These include: an electronic archive of nanoscience publications (www.nanoarchive.org); electronic databases of nanoscience organizations and networks, and researchers and stakeholders (www.icpc-nanonet.org); annual reports on nanoscience developments in eight ICPC regions; several online networking tools; and annual workshops in the EU, China, India, and Russia. [Related item: Regional Reports on Nanotech Issued by International Group in August 2009 environmental security report]
Source:
International cooperation in environmental nanotechnology - example water purification
http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=14971.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

EC Publishes Paper on Options for Framing Public Policy on Nanotech
The Governance and Ethics Unit of the EC's Directorate-General for Research has published an overview paper on options for framing public policy on nanotechnologies. According to the announcement, "The document gives an overview on four current or recently finished research projects in this field (Deepen, Nanocap, Nanoplat and FramingNano). The authors’ aim is to give an insight into the nature of public debate on nanosciences and nanotechnologies, and the ways in which deliberative approaches could lead to better governance of these technologies."
Sources:
Understanding Public Debate on Nanotechnologies: Options for Framing Public Policy
http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/index.php?section=news&cmd=details&newsid=289&teaserId=
Understanding Public Debate on Nanotechnologies. Options for Framing Public Policy
http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/media/archive2/tv_radio_und_printartikel/Debate_nano_100203.pdf

Paper Reviews Nanotech Remediation of Waste Sites
Dr. Barbara Karn of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research and colleagues have published a paper, Nanotechnology and In Situ Remediation: A Review of the Benefits and Potential Risks. It was written, “…to focus on environmental cleanup and provide a background and overview of current practices, research findings, societal issues; potential environment, health and safety implications and future directions for nanoremediation…” of waste sites. The paper includes 76 references. A Nanoremediation Site Map developed in conjunction with the paper can be found at http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories/remediation_map/
Sources:
New nanotechnology review article focuses on environmental clean-up
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14720.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29Nanotechnology and in Situ Remediation: A Review of the Benefits and Potential Risks
http://ehsehplp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.0900793

New Magazine Features Nanotech for the Environment
A new magazine, ENT (Environmental Nano Technologies), has appeared, describing itself as an "…international magazine covering the latest research, applications, and opinions in the field of nanotechnology for the environment - alternative energies, water, air and soil purification." It will include digital archives, an interactive website, and the possibility of participating in Patent Auctions.
Source:
Environmental Nano Technologies Magazine
http://www.entmagazine.com/

Worldwide Nanotech Labs Deficient in EHS Protection
According to a story in Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, "Researchers at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, found, by conducting an online survey, that most researchers who handle nanomaterials that could become airborne do not use suitable personal and laboratory protection equipment." The survey indicated that 25% of the nanotech labs did not use any type of protection and many of the labs disposed of nanomaterials in the same way as other chemicals.
Sources:
Reported Nanosafety Practices in Research Laboratories Worldwide
http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=2400
Reported nanosafety practices in research laboratories worldwide
http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nnano.2010.1.html (abstract; subscription or purchase required for full text)

"Toxicology of the Tiny"
A senior writer at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, James Badham, has written a brief article summarizing the current state of nanotoxicology and providing a number of links to work in the field. It offers an excellent review of issues in the subject and sources for further information.
Source:
The race to know how nanoparticles affect living things is on, even as the use of those particles is increasing exponentially
http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/toxicology-of-the-tiny-7171/

New Technique May Reduce Silver Nanoparticle Hazard
Scientists at the Laboratory of Polymer Chemistry at the University of Helsinki report success in chemically binding silver nanoparticles to a polymer, thereby reducing the likelihood of a silver particle finding its way from a product into the body. The details of the possible toxicity of silver nanoparticles are still being investigated. It is known that they do cause some cell damage. In the proposed configuration, only silver ions escape, to exert their antimicrobial action.
Source:
Chemists manage to reduce the toxicity of antimicrobial nanosilver in products
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15028.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Back to top


January 2010

The Haiti Earthquake Disaster Could Stimulate Improved Resilience Planning
The current chaotic situation and humanitarian disaster resulting from the 7.3 magnitude earthquake on January 12, 2010 in Haiti demonstrates the need for improved early warning, resilience training, and post-disaster international coordination. Since scientists warn that the number and intensity of natural disasters will increase, the need for such systems and training will increase. Unique preparation is needed for poorer, less resilient countries like Haiti.
UNEP is working for the Haiti Regeneration Initiative to be implemented by a wide range of partners for long-term sustainable development and reduction of vulnerability to natural hazards through ecosystem restoration and sustainable natural resource management. [Related item: International Early Warning Programme to Begin Operations in March 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haitihttp://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah/
Earthquake jeopardizes Haiti's security and stability http://www.isria.com/M/Weekly_Report_20100118.htm
Haiti earthquake: death toll may hit 200,000 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7003057/Haiti-earthquake-death-toll-may-hit-200000.html
UNEP to lead environmental recovery efforts in Haiti http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=608&ArticleID=6448&l=en

Yemen’s Internal Conflicts Are Water-Induced
A new analysis of Yemen’s drastic water situation points out that an estimated 80% of conflicts in Yemen are over water. The country’s water table is dropping about 6.6 feet per year, and in the capital, Sana’a, water extraction rates are about four times that of replenishment. At this rate Sana’a could become the first waterless capital in the world in five to seven years. Water used for agriculture accounts for about 90% of all consumption, and about 50% of it goes to growing qat (khat), a mild narcotic plant. Since plantations are often controlled by the so-called qat mafia, if farmers would be offered an alternative to qat, the critical water, food, and security situations would be addressed together.
Sources:
Water woes could undermine Yemen’s drive against Al-Qaeda http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hRiwhJYeUXY1B3Ma2oCfQVE0G9vA
Private sector considers desalination to save Yemen from drought http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidZAWYA20100125113425/Private%20sector%20considers%20desalination%20to%20save%20Yemen%20from%20drought

International Lawsuits for Environmental Crime Proliferate
International lawsuits for environmental crimes are increasing, including those based on damages due to climate change, which is a new phase in the international environmental legal system. For example, Micronesia filed a case with the Czech Environment Ministry against the extension of the Prunerov, CEZ’s largest coal-powered generator, on grounds of potential increase of CO2 emissions with subsequent consequences to global warming and rising sea levels. Consequently, the Czech government ordered an international assessment of the project. Another example is Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo village on a barrier island north of the Arctic Circle. It has created a case against a group of fuel and utility companies (including ExxonMobil and Shell Oil) for their contribution to climate change that is accelerating the island’s erosion. A third example is four Nigerian farmers and Friends of the Earth Netherlands who filed a pollution lawsuit in the Netherlands against Royal Dutch Shell for environmental degradation caused in Nigeria.
In a related activity, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales is organizing an international conference April 20-22, 2010 in Cochabamba to explore creation of an international court on environmental crimes and a “universal proposal for the rights of mother earth.” Government officials, indigenous people, other social movement representatives, environmentalists, and scientists will be invited.
Sources:
Morales Calls Alternative Climate Meeting http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/06/tech/main6063924.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody
Courts as Battlefields in Climate Fights http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/business/energy-environment/27lawsuits.html
Czechs Cede To Micronesia Demands Seeking Power Plant Review http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/commodities/czechs-cede-micronesia-demands-seeking-power-plant-review/
Shell must face Friends of the Earth Nigeria claim in Netherlands http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/30/shell-oruma-alleged-pollution-claim

Geoengineering May Require International Environmental Regulations
Several national authorities are assessing the potential need for national or international regulations for safe development and use of geoengineering to address climate change and global warming. A committee in Britain’s House of Commons began its assessment and is cooperating with the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee, which is also planning to begin hearings this year on scientific, engineering, ethical, economic, and governance aspects related to geoengineering. This March a group of scientists will meet in California to set guidelines for large-scale field tests of proposed geoengineering techniques––ranging from genetically modified trees to absorb CO2, to spewing sunlight-deflecting sulfate particles into the upper atmosphere. Some scientists argue that new environmental regulations should be established even before field tests begin, due to potentially large geographic effects of some geoengineering techniques. Others, while comparing geoengineering to nuclear weapons, which have been successfully managed through international agreements, point out the possibility of serious long-term risks, and propose an international annual research budget growing from $10 million to $1 billion by the end of 2020.
Sources:
A Search for Rules Before Climate-Changing Experiments Begin http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/01/18/18climatewire-a-search-for-rules-before-climate-changing-e-40048.html
Time to start researching global 'sun block': scientist http://www.lfpress.com/news/canada/2010/01/27/12637061.html
Research on Global 'Sun Block' Needed Now, Experts Argue http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134243.htm

International Year of Biodiversity is 2010 and Convention on Biological Diversity COP10 to Meet in Japan This Year
The year 2010 is designated as the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations. A panoply of events is planned to take place around the world for raising awareness and generating public pressure on leaders to develop new mechanisms to curb loss of the world’s species due to human activity (estimated by some experts at 1,000 times more than natural evolution). Scientists and officials agree that methods are needed to price the impact of decisions on biodiversity and set policies that will help create a better balance. The international community is expected to agree on some post-2010 goals on biodiversity at the COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held October 18-29, in Nagoya, Japan.
Sources:
2010 UN Year of Biodiversity http://www.cbd.int/2010/welcome/
UN opens Biodiversity Year with plea to save world's ecosystems http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33393&Cr=envirionment&Cr1=
Benn to call on world leaders to adopt biodiversity pricing http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jan/25/hilary-benn-biodiversity-pricing
Reformed Common Agricultural Policy should incentivise biodiversity http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/reformed-common-agricultural-policy-should-incentivise-biodiversity-1102.aspx

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques

Genetically Engineered Bacteria Might Provide Landmine Detection
Alistair Elfick, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering, and his team have genetically modified E. coli bacteria to produce a protein in the cell membrane that senses TNT, one of the explosives used in landmines. The group introduced the gene for the luciferase enzyme, which produces light in fireflies. According to scidev.net, “When proteins on the surface of E. coli detect TNT, this ‘switches on’ the gene responsible for light production.”
Source:
Bacteria make light work of detecting landmines http://www.scidev.net/en/news/bacteria-make-light-work-of-detecting-landmines.html

Work Proceeds on Optical Fiber Detector for Bacterial Agents
Thomas Inzana, a bacteriologist at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, and his team have received a grant by NIH to continue their work on development of nanoscale optical fiber biosensor tests for detection of biological agents such as might be used in a terrorist attack. According to the story in Nanowerk News, “the optical fiber is coated with antibodies or DNA that will bind to antigens or DNA in the specimen. When this happens, the light that normally passes through the fiber will be decreased, indicating the presence of a biological agent.”
Source:
Nanoscale optical fibers to detect bioterrorist agents http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14320.php

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies

New Selective Radiation Surfaces May Save on Cooling Energy
Prof. Geoff Smith and Dr Angus Gentle of the Institute of Nanotechnology at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, are conducting research on materials for building surfaces that radiate back into the atmosphere at night, heat that was absorbed during the day. The heat is radiated at wavelengths which are not absorbed by the atmosphere but continue on out into space. The surfaces are coated with a mixture of silicon carbide and silicon dioxide nanoparticles, and have cooled surfaces to 15°C less than ambient temperature in Sydney. The scientists point out that the surfaces could cool air or water, which could then be pumped through buildings to cool them.
Sources:
Nanocoating that acts as efficient heat pump could reduce need for energy-guzzling air conditioning http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14466.php

Power-generating Flexible Films Might Power Body-worn Devices
Michael McAlpine, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, and colleagues have developed power-generating rubber films that are highly efficient in generating electrical energy when flexed. The films combine silicone and nanoribbons of lead zirconate titanate (PZT), a piezoelectric ceramic material that the developers say is 100× as piezo-efficient as quartz.
Sources:
Energy-harvesting rubber sheets could power pacemakers, mobile phones http://www.physorg.com/news183832835.html
Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl903377u.

New Membranes Claim to Cut Desalination Energy Requirements
A start-up company, NanoH2O, is claiming a 20% reduction in the energy required for reverse osmosis desalination using its new membranes. Other companies (Danfoss, Novozymes, Aquaporin) are engaged in similar efforts.
Source:
NanoH2O to Change the Economics of Desalination http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/print/nanoh2o/

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

The EU’s Chemical Regulatory Regime might be adjusted to Include Nanomaterials
The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) awarded two contracts to a consortium led by SAFENANO (Institute of Occupational Medicine) for the development of specific advice on the assessment of nanomaterials under REACH (the EU’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). The two projects, REACH-NanoInfo (aka RIP-oN2), and REACH-NanoHazEx (RIP-oN3), address the REACH information requirements on intrinsic properties of nanomaterials, and the processes for undertaking exposure assessments and conducting hazard and risk characterization for nanomaterials within the REACH context. The work will be carried out in consultation with a range of stakeholders and will be used by the EC to support further developments in REACH Guidance on Information Requirements and Chemical Safety Assessment. Along the same lines, Nanomaterials under REACH report by the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) indicates that REACH doesn’t adequately cover nanomaterials and points out the differences in risk assessment requirements between nano- and macro-sized materials. [Related item: EU to Add Carbon and Graphite to REACH Program in the June 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Consortium awarded crucial advisory contracts on the regulation of nanomaterials under REACH http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14573.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29
Consultancy & Review Activities - EC & SAFENANO http://www.safenano.org/REACHnanoInfo.aspx
REACH-NanoHazEx: Rip-oN 3 http://www.safenano.org/REACHnanoHazEx.aspx
Nanomaterials under REACH report http://www.rivm.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/601780003.pdf
Nanomaterials under REACH: Some Adjustments Needed http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/index.php?section=news&cmd=details&newsid=274&teaserId =

Monopoly over Rare Earth Elements Raises Security and Environmental Concerns
Most new technologies—from low-carbon energy production to defense—require rare earth elements (REEs) for their manufacture. However, the distribution and exploitation of these elements is limited, with over 95% of all REEs for world consumption being produced in China. China’s own increasing technological and green energy generation needs might considerably impact the supply and/or price of some REEs (such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and erbium used for wind turbine generators). John Kaiser, a California-based mining expert and rare-earths specialist, warns, “If the world gets really serious about green technology, it could result in a scale of demand that rare-earth suppliers would be unable to cope with.” Pricing and different work and environmental standards are among the main factors impeding exploitation outside China. Business and political leaders should re-assess the supply situation of REEs in view of new technological and security needs. [Related item: Future Lithium Dependency Raises New Energy Security Concerns in March 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
The Battle Over Rare Earth Metals http://www.ensec.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=228:the-battle-over-rare-earth-metals&catid=102:issuecontent&Itemid=355
EXCLUSIVE: Inside China's secret toxic unobtainium mine http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1241872/EXCLUSIVE-Inside-Chinas-secret-toxic-unobtainium-mine.html

New Evidence on Silver Toxicity
Researchers of the Dept. of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University Medical Center conducted a study whose results, “...provide evidence that silver has the potential to kill developing nerve cells and is even more potent than currently known neurotoxicants.”… Effects varied widely with test conditions, making interpretation difficult. [Related items: UK Defra Committee Report on Nanosilver and Industry Silver Nanotech Group Opposes "New Material" Designation in December 2009, and Petition Filed for EPA to Regulate Nanosilver in November 2009 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Silver Impairs Neurodevelopment: Studies in PC12 Cells: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2009/0901149/0901149.pdf
Silver is a potent nerve cell toxicant: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/silver-is-potent-neurotoxicant/

Botox Creates Basis for New Terrorist Weapon
Counterterrorist experts claim Al-Qaeda has tried to acquire botulinum toxin (an extremely deadly poison), which is found in the Botox beauty treatment. Chechnya and other parts of the world may have counterfeit Botox production facilities that can produce and sell botulinum on the Internet. Increasing markets for counterfeit beauty and pharmaceutical products could lead to increased access for biological terrorism. Although it is known that such illicit facilities exist, they are difficult to find. Due to specific characteristics, the most likely attack is contamination of food or water supplies. [Related item: New Technologies Need New Regulations Systems in March 2009 and other items on similar issues in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Officials fear toxic ingredient in Botox could become terrorist tool http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/24/AR2010012403013.html
Toxin Found in Botox Could Pose Bioterrorism Threat http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100125_2898.php

France Proposes Carbon Tax Across EU and on Imports
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France would propose a carbon tax across the EU, and carbon tariffs on products imported from countries with weaker environmental regulations. Nationally, a bill expected to be presented soon to the Parliament is proposing a progressive carbon tax similar to the income tax, taxing big polluters on their CO2 emissions. The French government hopes the regulation will come into force on July 1, 2010, and be effective until the EU emissions permits scheme enters into force. [Related item: EU Potential New Measures For Reducing CO2 Emissions in October 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Paris wants pan-European carbon tax http://euobserver.com/9/29221/?rk=1
The Coming Battles Over Green Trade - by Mac Margolis http://www.eu-digest.com/2010/01/coming-battles-over-green-trade-by-mac.html
France to tax big polluters under revised scheme http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60J4FA20100120

U.S. to Strengthen Environmental Regulations

New Measures on Chemicals Safety
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created a ‘Chemicals of Concern’ list and adopted additional measures for reducing risks posed by compounds raising serious potential health or environmental concerns: phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were added to the list; risk-reduction actions should begin for several phthalates, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, and perfluorinated chemicals; and the three-year DecaBDE phaseout will be reinforced. [Related item: New Chemicals Considered for Toxic Lists in January 2009 environmental security report.]
The U.S. Congress is proposing to update the 34-year-old federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requiring more through testing for chemicals. In the preamble to the debate, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition released a report which notes that since 1976, when the federal TSCA became law, the EPA has required testing on only 200 of the 83,000 chemicals in common use and issued regulations for only five, while 60,000 chemicals received approval without preliminary government testing. Highlighting the health and cost issues associated with toxic chemicals, it estimates that the new regulations would reduce the incidence of chronic diseases by 0.1% and direct health care costs by $5 billion a year in the U.S. [Related item: U.S. to Revise the Toxic Substances Control Act in October 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
EPA Announces Actions to Address Chemicals of Concern, Including Phthalates: Agency continues efforts to work for comprehensive reform of toxic substance laws http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/2852c60dc0f65c688525769c0068b219!OpenDocument
Existing Chemicals Action Plans http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/ecactionpln.html
Stricter rules urged on toxic chemicals http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10022/1030212-114.stm

EPA Proposes Tougher Air-Quality Rules
The EPA tougher National Ambient Air Quality Standards proposal sets a primary standard for ground-level ozone at no more than 0.060 to 0.070 parts per million (measured over eight hours), to be phased in over the next two decades (extended for regions with highest smog pollution). A secondary smog standard is proposed to protect the environment, especially plants and trees. [Related item: EPA Warnings on Various Potential Health Hazards in October 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
EPA pushes tougher air-quality rules http://thehill.com//blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/74733-epa-proposing-tougher-smog-standards
EPA Strengthens Smog Standard/Proposed standards, strictest to date, will protect the health of all Americans, especially children http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/d70b9c433c46faa3852576a40058b1d4!OpenDocument
E.P.A. Seeks Stricter Rules to Curb Smog http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/science/earth/08smog.html?th&emc=th

California Proposes Reducing the Level of Chromium 6 in Water
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has proposed a “public health goal” of 0.06 ppb of hexavalent chromium (Cr 6) for the state’s drinking water. The current state and national standards for total Cr compounds are 50 ppb and 100 ppb, respectively. (EPA is reevaluating the latter.) The new California value was set as a result of a recent federal study setting a threshold of one cancer among every one million people exposed for a lifetime. After public comments, the California Department of Public Health will adopt a regulation setting a maximum allowable level for water supplies based on the health goal but also considering economic and technological factors. [Related item: New Substances Identified as Harmful to Human Health and the Environment in June 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
California unveils new goal for controversial carcinogen in water http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/chromium-6-goal
Public Health Goal for Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water (Draft). Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment California Environmental Protection Agency http://www.oehha.ca.gov/water/phg/pdf/Cr6PHGdraft082009.pdf

First U.S. National Health Security Plan Released
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department released the first National Health Security Strategy for the event of a bioterrorism incident or other large-scale health crisis. The strategy outlines objectives for different government areas and for nongovernmental groups to focus on over the next four years, and recommends a review of the national countermeasure system. [Related item: Global Influenza Pandemic Declared in June 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
First U.S. National Health Security Plan Released http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100108_9470.php
HHS Delivers the Nation’s First Health Security Strategy http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/01/20100107a.html

Building Contaminants Linked to Parking Lots with Coal Tar Sealant
Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have published a paper linking high concentrations of the contaminants polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in house dust to coal tar sealants used on parking lots. PAHs are an environmental hazard because several are probable human carcinogens. [Related item: Study Shows Nanotube Manufacture May Pollute Environment in August 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Parking Lot Problems http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/40920
Contaminated House Dust Linked to Parking Lots with Coal Tar Sealant http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113112056.htm
Coal-Tar-Based Parking Lot Sealcoat: An Unrecognized Source of PAH to Settled House Dust http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es902533r

Scientists Say Dolphins Should Be Treated As 'Non-Human Persons'
New study of dolphins’ behavior, backed up by anatomic research, has led scientists to declare dolphins second to humans in intelligence and suggesting that they should be treated as “non-human persons”. [Related item: GreenhouseGasEmissionsIncreaseOcean Noise Pollution in December 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons' http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article6973994.ece

Arctic Opens to International Commercial Use
The first telecommunication project in the Arctic is to link Tokyo and London by underwater fiber optic cable through the Northwest Passage, thus cutting the transmission delay from 140 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds. Branch lines would also link to the U.S. East Coast, ensuring quicker transmission times between Tokyo and New York. In addition to being faster, these lines are apparently also more secure, avoiding critical regions.
A report by UNESCO, “Climate Change and Arctic Sustainable Development” is a comprehensive assessment of the environmental and social transformations of the Arctic due to climate change, proposing an integrated approach for monitoring and adapting to climate change in the Arctic based on multilateral collaboration among scientists, circumpolar communities and decisionmakers. [Related item: Arctic “Pole of Peace” Suggested to Address Arctic Security Issues in December 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Global warming opens up Arctic for undersea cable http://www.nation.co.ke/InDepth/Africa%20Insight/-/625262/847148/-/wxhyixz/-/index.html
Climate Change and Arctic Sustainable Development http://publishing.unesco.org/details.aspx?&Code_Livre=4722&change=E

Climate Change

Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
A preliminary analysis from the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the decade 2000-2009 is the warmest decade since instrumental measurements of temperatures began in the 1880s, and 2009 (tied with 2006) was the fifth warmest year on record, based on measurements taken on land and at sea. The average trend over the past three decades is warming at about 0.36°F (0.2°C) per decade, while average global temperatures have risen by about 1.5°F (0.8°C) since 1880.
According to the Met Office’s forecast made using the Decadal Prediction System (DePreSys), 2010 could yet be the hottest year on record, due to a new El Niño warming period that has just started in the Pacific. Additionally, the sun should also begin to brighten, as part of its 11-year brightness fluctuation cycle (in 2009 it was at the bottom of the cycle.) Further, if not for 2010, then “a record breaker will still occur in the next few years” says Doug Smith, climate expert at the Met Office.
Oddball Winter Weather: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Northern Unites States, a study by the National Wildlife Federation, documents how climate change is linked to precipitation increase, including intense snowstorms, as warmer winter weather causes more surface water evaporation (and less freezing), thus recharging the atmosphere with moisture. This explains the unusually heavy snowfall in many parts of the world.

Food and Water Security
A new report by the Division for Sustainable Development of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs assessed the impact of foreign land purchase for agriculture. Foreign governments and private investors are increasingly purchasing or leasing key farmland in Africa on a long-term basis. The report notes that it is critical to ensure that such contracts promote shared food security interests and meet the need for improving legal and technical capacities of host countries, as well as to conduct impact assessments for the host country on the benefits, costs, and risks associated with land acquisition.
Scientists warn that more attention should be given not only to the impact of climate change on food quantity, but to its nutritional quality too. They found that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reduces the nutritional value of many basic food crops. It is estimated that the approximate 20% CO2 rise since 1960 may have already decreased protein concentration in wheat flour by 5%–10%. A study by researchers at Southwestern University, Georgetown TX, shows that if atmospheric CO2 reaches 540–960 ppm, it could result in a significant decline (10%–15%) in protein content of major food crops including barley, wheat, soya bean and potato. Additionally, higher CO2 levels may reduce water flow through a plant, affecting the uptake of micronutrients from the soil, such as sulphur, magnesium, iron, zinc, and manganese.

Health
The WHO report “Protecting Health from Climate Change: Connecting Science, Policy and People” provides an update of the scientific evidence on health risks caused by climate change. It outlines necessary action to protect health from negative impacts of climate change and describes a number of effective interventions that can save lives in the present and reduce vulnerability in the future. In addition, the report singles out several policy options in other sectors, such as transport and energy production, that could simultaneously improve health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Migration
The small island developing states continue efforts to have their fate stipulated in a binding treaty on climate change. “It is important that the recognition of SIDS as most vulnerable countries be preserved in a legally binding outcome and that these countries receive priority access to resources for urgent adaptation and mitigation projects,” said Mark Jariabka, executive director of Islands First, an organization that promotes and protects the interests of SIDS. In addition to vulnerability, they are concerned about lack of any bilateral or multilateral agreements for eventual relocation. “Even if such an agreement is signed between an island nation and another host country, this itself will raise a number of issues regarding international law - sovereignty status, U.N. membership etc. etc.” says Ambassador Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, the permanent representative of Maldives to the United Nations. “Do these people relocate as a ‘nation’ or as individual refugees who are then subsumed into the host nation as their own citizens, or would they enjoy ‘sovereign rights’? Would they continue to have claim to the territory of the land they had vacated? If not, who would have claim on it, if at all?” questions the Ambassador.

Adaptation
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced its ongoing work towards the establishment of a Global Cryosphere (global solid water system) Watch to serve societal needs for weather, climate and water, and related environmental information and services. The World Meteorological Congress, WMO’s supreme governing body, is to consider ways and means of developing and implementing a Global Cryosphere Watch at its next quadrennial session in 2011. Once established, a Global Cryosphere Watch should enhance the capability of the research community and operational services to predict the future state of the cryosphere and facilitate assessments of the cryosphere and its components on a regional to global scale to support climate change science, decision-making and formulation of environmental policy.
The Joint Session of the Executive Boards of the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP held on January 15, 2010 focused on the issue of climate change. Noting that 40% of development investment from ODA and concessional lending is sensitive to climate risk, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark spoke on how the UN agencies can support countries in addressing the climate change challenge through their programmatic activities at the country level to support capacity building for adaptation and mitigation, and access to climate financing. She also said that the UN Development Group (UNDG) developed guidelines to support the UN Country Team on how to mainstream disaster risk reduction and environmental sustainability into the programmatic activities at the country level. Specific guidelines on climate change will be issued soon.
The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) released a study, “Transboundary flood risk management: experiences from the UNECE region,” which describes problems and progress made regarding transboundary flood management in 10 transboundary river basins in the UNECE region; tools for improving resilience against transboundary flood risk; and useful legal and institutional arrangements for cooperation.” The study also notes that climate change is expected to increase both the magnitude and the frequency of floods, although there is considerable uncertainty. The study was prepared by the Task Force on Water and Climate, under the UNECE Water Convention.

Climate Modeling and Scenarios
Scientists from NOAA, combining three models into one tool, were able to simulate with higher accuracy storms’ evolution and categories across the Atlantic. They found that by the end of the century, although storms will in general decrease in number, they will be more powerful; category 4 (210-249 kilometers per hour) and category 5 (over 250 kilometers per hour) will double in frequency. The hardest hit will be Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the northeastern coast of the U.S. These results corroborate results of other climate models.

Post-Copenhagen Negotiations
States that signed the Copenhagen accord agreed to announce (by end-January 2010) their official CO2 emissions reduction commitments. The EU decided to maintain its commitment of 20% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and 30% if other powers make comparable pledges. Australia announced that it will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of 2000 levels by 2020 unconditionally, and 15% to 25%, depending on other countries’ commitments.
The environment ministers of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China) met on January 24 to discuss cooperation in future climate negotiations and decided to adhere to the agreements made in the Copenhagen Accord regarding the submission of their emission reduction actions. Cooperation among these countries may shape future climate change negotiations and influence the adoption of a binding climate agreement. The next round of climate talks is scheduled for November 29, 2010, with pre-conference negotiations slated to take place May 31 to June 11, 2010.
Sources:
The resurgence of El Niño means that 2010 could yet be the hottest year on record
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/10/climate-change-uk-big-freeze
Past Decade Warmest on Record, NASA [NOAA] Data Shows http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/science/earth/22warming.html
Foreign land purchases for agriculture: what impact on sustainable development? http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/resources/res_pdfs/publications/ib/no8.pdf
The 'hidden hunger' caused by climate change http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/the-hidden-hunger-caused-by-climate-change.html
Protecting Health from Climate Change: Connecting Science, Policy and People http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789241598880_eng.pdf
Climate Change: Small Islands Await Haitian-Type Disaster http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50036
WMO Information Note http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/infonotes/GlobalCryosphere.html
Transboundary flood risk management: experiences from the UNECE region http://www.unece.org/env/water/mop5/Transboundary_Flood_Risk_Managment.pdf
Models Foresee More-Intense Hurricanes in the Greenhouse http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/327/5964/399?ijkey=EFlfVe870I6Bg&keytype=ref&siteid=sci
EU climate offer unchanged http://euobserver.com/9/29357/?rk=1
Australia to put forward unchanged carbon cuts to UN http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Australia_to_put_forward_unchanged_carbon_cuts_to_UN_999.html
China, 3 others to chart climate roadmap http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2010-01/15/content_9324199.htm

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

European FramingNano Governance Platform Draft Now Available
The draft FramingNano Governance Platform sets out a proposal for the framing of policy on nanotechnology in Europe; and, according to Nanowerk News, “highlights the major challenges to be overcome in order to successfully craft governance policies for nanotechnologies, and the communication issues that need to be addressed if Europe is to harness the full potential of this rapidly growing area of technology.” The Governance Plan was discussed at the final International Conference of the FramingNano FP7 held in December 2009 and is being submitted to the European Commission “as a model of management to be followed by European policy makers and stakeholders.”
Sources:
A New Governance Framework for Nanotechnologies (conference page, with “Proceedings now available for members”) http://www.framingnano.eu
Brussels conference discusses nanotechnology governance platform http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14269.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Comprehensive Review of Engineered Nanomaterials Health And Safety
A consortium led by Edinburgh Napier University and the Institute of Occupational Medicine published a 426-page final report of the project Engineered Nanoparticles - Review of Health & Environmental Safety (ENRHES), described by Nanowerk News as "A comprehensive and authoritative review of the health and environmental safety of engineered nanomaterials [that] considers sources, pathways of exposure, [and] the health and environmental outcomes of concern". The report contains prioritized recommendations to aid policymakers in formulating regulations.
Sources:
ENRHES report provides in-depth examination of nanomaterials safety
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14387.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29Engineered Nanoparticles - Review of Health & Environmental Safety project final report
http://nmi.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/pdf/ENRHES%20Review.pdf

Nanotechnology--Assessment of Health Safety and Environmental Factors
Frost & Sullivan, and Research and Markets, are offering a new research report, Nanotechnology--Assessment of Health Safety and Environmental Factors (Technical Insights). According to the announcement, the report provides "an overview of the HSE implications of nanotechnology … a forced field analysis of the industry drivers and challenges… [a] strategic evaluation of the possible initiatives… …[and] Profiling of commonly used HSE nomenclature with a list of the ongoing research projects in North America and Europe." The report is available for €4533-€5928, depending on the scope of the license.
Source:
Nanotechnology - Assessment of Health Safety and Environmental Factors
http://www.researchandmarkets.com/product/02ab42/nanotechnology_assessment_o

UK House of Lords Committee Urges Nanosafety Transparency
Nanotechnologies and Food, a 112-page report presented by the UK House of Lords science and technology committee, urges, "the government and research councils to carry out more checks into the use of nanomaterials in food and in particular the dangers for the human body." This call is the third in two years, following those for more stringent safety checks from the Royal Society and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
Sources:
Press Notice: Science and Technology Committee - Nanotechnologies and Food http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_press_notices/pn080110st.cfm
Nanotechnologies and Food. Science and Technology Committee, First Report http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldsctech.htm
Peers criticise food industry secrecy on nanotechnology http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/08/food-industry-nanotechnology-secrecy

UK Report Calls on Government to Support Nanotech Risk Assessment
According to a story in the Financial Times, a report just issued by the UK's Nanotech Knowledge Transfer Network calls, "for the government to assuage public fears over nanotechnology by supporting risk assessments of new products", especially on behalf of small start-ups that may not have the resources for such activities.
Sources:
Nanotechnology: a UK Industry View (report)
http://mnt.globalwatchonline.com/epicentric_portal/binary/com.epicentric.contentmanagement.servlet.ContentDeliveryServlet/MNT/Knowledge%2520Centre/MiniIGTReport2010.pdfBusiness urges campaign over 'grey goo' fears
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/82d93a8a-00ad-11df-ae8d-00144feabdc0.html  (Requires a free subscription registration.)

Note: The following three items describe a key stage in development of an emerging issue: the rise of general public interest and outcry. It can signal a turning from involvement of technocrats and some politicians to a more general political atmosphere.

Public Disruptions Force Cancellation of French Public Nano Debates
Disruptions by environmentalists have forced the cancellation of three of the scheduled debates in France on nanotech issues. [See item French Public Debate on Nanotechnology in the October 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Loud Starts End France's Nanotech Debates
http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/01/a-loud-start-to.html

Research Calls for Better Explanations and Sources in Nano Risk Communication
Johannes Simons, of the Institute for Food and Resource Economics at the University of Bonn, and colleagues have published a paper, The Slings and Arrows of Communication on Nanotechnology, that addresses the general problems of communicating nanotechnology risk. According to Nanowerk Spotlight, they utilized research from Germany, the US, and Australia to develop their recommendation, “…risk communication on nanotechnologies requires target-specific approaches…”, and that “...it is important to involve trusted institutions in the risk communication process. This could help people to accept the information because they do not suspect the communicator of having some hidden interests or of deceiving them with misleading information.”
The need for reforms in the process is supported by a study by Prof. Elizabeth Corley, of Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs, and Dietram A. Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin—Madison that, “found widening gaps in nanotech knowledge since 2004 between the least educated and most educated citizens. Americans with at least a college degree have shown an increase in understanding of the new technology, while knowledge about nanotechnology has declined over time for those with education levels of less than a high school diploma”, according to a Nanowerk News story
Sources:
The slings and arrows of communication on nanotechnology http://www.springerlink.com/content/y6rxm682t4301353/
Communicating nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=14344.php
Nanotechnology outreach going wrong? http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14296.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29
Outreach Going Wrong? When we talk nano to the public, we are leaving behind key audiences http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/1/1/22/1/

5th International NanoRegulation Conference Report Available
The 5th International NanoRegulation Conference took place on November in Rapperswil, Switzerland, with the theme, " 'No Data, no Market?' - Challenges to Nano-Information and Nano-Communication along the Value Chain", presenting views and expectations regarding information and data exchange along the value chain, and possible approaches to the problem. A report is now available. According to Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, "the debate at the conference revealed an urgent need for '...a coordinated information transfer of relevant nanospecific data along the value chain,' while recognizing the concerns that nano-labeling could be misunderstood as an indication of hazard by consumers."
Sources:
NanoRegulation Conference Report Now Available
http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/index.php?section=news&cmd=details&newsid=263&teaserId=13

New Studies Add to Knowledge on Nanoparticles and Biological Reactions
Work being done by Silvia H. De Paoli Lacerda and Jack F. Douglas at the Polymers Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is shedding new light on the effects of nanoparticle size (5nm to 100nm) on their association with a whole range of important blood proteins.
Sources:
Interaction of Gold Nanoparticles with Common Human Blood Proteins http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn9011187
Trying to understand the interaction of nanoparticles with blood http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=14327.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Conference on New-Technology Sensors to Be Held in UK
The Micro and Nano Sensors Interest Group (MiNSIG) of the UK's Sensors & Instrumentation Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is organizing a conference, Applications of Micro and Nanosensors in Security, Health and Environmental Monitoring, for 4 March 2010 at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK. The event will display novel sensing technologies developed by UK companies and universities leading to new applications in security, health and environmental monitoring. The keynote speakers will highlight some of the important developments in nanotechnology and sensor applications including future challenges, trends and opportunities, and will give an account of the requirements and opportunities for novel sensor developers.
Sources:
Applications of Micro and Nanosensors in Security, Health and Environmental Monitoring http://sensors.globalwatchonline.com/epicentric_portal/site/sensors/minsig-page2/?mode=0
Conference to discuss future of nanotechnology enabled sensors http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=14463.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Key 2009 Nano Environmental Health and Safety Developments
According to the announcement, UK's SAFENANO's new report, "provides a summary of key nanoEHS developments from 2009, … considers how these are likely to shape 2010 in nano … [and] provides a personalised account of news, publications and legal developments from 2009, …[c]overing scientific discoveries, regulatory and governmental developments, consumer issues, and developments in the nanotechnology community."
Sources:
2009 - a big year for nano safety http://www.safenano.org/SingleNews.aspx?NewsID=957

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

Protecting the environment during armed conflict. An inventory and analysis of international law
Protecting the environment during armed conflict. An inventory and analysis of international law report by UNEP is a comprehensive overview of existing legislation protecting the environment in case of conflict and gaps and areas that should, but are not yet, covered by regulations. The report notes that there are no mechanisms to protect natural resources during armed conflict, and no permanent international authority to monitor violations and address liability and redress claims for environmental damage caused during armed conflicts. There are also terminology issues, such as lack of clear definition for “widespread,” “longlasting,” and “severe”, as well as a standard definition of what constitutes a “conflict resource” or their illegal exploitation and trade. While the majority of international legal provisions protecting the environment during armed conflict—including the ICRC Guidelines on the Protection of the Environment during Armed Conflict (1994)—were designed for international armed conflicts, the majority of today’s conflicts are internal; hence the legal instruments do not apply. The report recommends, inter alia, that the Permanent Court of Arbitration and its “Optional Rules for Conciliation of Disputes Relating to the Environment and/or Natural Resources” should be considered to address disputes related to environmental damage during armed conflict. It concludes that “A summary report on the environmental impacts of armed conflicts should be presented on an annual basis to the UN General Assembly, in conjunction with the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.”
Sources:
Laws Protecting the Environment during Wars Need Enforcing and Strengthening to Deal with New Challenges
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=602&ArticleID=6362&l=en
Protecting the environment during armed conflict. An inventory and analysis of international law
http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/int_law.pdf

Environmental Performance Index 2010 Score Worse for Vulnerable States
The 2010 Environmental Performance Index ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories. It facilitates cross-country comparisons as well as analysis of how the global community and individual countries are performing in particular sectors and policy issues, therefore helping assess the sectors that should be improved. The 2010 EPI reveals that most of the lower ranked nations are also vulnerable states, hence proving again the importance of including environmental aspects in peace and vulnerability strategies.
Sources:
Environmental Performance Index 2010 http://epi.yale.edu/

European Space Agency First International Security Symposium
On February 9-10, 2010, the European Space Agency will hold its First International Security Symposium to “share information on security approaches, challenges and evolution that international organizations face in the current geopolitical situation.”
Source:
First International Security Symposium http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM08TRJR4G_Benefits_0.html

Back to Top


December 2009

“Copenhagen Accord” Brokered by President Obama at UN Climate Change Conference Is a Step Forward in Negotiations––Next Stop Mexico
The UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen was attended by over 100 heads of state and government, representatives of 193 nations, and between 40,000 and 100,000 people from around the world came to participate in side events. The December 7–18, 2009 set of conferences and meetings resulted in a non-binding 12-paragraph Copenhagen Accord that calls for international cooperation to make sure global warming does not rise more than 2ºC, that developed and developing nations set carbon reduction targets that are internationally verifiable, that developed countries provide funds approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 to 2012 for developing countries with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation, and that developed countries mobilize USD 100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. However, the original objective was not achieved: to adopt a treaty that would extend or replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address global climate change.
The Conference and the numerous side-events generated an extraordinary wealth of information regarding challenges and potential strategies for addressing global climate change and set the stage for further negotiations. The next round of climate talks is scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico.
Note: Some scientists warn that lack of clear targets and commitments might raise CO2 concentrations to around 700 parts per million (compared to 450 ppm that scientists consider the limit for keeping global warming below 2ºC), meaning a potential warming by 3.5ºC by 2100. The International Energy Agency estimates that about $10.5 trillion in additional investment is needed by 2030 for setting the world on the path to low-carbon development.
Sources:
Copenhagen Accord. Draft decision -/CP.15 Proposal by the President. Conference of the Parties, Fifteenth session, Copenhagen, 7-18 December 2009 http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/eng/l07.pdf
Summary of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference http://www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12459e.html
The Copenhagen climate change summit. New Scientist's full coverage http://www.newscientist.com/special/copenhagen-climate-change-summit

Seven Tipping Elements That Could Transform the Planetary Systems
Increasingly, scientists agree on some tipping elements that are extremely sensitive to climate shifts and therefore might have an important impact on the planetary systems. “The problem with tipping elements is that if any of them tips, it will be a real catastrophe,” notes Anders Levermann, climate physicist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. The seven tipping elements considered are:
• Polar sea ice––passing a potential warming tipping point might cause serious loss of ice sheets and associated sea-level rise
• Amazon rainforest––increased weather-altering deforestation after passing a critical deforestation point
• Chad Bodélé Depression––substantial increase in dust production from the 10,000 square mile Saharan plain that now puts 700,000 tons of dust into the atmosphere annually
• South Asian Monsoons––amplified monsoon systems triggered by increased heat
• The Gulf Stream––due to lack of good models, the IPCC’s estimate of 10% Gulf Stream slowdown during the 21st century is uncertain
• Seafloor methane––increased release of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from methane hydrate in the seafloor, due to warming over a tipping point
• The Future––unknown features that could trigger radical changes
Scientists point out that an additional important unknown element is the interaction of these and other known elements.
Sources:
Tipping elements in the Earth System. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PNAS December 8, 2009, vol. 106, no. 49, 20561-20563 http://www.pnas.org/content/106/49/20561.full
7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/tipping-elements/all/1

Emerging International Packaging Standards to Reduce Environmental Footprints
The first meeting of the ISO TC122 SC4 Packaging and Environment committee was held in Stockholm to begin work on standards for reducing the environmental footprint of packaging. The standards will cover source reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, chemical recovery, composting and biodegrading, and a seventh overall standard. The new international standards are expected to be finalized by mid-2012 and to consider existing packaging and environmental standards already in use in Europe and Asia.
Sources:
Creation of International Packaging Standards Begins http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2009/12/10/creation-international-packaging-standards-begins
TC 122/SC 4 Packaging and Environment http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/technical_committees/other_bodies/iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=52082

Studies Show Increased Hazards from Some Types of Airborne Particles
Latest research reveals that certain kinds of airborne metallic microparticles, such as nickel, vanadium, and carbon, appear to pose a much higher toxic risk than other materials, putting acute stress on the lungs and heart. Low grade oil, such as is used in diesel trucks and space heaters, is a major source in urban areas. Scientists stress that more work needs to be done to study the relationships between particulate composition and biological harm.
Source:
Heavy metal: Some airborne particles pose more dangers than others http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/metal-particles

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques

New Laser-based Gas Sensor Is Tunable over Wide Wavelength Range
A new type of optical gas sensor, using vertical-cavity, surface-emitting semiconductor laser diodes (VCSELs) has the important property of being tunable over a 5 nm spectral range, and thus able to detect a variety of different gases. The technology is being developed by NEMIS, an EU FP6 project at the Walter Schottky Institut, Technische Universität München in Munich.
Sources:
NEMIS (New Mid-Infrared Sources for Photonic Sensors http://www.nemis.eu/
Huge long-term potential for new breed of gas sensors http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13823.php

Ozone Bubbles Provide New Cleansing Technique
A new technique uses ozone bubbles to turn hydrocarbon [oil] content in water or soil into a form that can be retained by sand filtration, which is a conventional and economical process. This new method has been developed by Prof. Andy Hong of the University of Utah, and is expected to be commercialized by Miracotech, Inc. of Albany CA.
Source:
Tiny Bubbles Clean Oil from Water. New Method Targets Oil Sheen, Other Pollutants http://unews.utah.edu/p/?r=111209-1

New Water Purifying Filter Requires No Energy or Running Water
Tata Chemicals, of Mumbai/Kolkata, India, has announced the release of ‘Tata Swach’, a water purifier unit that requires no energy or running water to operate. The unit uses a replaceable cartridge packed with a purification medium that kills bacteria and disease-causing organisms. The cartridge can purify up to 3000 liters of water, after which it stops water flow.
Source:
Tata Chemicals launches ‘Tata Swach’ http://www.tata.com/media/releases/inside.aspx?artid=TtOdcdNuSRk=

Nanotube-impregnated Paper Provides Sensitive Biosensor for Aqueous Toxins
Prof. Nicholas Kotov, of the departments of Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and associates from Jiangnan University, China, have developed a fast and inexpensive sensor for detecting toxins in water, using paper strips with several layers of single-walled carbon nanotube dispersion containing antibodies. The technique’s sensitivity is high––comparable with such current biochemical techniques as enzyme immunoassay and mass-spectrometry––and reportedly more than 25 times faster. Kotov explains that “The change of electrical response [conductivity] of the paper reflects the contents of the analyte”.
Sources:
Simple nanotechnology paper sensor for detecting toxins in water http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=13913.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29
Simple, Rapid, Sensitive, and Versatile SWNT-Paper Sensor for Environmental Toxin Detection Competitive with ELISA http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl902368r

New Technology to Measure Single Nanoparticles
Prof. Lin Yang and his team at Washington Univ. have developed a “whispering-gallery-mode resonator” that provides a new degree of accuracy––1% to 2%––in the measurement of nanoparticle size. [Related item: New Paper Suggests Concentrating Toxicity Studies on Smaller Nanoparticles in the September 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Tiny whispering gallery: Sensor can detect a single nanoparticle and take its measurement http://www.physorg.com/news180363327.html
On-chip single nanoparticle detection and sizing by mode splitting in an ultrahigh-Q microresonator http://www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nphoton.2009.237.html (Abstract)

NIST Awards Development Funding for Extended Sensor for Infrastructure Health
Under its Technology Innovation Program, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has awarded development funding to Optellios, Inc. of Newtown PA for distributed fiber-optic sensing technology to enable real-time monitoring, identification, and location of disturbances and changes over long stretches of pipelines. Although the system is intended to detect and locate leaks, third-party actions, aging, and other disturbances in pipelines, it may also be applicable to other types of infrastructure.
Source:
Distributed Fiber-Optic Sensing Technology For Civil Infrastructure Management http://tipex.nist.gov/tippb/prjbriefs/prjbrief.cfm?ProjectNumber=090038

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies

‘Energy Harvesting’ Offers Possibilities for Environment-sparing Power
A team of researchers at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol, UK, are investigating technologies for ‘energy harvesting’––the gathering of energy from low amplitude vibrations that occur naturally in the environment, such as from machines or even the human body. Their research is directed at making use of a much larger variety of vibrations than is currently possible, by employing transducers that respond to a wider range of frequencies.
Source:
Pickin' Up Good Vibrations to Produce Green Electricity http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/PressReleases/harvester

New Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Show Increase in Energy Conversion Efficiency
A new type of dye yields dye-sensitized solar cells with a three-fold increase in energy conversion efficiency over current versions. The dye has been developed by researchers from Monash University and the University of Wollongong, Australia, and the University of Ulm, Germany.
Source:
Innovation puts next-generation solar cells on the horizon http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13777.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Genetically Engineered Bacteria Convert CO2 to Liquid Fuel
Scientists led by James C. Liao, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume CO2 and use sunlight-driven photosynthesis to produce the liquid fuel isobutanol, which can potentially be used as a alternative to gasoline.
Source:
Researchers engineer bacteria to turn carbon dioxide into liquid fuel http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13968.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Claims Reduced Lifecycle Cost
Thomas Adams and Prof. Paul I. Barton of the MIT Chemical Engineering Dept. have proposed a design for a natural-gas-powered solid oxide fuel cell that they claim, under a favorable carbon pricing structure, has a lower lifecycle cost than present designs. Their system produces pure CO2, avoiding the step, presently required for carbon sequestration, of separating that gas from the total output stream.
Source:
A greener way to get electricity from natural gas http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/natural-gas.html
High-efficiency power production from natural gas with carbon capture http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TH1-4XJG5KY-3&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=56b56fc929eb0e36ed13f9567bbca539 (Abstract)

Nano-infused Paper Substrate Improves Energy Storage Capabilities
A research group at Stanford University, led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has shown that paper coated with ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires makes a more durable component for flexible batteries and supercapacitors than the plastic used in previous experiments. According to Cui, “The paper supercapacitor may last through 40,000 charge-discharge cycles––at least an order of magnitude more than lithium batteries. The nanomaterials also make ideal conductors because they move electricity along much more efficiently than ordinary conductors.” [Related item: First Flexible Supercapacitor Built in the April 2009 environmental security report]
Sources:
Highly conductive paper for energy-storage devices http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/04/0908858106
At Stanford, nanotubes + ink + paper = instant battery http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/december7/nanotubes-ink-paper-120709.html

Thin Crystalline-Silicon Photovoltaic Cells Offer Many Advantages
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories have developed crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells from 14 to 20 µm thick and 0.25 to 1 mm across. According to the announcement, the new devices “are expected eventually to be less expensive and have greater efficiencies than current photovoltaic collectors that are pieced together with 6-inch-square solar wafers.” Further, “they use 100 times less silicon to generate the same amount of electricity,” and “Since they are much smaller and have fewer mechanical deformations for a given environment than the conventional cells, they may also be more reliable over the long term.” A major manufacturing convenience is that a very large number can be created from a single 12- or 18-inch diameter wafer, allowing defective cells to be individually discarded.
Source:
Glitter-sized solar photovoltaics produce competitive results http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/news_releases/glitter-sized-solar-photovoltaics-produce-competitive-results/

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Climate Change

Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
The past ten years have been the warmest in 160 years of recorded history, reveals preliminary data released by the UK Met Office based on temperature records from over 1,500 global monitoring stations. Similarly, based on preliminary data the World Meteorological Organisation announced that 2009 will be one of the ten warmest individual years recorded, with a temperature 0.44ºC (0.79ºF) above the long-term average of 14ºC (57.2ºF).
Preliminary disaster figures for 2009 show that over 75% of the people killed and 95% of the total affected by natural hazards were due to extreme weather events, says a joint press release by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UNDP, and World Meteorological Organization. Although the 2009 statistics show lower figures compared to previous years, Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, warned that “extreme weather disasters remain top of the list and will continue to affect more people in the future.”
The Global Climate Risk Index 2010 (see world map in the Appendix) compiled by Germanwatch, shows that the top 10 countries most affected in the past 20 years by extremes of climate are: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Honduras, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Haiti, India, the Dominican Republic, Philippines, and China. The Global Climate Risk Index analyzes the impacts of weather-related loss events––mainly storms, floods and heat waves––and is based on the NatCatSERVICE database of Munich Re.

Food and Water Security
The Pacific Institute’s recently updated online chronology of water conflicts shows 6 incidents during 2009, up from 3 in 2008. Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute, notes that a pattern of localized conflict is likely to emerge in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, India, China, Pakistan, and Burma in coming decades. Although skeptical about ‘water war’ or full-scale interstate warfare triggered by water, he suggests that water and climate change should still be considered serious security issues. Terrorist groups could start to view water infrastructure as valuable targets as tensions rise over water’s availability, says Gleick. In addition, in countries like Pakistan, discontent with the West could intensify as water becomes scarcer, which could help extremists bring in new recruits.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collection of three technical papers provides an overview of the current status of knowledge on “Climate Change and Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture,” noting that ecosystem approaches to aquaculture and fisheries, as well as precautionary management, can help improve the resilience of the sectors and calling for the integration of fisheries and aquaculture into national climate change and food security policies.
The UN World Water Assessment Programme released two publications: “The Implications of Climate Change for Water––Highlights on Climate Change from the third World Water Development Report” addressing the potential impacts of a changing climate on the availability of water and on the control of water extremes; and “Water and Climate Change––An Overview from the WWDR,” that underscores that water is at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic and describes the impacts of climate change on water, making some recommendations for responses to climate change focused on water and proactive adaptation measures.
The study “Local Responses to Too Much and Too Little Water in the Greater Himalayan Region” by a consortium of international organizations, based on the work of five field teams in China, India, Pakistan and Nepal, highlights that adaptation practices need to be aligned with other processes if they are to be successful, even over a short period. It also stresses the need for governments to prioritize the development and improvement of national and regional policies to provide better support for local long-term resilience and adaptation to more extreme climate.

Health
Two reports by the World Health Organization, “Global Health Risks”and “Protecting health from climate change: global research priorities,” assess the potential health implications related to climate change, with detailed global and regional estimates, and making some policy recommendations. Acknowledging that only some of the many potential effects of climate change are quantifiable, it underlines increased deaths from thermal extremes and weather disasters, vector-borne diseases, a higher incidence of food-related and waterborne infections, photochemical air pollutants and conflict over depleted natural resources. The WHO fact file, “10 Facts on Children’s Environmental Health,” summarizes environment-related causes and conditions of the nearly three million annual deaths of children under five years old, underlying the increased risk of children of injuries and death from floods and extreme temperatures, asthma and respiratory diseases due to air pollution, and diarrheal diseases, malaria, and malnutrition.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
The report “Melting Snow and Ice: A Call for Action” notes that land ice melting is now becoming the dominant contributor to sea level rise, while receding glaciers threaten the livelihood of millions of people by inundation as well as decline of freshwater. The most important findings include: Greenland ice cap reduction rate tripled over the past decade; snow cover is diminishing, and glaciers from the Himalayas to the Alps are melting rapidly, with the greatest reductions in the Andes and the Rockies; while Antarctica, which seemed immune to global warming, now shows signs of net ice reduction on a similar scale to inland Greenland.
According to the report “Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment” by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, although the bulk of the Antarctic ice sheet has shown little change, overall, 90% of the Peninsula’s glaciers have retreated in recent decades. While since 1980 there has been a 10% increase in Antarctic sea ice extent, particularly in the Ross Sea region, regional sea ice has decreased west of the Antarctic Peninsula. Loss of ice from the West Antarctic ice sheet might raise sea level by 1.4 meters (4ft 6in) by 2100, estimates the report.
According to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, infragravity waves generated by ocean-storms could cause dramatic ice breakups far away from the storm’s origin, as the energy from the waves hitting a shore is echoed back into the sea for thousands of miles. Warming waters will likely aggravate the phenomena.

Migration
In view of the fact that Pacific Islanders are among the most affected by climate change, UNHCR has partnered with other agencies to form a Pacific Humanitarian Protection Group, which will help map and analyze the protection needs of people in the region, and address disaster preparedness, mitigation and adaptation together.
Tuvalu, the fourth-smallest nation on Earth, might become the first country to be rendered unlivable by global warming. Nevertheless, the relocation of some Tuvalu communities has been well-managed so far, given its small population. However, the situation might get more difficult for the relocation of population from other areas vulnerable to climate change such as Africa’s Sahel, coastal Bangladesh, and Vietnam’s deltas. The displacement of those populations could be “a phenomenon of a scope not experienced in human history,” warns Koko Warner, an expert on climate change and migration at the United Nations University in Bonn.
A UNHCR working paper “Climate change, disaster, displacement and migration: initial evidence from Africa,” based on evidence from Burundi and Somalia, indicates that the frequency of climate-related disasters has increased in the past two decades and underscores that disasters and environmental degradation can trigger displacement and conflicts, which can further accentuate environmental degradation.
A report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, “Climate Changed: People Displaced” also explores who are affected by climate related displacement, and how they are assisted and protected, when displaced within the borders of their own country or across borders.

Adaptation
“Climate Change, Conflict and Fragility”. a new report by International Alert, advises that adaptation strategies should be conflict sensitive and international responses to disasters and conflict should take into account the interlinked nature of the problems. Peace-building, for example, needs to be climate-proofed by paying attention to the availability of resources such as water for agriculture which could be affected by climate change. Similarly, large amount of funds for adaptation given to vulnerable states could encourage warfare unless adequate attention is paid to the systems of power and political reality in these countries. Dan Smith, Secretary General of International Alert and co-author of the report, warned “there is an enormous risk that money will go astray and end up doing more harm than good.”
“Linking Climate Change Policies to Human Development Analysis and Advocacy” by UNDP aims to integrate human development analysis and advocacy into more equitable, sustainable and climate-resilient development planning and policy debates. The guidance note proposes a conceptual framework for the analysis and provides analytical data, policy and advocacy issues that can be adapted to regional and national contexts.

Climate Modeling and Scenarios
A new scenario developed by Climate Analytics to the request of Greenpeace Switzerland is forecasting global warming by considering the Swiss climate policy model at world level and linearly extending the policy trend up to 2020 to 2100. By these assumptions, global emissions peak at 60 Gt CO2 in the 2050s, and drop below 50 Gt CO2 by 2100. The best-estimate global warming in this scenario is 1°C by 2020, 1.8°C by 2050 and 3°C above pre-industrial by 2100.
Sources:
Global-average temperature data released http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20091208a.html
Joint Press Release: 55 Million People Affected by Extreme Weather Disasters in 2009 http://www.unisdr.org/preventionweb/files/12035_PRUNDPUNISDRWMOCopenhagen14Dec2009.pdf
Global Climate Risk Index 2010 - reflecting most severely affected countries over almost two decades http://www.germanwatch.org/presse/2009-12-08e.htm
Water Conflict Chronology List http://www.worldwater.org/conflict/list/
Special Report: Water and Climate Change - An Overview from the WWDR http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001863/186318e.pdf
Global Health Risks http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GlobalHealthRisks_report_full.pdf
Melting Snow and Ice: A Call for Action http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/ud/Whats-new/news/2009/melting-snow-and-ice-a-call-for-action.html?id=587681
Storm 'Echoes' Could Break Up Ice Shelves http://news.discovery.com/earth/storm-echoes-antarctica-ice-sheets.html
Pacific islanders face the reality of climate change . . . and of relocation http://www.unhcr.org/4b264c836.html
Climate Changed: People Displaced http://www.nrc.no/?did=9448676
Climate Change, Conflict and Fragility http://www.international-alert.org/press/Climate_change_conflict_and_fragility_Nov09.pdf
Linking Climate Change Policies to Human Development Analysis and Advocacy http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/Climate_Change_NHDR_Guidance_Note.pdf
Projected global warming under a worldwide climate policy following Switzerland's example http://www.greenpeace.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/Downloads/de/Klima/Klimastudie/2009_Stu_Projected_global_warming.pdf

No Enforcement Mechanism Proposed for Strengthening the Bioweapons Treaty Due to “rapidly changing nature” of the threat
The 2009 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention was held in Geneva, December 7–11, with focus on promoting capacity-building in the areas of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis, and containment of infectious diseases. The new National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats presented by the U.S., although a comprehensive document designed to strengthen the Convention, doesn’t propose any international monitoring or enforcement system. A binding treaty on verification “would not be able to keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of the biological weapons threat,” noted Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher. [Related items: U.S. Should Launch a New Biology Initiative in October 2009, and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting Improves International Resilience Systems to Address Infectious Disease and BioWeapons in August 2009 environmental security reports.]
Sources: (see an expanded list in the Appendix)
President Obama Releases National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-releases-national-strategy-countering-biological-threats
Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of States Parties Concludes in Geneva
http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/77D5F2659E3558E5C125768C00324E30?OpenDocument

China to Create an Emergency Environmental Management System
China’s Vice Minister of Environmental Protection, Zhang Lijun, announced that one of the ministry’s priorities for 2010 is the creation of an environmental management system for addressing pollution and its effects. Reportedly, “environmental protection authorities at all levels should focus on the handling of mass disturbances triggered by environmental pollution such as water and soil pollution, and reduce the harm that pollution bring to people as much as possible.” A two-year nationwide campaign will be conducted to investigate all pollution-related threats, “which will gradually form a dynamic environmental management system,” says Zhang. [Related item: China’s New Ministry of Environmental Protection in March 2008 environmental security report.]
Note: A new poll of Chinese public opinion on ‘What does China see as its greatest threat?’ shows that Chinese are more concerned by the environment and domestic woes than potential geopolitical enemies. The study, conducted by the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the MacArthur Foundation, revealed that 75% of Chinese consider environmental problems such as climate change as a major threat to China’s security, 67% consider water and food shortages, and 58% internal separatists, while only 50% thought the U.S. posed a security threat, and 45% are still worried about Japan.
Source:
China to establish emergency environmental management system http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/29/content_12725490.htm
Chinese See Environment As Biggest Security Threat http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/wealthofnations/archive/2009/12/10/chinese-see-environment-as-biggest-security-threat.aspx

Toxic Compound Detected in Chlorinated Tap Water
Xing-Fang Li and a team of scientists at the University of Alberta have discovered minute amounts (a few ng/l) of one of the toxic dichloroquinone compounds in chlorinated tap water. It is suspected that these compounds may pose a risk of bladder cancer. [Related item: New Substances Identified as Harmful to Human Health and the Environment in June 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
A Toxic Disinfection By-product, 2,6-Dichloro-1,4-benzoquinone, Identified in Drinking Water http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123218235/abstract
Tracing the traces: Nanogram concentrations of a toxic compound detected in chlorinated tap water http://www.physorg.com/news180767147.html

Environmental Effects from Flame Retardant Manufacturing Impurities
A research team from Canada’s National Laboratory for Environmental Testing has found that environmental pollution associated with the flame retardant Dechlorane Plus comes not only from that compound but from impurities introduced during its manufacture. [Related item: Dechlorane Plus® Detected in Atmosphere in January 2006 environmental security report.]
Source:
Flame retardants are the suspected source of a new compound in the environment http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es903688s

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Increase Ocean Noise Pollution
New research reveals that oceans are becoming noisier due to declines of the concentration of chemicals that absorb sound as result of ocean acidification caused by increased concentrations of CO2. Model simulations show that increased acidity could reduce sound absorption (mostly of lower frequency range) by 60% by 2100 in high latitude oceans, potentially affecting marine life. The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, was conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. [Related items: Sonar Restrictions Debate Continues in January 2008, and New Measures for Improving Marine Environment in July 2009 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Ocean noise pollution turns up with greenhouse gas emissions http://www.starbulletin.com/news/20091227_Ocean_noise_pollution_turns_up_with_greenhouse_gas_emissions.html
Oceans becoming nosier thanks to pollution http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayarticleNew.asp?section=todaysfeatures&xfile=data/todaysfeatures/2009/December/todaysfeatures_December37.xml

Arctic “Pole of Peace” Suggested to Address Arctic Security Issues
In view of the increasingly heated debate over the Arctic due to increased access to resources, a group of Arctic security experts suggest that the U.S. should take the lead in proposing that the central Arctic Ocean be declared a “pole of peace and international cooperation based on shared interests in environmental security,” and invite Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia to endorse the initiative. This might address the controversies over sovereign rights and jurisdiction. [Related items: New Developments by Canada and the U.S. in Arctic Security in August 2009 and other items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
United States leadership needed in Arctic Ocean http://juneauempire.com/stories/120309/opi_531556737.shtml

Nuclear Disarmament Dilemma Continues
The US/Russia negotiations for a legal framework to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which expired on December 5, 2009, are expected to be restarted in mid-January 2010. Meantime, they pledged to continue working “in the spirit” of the 1991 pact. Reportedly, a major cause of the delay in concluding a new treaty is disagreement over compliance verification mechanisms. However, failure to reach agreement before the next Review conference might jeopardize nuclear non-proliferation advancements.
Meantime, the UN General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Disarmament and International Security Committee, adopted 16 texts in the nuclear weapons category, including a resolution naming August 29 as the international day against nuclear tests; beginning of negotiations in 2010 for a treaty for banning fissile material use for nuclear weapons; and a renewed determination towards the total global elimination of nuclear weapons (adopted by an overwhelming margin, with only India and North Korea voting against, and Bhutan, China, Cuba, France, Iran, Israel, Myanmar and Pakistan abstaining).
The report “Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers” by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament evaluates the threats and risks associated with the existing nuclear weapons, highlighting their potential use by accident, miscalculation or design, or falling into the hands of terrorist actors, and calls upon nations with nuclear arms to adopt a “no first use” stand, as well as a reduction of nuclear arsenal to 2,000 weapons by 2025, roughly 10% of today’s stockpile. The 230-page report compares nuclear weapons to climate change in terms of gravity, although underlining their much higher potential immediate impact. [Related item: UN Security Council Resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in September 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
START Talks to Continue in Geneva in January: Dec. 22 State Department Briefing http://geneva.usmission.gov/2009/12/23/start-talks/
On Recommendation of First Committee, General Assembly Adopts 54 Texts, Sets Aside Four Weeks in 2012 to Hammer Out Legally Binding Arms Trade Treaty http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10898.doc.htm
Commission Report Launched in Tokyo: Towards a Nuclear Weapon Free World http://www.icnnd.org/releases/091215_report.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

NanoAssociation for Natural Resources and Energy Security (NANRES) Formed
A group of nanotechnology-interested companies have formed the NanoAssociation for Natural Resources and Energy Security (NANRES), which, according to Nanowerk News, "is designed to advance the research, development, and commercialization of innovative energy and environmental-specific nanotechnologies."
Sources:
NanoAssociation for Natural Resources and Energy Security (NANRES) http://www.nanres.org/
New nanotechnology association established to address 21st century natural resource and energy security challenges http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13992.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Tunisia Sets Up Unit for Environmental Applications and Nanotechnology
In Tunisia, the National Agency of Environmental Protection (ANPE) and the Tunisian Association of Nanotechnology have set up a partnership for the creation of a unit for nanotechnology research and environmental applications of nanotechnology.
Source:
Nanotechnology for the Environment http://www.tunisiaonlinenews.com/?p=30787

Global Archive of Government Nanotech Documents Launched
The Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law has launched the Nanotech Regulatory Document Archive, a global database of government documents on nanotechnology. Each document will be accompanied by an abstract. The archive will be set up as an edited wiki, and, notes Nanowerk News, “Documents for a specific jurisdiction can be accessed by clicking on a map or on a region, nation or entity.”
Sources:
Welcome to the Nanotech Regulatory Document Archive http://nanotech.law.asu.edu/
First global nanotechnology regulation database launched http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13817.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

List of Experts in Nanotechnology Ethics Published
The ObservatoryNano project has published Experts NanoEthics and Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Nanotechnology [sic], a comprehensive list of personnel in the field. According to the announcement, it "includes senior academics and consultants, experienced in nanoethics or ethical, legal and social aspects of nanotechnology from different countries in Europe and the rest of the world … [,and in] addition, a list of junior experts including PhD students and young professionals". Each entry includes complete contact information and a note on area of expertise.
Source:
Experts NanoEthics and Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Nanotechnology http://www.observatorynano.eu/project/document/2918/

Scientists Object to Generalized Nano-Hazard Statements
A group of distinguished scientists in the nanotechnology field have published an open letter in Nanotoxicology in order "to draw the attention of the nanotoxicology community to how the term 'nanoparticles' is being somewhat indiscriminately used, especially in the titles of scientific papers and in statements to the press." Their objection takes as an example "a recent paper that linked nanoparticles in the most general sense to seven very serious cases of occupational lung and pleural injury occurring in China. The exposures were not characterized, but histological assessment of lung biopsies and pleural fluid indicated the presence of nanoparticles with an unidentified origin or chemistry. Despite a lack of information on the nature of the nanoparticles, the research was published under the title ‘Exposure to nanoparticles is related to pleural effusion, pulmonary fibrosis and granuloma’ ". The panel strongly cautions all involved in communication of nanotech issues to consider the present uncertainties in the study of nanotech pathogenesis, to be precise in stating the technical bases and limitations of studies, and not to make such generalized statements as in the title cited above.
Source:
Nanoparticles – one word: A multiplicity of different hazards http://informahealthcare.com/doi/full/10.3109/17435390903337701

UK Defra Committee Report on Nanosilver
The Advisory Committee On Hazardous Substances of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued its report on nanosilver. The paper (7 pp, with references) states that it reviews information and studies on the environmental exposure and effects of nanoparticulate silver, comments on known or predicted environmental exposure levels and whether these present a human health or environmental risk, and considers what action should be taken to further develop understanding in this area. It does not comment on risk management issues because of insufficient information and because those are the responsibility of the relevant policy and regulatory bodies.
Source:
Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances Report on Nanosilver http://www.nanoforum.org/dateien/temp/achs-report-nanosilver.pdf?20112009112655

"Environmental and Human Health Impacts of Nanotechnology"
Topics covered in this ten-chapter book include: The properties, preparation and applications of nanomaterials; Characterization and analysis of manufactured nanoparticles; The fate and behaviour of nanomaterials in aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric environments; Ecotoxicology and human toxicology of manufactured nanoparticles; Occupational health and exposure of nanomaterials; and Risk assessment and global regulatory and policy responses.
Source:
Environmental and Human Health Impacts of Nanotechnology http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reportinfo.asp?report_id=1083599&t=d&cat_id=

December 2009 Nano Magazine Features Nanotech Applications and the Military
Most of the December issue of the UK's Nano Magazine is devoted to articles on various aspects of the military use of nanotechnology.
Source:
NANO Magazine, issue 15, Published December 2009 http://www.nanomagazine.co.uk/read.php?i=121

OECD Publishes Nanomaterials Roadmap and Information Gathering Analyses
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published Manufactured Nanomaterials: Roadmap for Activities During 2009 and 2010, which, according to Nanowerk News, "presents a brief description of the ways in which the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) contributes to the overall objectives of the Environment, Health and Safety Programme (EHS), and the OECD as a whole." It has also issued Analysis of Information Gathering Initiatives on Manufactured Nanomaterials, which specifies a desirable set of information elements, and considerations and recommendations for countries planning such an activity, and summarizes existing efforts in seven countries.
Military Implications:
Military personnel involved in nanotech risk assessment should review these publications for useful ideas.
Sources:
OECD Nanomaterials Roadmap http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2009doc.nsf/LinkTo/NT00004E1A/$FILE/JT03269258.PDF
OECD Information Gathering Analyses http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2009doc.nsf/LinkTo/NT00006F1E/$FILE/JT03274953.PDF
OECD publishes manufactured nanomaterials roadmap 2010 http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13990.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

NIOSH Updates Its Nanotechnology Web Resources
According to Nanowerk News, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has updated a number of its on-line publications and sites. They include:
Progress Toward Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace, Publication No. 2010-104. Updates on 43 NIOSH projects on risk assessment, and on extramural research. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-104/default.html
Strategic Plan for NIOSH Nanotechnology Research and Guidance, Publication No. 2010-105. Research planned by NIOSH for 2009-2012 http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-105/default.html
NIOSH Nanotech Web Topic Page http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/
Nanoparticle Information Library http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/NIL.html
Source:
NIOSH updates its nanotechnology web resources http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13932.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+(Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News)

New On-line Nanotech Information Service
Knovel, an online technical information company, has announced availability of subscriptions to its Nanotechnology collection, with content focused on nanoscale materials, nanostructure-dependent properties and phenomena data as well as fabrication and manufacturing techniques. It includes a section on Environmental Nanotechnology and Environmental Safety.
Source:
Knovel Launches Nanotechnology Collection http://why.knovel.com/company/press/345-knovel-launches-nanotechnology-collection-.html

New book: Nanoethics: Big Ethical Issues With Small Technology
According to the Nanowerk News review, "This book explores in an accessible and informative way how nanotechnology is likely to impact the lives of ordinary people in the coming years and why ethical reflection on nanotechnology is needed now. Articulate, provocative and stimulating, this timely book will make a significant contribution to one of the most important debates of our time." Military applications is one of the topics discussed.
Sources:
Nanoethics Big Ethical Issues with Small Technology http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=132355&SearchType=Basic
Nanoethics: Big ethical issues with small technology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13819.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Industry Silver Nanotech Group Opposes "New Material" Designation
The Silver Nanotechnology Working Group (SNWG) has released the content of a presentation it made to EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel on the topic of "Evaluation of Hazard and Exposure Associated with Nanosilver and Other Nanometal Oxide Pesticide Products". In it, the group stated that EPA has safely and successfully regulated these products for decades, and that "calls for treatment of nanosilver as a new material requiring development of expensive new test regimes and discriminatory regulatory consideration are difficult to justify."
Source:
Silver Nanotechnology Working Group: EPA Has Safely Regulated Nanosilver for Decades http://www.silverinstitute.org/snwg.php

Green Nano: Challenges of Sustainability Conference to Be Held in Germany
The Green Nano: Challenges of Sustainability - Saving Resources & Protecting Life conference will be held 26 - 27 January 2010 at DECHEMA-House, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The program will include 21 talks, and poster presentations.
Source:
Green Nano: Challenges of Sustainability. Frankfurt am Main, 26 - 27 January 2010 http://www.processnet.org/en/cnt10.html

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

State of the World 2010 Calls for a New Paradigm in Addressing Security
Worldwatch Institute’s annual report State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures; From Consumerism to Sustainability is a comprehensive assessment of the strategies and measures necessary for improving humanity’s prospects by switching away from consumerism-based patterns. Concerning security, the report argues that as “it will become increasingly clear that the biggest threats to national security are not foreign armies or terrorist groups but the weakened state of the planet,” there will be important changes to the security and legal systems, including new concepts such as “Earth jurisprudence,” while a more balanced military-to-climate budget would “do more to protect people than the largest nuclear arsenal ever could, and in the process it will create additional economic opportunities and new openings to improve diplomatic relations between countries.” The recommendations include, inter alia, the establishment of global political institutions for guaranteeing security, and increasing use of environmental restoration, diplomacy, and cooperation for addressing conflict.
Source:
State of the World 2010. Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability http://blogs.worldwatch.org/transformingcultures/contents/

Summary of European Battery Regulations Released
The environmental consulting firm Enhesa has published its 2009 Batteries Report, with a detailed comparative analysis of the regulatory requirements, including take-back and disposal, in nine European countries compared to the EU Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC.
Sources:
Enhesa Releases Battery Report 2009 Will Santa Claus break the law? The European Batteries Directive http://www.enhesa.com/en/docs/PressRelease_Enhesa_Batteries_final_200912.pdf
Enhesa Batteries Report 2009 http://www.enhesa.com/en/service/docs/Enhesa_Batteries_Report_2009.pdf

Water Treatment Technologies for the Removal of High-Toxicity Pollutants
“Water Treatment Technologies for the Removal of High-Toxity Pollutants,” part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security, presents the proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop with the same name, held September 13–17, 2008 in Košice, Slovak Republic. It is an overview of problems related to high toxicity pollutants in the environment, especially in drinking waters, some technologies for water treatment, as well as policy aspects for increasing environmental security.
Source:
Water Treatment Technologies for the Removal of High-Toxity Pollutants http://www.springerlink.com/content/978-90-481-3495-3?sa_campaign=email/NBA

Back to Top


November 2009

China and U.S. Announce Climate Change Goals
China announced it will reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45% of 2005 levels, by 2020. The U.S. announced its goal of reducing its emissions by 17% (regardless of emissions per unit of GDP) during this period, matching legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Both President Obama and Premier Wen will attend the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December along with more than 85 heads of state and government (confirmed as of November 30, 2009.) Premier Wen Jiabao has also hosted a group from developing countries including India and Brazil to create a technology transfer position from richer countries in exchange for developing countries’ mitigation efforts.
Sources:
China announces carbon reduction targets http://english.cctv.com/program/bizchina/20091126/104112.shtml
President to Attend Copenhagen Climate Talks http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-attend-copenhagen-climate-talks
Big Developing Countries Form Climate Change Front http://planetark.org/wen/55688

Changes to War Crimes Proposed for the International Criminal Court
The 8th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court discussed proposals to amend the Rome Statute. Belgium proposed modifying Article 8 to cover use of certain weapons (chemicals, gases, and certain bullets) for international and non-international conflict situations and expanding the list of war crimes to include use of chemical, biological, and some conventional weapons, and anti-personnel mines. These proposals are considered relatively non-controversial so as not to deter non-parties from ratifying the Rome Statute and to be consistent with other multilateral agreements in force and with international customary law. Mexico proposed adding the employment or the threat to employ nuclear weapons to article 8. The Netherlands proposed inclusion of Crime of Terrorism under Article 5: Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. The first Review Conference on the Rome Statute will be held May 31-June 11, 2010, in Kampala, Uganda.
Sources:
Report of the Bureau on the Review Conference; Addendum. ICC-ASP/8/43/Add.1, 10 Nov., 2009 http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/ASP8/ICC-ASP-8-43-Add.1-ENG.pdf
Report of the Bureau on the Review Conference. ICC-ASP/8/43, 15 November 2009 http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/ASP8/ICC-ASP-8-43-ENG.pdf

Increased Calls for Banning Nonlethal Riot-control Agents
Should advances in non-lethal riot control agents be considered in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)? Currently, the Chemical Weapons Convention and its enforcement mechanisms do not apply to non-lethal riot control agents, incapacitants, and certain munitions containing chemical agents. The nature of the global chemical industry and chemical warfare materials are evolving outside international regulations. A report, Dangerous Ambiguities: Regulation of Riot Control Agents and Incapacitants under the Chemical Weapons Convention by Michael Crowley of the University of Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project documents these problems. It notes that the danger of “misuse of riot control agents by law enforcement officials, military personnel and private military company employees” grows exponentially as research on these agents proliferates around the world. The report recommends that the next (third) CWC review conference, scheduled for 2013, considers clarifying ambiguities that undermine effective enforcement of the Convention with regard to such weapons and, in the meantime, adopt a moratorium on weaponization of incapacitants. Some states, led by Switzerland, show an increased interest in discussing a legal framework for incapacitants. [Related item: Eleventh Chemical Weapons Convention in December 2006 environmental security report]
Sources:
Danger of "Nonlethal" Agents Grows Amid States' Inaction, Report Says http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20091106_8443.php
Dangerous Ambiguities: Regulation of Riot Control Agents and Incapacitants under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Michael Crowley, 2009 http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/nlw/publications/BNLWRPDangerous1.pdf

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Technique Helps Reduce Nanoparticle Wastewater Pollution
Scientists at the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have discovered that coating nanoparticles with a surfactant causes them to clump together and form a removable solid sludge when they appear in wastewater as a result of their use (now widespread) in commercial products, enabling them to be cleared from treatment plant effluent streams.
Source:
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. New discovery may help manage nanoparticle wastes from consumer products
http://www.ceh.ac.uk/news/press/Managenanoparticlewastesfromconsumerproducts.asp

Evaporation Provides Power in New Desalination System
Saltworks Technologies in Vancouver, BC, Canada claims to have developed a desalination technology that uses up to 80% less energy than current commercial processes, according to the originators. The method depends on using heat in the environment to evaporate salty water to a high degree of concentration, and then setting up an “ionic current” which removes the Na and Cl components. The result, according to the developers, is a system that needs only enough external energy to drive its pumps.
Sources:
Saltworks Technologies Company http://www.saltworkstech.com
Breakthrough in Energy Efficient Desalination Technology http://www.globe-net.com/green_tech/listing.cfm?ID_Report=1856
A fresh way to take the salt out of seawater http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14743791

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
New Tool for Reducing Carbon Emissions from Building Construction Projects
The Rocky Mountain Institute has released a new on-line computational tool, Green Footstep, which provides the design targets required to achieve carbon neutrality, net zero site energy, and other environmental objectives for a building construction project. It is based on information input about the location and other characteristics of the building, and the local ecosystem. The Green Footstep will produce a carbon emissions performance report for all phases of the work.
Source:
Green Footstep http://greenfootstep.org

Quantum Dots Offer New Possibilities for Energy from Waste Heat
Peter Hagelstein, an associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT, and associates have published a paper setting forth new results that promise major improvements in devices for converting waste heat into electrical energy, offering both high efficiency and high throughput power. Additional technological development will be needed, but MTPV Corp. of Boston is working on exploitation of these ideas.
Sources:
Better way to harness waste heat with quantum dot devices http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13604.php
Quantum-coupled single-electron thermal to electric conversion scheme http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=JAPIAU000106000009094315000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes

Software Standards to Connect Data Globally
Denis Havlik of the Austrian Institute of Technology is coordinating an EU FP6 project, Sensors Anywhere (SANY), which embodies the technical capability to allow the free exchange and use of environmental monitoring data regardless of its source. SANY allows a user to search for and retrieve raw or processed environmental data using standardized methods and to receive it in a standard format set out by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGS).
In another project with a related goal, the University of New Mexico, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and associated institutions worldwide are beginning work on establishing DataONE, a global data access and preservation network "for organizing and providing large amounts of highly diverse and interrelated but often incompatible scientific data", according to ORNL's Robert Cook.
Sources:
SANY Project http://sany-ip.eu/
Open shop for environmental data http://www.physorg.com/news177671377.html
DataONE http://dataone.org
DataONE helping scientists deal with data deluge http://www.physorg.com/news177765736.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

New Decisions Adopted for Strengthening the Montreal Protocol
The 21st meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP21), held in Port Ghalib, Egypt, November 4-8, 2009, adopted 30 decisions, including examining alternatives to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), environmentally sound management of banks of the ozone depleting substance methyl bromide; and data and compliance issues. A North American proposal on phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) was withdrawn after China, India, and several Arab countries disagreed with discussing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. [Related item: Powerful Greenhouse Gas HFCs Might be banned under the Montreal Protocol in the August 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Documents of the 21st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, 4-8 November, 2009 http://ozone.unep.org/Meeting_Documents/mop/21mop/index.shtml
Twenty-first meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer http://www.iisd.ca/ozone/mop21/

UNECE Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change
The fifth meeting of the parties to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) was held November 10-12, 2009 in Geneva. It adopted the Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change to help address the impacts of climate change on transboundary freshwater. The Guidance provides an overview of multilateral agreements related to water issues, and an interdisciplinary methodology on how to develop and implement an adaptation strategy in a transboundary context, as well as recommendations to decisionmakers and water managers on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, perform risk and vulnerability assessments, and design and implement appropriate adaptation strategies. It also contains about 40 case studies. [Related item: Draft European Transboundary Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change in September 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change http://www.unece.org/env/documents/2009/Wat/mp_wat/ECE_MP.WAT_30_E.pdf

International Gene Synthesis Consortium Created for Increasing Biosecurity
Five companies that represent about 80% of global gene synthesis capacity have formed the International Gene Synthesis Consortium for increasing the security of their products, preventing misuse of gene synthesis technology, and helping to prevent bioterrorism and the use of manufactured DNA sequences in producing lethal disease agents. The Consortium’s “Harmonized Screening Protocol for Gene Sequence & Customer Screening to Promote Biosecurity” creates a framework for safe use of synthetic genes covering aspects related to: screening of transactions and customers, record keeping, and regulatory compliance. In the meantime, the International Association of Synthetic Biology finalized the Code of Conduct for Best Practices in Gene Synthesis, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a ‘Symposium on Future Challenges of International Law: The Way Forward in Patenting Biotechnology’ on November 25, 2009, to address the challenging interface between biotechnology, intellectual property rights, and international trade (the outcomes were not yet available at the time of this writing.) [Related item: Synthetic Gene Ordering Security Screening Up for Discussion in September 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
World’s Top Gene Synthesis Companies Establish Tough Biosecurity Screening Protocol http://www.genesynthesisconsortium.org/November_19.html
Gene Synthesis Companies Pledge to Foil Bioterrorists http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/11/gene-synthesis.html
Code of Conduct for Best Practices in Gene Synthesis http://www.ia-sb.eu/go/synthetic-biology/activities/press-area/press-information/code-of-conduct-for-best-practices-in-gene-synthesis/
Symposium on Future Challenges of International Law: the Way Forward in Patenting Biotechnology http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/2009/wipo_ls_biot_ge_09/

UK and US Legislators Review Geoengineering Proposals
The US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology held a hearing to examine the scientific, engineering, ethical, economic, and governance aspects of geoengineering and intends to hold two or three more. The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has plans for studying whether geoengineering would require new national or international regulations. The two groups plan a partnership, holding parallel hearings and sharing materials when they are publicly available. [Related item: London Convention Might be Expanded to Include Ocean-based Geoengineering in November 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Geoengineering Gets a Hearing in Congress -- and in the U.K., Too http://industry.bnet.com/energy/10002452/geoengineering-gets-a-congressional-hearing-and-the-uk-too/
Geoengineering: Assessing the Implications of Large-Scale Climate Intervention http://science.house.gov/publications/hearings_markups_details.aspx?newsid=2668
Ken Caldeira Testifies to Congress on Geoengineering http://www.ciw.edu/news/ken_caldeira_testifies_congress_geoengineering

EPA Issues New Regulations on Water Pollution from Construction
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule to be phased in over four years to help reduce water pollution from construction sites. Builders must use best management practices to ensure that construction activity does not pollute nearby bodies of water; and, for larger projects, they must also monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits. [Related item: Fiber Check Dams with Chemicals Control Polluting Construction Runoff in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Construction and Development. Final Effluent Guidelines http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/guide/construction
EPA Issues Rule to Reduce Water Pollution from Construction Sites http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/3881d73f4d4aaa0b85257359003f5348/46b167e60dac2c2185257677005bf4fa!OpenDocument

Ultrathin Solar Panels Could End Up On the EU list of Hazardous Materials, Due to Cadmium Content
The ultrathin photovoltaic panels, favored over the conventional crystalline models because they are more versatile, contain cadmium telluride for converting light to electricity. Since cadmium is banned from most products in Europe, rather than amending the law, the EU is expected to propose a way of pressuring solar companies to come up with alternatives to cadmium telluride, e.g., by requiring them to apply for four-year, renewable grace periods. A French government report concluded that risks to human health from cadmium exposure during normal operation of the panels were negligible. One of the largest U.S. panel manufacturers has set up a voluntary system that would be funded in advance to recycle and reuse 95% of the cadmium and tellurium in its modules sold worldwide. [Related items: RoHS Closer to Deadline in May 2006 and UN E-Waste Forum and Basel Convention’s Conference of Parties in December 2006 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Balancing energy needs and material hazards http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/business/energy-environment/09iht-green09.html

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
Global mean warming might reach 7°C (12.6°F) by the end of the century, without drastic mitigation efforts, estimate scientists contributing to the IPCC AR5, due in 2013. The Copenhagen Diagnosis is “an interim scientific evaluation” prepared for the December climate Summit. Similarly, the Global Carbon Project warns that unless urgent actions are taken to reduce CO2 emissions, global temperatures are on course to rise by about 6°C by the end of the century. They estimate that emissions rose by 29% between 2000 and 2008, and suggest that in order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, average carbon emissions per capita for goods and services should be reduced to 0.3 metric tons by 2050, from 1.3 metric tons now.
The 2008 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin by the World Meteorological Organization also reveals that the global trend of rising atmospheric global greenhouse gases (GHG) continues. Globally, the averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2008; and, while some halocarbons, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are decreasing slowly as a result of the implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, concentrations of their substitutes, such as HCFCs and HFCs, are increasing rapidly. Simultaneously, the first comprehensive study accounting for oceans’ intake of CO2 over the past 250 years reveals that since 2000, as the oceans’ acidity increases, their carbon-sequestration capacity is declining. Therefore, “we cannot count on these sinks operating in the future as they have in the past, and keep on subsidizing our ever-growing appetite for fossil fuels,” says lead author, oceanographer Samar Khatiwala, from Columbia University. A recent assessment financed by the Global Environment Facility indicates that 61 of the world’s 64 large marine ecosystems experienced a significant increase in sea surface temperatures in the last 25 years.

Food and Water Security
Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries: Options for Capturing Synergies, released by FAO prior to the World Summit on Food Security, says that 70% of agriculture’s mitigation potential can be realized in developing countries. The report highlights the importance of considering food security, agricultural mitigation, adaptation, and development in global agendas and national strategies for addressing climate change, and it stresses the need for reaching global consensus on measurable, reportable, and verifiable requirements. Agriculture adaptability was also the main theme of the World Summit on Food Security held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, November16-18, 2009. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined that “there can be no food security without climate security.” The Summit adopted a Declaration that outlines strategic objectives, commitments and actions, and establishes the Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security.
The World Bank report Agricultural Development Under a Changing Climate: Opportunities and Challenges for Adaptation, focuses on rural development in the context of climate risk management and adaptation, particularly on issues of seasonal climate forecasting, water management in rain-fed and irrigated production systems, sustainable land management, crop and livestock breeding, crop genetic diversity, seed systems, pests, and urban and peri-urban agriculture.
The FAO policy brief Climate Change and Food Security in the Pacific warns that climate change will have serious impacts on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in the Pacific islands, leading to increased food insecurity and malnutrition. Considering climate change as a “threat multiplier” in a region that is already under severe ecological and economic stress, FAO urged governments and donors to start implementing robust and action-oriented climate change adaptation plans for all Pacific islands.
Aaron Wolf, Program Director in Water Conflict Management and Transformation at Oregon State University, said that the source of potential tensions and conflicts over water is not scarcity but poor capacity to deal with changes in the water basin. He gives as examples some regions that had organizations to oversee shared river basins; including those formed by India and Pakistan, and by Israel and its Arab neighbors, which had remained intact for decades.
Colin Chartres, Director General of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CIGAR) warned that countries depending on snowmelt could expect water levels to drop by up to 30%. He underscored the need for investments amounting to $270 billion in drinking and irrigation infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Along the same lines, the UNEP report, Fresh Water Under Threat, Vulnerability Assessment of Freshwater Resources to Environmental Change, Africa, calls for urgent adaptation measures to combat scientific and technical deficiencies, poor governance and management structures, pollution of water resources, and industrialization and urbanization.

Health
The World Health Organization is increasingly publishing articles that highlight the link between environmental conditions and health, such as the need to examine the spatial distribution of vector-borne diseases in relation to climate change, and design strategies that would help mitigate climate change while also improving human health. The Feeling the Heat report by Save the Children notes that climate change is the 21st century’s biggest global health threat to children, with impacts including: over 900 million children in the next generation to be affected by water shortages; 160 million more children to be at risk of catching malaria; and 175 million children a year to suffer the consequences of natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts, and floods by 2030. It warns that 250,000 children could die next year due to climate change (a figure that could reach 1 million by 2030).

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
The interim scientific report, The Copenhagen Diagnosis reveals: summer-time melting of Arctic sea ice surpassed by about 40% the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forecasts for the period 2007–2009, Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass at an increasing rate, and glaciers and ice-cap melting accelerated in most parts of the world since 1990. Similarly, an analysis of data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) mission reveals that the East Antarctic ice sheet, thought to be stable, has been losing 57 billion metric tons per year since 2006.

Rising Sea Levels
Sea-level rise might reach 2 meters by 2100, say the new estimates by the interim scientific report The Copenhagen Diagnosis. It notes that global average sea-level rise was 3.4 mm/year over the past 15 years, 80% above the IPCC forecasts, but consistent with an accelerating melting of glaciers, ice caps, and the Greenland and West-Antarctic ice-sheets. The report also underlines that sea level will continue to rise over the next few centuries after global temperature have been stabilized.

Migration
Nearly 10% of the world’s population––500 million to 600 million people––are at risk from displacement by climate change, and up to 150 million “climate refugees” might move to other countries by 2050, predicts the report No Place Like Home by the Environmental Justice Foundation. Some countries––Tuvalu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Maldives and some of the Lesser Antilles––are in danger of losing a significant part of their land in the next 50 years, while others could see large movements of people: Bangladesh, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Chad, and Rwanda.
In an address to the Third Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development held November 4th, in Athens, Greece, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, identified climate change along with human trafficking and economic crisis as a cause of international migration, , therefore emphasizing that protection of vulnerable communities should be a priority of adaptation efforts.

Adaptation
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) 2010-2011 Biennial Work Programme: Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow includes four strategic objectives: 1) accelerate the promotion of national coordination mechanisms for disaster risk reduction with the goal of including climate change concerns; 2) participate in UNFCCC processes; 3) promote joint adaptation and risk reduction measures in countries; and 4) increase global inter-agency coordination on risk analysis and risk reduction, as a tool for climate change adaptation. While the current strategic overview is for two years, the vision, targets, and strategic directions are forward looking to 2015. Key expected outcomes include improved knowledge, strategies, and political and financial commitments, as well as better coherence and coordination among international and regional actors to address climate-related risks.
In partnership with the IPCC, UNISDR is working on a special report, Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, to be released in 2011, representing the first global scientific effort to examine the linkages between disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change.
A Declaration of ‘climate vulnerable’ States demands that the Copenhagen outcome document include adaptation finance mechanisms to address the needs of the most vulnerable countries, amounting to at least 1.5% of developed countries' GDP (in addition to the 0.7% for overseas development assistance) annually by 2015 to assist developing countries to make their transition to a climate-resilient economy and to address the health, human rights, and security implications of climate change, including communities’ relocation and a legal framework to protect climate refugees. A follow-up Climate Vulnerable States Forum will be held in Kiribati in 2010.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers; Summary: Responding to the Value of Nature assesses reasons and methods for measuring the value of ecosystems and includes a series of recommendations for improving decisions. It highlights that the ratio of benefits to costs for ecosystem protection ranges between 25-to-1 and 100-to-1. For example, expanding marine protection from less than 1% to 30% would cost about $40-50 billion per year, whereas the annual benefit would be about $4-5 trillion. “Recognizing and rewarding the value delivered to society by the natural environment must become a policy priority,” said The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study leader, Pavan Sukhdev.
The EU estimates that €100 billion ($150 billion) a year by 2020 would cost-effectively address climate change. It estimates it would cost about €7 billion ($10.5 billion) a year for the first three years to “fast-track” funding in the developing world. There is no agreement on who should pay what and if the contributions should be voluntary or mandatory, or linked to the “polluter pays” principle. Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said that the European and the U.S. shares should be around one-third each.
The State of World Population 2009 report by the UN Population Fund focuses on the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable - and poor women specifically. The report argues that the fight against climate change is more likely to be successful if decisions take into account the needs, rights, and potential of women.

Climate Modeling
A newly revised NASA model trying to address the complexities of atmospheric chemistry, suggests that some greenhouse gases have considerably stronger warming effects than previously estimated. When the hydroxyl-consuming effect is factored in, methane’s planet-warming potential is about 28 times more than that of CO2 (compared to 25 times shown by previous studies), while carbon monoxide’s greenhouse warming potential rises from 2.2 times to 3.3 times that of CO2. It further finds that their greenhouse effect increases even further if their inhibiting influence on the formation of planet-cooling clouds is incorporated into the model. The new finding, published in the October 29 Science, reveals the difficulty of making long-term climate predictions under various emissions scenarios. However, the model can help policymakers better assess the potential climatic effects of specific types of emissions and design reduction targets accordingly.
Recent discoveries reveal that it took only six months to plunge Europe into the last ice age. The research, conducted by William Patterson from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, using mud deposits from Lough Monreagh lake in western Ireland, shows that 12,800 years ago, most probably due to a sudden slowdown of the Gulf Stream, the northern hemisphere was plunged into a mini-ice age that lasted for 1,300 years. Professor Tim Lenton from the University of East Anglia notes, “In the period from 65,000 to 10,000 years ago there were periods of abrupt warming and cooling roughly every 1,500 years, when the temperature in Greenland might fall or rise by 10°C (18°F) in a decade.”

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The final round of negotiations before the Climate Summit to be held in Copenhagen took place November 2-6, 2009, in Barcelona, Spain. Despite some progress, concluding a legally binding instrument in Copenhagen remains uncertain. While some suggest that a new mandate might be needed to continue negotiations and possibly reach a global climate pact in 2010, new hopes emerged when Britain suggested the creation of a Copenhagen launch fund for helping poorer states deal with climate change-related challenges. The fund, to begin in 2010, would reach $10 billion per year by 2012. Britain already pledged £800 million ($1.3 billion). The Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (Committee of Ten) mandated to speak on behalf of Africa expressed that Africa expects the agreement to stipulate clear measures for providing Africa technology and capacity-building to “resolve the present climatic crises and spare the continent from catastrophes.” The vulnerable island states also ask for funds and concessions to deal with rising sea level consequences. At the same time, new targets were announced by the world’s largest GHG emitters: U.S. intends to reduce its GHG emissions “in the range of” 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% by 2050, while China plans to reduce its CO2 intensity — emissions per unit of GDP — by 40–45% by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. The EU already announced its 20/20/20 policy cutting emissions by 20% (30% if other industrialized states follow suit) by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Brazil, the fourth-biggest GHG contributor, offered a reduction of 36-39% based on its projected economic output in 2020. India is also expected to make some announcement soon.
Sources:
The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Climate Science Report http://copenhagendiagnosis.org/
Earth 'heading for 6C' of warming http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8364926.stm
Oceans' ability to sequester carbon diminishing http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1118-hance_ocean_carbon.html
World Summit on Food Security http://www.fao.org/wsfs/world-summit/en/
Food security in the Pacific at risk due to climate change http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/37758/icode/
2nd Africa Water Week http://www.dwaf.gov.za/dir_ws/2aww/
Taking the heat out of the population and climate debate http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/11/09-072652/en/index.html
'Feeling the Heat: Climate Change and Child Survival' http://www.savethechildren.net/alliance/what_we_do/emergencies/climate_change/feelingtheheat.html
The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Climate Science Report http://copenhagendiagnosis.org/default.html
East Antarctic ice sheet may be losing mass http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8371773.stm
Global warming could create 150 million 'climate refugees' by 2050 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/03/global-warming-climate-refugees
UNISDR 2010-2011 Biennial Work Programme http://www.unisdr.org/news/v.php?id=11801
First global scientific effort to examine the linkages between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation http://www.unisdr.org/news/v.php?id=11682
Aerosols cloud the climate picture http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/48940/title/Aerosols_cloud_the_climate_picture
Climate change catastrophe took just months http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/earth-environment/article6917215.ece
Barcelona Climate Change Talks 2009 http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/barcelona_09/items/5024.php
UK's Brown backs $10 billion climate change fund http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSGEE5AQ1KN

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
New Results on TiO2 Nanoparticle Toxicity to Cells
Scientists at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have published the results of a study showing that a physicochemical reaction to ingestion of TiO2 nanoparticles can induce DNA breaks, chromosomal damage, and inflammation in cells in various organs in a mouse model.
Sources:
Nanoparticles used in common household items caused genetic damage in mice http://www.physorg.com/news177608158.html
Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Induce DNA Damage and Genetic Instability In vivo in Mice Cancer Res. 69: 8784-8789 http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/gca?sendit=Get+All+Checked+Abstract%28s%29&SEARCHID=1&FULLTEXT=tio2&VOLUME=69&ISSUE=22&FIRSTINDEX=0&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&gca=canres%3B69%2F22%2F8784

Sodium Cholate Found to Be Safe Surfactant for Carbon Nanotubes
Prof. Lifeng Dong and associates at Missouri State University, Springfield MO, have shown that sodium cholate is an environmentally friendly surfactant for the purification and dispersion of single-walled carbon nanotubes, not affecting cell morphology, proliferation, or growth.
Source:
Cytotoxicity Effects of Different Surfactant Molecules Conjugated to Carbon Nanotubes on Human Astrocytoma Cells http://www.springerlink.com/content/g5x542181j646494/

OECD to Release Guidance for Manufactured Nanomaterials Testing
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development plans to publish in the next month or so new draft guidance on the preparation of samples used for safety testing of manufactured nanomaterials. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, an OECD official stated that using traditional bulk chemical test methods with nanomaterials can lead to unexpected results and, “Materials tend to agglomerate or will attach themselves to other things that are in the [test] medium. So there is always the possibility that people are not testing the thing that they thought they were testing,” He also announced that OECD will be explaining human health and environmental safety aspects of nanotechnology at a series of regional meetings. “We will be explaining the kind of work we've been doing and the kind of guidance documents that we've developed,” he said. The first such event will be Nov. 27 in Beijing, for the Asia-Pacific region.
Source:
OECD to Release Preliminary Guidance For Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials
http://ehscenter.bna.com/pic2/ehs.nsf/id/BNAP-7XGFWX?OpenDocument

UK Nanotech EHS Directory Published
The UK's Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network has published the UK Nanotechnology Health, Safety and Environment Directory 2009, listing more than 30 institutes, government departments, networks and commercial service providers that are recognized as contributing in some way to the EHS debate.
Sources:
NanoKTN publishes a UK nanotechnology health, safety and environment directory
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13506.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29
UK Nanotechnology Health, Safety and Environment Directory 2009
http://mnt.globalwatchonline.com/epicentric_portal/binary/com.epicentric.contentmanagement.servlet.ContentDeliveryServlet/MNT/Knowledge%2520Centre/UKNanoHSEDirectory1.5.pdf

European Consumer Organizations Call for Better Nano Regulation
Two European consumer organizations – the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) and the European consumer voice in standardization (ANEC) – have issued a preliminary inventory of products on the EU market that contain nanomaterials. Its launch was accompanied by a series of demands from the organizations for better European regulation of nanotechnology.
Source:
EU consumer bodies launch nanotechnology consumer product inventory http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13465.php

Nanomaterials Labeling in New EU Uniform Cosmetics Rule
A story in Nanowerk News reports that the EU has harmonized 55 existing directives into a single regulation on the labeling of cosmetics in the Union. One provision, opposed by Germany, requires that product labels indicate the presence of nanomaterials.
Sources:
Germany resists EU regulation for 'nanotechnology' label for cosmetics
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13681.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29
Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cosmetic products (recast); PE-CONS 3623/09 http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/09/st03/st03623.en09.pdf

New Centre for Nano Safety Established in Scotland
Edinburgh Napier University has set up a new Centre for Nano Safety as "a multi-disc[i]plinary centre addressing the potential human and environmental effects of nanomaterials, incorporating human and environmental toxicology as well as microbiology."
Sources:
New nanomaterials safety research center launched in the UK http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13489.php
Centre for Nano Safety http://www.napier.ac.uk/RANDKT/RKTCENTRES/NANOSAFETY/Pages/CentreforNanoSafety.aspx

Petition Filed for EPA to Regulate Nanosilver
The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and a coalition of consumer, health, and environmental groups has filed a petition with EPA, requesting that it regulate all nanosilver products as pesticides and ban all consumer products containing nanosilver, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The action is being interpreted as a first step in a campaign for more intensive evaluation and possible regulation of nanoproducts.
Sources:
Demands for Regulation of NanoSilver – The First Battle for the Industry’s Future? Vol. 6/3 http://www.nanolabweb.com/index.cfm/action/main.default.viewArticle/articleID/300/CFID/2812526/CFTOKEN/41767117/index.html (Abstract; full article by subscription)
Legal Petition Challenges EPA’s Failure to Regulate Environmental and Health Threats from Nano-Silver. Executive Summary http://www.icta.org/nanoaction/doc/CTA_nano-silver_executive_summary_5_1_08.pdf

NIEHS Awards 13 Grants for Nanomaterials Assessment Methods
The NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has awarded 13 new two-year grants to develop better methods to assess exposure and health effects associated with nanomaterials. According to Nanowerk News, the grants, "focus on ensuring that we have reliable and reproducible methods and models to assess exposure, exposure metrics, and biological response to nanomaterials", and the "research is also essential for the harmonization of research results and forming a scientifically sound basis for hazard assessment, as well as the safe design and development of [engineered nanomaterials]".
Sources:
NIEHS grants to focus more research on health and safety of nanomaterials http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13626.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29
NIEHS Awards Recovery Act Funds to Focus More Research on Health and Safety of Nanomaterials http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/2009/nanotech.cfm

Australian Group Releases Two Workplace Nanosafety Reports
Safe Work Australia has announced the release of two research reports on engineered nanomaterials, Engineered Nanomaterials: Evidence on the effectiveness of workplace controls to prevent exposure, prepared by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Engineered nanomaterials: A review of the toxicology and health hazards, researched by Toxikos Pty Ltd..
Sources:
Safe Work Australia releases two new reports for its Nanotechnology Occupational Health and Safety Program
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13469.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Australian Government Proposes New Nanotech Regulations
The Australian government is inviting discussion of a proposal to strengthen regulation of industrial nanomaterials use in Australia. According to Nanowerk News, "Major regulatory reforms … include: refinement of pre-market assessment categories for nanoforms of new chemicals, particularly where human health or environmental exposure can reasonably be anticipated; and a mandatory notification and assessment program for nanoforms of existing chemicals." It is expected that this carefully drafted proposal may serve as a model for other jurisdictions' regulatory efforts.
Probably also adding to the prominence of nanotech risk in the public eye in Australia is a new report, "What you should know about nano" for the Australia Institute by Fern Wickson of the University of Bergen, presented at the Asia-Pacific Science, Technology and Society Network Conference in Brisbane, and recommending stronger regulatory measures.
Sources:
Nanotechnology - Stakeholder Consultation http://www.nicnas.gov.au/Current_Issues/Nanotechnology/Stakeholder_Consultation.asp
Government invites consultations on strengthening nanomaterial regulations in Australia http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13431.php
Australia Seeks Comment on Proposal for Regulating Industrial Nanomaterials http://news.bna.com/deln/DELNWB/split_display.adp?fedfid=15757279&vname=dennotallissues&fn=15757279&jd=a0c1k2r9g5&split=0
What you should know about nano. Policy Brief No. 8, November 2009, ISSN 1836-9014 https://www.tai.org.au/file.php?file=/media_releases/PB8%20Nanotechnology%20final.pdf
Nanotechnology - the sexy new science with lots of unanswered questions http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13702.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nanowerk%2FagWB+%28Nanowerk+Nanotechnology+News%29

Lack of Standards for Engineered Nanoparticles in European Surface Waters
As reported by Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, a recent article in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring "concludes that it is impossible to set limit values for engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in European surface waters now and in the foreseeable future…due to the extensive lack of knowledge not only of toxic effects, degradability, and bioaccumulation of ENPs in the aquatic environment, but also due to the questionable validity of test systems and methods to establish environmental quality standards" and goes on to explain the role of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) as an environmental control.
Sources:
Setting the limits for engineered nanoparticles in European surface waters – are current approaches appropriate? J. Environ. Monit., 2009, 11, 1774 - 1781, DOI: 10.1039/b909730a http://www.rsc.org/delivery/_ArticleLinking/DisplayHTMLArticleforfree.cfm?JournalCode=EM&Year=2009&ManuscriptID=b909730a&Iss=10
EU Water Framework Directive—information page http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-framework/index_en.html

Questions Raised on Reliability of In Vitro Nanomaterials Toxicity Testing
In talks, one self-characterized as provocative, at the National Science and Technology Council's workshop Nanomaterials and Human Health & Instrumentation, Metrology, and Analytical Methods, Prof. David Grainger of the Univ. of Utah and Dean Martin Philbert of the University of Michigan's School of Public Health raised serious questions about the reliability of in vitro tests for toxicity of nanomaterials and advocated more whole body research, basing their criticism on the variability of in vitro tests and the lack of knowledge of nanomaterial interactions in a full biological environment.
Sources:
In vitro assessments of nanomaterial toxicity (Abstract) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL
Cell Tests Can Produce Any Desired Result about Nanomaterial Toxicity, Speaker Says http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=2270

Risk Assessment Leader Warns against "Temptations"
Dr. Kristen M. Kulinowski, Director of the International Council on Nanotechnology, has recently written an article, Temptation, Temptation, Temptation: Why Easy Answers About Nanomaterial Risk are Probably Wrong, citing three temptations that can produce misleading conclusions about nanotech risks. T 1: “Generalizing Results from One Study to All of ‘Nanotechnology’”: she suggests using the Virtual Journal of NanoEHS (http://icon.rice.edu/virtualjournal.cfm) and its accompanying analysis tool to aid in placing new results in their proper place in the developing body of risk knowledge. T 2: “Mischaracterizing the Impacts Research as Either Non-Existent or Conclusive”: The current lack of full understanding of the nanomaterial/biosphere interaction makes difficult the evaluation of results. T 3: “Basing Risk Management Decisions on Non-Nanoscale Material”: Nanomaterials may be qualitatively different.
Source:
Temptation, Temptation, Temptation: Why Easy Answers About Nanomaterial Risk are Probably Wrong http://www.azonano.com/details.asp?ArticleId=2448

Conference on the Potential Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology
Presentations from the OECD Conference on the Potential Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology are now available. According to Nanowerk News, "...the conference explored the environmental profiles of emerging nanoscale innovation with the goal of encouraging development of technologies that can result in environmental gain while addressing unintended consequences."
Source:
Presentations from the OECD Conference on the Potential Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13420.php

Possibly Unfounded Concern over Nanoparticle Cell Damage Study
Gevdeep Bhabra, et al., contend in Nature Nanotechnology that cobalt-chromium nanoparticles damage DNA across cell boundaries. Other experts in the field are upset over wide and alarmist publicity being given to this new study. Critics say it is seriously flawed. The study claims that cells in the farthest layer of a four-layer cellular barrier were damaged by cobalt-chromium particles introduced into the nearest layer. These critics point out that the particle concentration was thousands of times higher than could be expected to occur in the human body, and the particle size was not limited to the nano range.
Sources:
Nanoparticles can cause DNA damage across a cellular barrier http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2009.313.html
Experts Criticize Nanoparticle Study http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1106/1

FramingNano Conference to Present Nanotech Governance Framework
The Final International Conference of the FramingNano FP7 project will take place December 15, 2009 at the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel. The Governance Plan developed within the Project will be discussed, in preparation for its presentation to the European Commission (EC) as a model of management to be followed by European policy makers and stakeholders. Its aim is described as, "to ensure that the development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies takes place responsibly, and to the benefit of individuals and society as a whole."
Sources:
A new governance framework for nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13435.php
A New Governance Framework for Nanotechnologies http://www.framingnano.eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=39&Itemid=63
Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies: An action plan for Europe 2005-2009. Second Implementation Report 2007-2009 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0607:FIN:EN:PDF

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
Climate Change Threats Increasingly Top Security Agendas
The first study assessing quantitative links between climate change and the risk of civil war found that in sub-Saharan Africa, between 1980 and 2002, the incidence of conflicts across the continent rose by nearly 50% with a 1°C temperature increase in a given year. Using these assumptions and 20 global climate models, the researchers warn that without swift mitigation action, the incidence of African civil war could increase 55% by 2030 relative to 1990.
“If uncontrolled, climate change will have security implications of similar magnitude to the World Wars, but which will last for centuries [….] Security sector actors must not just prepare responses to the security challenges of climate change; they must also be part of the solution,” states the report Climate Change and the Military: The State of the Debate prepared by the Institute for Environmental Security and partner organizations. In this spirit, the First Statement of the Military Advisory Council of the Climate Change and the Military project calls upon governments to integrate into their respective military strategies the security implications of climate change, and on the military to reduce its own carbon “bootprint.” Climate and Energy the Dominant Challenges of the 21st Century from members of the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board states that climate and energy security threats “will dominate and shape the state of nations in the decades to come.”
Sources:
The Role of the Military in Climate Change and Security http://www.brookings.edu/events/2009/1029_climate_change_military.aspx
"Climate and Energy the Dominant Challenges of the 21st Century http://www.acus.org/new_atlanticist/environmental-threats
The war against warming http://www.nature.com/climate/2009/0912/full/climate.2009.120.html
Climate change could boost incidence of civil war in Africa, study finds http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/11/23_africa_climate_change.shtml

European Environment Agency Draws First Map of Europe’s Noise Exposure
The European Environment Agency has launched the most comprehensive map of noise exposure, NOISE (Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe). Using database map software, map products show the numbers of people exposed to noise generated by air, rail and road traffic across Europe and in 102 large urban agglomerations. NOISE is expected to help enforce the Environmental Noise Directive adopted in 2002 and to reduce human noise exposure.
Source:
EEA draws the first map of Europe's noise exposure http://www.eea.europa.eu/pressroom/newsreleases/eea-draws-the-first-map-of-europe2019s-noise-exposure

Consumer’s Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste
The booklet “Consumer’s Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste” describes how individual consumers can help alleviate modern society’s mounting solid waste problem by making environmentally aware decisions about everyday needs. This booklet outlines many practical steps to reduce the amount and toxicity of solid waste.
Sources:
Consumer’s Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/catbook/index.htm

Back to Top


October 2009

UN Treaty on Maritime Goods Transportation Opened for Signature
The new UNCITRAL Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, known as the “Rotterdam Rules”, provides a legal framework governing the international carriage of goods by sea and industry practices. 90% of world trade travels in part by ocean transport. The Convention sets clear global rules for rights and obligations, liability and redress of all parties involved in shipping goods by sea. Adopted by the General Assembly in December 2008, the Rotterdam Rules opened for signature on September 23, 2009 and need 20 ratifications for entry into force. To date, it already has 20 signatories (including the U.S.) representing over 25% of current world trade volume.
Sources:
United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea - the "Rotterdam Rules" http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/uncitral_texts/transport_goods/2008rotterdam_rules.html
Rotterdam Rules Gain Momentum as 20th State Signs http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2009/unisl133.html
The Rotterdam Rules. Wide Support by States at Signing Ceremony in Rotterdam https://www.bimco.org/Corporate%20Area/About/Press/Press_Releases/2009_09_23

East Africa to Increase Environmental Security
The East African Community (EAC) conference, ‘Peace and Security for Stability and Development,’ held in Kampala, Uganda, October 5–7, 2009 explored the issues and impacts of globalization and climatic change on the region. It recommended the creation of a regional standby force that would provide collective protection of EAC’s natural resources (land and marine), as well as the unified airspace. It would have active and reserve contingents, and would be different from the Brigades established by the African Union. The Implementation Plan for the EAC Regional Strategy for Peace and Security addresses broad human security concerns, including population growth, socio-political and economic security issues, and global warming. Along the same lines, the Annual Regional Parliamentary Forum on Environmental Security in Eastern Africa, held October 13–14, also in Uganda, discussed security implications of environmental challenges facing Africa, as well as environmental crime and its trans-boundary manageability. The recommendations to parliamentarians include initiating policy reforms and legislation, as well as establishing monitoring systems for environmental security related issues.
Sources:
EAC Peace and Security Conference. Conference Resolutions and Recommendations http://www.eac.int/component/content/315.html?task=view
Regional MPs Advocate for Climatic Change Mitigation http://allafrica.com/stories/200910160024.html
Annual Regional Parliamentary Forum on Environmental Security in Eastern Africa 13 and 14 October 2009 http://www.amaniforum.org/images/09_updates/Update%20on%20Environemtnal%20Security%20Forum.pdf

Changes to Chemicals Regulatory Systems
Asian Countries to Adapt their Chemicals Regulatory Systems to EU REACH System
China, Japan, and Korea have set the broad framework for adapting their chemicals regulatory systems to the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) system. So far, they have only introduced REACH in the top legal structure, but during 2009–2010, their governments will issue additional regulations on issues such as chemical exposure, risk assessment, classification of chemicals, and collection of hazard data. Venues used for policy coordination include: the Tripartite Environmental Ministers Meeting; the Chemical Dialogue; the UN Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management, and the Globally Harmonized System on Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The “REACHing Asia Continued” report examines the differences between the Asian chemicals regulatory system (specifically China, Japan and Korea) and the EU REACH system and outlines national frameworks covering, inter alia: pollutant release and transfer register; import and export restrictions; occupational exposure limits and protection; and chemical restrictions in products/compositions.
Source:
Park, DaeYoung: REACHing Asia Continued (September 16, 2009) http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1474504

U.S. to Revise the Toxic Substances Control Act
The overhaul of the U.S. 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will require prioritizing tens of thousands of chemicals currently on the market. While there is agreement that the focus should be on the highest-priority chemicals based on potential health risks, the industry prefers using existing data, while environmentalists call for a risk-based standard focused on chemical regulation rather than product regulation.
Sources:
Experts debate ways to reform 1976 toxics law http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/10/07/07greenwire-experts-debate-ways-to-reform-1976-toxics-law-83495.html
Revisiting the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/7092/
Summary of the Toxic Substances Control Act http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/tsca.html

EU to Introduce New Environmental Index
In order to better measure progress, the EU Commission plans to develop a comprehensive index of environmental sustainability, which would include indicators on the main environmental policy and protection aspects. The index would complement the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), thus helping sustainable development policies. A pilot version of the index will be presented in 2010. The European Statistical System will also implement Environmental Accounting as a standard in macro-economic statistics, while the Commission will speed up environmental and social data generation for producing near real-time information for decision-making.
Sources:
Environment: Measuring progress in a changing world http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/1286
Brussels wants wider measure of well-being than mere GDP http://news.my.msn.com/business/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3559371

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Multi-component Environmental Sensing System Could Help Anticipate Crises
Prof. Eyal Ben-Dor of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geography has recently described applications of his team’s ‘Hyperspectral Remote Sensor’ concept, which combines ground-, air-, and space-based physical, chemical and optical sensors to provide advance warnings of disasters or post-event damage assessments.
Source:
Sensing disasters from space http://www.physorg.com/news175441355.html

Scanning Instrument for Chemical Agents Detection
Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, are developing a new sensor that has the potential to detect chemical agents within seconds. The system consists of special gel pads to collect samples from people or objects, and a scanning device (using Raman spectroscopy). Mixing the samples with nanoscale silver particles amplifies the signals of compounds, allowing detection of even very small traces of chemical agents.
Sources:
Chemical sensor to fight terrorism http://latestnews.virginmedia.com/news/tech/2009/10/05/chemical_sensor_to_fight_terrorism
Ulster scientists develop sensors for chemical agents http://kn.theiet.org/news/sep09/ulster-chem-sensors.cfm

Ultrasensitive Sensor Could Detect Bacteria in Minutes
According to an article in MIT’s Technology Review, a new sensor developed by Benjamin Miller, professor of dermatology and biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and associates, could be the basis for a portable instrument that could detect bacteria in the environment in 15 minutes to two hours. The sensor is based on a folded strand of complementary DNA that unfolds upon bonding with a sensed target sequence, allowing a fluorescent molecule attached to one end of the DNA to glow. Lighthouse Biosciences in West Henrietta, New York is commercializing the technology. Other similar efforts at Northwestern University (used in a product by Nanosphere of Northbrook IL) and MIT are also briefly cited in the article.
Source:
Ultrafast DNA Nanosensor. A new type of sensor makes diagnosing infections quick and easy http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/23575/

New Method for Assessment of Fine Dust Composition
A project managed by Dr. Cord Fricke-Begemann at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen, Germany, has developed a new technique for analyzing by particle size the components of fine dust (< 100 nm) such as may be generated by industrial processes. According to a story in Nanowerk News, “a gas stream separates the particles into size classes before they are collected on filters. Their composition is then examined by means of laser emission spectroscopy.” Results can be obtained in less than 20 minutes.
Source:
Tracing ultra-fine dust http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12864.php#

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Algae Provide Material for New Thin and Flexible Battery
Scientists at the Ångström Laboratory at Uppsala University, Sweden, have developed a new type of battery, using algae-derived polypyrrole-coated cellulose for electrodes, separated by saline-soaked filter paper, yielding a product which, although less powerful than conventional units, is light-weight, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly to produce.
Sources:
Super-thin batteries made from paper and algae http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/September/15090902.asp
Ultrafast All-Polymer Paper-Based Batteries http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl901852h
Salt and Paper Battery May One Day Replace Lithium Batteries http://www.physorg.com/news172241467.html

Changing Temperature Changes Roof Tiles from Black to White to Save Energy
A group of recent MIT graduates have developed a material for roofing tiles that changes color from black to white as the temperature rises, reflecting the sun's heating rays, and thus saving on building cooling requirements and consequent energy demand, while still absorbing the radiation in cold weather. Nick Orf, a member of the Thermeleon team, says it is determined to pursue the project and develop it into a marketable product, but also notes that the material’s cost and durability remain to be explored.
Source:
Energy savings in black and white http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/madmec-roof.html

Progress Announced in Methane-to-Liquid Process Development
Scientists at the departments of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington have announced the first observation of a metal complex (a compound consisting of a central metal atom connected to surrounding atoms or molecules) that binds methane in solution. This is an important first step in the development of a process for converting methane to a more easily transported and stored and more environmentally friendly liquid fuel.
Sources:
New clues in quest for liquid methane http://futurity.org/top-stories/new-clues-in-quest-for-liquid-methane/
Characterization of a Rhodium(I) {sigma}-Methane Complex in Solution http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;326/5952/553

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
Assessment and Potential Revision of Resolution 1540 on Preventing WMD Terrorism
The UN Security Council’s 1540 Committee conducted a three-day review meeting of Resolution 1540 (that requires states to take steps to prevent terrorists from acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons) to assess the evolution of risks and threats, and to address implementation aspects. Issues identified include: lack of capacity-building tools and criteria for evaluation, geographical gaps, and compatibility differences of national systems, as well as potential weaknesses at the international level. Some delegates argued that the resolution did not have the same power and impact as a convention, therefore legislations are not 1540-specific, and cannot be used for prosecutions. The Committee hopes to prepare a report on collaborative anti-WMD strategies by the end of 2009, said panel head, Jorge Urbina, Costa Rican ambassador to the UN. [Related item: Increased Efforts Needed to Counter the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in July-August 2008 environmental security report.]
Source:
Risks to Non-proliferation Regime Challenge Resolution 1540 to Ensure States Enact Domestic Controls over Weapons of Mass Destruction Spread to Non-State Actors
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2009/sc9757.doc.htm

First Simultaneous ExCOPs for Improving MEAs' Synergies and Coordination
As part of the UN’s effort to improve coordination, reduce overlaps, and improve enforcement of multilateral environmental agreements, the first simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel (control of transboundary movement of hazardous waste), Rotterdam (prior informed consent for certain hazardous chemicals), and Stockholm (on POPs) Conventions, will be held February 22-26, 2010, in Bali, Indonesia, in coordination with the UNEP 11th Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The Synergies Oversight Team, composed of the Executive Secretaries of the three Conventions and representatives of UNEP and FAO, is coordinating the preparation of the simultaneous ExCOPs, while also assessing synergies in a strategic and long-term perspective. In a preamble to the conference, UNEP and FAO have launched a website that presents updated information on the ExCOPs: http://excops.unep.ch. Incidentally, the Basel Convention Committee has recently released a practical guide on national reporting by parties to the Basel Convention. [Related item: UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum Makes Progress on Global Environmental Governance in February 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Simultaneous Extraordinary Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions http://excops.unep.ch/
Basel Convention National reporting http://www.basel.int/natreporting/index.html (direct link to the Guidance Document on Improving National Reporting by Parties to the Basel Convention: http://www.basel.int/natreporting/GuidFinal-22102009.doc)

Reducing GHG Emissions Using the Montreal Protocol and other Regulatory Systems
Considering the need for “fast-action” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid abrupt climate changes, international ozone negotiators suggest the use of the Montreal Protocol and similar existent international regulations, by amending them to cover greenhouse gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and black carbon particles and precursor gases. The subject is on the agenda of the 21st meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, to be held in Egypt, on November 4-8, 2009. Note: “fast-action” includes regulatory measures that can begin within 2–3 years, be substantially implemented in 5–10 years, and produce a climate response within decades. [Related item: Regulations Might be Needed for New Greenhouse Gases in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Reducing abrupt climate change risk using the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/19/0902568106.full.pdf+html
Climate scientists suggest revisiting the 1987 Montreal Protocol http://www.canada.com/technology/Climate%20scientists%20suggest%20revisiting%201987%20Montreal%20Protocol/2103810/story.html
Ozone protocol squares up to climate http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091028/full/4611184a.html

Belgian Senate to Consider Nuclear-Weapon Ban
A bill submitted to the Belgian Senate on October 15, 2009, is proposing a ban in Belgium on the manufacturing, fixing, sale, shipping, and possession of nuclear arms. Deliberations will take at least until May 2010. Belgium has already banned cluster and depleted uranium munitions. [Related item: UN Security Council Resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in September 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Belgian Senate to Consider Nuclear-Weapon Ban http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20091016_3998.php
Bill to ban nuclear weapons reaches Belgian Senate http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9BBIE780&show_article=1
Belgian initiative to ban nuclear weapons http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NucNews/message/30249

EU Potential New Measures For Reducing CO2 Emissions
Following discussions of EU finance ministers concerning a carbon tax across the bloc to further reduce CO2 emissions and fight climate change, the European Commission will probably make the formal proposal next year. Several EU member states already have such a tax, but a bloc-wide deal might be difficult, since taxation is a matter of national sovereignty and any change requires unanimity among the 27 member states.
To further reduce emissions from transportation vehicles, the European Commission proposed emissions limits for light trucks and vans (minibuses to be exempted). The proposal restricts light trucks and vans CO2 emissions to 175 grams/kilometer driven (present EU average is around 200 grams.) This limit will be introduced gradually from 2014 to 2016, while by 2020 van makers would have to meet a 135 grams target or face fines. The draft legislation moves now to negotiations at the European Parliament and EU governments. [Related item: European Climate and Energy Package Formally Adopted in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
EU mulls carbon tax to fight climate change http://english.cctv.com/20091003/102119.shtml
Commission unveils van CO2 emissions standards proposal http://euobserver.com/9/28904/?rk=1
Europe Suggests Emissions Limits on Small Trucks http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/business/energy-environment/29vans.html?_r=1

Russia to Boost Its Space Security Program
Reportedly, participants in the Russian State Duma hearings on planetary security stated that it was time for Russia to supplement its national space program with the study of the asteroid hazard and possible ways to protect the Earth. [In March 2009 an asteroid missed Earth by 77,000 kilometers, 80% closer to the planet than our moon is. If it had hit Earth, it would have wiped out all life on 800 square kilometers. No one knew it was coming.] Asteroid-comet hazard and international legal aspects of counteracting the impact hazard were also on the agenda of the ‘Asteroid-Comet Hazard-2009’ conference held September 21-25, 2009, in St. Petersburg (proceedings to be available on November 6). NASA already has a Near-Earth Object Program Office, and Italy and Spain cooperate on NEODYS (Near Earth Objects Dynamic Site). Meantime, Roscosmos (the Russian Federal Space Agency) announced plans to design by 2012 a nuclear-powered spacecraft, to be ready for a manned mission after 2021. [Related items: Steps for an International Regime for Space Debris and Space Traffic Control System in May 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Russia Needs To Add Asteroid Hazard Study To National Space Program – Opinion (ITAR-TASS, Moscow, October 6)
International conference Asteroid-Comet Hazard – 2009 http://www.ipa.nw.ru/conference/ach2009/first_announcement.php?lang=en
Russia develops design for spaceship with nuclear engine http://en.rian.ru/science/20091028/156623290.html
Asteroid Apophis less likely to collide with Earth http://www.itwire.com/content/view/28361/1066/

EPA Warnings on Various Potential Health Hazards
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final Federal Register notice designating 31 areas throughout the U.S. as “nonattainment” and “unclassifiable/attainment” for the 24-hour national air quality standards for fine particulate matter, also called PM2.5. These communities will have to formulate plans for reducing fine particle pollution.
Another EPA announcement warns that high levels of PCBs can readily occur in the caulking material used in buildings built or renovated from 1950 to 1978, and that there is a continuing risk to personnel from exposure to PCBs in the material around doors and windows, and in the joints between masonry products such as brick or concrete block.
Sources:
EPA Lists Areas Violating Daily Air Pollution Requirements 31 locations not meeting 24-hour fine particle standards http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/
EPA Designates Areas as Attainment and Nonattainment for the 24-Hour PM2.5 National Air Quality Standards http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/2006standards/regs.htm#4
PCBs in Caulk in Older Buildings http://www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
Scientists found that Arctic Ocean waters are acidifying at an unprecedented rate, as more CO2 can dissolve in cold water than warm. Research carried out in the archipelago of Svalbard revealed that seawater could reach corrosive levels within 10 years, thus jeopardizing shellfish and other life forms and livelihoods depending on it. At this rate, scientists fear that 10% of the Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic by 2018; 50% by 2050; and entirely by the end of the century.

Food and Water Security
The number of hungry people in the world rose to 1.02 billion this year. Varying impacts of climate change (including lower water availability, and an increase in plant and animal pests and diseases) could lead to a 30% reduction in agricultural productivity output in Africa and a 21% reduction in Asia, noted FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, at the two-day high-level forum “How to Feed the World in 2050,” held October 12-13. About 300 experts attending the forum, debated policy, technology, and investment needs to achieve food security by 2050. FAO estimates that in order to ensure food security for over 9 billion people in 2050, investments in agriculture in developing countries should increase by about 50%, to $83 billion a year ($29 billion for India and China). Noting the challenge of feeding another 2.3 billion people by 2050 while at the same time limiting the environmental impact of the farm sector, the report Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture by the Royal Society is calling for a £2 billion “Grand Challenge” research program on global food security including investment in genetically modified crops. The Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, examining the impact of climate change on food security compared to a no-climate-change scenario, forecasts that in 2050 there will be a 90% increase in wheat prices, in the developing world calorie availability will decline relative to 2000 levels, and there will be an additional 25 million malnourished children.
The Africa Factbook 2009 by the Global Footprint Network warns that if current population and consumption trends continue, Africa’s Ecological Footprint will exceed its biocapacity within the next 20 years, with some countries, including Senegal, Kenya, and Tanzania, potentially reaching that threshold in less than five years. It notes that between 1961 and 2005, while Africa’s population grew from 287 million to 902 million people, the amount of biocapacity (food, fiber and timber resources that are renewably available) per person decreased by 67%. A World Summit on Food Security will be held at FAO headquarters in Rome, November 16-18, 2009.
In India, the four-month monsoon season ended with rains 23% below normal, causing the country’s worst drought since 1972. Food prices already skyrocketed and threaten inflation. About half of India’s 1.2 billion people depend on agriculture for their income.
The Water Governance Programme for Arab States was officially launched by the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States and the League of Arab States at the high-level Partners Meeting on Water Governance, on October 12, 2009. The Programme aims to support water management in the Arab States by integrating socio-economic and environmental dimensions. Meantime, Egyptian officials warn that the Nile Delta region is facing a double threat, due to freshwater needs which might surpass resources by 2017, and rising sea levels inundating much of the fertile Delta region, where 60% of the country’s 78 million people live. Over the past decade, the Mediterranean is been rising an average of 2 centimeters annually, says Mohamed al-Raey of Alexandria University. A one-meter sea-level rise would submerge Alexandria. Meantime, Egypt is facing disputes with the other ten Nile basin countries that are demanding bigger shares of Nile water to compensate for reduced rainfall.

Health
Health Problems Heat Up: Climate Change and the Public's Health by the Trust for America’s Health warns that climate change will make Americans more vulnerable to diseases, disasters, and heat waves. According to the report, only five states have published a strategic climate change plan that includes a public health response, including planning for health challenges and emergencies expected to develop from natural disasters, pollution, and infectious diseases as temperatures and sea levels rise. The report includes several recommendations related to setting national guidelines and measures for core public health functions and funding for climate change planning and response, and special efforts to address the impact of climate change on at-risk and vulnerable communities.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Losses from both Greenland and Antarctica have accelerated over the past seven years, shows a comprehensive continuous monitoring of the ice sheets using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, which ‘weighs’ the ice on a monthly basis. NASA geophysicist Isabella Velicogna says that “That is a big thing,” and “We should be more concerned.” Similarly, based on recent field observation, David Barber, Canada’s Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba, notes that the multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean is almost gone.

Migration
UNDP’s Human Development Report 2009, Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development, focuses on different forms of migration. The report indicates that out of about 1 billion migrants worldwide, 740 million are intrastate, and only about a third of the transnational migrants move from a developing country to a developed one. The report notes that climate change-induced displacement is very difficult to estimate, due to many uncertain variables, and comments that estimates of 200 million to 1 billion migrants by 2050 do not take into account the adaptation and mitigation measures, while environment-related migration is directly dependent on livelihood opportunities and public policy responses combined.
The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, reiterated the need for some legal framework for environmental refugees, to ensure that people affected by climate change are treated with dignity, offered appropriate housing and livelihoods, and social organizations of those affected are protected.

Adaptation
The Consultative Meeting of Parliamentarians from Central Africa, held October 17 in Chad, recognized the synergies between disaster risk reduction and adaptation, and concluded that disaster risk reduction measures should be a main adaptation tool to the effects of climate change that are already affecting many African countries. The Chair of the African Parliamentarian initiative on Climate Risk Reduction called for a common African position that would link climate change adaptation to disaster risk reduction. Participants to the Southern African Development Community annual emergency preparedness and response workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa, also pledged to strengthen their ability to respond to natural disasters and reduce risks on their populations. The SADC Secretariat will set up a regional disaster risk reduction unit that will provide leadership and coordination for early warning and disaster risk reduction to SADC member States. At the World Forum on Sustainable Development held October 9-11, 2009, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, under the theme “Climate Change: What Opportunities for Sustainable Development?” African leaders emphasized that climate change adaptation policies and development strategies in the region should be integrated. They also called for the acceleration of the creation of a department for African environmental programs at the African Bank of Development, with a special fund to be contributed mainly by the developed countries. It was also decided that Africa speaks with one voice at the Copenhagen climate summit, including the demand for a compensation to be paid by major polluters, estimated at $65 billion dollars.
Managing our coastal zone in a changing climate: the time to act is now, a report by the Australian House of Representatives Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts Committee, is a comprehensive analysis of the impact of climate change on Australia. The report highlights the importance if the issue since 80% of Australia’s population lives in the coastal zone. It recommends new coastal management measures, based on national leadership in a collaborative framework with state and local governments and communities.

Scenarios
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report Climate Solutions II warns that the world has only five years to switch to low-carbon reindustrialization and avoid the point of no return estimated to be in 2014. The report considers two scenarios of emission cuts by 2050 relative to 1990 levels: one of 63% cuts, and another of 80%. It finds that clean, low-carbon industries would need to grow at least 22% a year for the 63% reduction scenario to be achieved, and at least 24% a year for the 80% reduction scenario to be achieved. According to the report, the estimated short-term investment to achieve these goals is between $7 trillion and $17 trillion.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The deadlock in negotiations for a UN climate treaty continues. The Bangkok talks (held September 28 to October 9, 2009) ended with deep divisions between developing and developed countries and the length of the text still to be processed remains considerable. “Satisfactory” progress is reported as being achieved on issues such as adaptation, technology, and capacity building. The negotiations will resume in Barcelona, November 2-7, which should produce a report to the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7-18, 2009. Many speculate that a legally binding document is unlikely to be agreed upon in December, and a new deadline might be set in 2010.
Meantime, regional and national efforts continue. Europe offers to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95% by 2050 and by 30% by 2020 if a deal is reached at Copenhagen. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is advancing on climate-change legislation, to be submitted at the beginning of November, that aims to reduce 2005-level greenhouse gases emissions of U.S. industry by 20% by 2020.
Sources:
Arctic seas turn to acid, putting vital food chain at risk http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/04/arctic-seas-turn-to-acid
How to feed the world 2050 (12-13 Oct) http://www.fao.org/wsfs/forum2050/wsfs-forum/en/
Footprint Factbook | Africa 2009. Securing human development in a resource constrained world
http://www.footprintnetwork.org/images/uploads/AfricaFactbook_2009.pdf
UNDP launches its "Water Governance Programme for Arab States" http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/2009/october/undp-launches-its-water-governance-programme-for-arab-states.en
EGYPT: Disaster looms for Delta region http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=86472
Health Problems Heat Up: Climate Change and the Public's Health http://healthyamericans.org/reports/environment
Both of the World's Ice Sheets May Be Shrinking Faster and Faster http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=115x213048
UNDP Human Development report 2009 http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2009/
African Parliamentarians agree on concrete actions to reduce the impact of climatic disasters http://www.unisdr.org/news/v.php?id=11479
World 'Has Five Years' to Stop Climate Change http://allafrica.com/stories/200910190109.html
Summary of the Bangkok Climate Change Talks: 28 September - 9 October 2009 http://www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12439e.pdf
Europe offers to cut emissions 95% by 2050 if deal reached at Copenhagen http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/oct/21/europe-carbon-emissions
Sen. Boxer to move ahead on climate bill http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE59Q0JY20091029

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

EPA Unveils Nanotech Risk Research Plan
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new research strategy for the next several years for work on the health and environmental risks from manufactured nanomaterials and on nanotech-based cleanup techniques.
Sources:
Nanomaterial Research Strategy. Office of Research and Development U.S. EPA http://www.epa.gov/nanoscience/files/nanotech_research_strategy_final.pdf
EPA announces research strategy to study nanomaterials http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12839.php#

European Commission to Review Nanomaterial Policies
Responding to a request from the European Parliament, the European Commission plans to "review all relevant legislation within two years to ensure safety for all applications of nanomaterials in products with potential health, environmental or safety impacts over their life cycle," according to EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
Source:
EU plans to review its policies on nanomaterials http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13104.php

European Environmental Bureau Assessment of Nanotech Governance Issues
According to Nanowerk, the European Environmental Bureau has issued a report, Nanotechnologies in the 21st Century - A Critical Review of Governance Issues in Europe and Elsewhere (October 09), outlining the critical governance structures needed for the safe development and use of nanotechnology. The report "reviews the current uncertainties associated with the governance of nanotechnologies ... [and] presents NGO initiatives for nano regulation calling for the application of the precautionary principle and pre-market registration of materials."
Sources:
Nanotechnologies in the 21st Century - A Critical Review of Governance Issues in Europe and Elsewhere Report http://www.eeb.org/publication/2009/2009-NanoBrochureNo3-WEB.pdf
European Environment Bureau assesses critical nanotechnology governance issues http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13044.php

EC's DEEPEN Final Report on Nanotech Development Ethics Released
The release of the Final Report from the EC-funded DEEPEN Project has been announced. The project characterizes itself as "Europe’s leading research partnership for integrated understanding of the ethical challenges posed by emerging nanotechnologies in real world circumstances, and their implications for civil society, for governance, and for scientific practice."
Sources:
DEEPEN Final Report released 28th September 2009 http://www.geography.dur.ac.uk/projects/deepen/NewsandEvents/tabid/2903/Default.aspx
Nanotechnology Decision-Making Needs Greater Public Involvement http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?NewsID=13873#

EC Presentations on Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies
The presentations from the European Commission (DG Health and Consumers) Scientific Hearing on the risk assessment of nanotechnologies have been posted on the DG Health and Consumer's website. The topics are:
The Role of EU Scientific Committees for Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/nanotechnology/docs/ev_20091103_co01_en.pdf
Public Consultation on Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies: Summary of contributions http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/nanotechnology/docs/ev_20091103_co02_en.pdf
(Scientific) Comments on the Public Consultation’s Summary http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/nanotechnology/docs/ev_20091103_co03_en.pdf

NC Summit to Focus on Environmentally Responsible Development of Nanotech
The Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative’s second annual environmental health summit in early October focused on Environmentally Responsible Development of Nanotechnology. According to Nanowerk News, it brought together 150 experts from around the US “to address critical issues in nano-enabled product development and manufacturing … [to] overcome barriers to success related to environmental/occupational health concerns.” and produce a guidance document with recommendations about how to successfully address the critical issues. That document will be available at http://environmentalhealthcollaborative.org/summit/summit-2009/.
Source:
Industry leaders gather in North Carolina to focus on environmentally responsible development of nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12947.php#

Report Suggests Current Nanotech Protective Gear May Not Be Adequate
In a paper to be published in a journal next year, Patricia Dolez of the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, at the École de technologie supérieure, in Montréal, and colleagues, point out possible problems with the adequacy of current workplace protective equipment when dealing with nanomaterials in the environment, and suggest that further research is needed into these special risks.
Source:
Current safety equipment may not be adequate for nanoprotection http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13054.php
Paper in the International Journal of Nanotechnology (Int. J. Nanotechnol., 2010, 7, 99-117)

French Public Debate on Nanotechnology
The French Commission of Public Debates has launched a public debate on nanotechnology, with seventeen meetings to be held around France, starting in mid-October, and running through February 2010. Each of the meetings will be organized around a different topic, but participants will be free to raise other issues. Planned subjects include European regulation of nanotechnology, nanostructured materials, consumer and workplace protection, nanoparticles in the organism, and ethics and governance. The project is supported by a Web site (in French) <http://www.debatpublic-nano.org/ >.
Source:
France launches public debate on nanotechnology http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Formulation-Science/France-launches-public-debate-on-nanotechnology

European Project to Study Metal Oxide Nanoparticle Risks
According to an item in Nanowerk News, CIC biomaGUNE, the Centre for Cooperative Research in Biomaterials, in Guipúzcoa, Spain, is to lead the European FP7 project HINAMOX (Health Impact of Engineered Metal and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles: Response, Bioimaging and Distribution at Cellular and Body Level). The aim of the three-year project is to evaluate the possible impact on health of metal oxide nanoparticles, including zinc, cerium, titanium and iron oxides.
Sources:
European project evaluates possible health impact of metal oxide nanoparticles http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12904.php#
CIC biomaGUNE is to lead a european project that will test the toxicity of the nanoparticles in metal oxides http://www.cicbiomagune.es/secciones/noticias/noticias_detalle.php?idioma=en&id_noticia=33

Norwegian Research Group Launches Nanotech Particles Project
The SINTEF Group, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia, has established a project, ‘The environmental fate and effects of SINTEF-produced nanoparticles’, to investigate the behavior and effects of nanoparticles in marine environments. Several other nanotech-oriented efforts are also underway in the Group.
Sources:
Nanoparticles - toxic or harmless? http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12802.php#
SINTEF Group http://www.sintef.no/Home/

New Nanotech Survey Book Covers Environmental Aspects
A new book, Nano-Society - Pushing the boundaries of technology (ISBN: 978-1-84755-883-1), surveys 122 nanotech research projects, grouped into four sections, one of which, Simply Green – Environmental Applications and Risk Management, covers Green nanotechnology, Dealing with pollution, Energy – renewable and clean, and Nanotoxicology – assessing the risks.
Sources:
Nano-Society. Pushing the Boundaries of Technology http://www.rsc.org/Shop/books/2009/9781847558831.asp
Nano-Society - Pushing the boundaries of technology http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=12798.php#

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security
Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security by Nancy Gallagher and John D. Steinbruner reviews the current regulations that currently govern the use of space and the relevancy of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. It argues that the U.S. should advance international negotiations based on the Treaty for developing new rules that explicitly address problems of space security, to specifically outlaw weaponization of space, and define the legitimate limits of space-based support for military missions. Some practical recommendations for successful negotiations include strategies for equitable distribution of the costs of compliance systems.
Source:
Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security http://www.amacad.org/publications/reconsidering.aspx

U.S. Should Launch a New Biology Initiative
A New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution, a report from the National Research Council, assessing the state of use of recent advances in biology, concludes that the design, manipulation, and prediction of complex biological systems needed for practical applications are “well beyond current capabilities.” To accelerate the implementation process, the report recommends a National New Biology Initiative, with an interagency and interdisciplinary approach and a timeline of at least ten years and funding in addition to current research budgets. The report underlines that the initiative could also be used to address environmental issues by making it possible to monitor ecosystems and diagnose and repair ecosystem damage.
Source:
National New Biology Initiative Offers Potential For 'Remarkable and Far-reaching Benefits' http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12764

London Conference to Include Hazard Detection Technologies
The Institute of Nanotechnology is holding a conference, Converging Technologies for 21st Century Security, on 25 November 2009 at the Royal College of Physicians, London. The meeting will include a session, ‘Hazardous Material Detection,’ and a paper, ‘Use of Antibody-based Approaches for the Detection of Hazardous Materials.’
Source:
Converging Technologies for 21st Century Security http://www.nanoforum.org/nf06~modul~showmore~folder~99999~scc~news~scid~4016~.html?action=longview&

Back to Top


September 2009

Climate Change at the UN and G-20
Climate change was the focus of several international summits held in September 2009: the UN Climate Change Summit that attracted 100 Heads of State and Government and was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Climate Change Summit of the Alliance of Small Island States (ASOIS), the UN General Assembly, the G-20 summit, and additional international forums held in parallel with these summits. Although the issues discussed ranged from addressing economic crises to disarmament and reforming the UN system, the theme most mentioned was climate change and policies to address its causes and effects, including adaptation and setting emission reduction targets. The AOSIS underscored security implications of climate change and asked for a greater say in the related negotiations. Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Edward Natapei emphasized that “climate change poses a real threat to the future survival of mankind.” French President Nicholas Sarkozy reiterated the call for creation of a new World Environment Organization to replace the current several disparate agencies and committees. UN reform ideas converged towards a more representative Security Council and more powerful General Assembly so that its resolutions are implemented and legally binding.
Sources:
General Debate of the 64th Session; 23-26 & 28-30 September 2009 http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/2309.shtml
Leaders' Statement: The Pittsburgh Summit http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/mediacenter/129639.htm
Ahead of Copenhagen talks, small island nations sound alarm at UN on climate change http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32265&Cr=climate+change&Cr1

Chemicals Management to Address Emerging Technologies-related Issues
The Secretariat of Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) released an update on current emerging policy issues related to: nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials, hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products, chemicals in products, and lead in paint. These were adopted by Resolution II/4 at the second session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management. SAICM, in collaboration with OECD and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), will organize during 2010 a series of regional informative workshops on potential applications and risks associated with nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, as well as capacity assessment, and awareness building. Submissions for emerging policy issues are welcome and would be considered at the next Conference, scheduled for June 2012.
Sources:
Emerging policy issues - ICCM2 outcomes and follow-up http://www.saicm.org/index.php?menuid=9&pageid=392&submenuheader=
Update on SAICM implementation – emerging policy issues. 2 September 2009 http://www.saicm.org/documents/iccm/ICCM2/September09%20update-rev%20on%20emerging%20issues.pdf

Draft European Transboundary Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change
The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is preparing a draft Guidance on water and adaptation to climate change, the first of its kind looking at adaptation from a transboundary perspective. The Guidance will cover impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, assessment of risks, and addressing vulnerability and adaptation strategies in the UNECE region and beyond. The draft Guidance will be submitted to the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention, to be held November 10–12, 2009 in Geneva.
Sources:
Draft Guide to implementing the Convention http://www.unece.org/env/documents/2009/Wat/mp_wat/ECE_mp.wat_2009_L2_%20E.pdf
Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, Fifth session, 10-12 November 2009 http://www.unece.org/env/water/mop5.htm

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Neurotoxins Detected/Neutralized by New Fast Molecular Configuration
A new type of organophosphate neurotoxin sensor molecule that detects such neurotoxins as sarin up to105 times faster than previous reagents was developed by researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. The detector also renders the toxin harmless, and signals its activity by significantly increasing the intensity of its fluorescence.
Sources:
Hydroxy Oximes as Organophosphorus Nerve Agent Sensors http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122597479/abstract? (abstract)
Ring closure as warning - new, extremely fast detection of neurotoxins http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12678.php

New Ultra-sensitive Detector for Water-borne Hazards
A new semiconducting-nanotube-based chip that reliably detects very low concentrations (ppb) in water of TNT or a chemical relative of sarin has been developed by researchers from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. According to the principal investigator, Prof. Zhenan Bao, the new device “offers a rare combination of low-cost materials, low power usage, robust and repeatable performance in water, instant response and physical flexibility,” and its technology is applicable to a wide variety of target compounds.
Sources:
Cheap, sensitive carbon nanotube sensors could detect explosives, toxins in water http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12779.php
Sorted and Aligned Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Networks for Transistor-Based Aqueous Chemical Sensors http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn900808b

New Color Matrix Sensor Array Warns of Toxic Gases
As part of the NIH Genes, Environment and Health Initiative, Prof. Kenneth S. Suslick and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed what they characterize as an ‘optoelectronic nose.’ The system uses a postage stamp-sized 6×5 array of sensor dots, each of which signals the presence of one or more particular toxins by changing color. According to Prof. Suslick, “The pattern of the color change[s in the whole array] is a unique molecular fingerprint for any toxic gas and also tells us its concentration. By comparing that pattern to a library of color fingerprints, we can identify and quantify the TICs in a matter of seconds.” Tests were run on a set of 19 toxic industrial chemicals.
Sources:
Postage stamp-sized electronic nose sniffs out poisonous gases http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12593.php
An optoelectronic nose for the detection of toxic gases http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nchem.360.html

Dirty Bomb Treatment Technology Developed in U.K.
Scientists in the UK have developed a suitcase-sized device that could help fast treatment of large numbers of people following exposure to a radiological ‘dirty bomb.’ The device could test 30 samples per hour, determining the level of cellular damage a person is suffering following exposure to radiation.
Sources:
'Dirty bomb' breakthrough http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/dirty-bomb-breakthrough-1786616.html

A New Water Management Tool
The Mapping Evapotranspiration with High Resolution and Internalized Calibration (METRIC) tool, developed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the University of Idaho, offers specific measurements of the water consumed across a region. Using surface temperature readings from satellites, air temperature, and a system of algorithms, the tool allows measurement of water quantities consumed on a certain piece of land through “evapotranspiration” (water that leaves the land for the atmosphere.)
Sources:
Washington Post: Water Measured From the Sky http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/13/AR2009091302368.html
The Idaho Department of Water Resources http://www.idwr.idaho.gov/

Electric Vehicle Powered by Sodium-Nickel-Chloride Batteries
The prototype of Electric Daily, the first zero emission light commercial vehicle produced in Latin America was presented by Iveco in Brazil. The prototype uses three Zebra Z5 sodium, nickel, and chloride batteries claimed to be completely recyclable and not producing gaseous emissions.
Source:
Iveco launches the Daily Electric in Brazil http://www.iveco.com/en-us/PressRoom/PressRelease/Pages/DailyElettricoBrasile.aspx

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

UN Mission Assessment of Gaza Conflict Included Environmental Impacts
The UN Mission assessment of the December 2008–January 2009 Gaza conflict found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed actions that could be violations of international law. The 575-page report, “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories; Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” includes impacts on the environment and public health. The Mission assessed particularly the use of white phosphorous, fléchette missiles, DIME (dense inert metal explosive) munitions, and depleted uranium. The Mission “…believes that serious consideration should be given to banning the use of white phosphorous in built-up areas” (par. 897). Similarly, it notes that DIME weapons injuries might raise the risk of cancer (par. 904). The report recommended further environmental monitoring under UN auspices and underlined that a detailed environmental impact assessment is being conducted by UNEP [see UN to Conduct Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment in Gaza in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Human Rights in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories. Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Advance Edited Version; A/HRC/12/48) http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf
UN Fact Finding Mission finds strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Gaza conflict; calls for end to impunity http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/9B63490FFCBE44E5C1257632004EA67B?opendocument

UN Security Council Resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
The UN Security Council endorsed a resolution aiming to advance global nuclear disarmament. Measures include: discouraging withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, increasing membership in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and creating additional nuclear weapon-free zones. Non-compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would be referred directly to the Security Council for possible punitive action, rather than to the International Atomic Energy Agency. [Related items: Entire Southern Hemisphere Covered by Nuclear-Free Zone Treaties in August 2009, Advancements on Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament in May 2009 and other previous items in environmental security reports.]
Sources:
U.N. Security Council Approves Nuclear Resolution http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090924_4766.php
Fact Sheet on the United Nations Security Council Summit on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament UNSC Resolution 1887
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Fact-Sheet-on-the-United-Nations-Security-Council-Summit-on-Nuclear-Nonproliferation-and-Nuclear-Disarmament-UNSC-Resolution-1887/

Observation and Information System for the World's Oceans to be Created
Confirming that a systematic scientific analysis of the oceans and seas is needed, the OceanObs’09 (for ocean observatories) meeting held September 21-25, 2009, at Venice, Italy decided to build a comprehensive observation system for monitoring the marine environment, assessing longer term trends and promoting sustainable marine resources management. UNESCO announced that the first globally integrated oceans assessment system could be delivered under the auspices of the UN by 2014. In the meantime, the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership have signed a Cooperative Agreement as the next step toward construction of the Ocean Observatories Initiative, “a network of ocean observing components, and their associated cyberinfrastructure, that will allow scientists to examine ocean processes on global, regional and coastal scales.” [Related items: World Database on Marine Protected Areas in June 2009 and “Roving” Marine Protected Areas as Climate Change Affects Migration in March 2008.]
Sources:
'Assessment of Assessments' (of the oceans) http://www.unga-regular-process.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=20
OceanObs’09 Conference http://www.oceanobs09.net/
Ocean Observatories Initiative Receives Award http://www.oceanleadership.org/2009/ocean-observatories-initiative-receives-award/

Synthetic Gene Ordering Security Screening Up for Discussion
A proposed Code of Conduct for the DNA synthesis services industry is scheduled to be discussed and possibly adopted at the International Association of Synthetic Biology’s (IASB) Second Annual Industry Workshop on Technical Solutions for Biosecurity in Synthetic Biology in Cambridge MA on November 3, 2009. The IASB developed such a code, but a similar but less rigorous and less costly process is advocated by two leading companies, raising safety concerns among scientists. A UC Berkeley scholar characterizes it as “a standards war that is a race to the bottom.” [Related item: New Technologies Need New Regulations Systems in March 2009 and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Gene-synthesis industry at odds over how to screen DNA orders http://www.k8science.org/news/news.cfm?art=5579
K8 Science http://www.K8Science.org
IASB Workshop http://www.ia-sb.eu/go/synthetic-biology/activities/press-area/press-information/workshop-on-synthetic-biology/

Hazardous Waste Disposal of Increasing Concern
According to the European Environment Agency, paper, plastic, and metal trash exported from Europe rose tenfold from 1995 to 2007, with 20 million containers of waste now shipped each year; either legally or illegally. In 2008, the Netherlands returned 80 illegal shipments to their countries of origin. Hong Kong authorities say that about 100 containers of waste arrive daily from the US and Canada. Recently, Italian mafiosi confessed that that they have been disposing of toxic waste by putting it onboard ships and then deliberately sinking the vessels. [Related items: Organized Crime Targets Electronic Waste Recycling in July 2009, Toxic Waste Disposal of Global Growing Concern in September 2006 and other environmental security reports.]
Participants in the first international E-Waste Summer School, in Eindhoven, Netherlands, September 6-11, recommended adopting global policies and standards for recycling electronic products to avoid illegal and harmful e-waste processing practices in developing countries.
Sources:
Smuggling Europe’s Waste to Poorer Countries http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/science/earth/27waste.html
Mafia 'sank ships of toxic waste' http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8257912.stm
Set world standards for electronics recycling, reuse to curb e-waste exports to developing countries http://www.physorg.com/news172237477.html

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
By 2060, the global average temperature could rise by 4°C (7.2°F), unless sound greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies are implemented, revealed a study by the UK Met Office, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Nevertheless, UNEP’s “Climate Change Science Compendium 2009” estimates that even in the best case scenario––if the world’s most ambitious targets are met––the planet will still warm by 3.5°C (6.3°F) by the end of the century. The calculations consider the upper-range targets of nearly 200 nations’ climate policies (e.g. U.S. emissions reduction of 73% from 2005 levels by 2050, EU 80% from 1990 levels by 2050). The report also notes that sea level might rise by 6 feet by 2100 instead of 1.5 feet, as projected by the IPCC.
The August 2009 ocean surface temperature was the warmest since 1880, when record keeping began. The average ocean surface temperature for June–August was 16.9°C (62.5°F), which is 1.04°F above the 20th century average, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. For the same period, the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was 16.2°C (61.2°F), the third warmest on record, and 1.06°F above the 20th century average.

Food and Water Security
By 2050, to feed 9.1 billion people, world food production should increase by 70% and withdrawal of water for irrigation by almost 11%, notes FAO in a paper prepared for the high-level experts forum and World Summit on Food Security to be held in October 2009. Given that 90% of the growth in crop production is projected to come from higher yields and increased cropping intensity, even small changes in precipitation and/or crop yield due to climate change could have devastating impacts on food security in the world.
A study by the Asian Development Bank warns that if current trends persist until 2050, the yields of irrigated crops in South Asia will decrease significantly and resulting food scarcity will lead to higher prices and reduced caloric intake across the region. Under this scenario, per capita calorie availability in 2050 will be below levels recorded in the year 2000. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal are identified as particularly vulnerable to falling crop yields caused by glacier retreat, floods, droughts, erratic rainfall, and other climate change impacts. The study, “Addressing Climate Change in the Asia and Pacific Region: Building Climate Resilience in the Agriculture Sector,” was officially launched by ADB on the sidelines of the UNFCCC meeting held in Bangkok, September 28-October 9, 2009.
Researchers reiterated a warning that growing corporate control over seeds is reducing the diversity of traditional seed varieties and traits that help farmers adapt to the effects of climate change, jeopardizing poor farmers’ livelihoods. They suggested that farmers would benefit from a similar legal protection over their traditional seed varieties and associated knowledge as do corporations through the international treaty on the protection of new varieties of plants. Researchers from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and partner organizations in China, India, Kenya, Panama and Peru launched the warning ahead of the 2nd World Seed Conference held September 8-10, 2009, in Rome, Italy.
A prolonged drought is sweeping across Kenya, thought to be a result of the El Niño cycle worsened by global warming and continued degradation of forest ecosystems. Crops have been destroyed, and domestic and wild animals are dying, negatively affecting the two key industries: agriculture and tourism. Four million Kenyans face mass famine, and foreign aid is reluctantly provided and inadequate. Tensions are spawning ethnic conflict as communities fight over the last remaining pieces of fertile grazing land.

Health
WHO notes that while 37 of the least developed countries admit the link between population growth and climate change, only six of them identify family planning as part of their adaptation strategy. A study of the first 40 National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) shows that only 7% of 448 projects across the 40 NAPAs were in the health sector. At the same time, Lancet notes that over 200 million women worldwide lack access to contraceptives. Remedying this, could prevent 76 million unintended pregnancies a year, reducing demographic pressure on the environment. A study by the London School of Economics estimates that $7 spent on family planning would reduce carbon emissions by one ton, while low carbon technologies cost an estimated $32 per ton reduced ($24 for wind power, $51 for solar, $57-83 for coal plants with carbon capture and storage, $92 for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and $131 for electric vehicles).
Researchers warn of increased incidence of dengue fever, which sickens over 50 million and kills 24,000 worldwide every year. The main causes are population growth, increased traveling, and global warming disrupting the natural cold temperature processes that limit the population of dengue carrying mosquitoes.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Findings outlined in the UNEP report “Climate Change Science Compendium 2009” reveal that mountain glacier melting seems to be accelerating. If current trends continue, most glaciers from the mountains of tropical Africa will disappear by 2030, and those from the Pyrenees by 2050. Similarly, most models project that by 2030, the Arctic Ocean might be ice-free in September. The Greenland ice sheet surface melting rate was some 60% higher in the summer of 2007 than the previous record in 1998.
NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center noted that Arctic sea ice cover was an average of 6.3 million sq kilometers (2.42 million sq miles) during August, 18.4% below the 1979-2000 average.

Rising Sea Levels
UNEP reassessment of potential sea level rise based on the combined effects of melting land-ice and thermal expansion of oceans reveals a rise of 0.8–2.0 meters above the 1990 level by 2100, and 5–10 times that over following centuries.
According to an analysis based on ten years of global daily satellite images, 85% of the world’s 33 largest delta regions experienced severe flooding due to sinking land and rising seas. The study warns that if ocean levels increase as projected under the moderate climate change scenarios, delta land vulnerable to serious flooding could expand by 50% this century, Asia being the worst affected. The study was led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Migration
In 2008, climate-related natural disasters displaced about 20 million people, compared to 4.6 million who were internally displaced by conflicts, revealed a UN report compiled by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Trying for the first time to quantify the number of people displaced by climate change, the UN study estimates that out of the total of 36 million people displaced by rapid-onset natural disasters, 15 million were due to the Sichuan earthquake, while 90% of the others were due to floods, storms, drought and other climate change-related phenomena.

Computer Modeling
Climate-Rapid Overview and Decision Support Simulator (C-ROADS) is a new climate change model, developed by the Sustainability Institute, aiming to help policymakers assess the greenhouse gas emissions implications of their strategies. The forecasts show that unless all nations take dramatic steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, temperature and sea level rises will be unacceptably high by the end of the century.
Scientists participating at the conference Climate Forcing of Geological and Geomorphological Hazards, September 15-17, 2009, outlined evidence that global warming could cause geological disturbances, which can result in earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, and volcanic eruptions. Although linking earth’s sensitivity to climate is only emerging and more data is needed to build predictive climate models linking the two systems, the evidence is there, say scientists.

Adaptation
The “World Economic and Social Survey 2009” calls for a ‘Global New Deal’ at the scale of $500-600 billion, compared to the ‘woefully inadequate’ estimated $21 billion currently allocated internationally for climate change adaptation and mitigation plans. The report presents a range of possible multilateral measures in support of a global investment program, including a global clean energy fund, a global feed-in tariff regime in support of renewable energy sources, and a more balanced intellectual property regime for aiding the transfer of clean technologies. The Christian Aid report “Community Answers to Climate Chaos” estimates that rich countries’ overall annual contribution to a proposed Sustainable Development Innovation Facility should be over €110 billion ($161 billion) to help local communities cope with climate change effects.
Similarly, the World Bank’s “World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change” estimates that by 2030, developing countries will need $75 billion annually for adaptation, and another $400 billion for low-carbon technology development. The report notes that poor nations will bear between 75-80% of the cost of floods, increased desertification and other disasters caused by global warming. Countries in Africa and South Asia are slated to lose as much as 5% of their GDP if temperatures rise just 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The WDR 2010 focuses on the many dimensions of development that are affected by climate change, including: reducing human vulnerability; managing land and water; stimulating development without compromising the climate; harnessing and efficiently using funds for mitigation and adaptation; accelerating the spread of “climate-smart” technologies; and communicating climate change issues to societies.
The World Climate Conference-3 held in Geneva, August 31–September 4, 2009, under the theme “Better climate information for a better future” decided to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services, to improve science-based climate prediction services and long-range seasonal weather projections. This will be an important tool for policymakers in general and for developing nations most vulnerable to the impact of global warming, specifically.
The “Lomé Declaration on Climate Change and Protection of Civilians in West Africa,” adopted at the Regional Conference on Protection Challenges to Climate Change in West Africa, from 14-16 September 2009, in Lomé, Togo, calls for broader consideration of the social impacts of climate change through a human rights-based approach. Participants underscored conflicts arising from natural resource depletion and the infringement of displaced people’s rights. They also recommended establishment of a special fund to help address climate change-induced impacts on affected parts of the population; called for measures to protect climate-affected persons; and agreed that a regional platform should be established for information exchange.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
Some 100 heads of State and Government attended the UN climate change summit one day before the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 64th session (September 23rd). Japan’s prime minister-elect pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in the next 10 years from 1990 levels. The Climate Change Summit of the Alliance of Small Island States, held on September 21st, adopted the AOSIS Climate Change Declaration, which calls on “urgent progress towards a fair and meaningful Copenhagen outcome.” Along the same lines, the G-20 summit agreed on actions such as phaseout over the medium term of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2050. In view of almost stalled negotiations for a climate change treaty, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed that the leaders of the major industrialized nations hold an extraordinary summit ahead of the December climate conference. The next post-Kyoto treaty negotiations are taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, September 28–October 9, 2009.
Sources:
Four degrees and beyond http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/news/latest/four-degrees.html
NOAA: Warmest Global Sea-Surface Temperatures for August and Summer http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090916_globalstats.html
Global agriculture towards 2050 http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/wsfs/docs/Issues_papers/HLEF2050_Global_Agriculture.pdf
Researchers: farmers' rights to adapt to climate change ignored http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2009-09/07/content_8663923.htm
Sexual and reproductive health and climate change http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)61643-3/fulltext
Dengue becoming unstoppable http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/219444/dengue-becoming-unstoppable
Impacts of Climate Change Coming Faster and Sooner: New Science Report Underlines Urgency for Governments to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=596&ArticleID=6326&l=en
Natural disasters displacing millions - U.N. study http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-42632820090922?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
C-ROADS: A New Climate Change Model Used By Diplomats http://www.bgrncol.com/
Climate change may trigger earthquakes and volcanoes http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327273.800-climate-change-may-trigger-earthquakes-and-volcanoes.html?full=true
The World Economic and Social Survey 2009 http://www.un.org/esa/analysis/wess/
World Development Report 2010 http://go.worldbank.org/ZXULQ9SCC0
Nations Appear Headed Toward Independent Climate Goals http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092201137.html
Bangkok Climate Change Talks – 2009 http://www.iisd.ca/climate/ccwg7/

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

Comprehensive report on nanotechnology-related regulatory issues
Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies Towards Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation report by the international collaborative project Regulating Nanotechnologies in the EU and U.S., is a comprehensive state-of-the-art overview of aspects related to nanotechnology: environment, health and safety risks; and key regulatory frameworks, issues and challenges––including relevant national and international institutions—in the U.S., EU, and internationally, with specific focus on chemical, food, and cosmetics regulations. The report highlights that although “No efforts have been undertaken as yet to create a formal, treaty-based, international framework for nanomaterials regulation,” in the future such an international framework treaty might be needed, given the globalization of nanotechnology developments. It concludes that the EU and the US should play a greater role in developing an international nanotech regulatory framework. Commenting on the report, some experts expressed that nanotechnology and biotechnology would need a complex and flexible regulatory system, due to their unknown evolution and often absence of data. [Reference to the report launch: Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies in August 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies: Towards Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/14692_r0909_nanotechnologies.pdf
Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event_summary&event_id=544514

OECD Nanotech Safety New Publications
OECD has released several new publications in its series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials, including “Preliminary Review of OECD Test Guidelines for their Applicability to Manufactured Nanomaterials.”
Sources:
OECD adds new publications to its series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12391.php
Preliminary Review of OECD Test Guidelines for their Applicability to Manufactured Nanomaterials http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2009doc.nsf/LinkTo/NT000049AE/$FILE/JT03267900.PDF
Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, & Public Opinion A Report Of Findings Based On A National Survey Among Adults http://www.nanotechproject.org/process/assets/files/8286/nano_synbio.pdf
Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, and Biofuels. What does the public think? http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=551829

New Paper Suggests Concentrating Toxicity Studies on Smaller Nanoparticles
An on-line paper by researchers from the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT), Duke University, suggests that particles in the <30 nm section of the 1-100 nm "nano spectrum" should receive the most attention in studying the environmental and human health impacts of nanomaterials, since it is in that high surface-area-to-volume ratio range that possibly hazardous increases in reactivity are more likely to be observed.
Sources:
When nano may not be nano http://www.physorg.com/news172072324.html
Towards a definition of inorganic nanoparticles from an environmental, health and safety perspective http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2009.242.html

Call for Systematic Studies to Link Nanoproperties and Hazards
A recent paper by Dr. Amanda Barnard of CSIRO Australia discusses a “number of strategies … combining the desirable aspects of theory, simulation, experiment and observation, and leading to predictions for incorporation into preventative frameworks” for mitigation of possible hazards from nanomaterials.
Sources:
Computational strategies for predicting the potential risks associated with nanotechnology http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/NR/article.asp?doi=b9nr00154a
News Story: Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News - Headlines for: 9/4/2009 http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/ChemTech/Volume/2009/11/calculated_risk.asp

Report Reviews Nanoparticle Risks and Regulation
A new paper in the Royal Society’s Interface reviews the current state of nanoparticle risk research and regulation. The authors discuss “Lessons from History”, “Nanotoxicology & Exposure” (concluding that “in many cases knowledge is sufficient to implement effective controls to minimise exposure and these should be put into place”), and “Knowledge gaps & the road to regulation.” The 12-page paper lists 52 references
Sources:
Nanoparticles, human health hazard and regulation http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/08/31/rsif.2009.0252.focus.short?rss=1
Nanoparticles, Risk & Regulation http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=34583

Researchers Call for Broad Approach to Nanotube Risk Assessment
Enrico Bergamaschi and colleagues of the Department of Clinical Medicine, at the University of Parma (Italy) Medical School suggest in a recent paper that “we need a much more detailed toxicological approach to hazard assessment before judgement regarding the long-term safety of carbon nanotubes can be made,” according to a story in Nanowerk News. They point out that “carbon nanotubes are a recent invention … and so clinical and epidemiological evidence for any long-term effects they may have on human health are entirely lacking” and recommend that “we should combine experimental, clinical and epidemiological evidence … [and] set up preventive measures as well as assess the need to implement periodic health examinations of employees exposed to carbon nanotubes.”
Sources:
“A toxicological approach to hazard assessment of carbon nanotubes: implications for workers’ health protection” in Int. J. Environment and Health, 2009, 3, 249-263 (International Journal of Environment and Health (IJENVH); Volume 3 - Issue 3 – 2009) http://www.inderscience.com/browse/index.php?journalID=142&year=2009&vol=3&issue=3
Carbon nanotube risk assessment http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12653.php

Metallic Impurities Affect Carbon Nanotube Toxicity
According to a story in Highlights in Chemical Science, Martin Pumera and Yuji Miyahara of the National Institute for Materials Science, Ibaraki, Japan describe in a recent paper how “A main factor in nanotube toxicity are the metal contaminants that remain from manufacture, which are typically one to ten per cent by weight.” In a test, only 100 ppm of iron was needed to dominate the ability of five nanotube samples to reduce or oxidize two biomarkers - hydrogen peroxide and hydrazine. The story goes on to point out that this value is significantly lower than the detection limits of the methods routinely used to assess nanotube purity.
Sources:
How safe are carbon nanotubes? http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/ChemScience/Volume/2009/11/carbon_nanotubes.asp
What amount of metallic impurities in carbon nanotubes is small enough not to dominate their redox properties? http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/NR/article.asp?doi=b9nr00071b

New Inventory Lists More Than1000 Nanoproducts
The Wilson Center/Pew Trusts’ Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) has noted that its inventory of consumer nanoproducts has now exceeded 1000 entries. [Related item: New Map of Nanotech Centers in the August 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Nano, nano everywhere. Not exactly, but we’re working on it http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/business-brains/nano-nano-everywhere-not-exactly-but-were-working-on-it/2021/
An inventory of nanotechnology-based consumer products currently on the market http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories/consumer/

First Global On-line Nanotech Conference to be Held 22-25 March, 2010
The organizers have announced the First On-line International Conference & Exhibition, "Nano-Globe", 22-25 March 2010. Access will be over any >28.8 kbps Internet connection, and the meeting will feature fully equipped “virtual rooms.” According to the announcement, there will be some coverage of “Key solutions: Environmental and Health Risks,” but no details are given.
Source:
"Nano-Globe" First On-line International Conference & Exhibition http://www.nano-globe.com

OECD Nanomaterials Working Party to Meet in Paris in October
The OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPN) will hold its 6th meeting at the OECD headquarters in Paris on 28-30 October 2009 to discuss its achievements to date as well as to agree on the targets that need to be set in order to implement the Programme of Work 2009-2012. One of the topics will be how to continue progress on the Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials.
Sources:
Intro. to Working Party http://www.oecd.org/site/0,3407,en_21571361_41212117_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
Programme of Work http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2009doc.nsf/linkto/env-jm-mono(2009)22
Vision Statement http://www.oecd.org/document/35/0,3343,en_21571361_41212117_42378531_1_1_1_1,00.html
Sponsorship Programme http://www.oecd.org/document/47/0,3343,en_2649_37015404_41197295_1_1_1_1,00.html

New Paper Studies Public Perceptions of Nanotechnology
A study published in Nature Nanotechnology and reported by Nanowerk News found that public perceptions of nanotechnology do not follow previously seen patterns for new technological developments, and concludes that “Given the potential malleability of perceptions, novel methods for understanding future public responses to nanotechnologies will need to be developed.”
Sources:
Anticipating the perceived risk of nanotechnologies http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2009.265.html
Nanotechnology is viewed favorably, but possible risks should be acknowledged http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12706.php

New Grant in Wales for Nanotoxicology Research
Researchers at Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth in the UK have been awarded £1 million to analyze the levels at which nanoparticles can be judged safe within cells. The four-year project, led by Prof. Huw Summers, Chair in Nanotechnology for Health at Swansea University, is closely linked to the Centre for NanoHealth initiative at the university.
Source:
Centre for NanoHealth researchers to study safety of nanoparticles http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12439.php

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

Royal Society Issues Major Geo-engineering Report
“Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty” by the UK Royal Society is a comprehensive review of the main geo-engineering options. The 98-page document discusses carbon dioxide removal techniques, solar radiation management techniques, and governance. It also contains a large reference list and a complete glossary. [Related item: Geo-engineering Promises/Threatens Major Consequences in June 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Geoengineering the climate. Science, governance and uncertainty (September 2009) http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=35094
Risky schemes may be only hope for cooling planet: scientists http://www.physorg.com/print171034934.html

Energy Security Challenges for the 21st Century
Energy Security Challenges for the 21st Century: A Reference Book provides an “overview of the world’s energy system and the vulnerabilities that underlie growing concern over energy security”, as well as “various approaches energy producers, consumers and transit states have toward energy security and it examines the domestic and foreign policy tradeoffs required to ensure safe and affordable energy supply.”
Source:
Energy Security Challenges for the 21st Century. A Reference Handbook http://www.greenwood.com/psi/book_detail.aspx?sku=C9997

New Flood Center to Develop Warning Systems
Professor Witold Krajewski of the University of Iowa has been named director of the new Iowa Flood Center, which has at the top of its agenda the development of prototype flood warning and forecasting systems to mitigate the effects of future floods. What the engineers and scientists learn is expected to enhance their overall understanding of floods and improve the accuracy of flood warning systems.
Source:
Better Prediction Sought for Devastating Floods http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=115479&WT.mc_id=USNSF_1

Back to Top


August 2009

Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting Improves International Resilience Systems to Address Infectious Disease and BioWeapons
About 500 participants from 95 countries, UN organizations such as WHO, FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), regional disease surveillance organizations, academic institutions, NGOs, and corporations participated in the 2009 Meeting of Experts from States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva, August 24-28. The meeting focused on international cooperation for fighting infectious diseases, while also discussing peaceful uses of advances in bioscience and the establishment of mechanisms for promoting the implementation of the Convention’s Article X on scientific and technological cooperation related to “bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes.” The results of the meeting will be considered for the Meeting of States Parties, to be held December 7-11, 2009. Although in force since 1975, the treaty has no verification or compliance monitoring provisions or organization. According to the report Ensuring Compliance With the Biological Weapons Convention, some biodefense research might violate member-states commitments to the BWC. Along the same lines, New Approaches to Biological Risk Assessment, published by the British Royal Society and the International Council for the Life Sciences, calls for a harmonized international and inter-sectoral system to assess the “full spectrum” of bio-threats––ranging from naturally occurring diseases to accidental or intentional misuse of biological materials. The report acknowledges the difficulties generated by the variety of hazards and the limited data available on some threats. Reportedly, a meeting at the White House on August 13 represented the first in a series of meetings with biological experts for strengthening the strategy on bioterrorism, including inputs for the BWC and its 2011 review conference. [Related items: Biological Weapons Convention Meeting in July-August 2008, and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Biological Weapons Convention Expert Meeting Concludes http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/CE96DCFC346B580DC1257620004DAC6F?OpenDocument
Biodefense Research Could Violate Weapons Conventions, Report Warns http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090820_6796.php
New approaches to biological risk assessment http://royalsociety.org/document.asp?tip=0&id=8700
White House, Scientists Discuss Biological Threats http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/ts_20090828_3718.php

Entire Southern Hemisphere Covered by Nuclear-Free Zone Treaties
With the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty for an African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, nuclear weapons will be banned throughout the entire Southern Hemisphere. The Treaty requires the establishment of an African Commission on Nuclear Energy to implement the agreement and to promote cooperation for the peaceful uses of nuclear science, and stipulates procedures by which the African Union could refer non-compliance cases to the UN Security Council. The other regional agreements banning nuclear weapons in their area are: the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco (for Latin America and the Caribbean), the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga (for the South Pacific), the 1995 Treaty of Bangkok (for Southeast Asia), and the 2006 Treaty of Semipalatinsk (for Central Asia).
Sources:
Africa Renounces Nukes. Treaty's Entry into Force Makes Entire Southern Hemisphere Free of Nuclear Weapons http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2009/africarenounces.html
African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Force: What Next for Diego Garcia? http://www.asil.org/files/insight090827pdf.pdf

Gimcheon, South Korea to Create a Global Climate Change Situation Room
On August 19, 2009, the City of Gimcheon, South Korea, announced that it will establish a global climate change situation room. The Millennium Project has agreed to provide the collective intelligence system based on the GENIS model (Global Energy Network and Information System) with additions for climate science, adaptation, and mitigation. Collaboration will be sought with related efforts such the War Room on Climate Change proposed by Richard Branson (see Branson calls for War Room on Climate Change at the United Nations in February 2008 environmental security report.)
Sources:
Climate Change Situation Room opening ceremony in Gimcheon, South Korea http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/Korea-CCSR.html
Global Energy Network and Information System (GENIS) http://millennium-project.org/millennium/GENIS.pdf

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
Network of Autonomous Robots Monitors Difficult Environments
A NASA project recently tested the concept of a network of rugged, autonomous, environment-sensing “spiderbots” that can be placed into a hazardous environment (in this trial, dropped into Mount St. Helens) to communicate among themselves and with the outside world, including satellites, to monitor an environmental situation. The network bypasses inoperative nodes and can command satellites to provide additional coverage. The principal investigator is Prof. WenZhan Song of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, Washington State University.
Source:
‘Spiderbots’ talk amongst themselves inside active volcano http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2009-117

Improved Techniques for Water Desalination
A team led by Bruce Logan, Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, has modified a microbial fuel cell. It simultaneously desalinates salty water, and internally produces the electrical power required for operation, thus lowering the cost of water treatment. A different line of investigation, by Professor Shin-Ho Chung and a group from the Computational Biophysics Group of the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University, led to the discovery that using boron nitride nanotubes in desalination filters allows four times faster water flow, yielding a much faster and more efficient desalination process. [Similar items: New Process Improves Water Desalination Efficiency in January 2009 and others in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Salt Rejection and Water Transport Through Boron Nitride Nanotubes http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/smll.200900349
Using microbes and wastewater to desalinate water http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es902384g?prevSearch=logan%2Bbacteria%2Bdesalination&searchHistoryKey=
Nanotubes help to solve desalination problem http://news.anu.edu.au/?p=1558

Grease-repelling Surface Coating Reduces Need for Detergents
A new surface coating reportedly repels oils while allowing water through; hence, surfaces can be cleaned using reduced quantities of detergents, which are damaging to the environment. The research team is led by Prof. Jeffrey Youngblood, of the School of Materials Engineering at Purdue University.
Source:
Scientists Develop Self-Cleaning Material http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=13153

Improved Battery Performance Techniques
Techniques Provide Improved Lithium-ion Battery Performance
An article in MIT's Technology Review reports that an advance in lithium-ion battery design by Prof. Yi Cui and colleagues at the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, has dramatically increased efficiency. A new anode structure using carbon nanowires coated with amorphous silicon provides about 2000 milliampere-hrs/g. This is an almost six-fold increase over today’s graphite-based 360 mA-hrs/g. The article also briefly describes related work being carried out at other laboratories. In a related development, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Key Laboratory of Molecular Nanostructure and Nanotechnology have synthesized a nanocomposite of LiFePO4 nanoparticles embedded in a nanoporous carbon matrix as a superior cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. Although this compound offers 170 mA-hrs/g, it has other deficiencies that the new structure ameliorates. Next Alternative Inc. of Ottawa, Canada also claims to have a greatly improved battery design based on carbon nanotubes.
Sources:
Nanowire Advance for Lithium Batteries http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/23240/page1/
Carbon-Silicon Core-Shell Nanowires as High Capacity Electrode for Lithium Ion Batteries http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl901670t
Superior cathode material for electrochemical energy storage devices http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12231.php
Next Alternative Introduces Car Battery With Carbon Nanotube Technology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12068.php

New Ceramic Membrane Enhances Battery Performance
Ceramatec Inc. of Salt Lake City, Utah announced development of a new battery design, based on a paper-thin ceramic membrane. The company claims that their sodium-sulphur unit will store 20-40 kWh in a package the size of a refrigerator, operate below 90°C, and withstand 3,650 daily discharge/recharge cycles over 10 years. The expected sales price is around $2000.
Source:
New battery could change world, one house at a time http://www.heraldextra.com/news/article_b0372fd8-3f3c-11de-ac77-001cc4c002e0.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

International Water Issues
Water to be Considered Integral Part to Copenhagen Negotiations
The Stockholm Statement adopted at the World Water Week conference held in Stockholm, August 16-22, 2009, calls for global water management strategies to be considered as integral parts of the negotiations for a global climate agreement in Copenhagen, in December. Some 2,500 water experts from 130 countries attended the meeting. It also stresses the need for a clear framework for more effective use of water across borders, as well as for better cooperation between officials involved in land and forest management, climate, and water issues. [Related item: A New Step Toward Preventing Water Wars in July-August 2008.]
Sources:
World Water Week http://www.worldwaterweek.org
Experts: water issue crucial in world climate deal http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jWIcs1HTs6jJh9W36Ni_qGRQx7xwD9A7ABMO1

Nile Basin Controversies Continue
The Cooperative Framework Agreement for water-sharing by the ten Nile basin countries was postponed for at least another six months. It is mainly opposed by Egypt, which doesn’t want to renounce privileges given by previous agreements. Because of increased economic development in the region and the consequences of climate change, the Nile’s flow is likely to decrease; hence, a Nile accord could be essential for preventing further escalation of disputes in an already vulnerable region. The ten Nile countries are: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. [Related items: Water Scarcity in February 2007 and several climate change-related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Egypt blocks Nile water deal http://www.ethiopianreview.com/news/6468
Nile Basin countries may fight for water: expert http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90855/6716139.html

Powerful Greenhouse Gas HFCs Might be banned under the Montreal Protocol
Although hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are not ozone-depleting chemicals, their use and commercialization might be banned under the Montreal Protocol. Experts and policy makers increasingly call for HFCs’ phaseout due to their global warming potential hundreds or even thousands of times greater than CO2. Countries, like the Federated States of Micronesia, threatened by global warming, are advocating for a 90% HFC phaseout by 2030. The issue is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the States Party to the Montreal Protocol, to be held November 4-8 in Port Ghalib, Egypt. [Previous item on this issue: Regulations Might be Needed for New Greenhouse Gases in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
Ozone Treaty May Hold Key to Halting Climate Change http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48211

Insecticide Ingredient Deet May Be a Neurotoxin
Deet (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide, aka N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) might be a toxin to the human central nervous system, as revealed by new research by a team of scientists led by Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, France and Bruno Lapied from the University of Angers. According to Science Daily, “Researchers say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides.” [Related item: New Chemicals Considered for Toxic Lists in January 2009 environmental security report.]
The Insect Repellent DEET http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheets/chemicals/deet.htm
Popular Insect Repellent Deet Is Neurotoxic http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090804193230.htm

Study Reveals Extensive Danger from Lead in Foreign Paints
A new study reveals that approximately 73% of consumer paint brands tested from 12 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America exceeded the former U.S. standard of 600 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint (now 90 ppm), with 69% of the brands having at least one sample exceeding 10,000 ppm. “A global ban on lead-based paint is drastically needed” underlines main author, Dr. Scott Clark, professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. [Previous relevant items: Low-fume Paint Requirements Spread in the July 2009, and Call for Global Ban on Lead-based Paints in October 2007 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Lead-Based Consumer Paint Remains a Global Public Health Threat http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/8982

New Developments by Canada and the U.S. in Arctic Security
A high-level Canadian delegation, led by the Prime Minister, made a five-day tour of the northern military operations and held a cabinet meeting in Iqaluit as part of an effort to stress Canada’s sovereignty in the region. Nevertheless, it is not clear yet how much Canada will allocate to increase its security capacity in the North. In the meantime, the U.S. Coast Guard is developing strategies to strengthen security in the Arctic region, including a new duty station. The U.S. is among the countries that consider the Northwest Passage an international waterway, rather than Canada’s sovereign waters. [Related items: Arctic Civil and Military Activities Increasing in July 2009 and other items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Harper of the melting North http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14313727
Congress hears Alaskan views on Arctic Ocean issues http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/082809/loc_8_001.shtml

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
In July 2009, the world’s oceans reached the highest average temperature since record keeping began 130 years ago. Some NASA scientists suggest that warming oceans could cause Earth’s axis to shift more than previously estimated, with potential implications for interpreting how the Earth wobbles.
Another record was set by big tropical storms in the Atlantic, as the average frequency of hurricanes over the past decade was higher than at any time in the last 1,000 years, reveals a study published in the journal Nature.
As CO2 levels are increasing at a faster rate than the IPCC worst-case scenario, the planet might be heading for an “irreversible” climate change by 2040 says a paper by Andrew Brierley of St. Andrews University and Michael Kingsford of the James Cook University in Australia, which specifically examines the effect of CO2 emissions on ocean ecosystems.

Food and Water Security
Competition for food, water and energy is expected to worsen as the world’s population increases faster than expected. The 2009 World Population Data Sheet by the Population Research Bureau reveals that world population will reach 7 billion in 2011 (a year earlier than expected), and 8.1 billion by 2025. With at least 97% of the growth occurring in developing countries, by 2050, nine in ten people under 25 will live in those countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Africa’s population reached 1 billion and will double by 2050.
Revitalizing Asia's Irrigation: To Sustainably Meet Tomorrow’s Food Needs, a report by FAO and the International Water Management Institute calls for increased investments in irrigation systems and reforms in the way water is used for agriculture to feed an additional 2.5 billion people over the next 40 years. Otherwise, many developing nations face the risky prospect of having to import more than a quarter of their rice, wheat, and maize by 2050. “If nothing is done, you are going to get an increase in social unrest, migration and a fertile ground for terrorism,” warns Colin Chartres, the director general of IWMI.
In China, 27% of the land area is now desert or suffering from land degradation, and experts warn that desertification is one of the greatest ecological threats to the entire Northeast Asia area.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Satellite records show that one of Antarctica’s largest glaciers is thinning four times faster than thought ten years ago. At its current pace, Pine Island Glacier in west Antarctica could disappear in 100 years, 500 years sooner than previously thought. Meanwhile, at the other pole, three major glaciers –– Gulkana and Wolverine in Alaska and South Cascade in Washington –– are also decreasing at dramatic rates, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Computer Modeling
A computer model developed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has confirmed for the first time that there is a link between southeast Australia’s changed weather patterns––decline in rainfall (drought)––and rising levels of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and ozone depletion.

Adaptation
The United Nations is setting up a Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System to help poorer countries such as those in the Pacific region deal with the combined effects of the global economic crisis and climate change. “Mitigation and adaptation must both be our urgent priorities,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message to the 40th Pacific Leaders Forum in Cairns, Australia.
The study Assessing the costs of adaptation to climate change: A critique of the UNFCCC estimates reveals that the real costs are likely to be 2-3 times greater than the estimates by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Among other things, the UN estimates didn’t include key sectors such as energy, manufacturing, tourism, and natural ecosystems. The UNFCCC estimates are $40 billion to $170 billion a year until 2030. Pointing out that some existing studies already suggest that costs will be considerably higher, the study calls for detailed case studies of what adaptation costs would be.
Reportedly, a draft resolution by African leaders will ask rich nations for $67 billion per year to help them cope with the impacts of global warming. The draft resolution is prepared for the summit to be held in December, at Copenhagen.
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN/ISDR) warns that the frequency of landslides is expected to increase as climate change increases the intensity of rainfall. Actions such as building early warning systems to alert people living in landslide-prone areas are necessary to reduce impacts, says UN/ISDR.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
An intersessional consultation, as part of ongoing negotiations for a post-Kyoto Protocol, was held in Bonn, August 10-14, 2009, attended by approximately 2,400 participants. One of the focal points was to revise and consolidate the nearly 200-page long text and prepare for negotiations at coming meetings. Vulnerable states call for a 1.5ºC (2.7ºF) temperature rise ceiling by the end of the century, meaning that rich nations should cut greenhouse gases by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020. However, average cuts promised so far by the rich total just 10% to16%. The next negotiations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand from September 28 to October 9, and Barcelona, November 2–6. Other related meetings (before Bangkok) are the UN High-Level Event on Climate Change, and the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
China announced that its CO2 emissions will start falling by 2050, said Su Wei, director-general of the climate change department at the country’s National Development and Reform Commission. This sets the first officially announced timeframe. The current five-year plan to 2010 stipulates a target of reducing energy intensity by 20%, and the next five-year plan is expected to include tougher targets. Nevertheless, it is not clear if China will agree to some emissions cap ahead of the Copenhagen climate meeting.
Sources:
Global warming could change Earth's tilt http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17657-global-warming-could-change-earths-tilt.html
Big Tropical Storms in Atlantic Hit 1,000-Year High http://www.abcnews.go.com/Technology/JustOneThing/story?id=8332131&page=1
Scientists claim planet is heading for 'irreversible' climate change by 2040 http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/scotland/Scientists-claim-planet-is-heading.5515749.jp
2009 World Population Data Sheet http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2009/2009wpds.aspx
Asia facing unprecedented food shortage, UN report says http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/17/asia-facing-food-crisis
Giant glacier in Antarctic is melting four times faster than thought http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article6797162.ece
Alaska Glaciers Shrinking Fast: Survey http://planetark.org/wen/54191
Study links drought with rising emissions http://www.smh.com.au/environment/global-warming/study-links-drought-with-rising-emissions-20090815-elpf.html
Assessing the costs of adaptation to climate change: A critique of the UNFCCC estimates http://www.iied.org/pubs/display.php?o=11501IIED
Summary of the Bonn Climate Change Talks http://www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12427e.html
China sets date for CO2 cut http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cfc5d2fa-8933-11de-b50f-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
International NanoRegulation Conference to be Held in November
The 5th International NanoRegulation Conference will be held in Rapperswil, Switzerland, November 25-26, 2009. The conference will offer a comprehensive overview of the political and regulatory background of nanotechnology governance at the national, European, and global levels; discuss who in the nanotechnology value chain needs what kind of information; and suggest strategic guidelines for a feasible and effective information policy along the value chain and towards external stakeholders.
Source:
5th International NanoRegulation Conference. No data, no market? Challenges to nano-information and nano-communication. Rapperswil, Switzerland, 25–26 November, 2009
http://www.nanoeurope.com/wEnglisch/messen/nanoeurope/02_aussteller/FlyerNREG09_V20090810.pdf

New Paper Claims Nanotech Environmental Downsides Trivialized or Ignored
The International POPs Elimination Network’s Nanotechnology (IPEN) Working Group and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) issued a paper claiming, "there is emerging evidence … claims [of nanotech benefits] do not provide the whole picture, with serious environmental risks and costs being trivialised or ignored". The 8-page paper covers a variety of topics, and contains a large number of references to the literature. The EEB also published a series of papers on Nanotechnologies in the 21st Century. IPEN is a global network of more than 700 public interest NGOs, and EEB represents over 145 environmental organizations in 31 countries.
Sources:
Nanotechnology and the environment: A mismatch between claims and reality http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12357.php
Nanotechnology and the environment: A mismatch between claims and reality http://www.eeb.org/documents/090713-OECD-environmental-Brief.pdf

Five-year Review of Royal Society Report
To mark the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Royal Society report on nanotechnology, the Responsible Nano Forum "invited opinion formers from science, risk, investment, NGOs, unions, business and consumer groups to reflect on the legacy of the report and what still remains to be done." The new report features contributions on: General Reflections; Regulation, responsibility, safety, and risk; Standardisation; Social, ethical, and public engagement; and International organisations. The Responsible Nano Forum also created a new website at www.nanoandme.org to provide a forum for discussion of nanotech issues.
Source:
A beacon or just a landmark? Reflections on the 2004 Royal Society/ Royal Academy of Engineering Report: Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties
http://www.responsiblenanoforum.org/pdf/beacon_or_landmark_report_rnf.pdf

Regional Reports on Nanotech Issued by International Group
ICPCNanoNet is a repository of published nanoscience research for scientists in the EU and International Cooperation Partner Countries (ICPC). It has begun to publish its series of annual regional reports describing nanoscience and nanotechnology initiatives and activities in eight ICPC regions: Africa, Caribbean, Pacific, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), Latin America, Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC), and Western Balkan Countries (WBC). Their extensive content includes regional initiatives, national programs for nanoscience and nanotechnology, responsible government agencies, centers for nanoscience and nanotechnology research, and national nanoscience and nanotechnology networks. It is an EU FP7 support action coordinated by the UK Institute of Nanotechnology that brings together partners from the EU, China, India and Russia. For access to reports, registration is required.
Source:
ICPC Reports http://www.icpc-nanonet.org/content/category/7/20/46/

Improved Investigative Techniques for Identifying Engineered Nanomaterials in the Environment
A recently published note summarizes the present state of affairs in retrieving and analyzing nanoparticles from the environment. Some nanoparticles in the outside world have originated from masses of normally sized material of the same kind; others were coated originally or have acquired disguising coverings. This short article from Environmental Science and Technology of the American Chemical Society cites several current efforts to improve investigative techniques.
Source:
Hunting for engineered nanomaterials in the environment http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es902174z

Insects Are Affected by, and Can Spread, Carbon Nanoparticles
David Rand and Robert Hurt, and colleagues, at Brown University have published a study that, according to Nanowerk News, "raises the possibility that flies and other insects that encounter nanomaterial 'hot spots,' or spills, near manufacturing facilities in the future could pick up and transport nanoparticles on their bodies, transferring the particles to other flies or habitats in the environment". Further, "adult [fruit] flies died or were incapacitated when their bodies were exposed to large amounts of certain nanoparticles." Larvae were unaffected by ingested nanomaterial. The scientists also found that contaminated flies could transfer the nanoparticles to other flies, and hence possibly to humans.
Sources:
New insights into health and environmental effects of carbon nanoparticles http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12021.php
Differential Toxicity of Carbon Nanomaterials in Drosophila: Larval Dietary Uptake Is Benign, but Adult Exposure Causes Locomotor Impairment and Mortality http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/es901079z

Databases on Nanosafety
OECD Database on Nanomaterials Safety Research
The July 2009 issue of the bimonthly newsletter published by the European Network on the Health and Environmental Impact of Nanomaterials notes the establishment of the OECD Database on Research into the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials, which "holds details of completed, current and planned research projects on safety, which are to be updated (electronically) by delegations."
Sources:
Information about database: http://www.oecd.org/document/26/0,3343,en_2649_37015404_42464730_1_1_1_1,00.html#Additional_Info
Database access: http://webnet.oecd.org/NanoMaterials

Automated Nanosafety Database Planned
According to a news release, a four-year R/D effort, the Nano Health Environment Commented Database (NHECD), is underway to "create and maintain an automated database that will retrieve, index and extract from scientific publications results related to the health and environmental impact of nanoparticles. The annotated, commented results and the extracted information will be stored at a central repository that will be available to research scientists, regulatory bodies and NGOs, [and] the general public." The EU FP7 project is coordinated by Prof. Oded Maimon and managed by Abel Browarnik, both of Tel Aviv University's Dept. of Industrial Engineering.
Source:
NHECD http://www.nhecd-fp7.eu/index.php?id=515

New Map of Nanotech Centers
An article in Nanowerk News calls attention to a new map issued by the Pew Trusts/Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The new work plots as varying-diameter and color-coded circles the locales and metro centers of nanotech enterprises of various types around the U.S. Available adjacent to the map are links to raw data and inventories of entities in various application areas.
Sources:
Mapping nanotechnology in the U.S. http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12202.php
PEN Map http://www.nanotechproject.org/121

Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies
The EU and the US have undertaken a collaborative research project, Regulating Nanotechnologies in the EU and US: Towards Effectiveness and Convergence, to investigate the regulatory challenges raised by nanotechnologies and to assess the effectiveness of existing approaches. A conference, Transatlantic Regulatory Co-operation: Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies, will be held September 10-11, 2009, in London, to discuss recommendations from the project, and to consider new ideas for the future. A subsequent, shorter meeting on the same subject will be held at the Wilson Center in Washington on September 23, 2009.
Sources:
London: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/centresandunits/regulatingnanotechnologies/nanohome.aspx
Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event_summary&event_id=544514

NIOSH to Sponsor Conference on Nanomaterials and Worker Health
NIOSH and other co-sponsors will convene a conference in July 2010 in Colorado to identify gaps in information and to address questions focusing on occupational health surveillance, exposure registries, and epidemiologic research involving nanotechnology workers.
Source:
Upcoming Conference; First Announcement. Nanomaterials and Worker Health: Occupational Health Surveillance, Exposure Registries, and Epidemiological Research
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/NanoConfJuly2010.html

OECD Publishes Three Papers on Safety of Engineered Nanomaterials
The OECD has published three reports on the safety of engineered nanomaterials:
• Report of an OECD Workshop on Exposure Assessment and Exposure Mitigation: Manufactured Nanomaterials (90 pp.) Contents include presentations on Exposure Measurements--Latest Developments in Analytical Methodology; Distinction Between Carbonaceous Nanomaterials and Background Airborne Particulate Matter; Relevance of Dustiness and Aerosol Dynamics for Personal Exposure; Development of Exposure Situations for Manufactured Nanoparticles (MNPs); Control Banding Nanotool- A Qualitative Risk Assessment Method; Approaches for the Definition of Threshold Limit Values for Nanomaterials
https://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/25/43290538.pdf
• Comparison of Guidance on Selection of Skin Protective Equipment and Respirators for Use in the Workplace: Manufactured Nanomaterials (25 pp.) https://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/56/43289781.pdf
• Emmision (sic) Assessment for Identification of Sources and Release of Airborne Manufactured Nanomaterials in the Workplace: Compilation of Existing Guidance (25 pp.)
https://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/60/43289645.pdf

Nanotech Conferences Scheduled in Europe
The fourth international conference on "Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials" will be held in Vienna from September 6 to 9, 2009. About 200 scientists are expected to participate in the event. The conference will open with a workshop on the advantages and disadvantages of current methods and analytical techniques applicable to the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.
Europe's largest annual nanotechnology conference and exhibition, Nanotech Europe, will take place September 28-30, 2009 in Berlin. There will be sessions on Safe and Sustainable Development of Nanotechnology, and Assessing Exposure and Toxicology. 12 themes will be covered by over 180 speakers and 220 posters will be displayed.
Sources:
Conference: Effects of nanotechnology on the environment --Vienna: http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=12337.php
Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials Vienna conference announcement:
http://nano2009.univie.ac.at
Europe’s Largest Annual Nanotechnology Conference and Exhibition --Berlin: http://www.nanotech.net/

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

IAEA Database Recorded 1,562 Nuclear Trafficking Incidents for the Period 1993–2008
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that in 2008, 119 events were added to the agency’s Illicit Trafficking Database. Fifteen of those were cases of illicit nuclear material possession or related incidents and 16 were cases involving the theft or loss of sensitive substances. Between 1993 and the end of 2008, the database had recorded 1,562 nuclear trafficking incidents, ranging from illicit disposal efforts to nuclear material of unknown provenance. As of the end of 2008, 103 IAEA member states participated in the reporting program.
Sources:
IAEA Tracks Illicit Possession of Nuclear Materials http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090817_4827.php
IAEA Annual Report 2008 (1 January to 31 December 2008) http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Reports/Anrep2008/anrep2008_full.pdf

International Framework Needed to Address Governance Gap over Geoengineering
A new report by the ETC group addresses the potential implications of geoengineering pointing out the urgent need for an international framework developed under the auspices of the UN to evaluate new technologies.
Source:
The Emperor’s New Climate: Geoengineering as 21st century fairytale http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=762

Including Security Implications of Climate Change on the Copenhagen Agenda
The second conference “Climate Change & Security at Copenhagen: New Thinking on the Atlantic Contribution to Success” to be held October 7-8, 2009 in Brussels, will focus on the security aspects of climate change and trans-Atlantic co-operation, as inputs for the Copenhagen conference.
Source:
Climate Change & Security at Copenhagen - II: - New Thinking on the Atlantic Contribution to Success, 7-8 October 2009 – Brussels
http://www.envirosecurity.org/events/

Back to Top


July 2009

Kiev Protocol to Aarhus Convention Enters into Force in October 2009
The Kiev Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the UNECE Aarhus Convention (Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters) will enter into force on October 8, 2009, 90 days after receiving its 16th ratification (France, on July 10, 2009.) The Kiev Protocol is a legally binding international instrument among European countries regulating information on pollutants’ release and transfer, with the objectives of enhancing public access to information, assessing progress and priority areas for pollution reduction, and monitoring compliance with certain international agreements. It requires facilities to report annually on the amounts of certain pollutants they release to the environment or transfer to other facilities. The EU-27 countries are expected to release their first annual reports on the pollutants covered by the Protocol on September 30, 2009.
Sources:
Kiev Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers http://www.unece.org/env/pp/prtr.htm
New International treaty requires industries to report on pollutants http://www.unece.org/press/pr2009/09env_p17e.htm
Toxics Release Inventory Program http://www.epa.gov/TRI/

More than 30 New International Food Safety Standards Adopted
The Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted more than 30 new international standards, codes of practice, and guidelines concerning dangerous bacteria and chemicals in food.
Source:
More than 30 new food safety standards adopted http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2009/food_standards_20090706/en/index.html

New EU Body Recommended for Assessing Human Enhancement
Advances in biological technologies to increase human capabilities are accelerating. These are expected to have profound implications for the future of civilization and what it means to be human. Future schisms between those who are enhanced or favor enhancement vs. those who are not enhanced or oppose human enhancement are possible. Frameworks to understand, monitor, and regulate such advances are lacking. A European Parliament-requested study on these issues recommended improved public understanding and establishment of a European body for monitoring human enhancement technologies (HET) within and outside Europe in order to develop a normative framework that would guide the formulation of EU policies.
Sources:
European Parliament. Science and Technology Options Assessment. Human Enhancement Study http://www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/publications/studies/stoa2007-13_en.pdf
Staff conversations with one of the authors: Gregor Wolbring <gwolbrin@ucalgary.ca>

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
Water decontamination improved with gallium
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have discovered that adding an atom of gallium to the key molecules in a coagulant widely used for water decontamination greatly improves its effectiveness and shelf life.
Sources:
Purer water made possible by Sandia advance http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2009/waterpurity.html
Enhanced Water Purification: A Single Atom Makes a Difference http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es803683t

Paper biosensors to detect toxins, pathogens, and viruses
A team of Canadian researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario reports developing a paper biosensor technology that would enable fast and cost-effective detection of harmful substances, including toxins, pathogens, and viruses. The system is similar to printers using cartridges, but with two layers of “ink” (the first one comprising biocompatible silica nanoparticles, and a second containing an enzyme), which form a bio-ink that changes color upon contact with a specific biological agent.
Sources:
System created to make paper biosensors http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/07/15/System-created-to-make-paper-biosensors/UPI-86031247691146/
Printing toxin-detecting paper http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=6280

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

New Measures for Improving Marine Environment
Work Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships
The Marine Environment Protection (MEP) Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed to an interim package and a work plan aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from shipping. The procedures do not set any CO2 reduction rates, and include only voluntary technical and operational measures to reduce emissions. The measures have a trial status until the MEPC 60th session, to be held in March 2010, when they will be adapted as necessary. The Second IMO study on GHG emissions estimates that the shipping industry was responsible for 3.3% of the 2007 global emissions, and, if no global policies are adopted to regulate shipping emissions, by 2050 they might increase by 150% to 250% compared to 2007 levels. However, implementing technical and operational measures could increase efficiency and reduce emissions by 25% to 75% below the current levels. [Similar items: Tougher Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships in October 2008, and Concerns over Maritime Air Pollution Increase in February 2008 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
IMO environment meeting issues technical and operational measures to address GHG emissions from ships http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1773&doc_id=11579
Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, Second IMO GHG Study 2009 http://www.imo.org/Environment/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1823
Climate targets for ships deferred (subscription required to access full article) http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090717/full/news.2009.704.html

Better Planning Needed for Maritime, Especially Coastal, Areas
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, head of the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has called for better planning for use of ocean waters, especially along coasts, citing the myriad, and often conflicting activities that are putting pressure on that environment.
A team led by marine ecologists at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara produced a composite map of the status of West Coast marine ecosystems, plotting the location and intensity of 25 human-derived sources of ecological stress. This provides important information on the impact of the activities and their sustainability or potential relocation. The effort represents a methodological refinement of an earlier globally oriented assessment. [Related item: World Database on Marine Protected Areas in June 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
NOAA chief says new ocean uses creating conflicts http://www.physorg.com/news167373736.html
Scientists Map West Coast Areas Most Affected by Humans http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2009

EPA Plan for Reducing Ship Emissions
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working on plans to reduce harmful emissions from ships, primarily nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). The organization is proposing to use the Clean Air Act to set engine and fuel standards for U.S.-flagged ships to bring them in line with international standards. When fully implemented, the coordinated effort would reduce NOx emissions by 80% and PM emissions by 85%. Meantime, California air-quality regulators have begun enforcing emission rules on ships within 24 miles of the coast. [Related items: Tougher Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships in October 2008, and U.S. and Canada to Control Air Emissions from Ships in April 2009 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
EPA Cracks Down on Ship Emissions http://www.thegreenitreview.com/2009/07/epa-cracks-down-on-ship-emissions.html
Regulators cracking down on ship emissions http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_12846903

Organized Crime Targets Electronic Waste Recycling
A series of raids in the UK to enforce the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) revealed increased involvement of organized crime in illegal export of unrepairable electric and electronic equipment to developing countries, mostly in Africa. Organized crime is primarily interested in retrieving some valuable parts of those devices. Dumping as well as dismantling of electronic waste in developing countries in Africa and Asia represents a serious threat to human health and the environment. [Related items: EC's WEEE Directive Goes into Effect in UK in July 2007, Waste Management Policies in June 2008, and Toxic Waste Disposal of Global Growing Concern in September 2006 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Organised crime targets waste recycling http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jul/08/recycling-electronic-waste-crime

Central Asian Nations to Create Regulatory Frameworks for Reducing Nuclear and Toxic Waste Threat
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, supported by a consortium of national and international organizations, are taking measures to reduce the threat posed by nuclear and hazardous material left over from the Soviet era. Some 800 million tons of radioactive and toxic waste are stored in vulnerable depots, threatening both general environmental contamination and specific contamination of the water supplies of millions of people, and increasing “dirty bomb” threats. A declaration adopted at Geneva on June 29, 2009, outlines the main actions to address the problem, including regulatory frameworks and capacity building. [Previous related item: Central Asia Becomes Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in December 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Governments seek to avoid radioactive catastrophe in Central Asia http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/2009/june/governments-seek-to-avoid-radioactive-catastrophe-in-central-asia.en
Central Asian Nations Seek to Reduce "Dirty Bomb" Threat http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090630_8549.php

Tuvalu to use only renewable energy by 2020
Tuvalu, one of the small island states threatened by disappearance due to rising sea levels, has set a goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2020. It estimates that shifting exclusively to wind and solar power would cost a little over $20 million. Following Maldives, Tuvalu is the second country intending to set an example to nations responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the Copenhagen negotiations. “We look forward to the day when our nation offers an example to all –– powered entirely by natural resources such as the sun and the wind,” said Kausea Natano, Minister for Public Utilities and Industries. [Previous related item: Maldives to Become World’s First Carbon Neutral Country in 10 Years in May 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
At risk from rising seas, Tuvalu seeks clean power http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE56I1EO20090719

Arctic Civil and Military Activities Increasing
Satellite measurements of the thickness of the arctic ice revealed that the Arctic Ocean’s permanent ice cover around the North Pole has thinned by more than 40% since 2004. Experts are therefore reassessing the timing of when the Arctic would be ice-free in the summer.
Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway’s foreign minister predicted that the “northeast passage” for shipping around Russia’s arctic coast and across the North Pole will be opened within a decade. The route through previously inaccessible Russian waters would cut sailing times between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Yokohama in Japan by 40%, while also providing a safer and “pirate-free” route for trans-global shipping.
A Danish defense position paper suggests substantial enhancement to the country’s northern military capabilities, including creating a dedicated arctic military body (potentially an Arctic Command) that would combine army, navy and air force assets, as well as upgrade of surveillance systems. A more detailed plan is expected for fall 2009. As many nations increase military resources dedicated to arctic operations, worry increases that conflict potential is also increasing.
The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, by the Arctic Council, reiterates warnings that an expected increase in shipping threatens the fragile ecosystem due to release of oil and other hazardous substances, harm to marine wildlife, and introduction of new invasive species. Recommendations include, inter alia, that arctic nations increase efforts for reducing pollution from ships, and consider designating special Arctic Ocean areas for environmental protection. [Previous related item: New Developments Concerning the Arctic in July-August 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
NASA satellites reveal extent of Arctic sea ice loss http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/08/arctic-ice-ocean
Global warming to open up north-east Arctic tanker route http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/14/global-warming-tanker-route
Danish military plans raise fears of northern conflict http://thechronicleherald.ca/Canada/1134516.html
Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 http://arcticportal.org/pame/pame-document-library/progress-reports-to-senior-arctic-officials/olgaamsa2009report.pdf

Low-fume Paint Requirements Spread
Illinois recently passed a law requiring the use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints; many other states already have such laws or are expected to enact them, and manufacturers are modifying product lines to meet similar requirements in other parts of the world. VOCs in paints and other finishes have been shown to present serious health hazards. [Previous related item: Models for Photochemical Pollution Assessment in Urban Areas in June 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
State rolls out new paint law to reduce harmful fumes http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=308600&src=119
Celanese Introduces EcoVAE™ Emulsions for Low to No VOC, Eco-Friendly Paints in Asia http://www.pr-inside.com/celanese-introduces-ecovae-emulsions-for-r937682.htm

Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulations and Laws Spreading Around the World
Australia’s Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts released the draft “National Waste Policy Framework––Less Waste More Resources,” aiming to reduce waste by increasing its use as a resource. In the U.S., the city of San Francisco is the latest community to enact a compulsory composting/recycling law, joining a growing worldwide group of jurisdictions having such regulations. [Previous related items: European Union to Consider Regulations for Curbing Biowaste in June 2009, and EU New Strategy on Waste Recycling in December 2005 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Draft National Waste Policy Framework - less waste more resources http://www.environment.gov.au/wastepolicy/consultation/index.html
S.F. OKs toughest recycling law in U.S. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/10/MN09183NV8.DTL

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
Scientists say that the effects of El Niño on the global climate vary and might be altered by global warming, and they warn that an emerging El Niño could cause droughts, floods and an increased number of forest fires. There is a strong correlation between intense El Niño and droughts in Southeast Asia and floods in western Latin America––Colombia, Ecuador and elsewhere. In a recent study, periodic warming of the central Pacific was linked to an increase in Atlantic hurricanes.

Climate Change-Induced Migration
The Future is Here: Climate Change in the Pacific, a report by Oxfam Australia, warns that by 2050, more than 75 million people living in the Asia-Pacific region will have to relocate due to the effects of climate change. Some have already been displaced because of food and water shortages, the rising incidence of malaria, and more frequent flooding and storms. Although some islands began adaptation plans, the report underlines that many people will not be able to relocate within their own country; hence, developed nations in the region, such as Australia, should work with Pacific nations’ governments to design immigration strategies.
In Bangladesh, thousands of people are becoming environmental refugees every year, and their number is growing due to increased frequency of natural disasters and rising sea levels. Experts warn that unless there is implementation of adequate policies and strategies for addressing adaptation and climate change, by 2030-2050, at least 35 million Bangladeshi will have to migrate, since one-third of the country might be submerged due to sea level rise.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Images by the Icesat satellite, launched in 2003, measuring Arctic sea ice thickness, revealed that the Arctic Ocean’s permanent ice cover around the North Pole has thinned by more than 40% since 2004 as noted in item 5.5. Although scientists say that the loss was “remarkable”, they refrain from speculating when the region would be completely summer-ice-free. Overall, the study says that the ice, typically up to about 3 meters thick, thinned by 67 centimeters over the observed period. The multiyear ice was reduced from 62% of the region’s total ice volume in 2003, to only 32% in 2008, thus 68% represents “first-year” seasonal ice, which mostly melts during the summer.
Same rapid melting is revealed by the more than a thousand intelligence images of the Arctic region taken over the past decade and released at the request of the National Academy of Sciences. The images, being at higher resolution, depict pools of melted water on top of Arctic ice floes stretching across 30 meters. These pools, absorbing rather than reflecting the sun’s heat, increase the melting process, further adding to global warming.

Computer Modeling
For the first time, researchers have constructed a model that combines the impact on global temperature of four factors: human influences such as CO2 and aerosol emissions; heating from the sun; volcanic activity; and the El Niño southern oscillation. The analysis shows that the relative stability in global temperatures in the last seven years is due primarily to a decline in incoming sunlight associated with the 11-year solar cycle, and a weak El Niño, which therefore masked the real warming effects caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The research was carried out by Judith Lean, of the US Naval Research Laboratory, and David Rind, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and will be published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Adaptation
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will produce a manual for policymakers and organizations working in disaster relief to help build short-term strategies for managing extreme weather event effects and bolstering resilience, as well as to promote adaptation to global warming.
The UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) urged the G8 Summit to apply their “considerable influence, resources and political will” to advance five major action points on disaster risk reduction: helping disaster-prone countries institutionalize disaster risk reduction; promoting effective measures to reduce the number of people living with chronic food insecurity; ensuring the research needed at all levels to develop, disseminate and apply climate forecast information, early warning systems, and ecosystem essentials; enabling expeditiously a global structural and functional assessment of all schools and hospitals; and making unequivocal financial commitments to disaster risk reduction.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
At the G8 Summit held in L’Aquila, Italy, the U.S. joined Europe in seeking to keep average temperatures from rising more than 2ºC (3.8º F) above their pre-industrial levels. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, noted that the agreement doesn’t consider the IPCC’s recommendation that in order to achieve the 2ºC goal, emissions should peak by 2015. Nevertheless, the accord is a positive sign toward a post-Kyoto treaty to be negotiated in December.
In the meantime, the G2 –– U.S. and China –– signed an agreement that engages the two countries in more cooperation on climate change, energy, and the environment. Although not setting firm goals or targets, it reiterated support for a ten-year cooperation and sets the stage for a new climate change policy dialogue.
Sources:
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/
Emerging El Nino set to drive up carbon emissions http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE56604320090707
“L’Aquila” Joint Statement on Global Food Security L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) http://www.ifad.org/events/g8/statement.pdf
Securing food supplies up to 2050: the challenges faced by the UK (volume 1 and 2) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmenvfru/213/213i.pdf
The future is here: new report on climate change in the Pacific highlights need for action now http://www.oxfam.org.au/media/article.php?id=599
35m people to be climate refugees by 2050 http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/07/26/news0965.htm
NASA satellites reveal extent of Arctic sea ice loss http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/08/arctic-ice-ocean
Revealed: the secret evidence of global warming Bush tried to hide http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/26/climate-change-obama-administration
World will warm faster than predicted in next five years, study warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/27/world-warming-faster-study
UNISDR Press Release “G8 Summit ‘promises much’ on Disaster Risk Reduction” http://www.unisdr.org/eng/media-room/press-release/2009/pr-2009-11-G8-MOB-Press%20Release.pdf
G8 leaders ‘ignored’ UN’s scientific findings on climate change, says official http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=31524&Cr=climate+change&Cr1
U.S. and China sign memorandum on climate change http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE56R4W320090728

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
UK Solicits Participation in Nanotech Policy Formulation
The UK government, "is developing a strategy for nanotechnologies to build on existing actions, recommendations and strategies, and ensure that everyone in the UK can benefit from the societal and economic opportunities that these technologies may offer whilst addressing the challenges that they might present." In aid of this, the Dept. for Business, Innovation & Skills has opened a Web site to solicit input from, "everyone from researchers, businesses, regulators and policy makers to third sector organisations and the general public," and is, "seeking … views on current and future opportunities and challenges, the effectiveness of existing policies and what changes or new initiatives might be needed in the future."
Source:
Nanotechnologies: influence and inform the UK strategy http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/nano/

EPA Official Says Carbon Nanotubes Will Continue to Be Regulated Case-by-Case
According to the Bureau of National Affairs' Daily Environment Report, cited in Meridian's Nanotechnology and Development News, EPA, "will continue to regulate carbon nanotubes on a case-by-case basis, as the distinct characteristics of each kind of carbon nanotube could mean each has different implications for human health and the environment."
Source:
EPA Official Says Carbon Nanotubes Will Continue to Be Regulated Case-by-Case http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=2021

Study Shows Ill Effects of Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes
A new study at BASF SE produced evidence that inhaled multiwall carbon nanotubes can produce inflammation and other ill effects in rats at a "dose … 200 times lower than an inhalation exposure level generically deemed to pose high concern through the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)," according to a scientist commenting on the results, as reported by the Bureau of National Affairs, and cited in Meridian's Nanotechnology and Development News.
Source:
Inhalation Toxicity of Multi-Wall Carbon Nanotubes in Rats Exposed for 3 Months
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/kfp146

Study Shows Toxicity Implications of Nanoparticle Size
Researchers at the Institute of Nanotechnology, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, conducted a study on the effect of the size of gold nanoparticles on their toxicity in a mouse model. The work showed that injection of particles of 3, 5, 50, and 100 nm size had no harmful effects, but those ranging from 8 to 37 nm induced severe sickness in mice.
Source:
Assessment of the In Vivo Toxicity of Gold Nanoparticles http://springerlink.com/content/t67n820852546433/?p=5ec561e448b34bf1b2bc9d08c3c42fe2&pi=13

New Wiki on Safe Nanotech in the Workplace
According to Meridian, “The Rice University-based International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), Texas, introduced the GoodNanoGuide, an online, community-driven wiki for information about the safe handling of nanomaterials. … It is designed to be a practical tool for people who handle nanomaterials as well as an online repository of safety protocols.” The guide is available at the site below.
Sources:
Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, 6/2/2009 - http://www.merid.org/nanodev/
Guide: http://www.goodnanoguide.org/tiki-index.php?page=HomePage

Study to Explore Effects of Nanomaterials on Aquatic Environments
Prof. Gregg Goss of the University of Alberta will co-lead Canadian researchers in a three-year study of the toxicity of nanomaterials in aquatic environments.
Source:
Researcher looking for nano environmental footprint http://www.physorg.com/news166284882.html

New Nanoparticle Study Device Available
Izon Ltd. of Christchurch, New Zealand, advertises a relatively inexpensive new device for the detection and measurement of nanoparticle. The qNano is a proprietary scanning ion occlusion spectroscopy (SIOS) platform for fluid-borne nanoparticle analysis. According to an announcement, it provides, “dynamically adjustable nanopores, enabling tunable, resistive pulse sensing over a wide particle size range.”
Source:
qNano http://www.izon.com/products-services/qnano

New Technique for Non-toxic Nanosilver
Andrea Travan and colleagues at the Dept. of Life Sciences, Univ. of Trieste, have reported a new method for rendering silver nanoparticle non-toxic to mammalian cells. (See Item 7.8.2, Wide Use of Nano-Silver Raises Health and Environmental Issues, in the June 2009 issue of this report.) The method involves immobilizing the particles in a hydrogel, so that they, “can exert their antimicrobial activity by contact with the bacterial membrane, but cannot [be] absorbed and internalized by eukaryotic cells,” according to an item in Nanowerk.
Source:
How to make nanosilver non-cytotoxic with sugar http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=11406.php

New Efforts Underway to Improve Nanotech EHS Information
A new EU FP7 project will create a database on the health, safety and environmental impact of nanoparticles. The project, "Nano Health-Environment Commented Database (NHECD)," is coordinated by Professor Oded Maimon from Tel Aviv University, Israel. Also, Khara Deanne Grieger and colleagues of the research group Nanotechnology & Risk at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) are working on identifying the gaps in knowledge of the environmental, health and safety impacts of nanomaterials. A systematic analysis of 31 reports and articles found that serious knowledge gaps exist in all areas of basic nanotech EHS knowledge, viz., the lack of reference materials and standardization; environmental fate and behavior; human and environmental toxicity; test methods to assess, particularly, the effects; and commercial or industrial-related aspects (e.g. life cycle assessments).
Source:
EU study tackles nanotoxicology dilemma http://ec.europa.eu/research/infocentre/article_en.cfm?id=/research/headlines/news/article_09_07_03_en.html&item=Infocentre&artid=12033
Nanotechnology: the things we don't know http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=11497.php
The known unknowns of nanomaterials: Describing and characterizing uncertainty within environmental, health and safety risks http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/17435390902944069

Review and Map of Use of Nanomaterials for Environmental Cleanup
According to the announcement, “A new review article … co-authored by Dr. Todd Kuiken, a research associate for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), focuses on the use of nanomaterials for environmental cleanup. It provides an overview of current practices; research findings; societal issues; potential environment, health, and safety implications; and possible future directions for nanoremediation.” The Wilson Center/Pew Trust’s PEN also released a map that “shows which nanomaterials have been used where and includes detailed information on the contaminants treated and the nature of the treatment.”
Sources:
Contaminated Site Remediation: Are Nanomaterials the Answer? First Map of Global Nanoremediation Sites Available Online http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/8267/
Nanotechnology and In situ Remediation: A Review of the Benefits and Potential Risks http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2009/0900793/abstract.html
Nanoremediation Map http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories/remediation_map/

"Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water"
Elsevier advertises, "Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water highlights both the challenges and the opportunities for nanotechnology to positively influence … [the] nanotechnology area of environmental protection. Here you will find detailed information on breakthroughs, cutting edge technologies, current research, and future trends that may affect acceptance of widespread applications. The first four parts of the book cover specific topics including using nanotechnology for clean drinking water in both large scale water treatment plants and in point-of-use systems [as well as] existing technologies and future potential for groundwater remediation, pollution prevention, and sensors. … The final part discusses the inherent societal implications that may affect acceptance of widespread applications." The book was not read/reviewed for this report.
Sources:
Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/715798/description
Book Review of Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water http://www.nanolabweb.com/index.cfm/action/main.default.viewArticle/articleID/294/CFID/3843948/CFTOKEN/94277499/index.html

NGO Coalitions Raise Doubts about Nanotech and the Environment
According to an article in Nanowerk News, cited in Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, "Two international coalitions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are challenging industry claims about the potential environmental benefits provided by nanotechnology products. The groups, the European Environmental Bureau and the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) Nanotechnology Working Group, state that emerging evidence is showing that the claims put forth by industry regarding nanotechnology do not provide the whole picture, and that environmental risks and costs are being trivialized or ignored."
Source:
Nanotechnology and the environment: A mismatch between claims and reality http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=11736.php

Reports Suggested for Review

Environmental Security Listed First in UNDP’s 2009 Arab Human Development Report
The “Arab Human Development Report 2009” by UNDP underlines that the region’s security faces growing challenges from environmental stresses. It argues that human security will be adequately addressed only if all the seven interdependent threats identified are dealt with simultaneously and equally. Out of seven dimensions of threat, “People and their insecure environment” is listed first, as “The Arab region faces growing challenges to the security of its population from environmental stresses. [...] challenges will result from population and demographic pressures, the overexploitation of land, water shortages, desertification, pollution, and climate change.” Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States and UN Assistant Secretary-General pointed out, “The human security of people in the Arab region depends, first and foremost, on the health of the environment that sustains all of us.”
Sources:
Arab Human Development Report 2009 http://www.arab-hdr.org/contents/index.aspx?rid=5
Arguing for "Human Security". Arab Human Development Report – 2009 http://www.saudi-us-relations.org/articles/2009/ioi/090721-human-security.html

CDC launches the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network
The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network website launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aims to bridge the gaps in investigating how environmental contaminants affect human health. Currently, information is centered on air and water quality, but more data will be added concerning hazardous waste sites (both federal- and state-designated sites), pesticide exposure, and climate change.
Sources:
Did polluted water make me sick? Am I living in a cancer cluster? http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/environmental-public-health-tracking-47070603
National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, CDC http://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showHome.action

Back to Top


June 2009

International Guidance on the Treatment of Individuals in War May Eventually Guild International Standards on the Treatment of the Environment in War
Making distinctions between civilians and combatants, as well as making distinctions between military targets and civilian areas, is becoming increasingly difficult and may become even more difficult in the future. As a result, the International Committee of the Red Cross has issued an “Interpretive Guidance” concerning “the distinction between legitimate military targets and persons protected against direct attacks.” The Guidance is not intended to replace existing rules, but clarify criteria in answering key questions. “Who is considered a civilian for the purposes of the principle of distinction? What conduct amounts to direct participation in hostilities? What modalities govern the loss of protection against direct attack?” With the increasing attention to environmental security, these kinds of questions may eventually be applied to the environment. Although the guidance applies only to IHL affecting human factors, considering the reference that triggered the guidelines, “transformation and modernization of warfare”, as well as previous discussions relative to including environmental factors under IHL, it is fair to speculate that the scope and spectrum might be expanded to also cover environmental aspects; e.g., when is the use of environment considered a weapon and when should it be off limits?
Sources:
Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law (International Committee of the Red Cross, June 2009)
http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/direct-participation-ihl-article-020609/$File/direct-participation-guidance-2009-ICRC.pdf
International Law in Brief, June 26. Resolutions, Declarations, and Other Documents http://www.asil.org/ilib090626.cfm#r1

Proposal for a UN Environmental Mediation Program
Former and present Executive Directors of UNEP and NGO leaders met June 28-July 2, 2009 in Glion, Switzerland to make recommendations to improve international environmental governance. A UN Environmental Mediation Program (UNEMP) was proposed by U.S. Ambassador John McDonald, Executive Director of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy. The proposed UNEP unit would provide mediation services as requested by governments to help resolve environmental issues between nations and within nations, including training of environmental mediators, establishing national environmental mediation centers, assisting national research programs, and creating an international panel of environmental mediators to be on call to help resolve transboundary disputes. The idea will be considered by UNEP later in 2009. [For an earlier version of the proposal see: "Environmental Security: United Nations Doctrine for Managing Environmental Issues in Military Actions; Appendix C: United Nations Environmental Mediation Program (UNEMP)" at http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/es-un-app3.html]
Sources:
GEG Forum: Reflecting on the Past, Moving into the Future http://environmentalgovernance.org/event/2009/06/geg-forum
For further information, contact: U.S. Ambassador John McDonald, Executive Director of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, email: <Jmcdonald@imtd.org>
Environmental Security: United Nations Doctrine for Managing Environmental Issues in Military Actions; Appendix C: United Nations Environmental Mediation Program (UNEMP) http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/es-un-app3.html

Canada, Mexico, and the USA Met to Strengthen Regional Environmental Regulations
Environment ministers of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met as the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) and consulted with the Joint Public Advisory Committee in Denver this month to improve public participation and partnerships, enhance accountability and transparency, and set clear performance goals concerning environmental regulations across the continent. The environmental trilateral 2010–2015 Strategic Plan will consider strategies for reducing CO2 emissions (including a potential continental cap-and-trade system), climate change mitigation and adaptation issues, and enhancing protection of ecosystems. The participants from the public group asked specifically that reducing the North American ecological footprint also be included. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon met and announced their intention to modernize the 37-year-old Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reflect the new environmental threats and technologies to address them.
Sources:
Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Ministerial Statement http://www.cec.org/news/details/index.cfm?varlan=english&ID=2828
Input from Millennium Project staff attending the CEC meeting (for further information contact <millennium-project@igc.org>)
USA, Canada to Modernize Great Lakes Water Quality Pact http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2009/2009-06-15-01.asp

European Union to Consider Regulations for Curbing Biowaste
The European Commission is conducting an assessment of the potential need for and impact of legislation for reducing biowaste and its environmental impacts. The new regulation should reinforce the EU Landfill Directive, including a large spectrum of measures, from prevention, handling, and treatment, to product labeling. However, important aspects will need to be elucidated, from definitions related to biowaste, to countries infrastructure differences. Biowaste in the EU is estimated to rise to 139 million tonnes yearly, representing an important source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution when deposited in landfills. The Commission should present the impact assessment of different policy options by the end of 2009, and the legislative proposal is expected to be adopted in 2010.
Sources:
Council Conclusions. Green Paper on the management of bio-waste in the European Union http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/envir/108751.pdf
EU biowaste directive moves a step closer http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/eu-biowaste-directive-moves-step-closer/article-183575

EU-US Joint Energy-Efficiency Standards for Office Equipment
The European Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed to implement the joint Energy Star Programme by introducing higher energy-efficiency standards for office equipment such as computers, copiers and printers.
Sources:
EU and US Reinforce Energy Efficiency Standards for Office Equipment http://www.eurunion.org/eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3417&Itemid=58
EU-US Energy Star Program http://www.eu-energystar.org/en/index.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
Faster and Cheaper Virus Detector Uses Indium Nanowires, Synthetic Antibodies
A more rapid and cheaper type of SARS virus-detector is being developed by a team from the University of Southern California. The active elements are indium oxide nanowires carrying bioengineered synthetic antibodies, reportedly resulting in a system which is lower in cost and produces results in minutes rather than hours, compared to existing devices.
Source:
Label-Free, Electrical Detection of the SARS Virus N-Protein with Nanowire Biosensors Utilizing Antibody Mimics as Capture Probes http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn900086c
A quicker, cheaper SARS virus detector benefits from advances in nanodesign http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=10908.php

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Environmental Advantages in New Methanol Production Process
Scott Barnett at Northwestern Univ., Evanston IL, and colleagues have demonstrated a new environmentally friendly technology that uses a solid oxide electrolysis cell to turn CO2, hydrogen, and water into syngas (H + CO), which can then be converted into methanol, a competitor to hydrogen for energy storage and production. A “methanol economy” has the advantage over hydrogen of using the existing liquid-fuel-oriented storage and distribution infrastructure. The current syngas production processes are based on fossil fuels, and have negative environmental impacts.
Source:
Methanol challenges hydrogen to be fuel of the future http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17240-methanol-challenges-hydrogen-to-be-fuel-of-the-future.html

New Fuel Cell Membrane May Solve Dry Surroundings Problem
Researcher Cy Fujimoto of the Sandia National Laboratories is developing a new type of polymer electrolyte membrane for fuel cells. The new material aims to solve the problem of dehydration and consequent diminished functioning of fuel cells in dry desert environments.
Source:
New type of membrane developed at Sandia may help make hydrogen hybrid cars a reality http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2009/PEM.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Growing Marine Litter Increasingly Threatens Marine Ecosystems
Plastic debris, along with rubbish and other waste, are littering the marine environment worldwide, revealed Marine Litter: A Global Challenge, a report launched on World Oceans Day by UNEP and Ocean Conservancy, analyzing 12 major regional marine ecosystems around the world. Studies indicate that plastic content rose considerably in ocean animals from North Sea fulmars, to Northeast Atlantic plankton. UNEP suggests several strategies to curb marine litter, including improved waste management, shipping and port regulations on waste discharge, a modified system of fines for ocean dumping, improved ship dismantling, and a ban on thin film plastic bags. Out of the 12 regional seas included in the report––Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, East Asian seas, East African seas, Mediterranean, Northeast Atlantic, Northwest Pacific, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, South Asian seas, South Pacific, and Wider Caribbean––the East Asian Seas seem to be in the worst situation. [Items on similar issues in previous environmental security reports: Microplastics Recognized as Environmental Threat to Oceans in November 2008, and International Conference and Assessments Find Rising Ocean Pollution in October 2006.]
Sources:
Marine Litter: A Global Challenge http://www.unep.org/regionalseas/marinelitter/publications/docs/Marine_Litter_A_Global_Challenge.pdf
Report Brings to the Surface the Growing Global Problem of Marine Litter http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=589&ArticleID=6214&l=en&t=long

World Database on Marine Protected Areas
The World Database on Marine Protected Areas is a new online system designed to provide up-to-date information on marine protected areas and marine and coastal ecosystems. It is a tool that would help decision-makers, conservation organizations, and communities around the world to enforce marine protected areas conservation and management. Note: marine protected areas represent less than 1% of earth’s surface, while terrestrial protected areas are about 12%.[Items on similar issues in previous environmental security reports: “Roving” Marine Protected Areas as Climate Change Affects Migration in March 2008.]
Sources:
World Database on Marine Protected Areas: http://www.wdpa-marine.org
UNEP launches new online system to view and study the world's marine protected areas http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=589&ArticleID=6212&l=en&t=long

New Substances Identified as Harmful to Human Health and the Environment
California has identified 30 new chemicals with detrimental effects to human health, ranging from gasoline additives, to industrial solvents, chemicals used to manufacture plastics, adhesives and other materials, and byproducts of water disinfection using chlorine.
The Kenyan Parliament is considering a ban on Furadan, a highly toxic pesticide widely available in Kenya, but already banned in the U.S. and Europe.
A study of a weed-killer by scientists at the Institute of Biology of the University of Caen in France has added evidence to the finding that an “inert” ingredient in a product may have toxic effects outweighing any attributed to the principal ingredient(s) in the material. In their research, polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA), a surfactant, was shown to be more lethal to certain human cells than the product’s active ingredient, glyphosate. [Previous items on similar issues: Stockholm Convention Updated with Nine New Chemicals in May 2009, New Chemicals Considered for Toxic Lists in January 2009 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
30 'New' Toxic Chemicals to Avoid http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/toxic-chemicals-47061601
Kenya Considers a Ban on Pesticide Used to Kill Lions and Wildlife http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=1910
P Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/tx800218n
Weed killer kills human cells. Study intensifies debate over 'inert' ingredients http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients

Greenland Moving Towards Independence
In what might be an example of political and sovereignty implications of climate change, Greenland took another step towards full independence from Denmark. It was granted self-rule status, recognizing Greenlanders as a distinct people with Greenlandic as the territory’s official language and with the right to self-determination, including control over its natural reserves –– gas, gold and diamonds. The warming climate could open access to the untapped wealth and pave the road towards economic independence. A referendum held in November 2008, showed more than 75% support of the residents for taking charge of the police, justice, and security responsibilities. [Previous related item: The Debate over Strategic Control of the Arctic is Heating Up in July-August 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Greenland takes step toward independence from Denmark http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greenland/5594140/Greenland-takes-step-toward-independence-from-Denmark.html
Divorce up north? http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12696845
Greenland Takes a Step Towards Autonomy http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,592880,00.html

Global Influenza Pandemic Declared
The World Health Organization raised the level of influenza A(H1N1) alert to Phase 6, which indicates that a global pandemic is underway and further spread of the virus is ‘inevitable.’ According to the latest figures from the WHO, there have been 263 deaths and nearly 60,000 cases in some 100 countries and territories. [See also: International Response to Contain Influenza A(H1N1) Outbreak in April 2009 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Global Influenza Pandemic Declared http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2009/2009-06-11-02.asp
US passes million swine flu cases http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8122262.stm

Health Threats from Open Waste Pits in Conflict Zones Trigger Regulation
Over 400 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans complain of health problems after being exposed in conflict areas to burning toxic waste in open pits. A bill introduced to Congress, ‘Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act,’ requires health assessment of those who were exposed, as well as further prohibition of use of open pits to burn toxic waste. Meantime, several lawsuits have been filed against KBR Inc., a former subsidiary of Halliburton, for liability over soldiers’ toxic exposure.
Source:
Vets protest open-pit fires in war zones http://thehill.com/business--lobby/vets-protest-open-pit-fires-in-war-zones-2009-06-11.html

Health Hazards from “Environment-friendly” Reusable Bags
A new study warns of possible health hazards from reusable plastic bags, revealing high levels of mold, bacteria, and yeast in samples. [Previous related items: New Material Makes Biodegradable Plastic Bags in January 2009, India to Enact Regulation Curbing Plastic Bags Use in January 2009, and Restrictions on Plastic Bags Expanding in January 2008.]
Sources:
“A Microbiological Study of Plastic Reusable Bags and `First or single-use’ Plastic Bags” http://www.cpia.ca/files/files/A_Microbiological_Study_of_Reuseable_Plastic_Grocery_Bags.pdf
Study Labels Reusable Bags as Possible Health Risk http://earth911.com/blog/2009/06/01/study-labels-reusable-bags-as-possible-health-risk/

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
A new IPCC report, summarizing over 1,400 studies that were presented at the climate conference of March 2009 in Copenhagen, warns that changes in ocean temperatures and sea levels, extreme climate conditions, and the retreat of the Arctic sea ice are happening more rapidly than experts predicted two years ago, and concludes that “The world faces a growing risk of abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts.”
World Disasters Report 2009 states that the 326 natural disasters that occurred worldwide in 2008 had a 235,736 death toll and the developing world suffered 76% of the disasters and 99% of the deaths. The Human Impact Report: Climate Change––The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis report claims that climate change affects 325 million people a year, at a total economic cost of $125 billion, and predicts that, by 2030, more than 660 million people would be affected, with potentially 500,000 deaths, and an economic loss rising to $340 billion
The Korea Meteorological Administration 10-years analysis shows that the Korean Peninsula is closer to a subtropical climate, due to climate change. For the 1999–2008 period, the average temperature was 0.6°C (1°F) higher than the 30-year average of the 1971–2000 period, while precipitation increased by an average 9.1%.
Sources:
Climate Change Picks Pace New IPCC Report Warns http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=589&ArticleID=6225&l=en&t=long
Press Conference by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to Launch ‘World Disasters Report 2009’ http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2009/090616_ICRC.doc.htm
Deadly heat http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2009/05/30/climate_change_crisis/#
Climate change study counts high human toll http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4f408284-4c79-11de-a6c5-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1
Korea moving toward a subtropical climate http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2009/06/15/200906150007.asp

Food and Water Security
FAO announced that the number of world hungry is projected to reach a historic high of 1,020 million people in 2009. The most recent increase is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis which resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment undermining access to food. The majority of those most affected live in areas with already high environmental and conflict vulnerability. The final version of State of Food Insecurity in the World will be released in October.
By mid-century, climate change may have outrun the ability of Africa's farmers to adapt to rising temperatures, threatening the continent’s precarious food security. Growing seasons throughout nearly all of Africa in 2050 will likely be hotter than any year in historical experience, and even the hardiest varieties of the continent’s three main crops – maize, millet and sorghum – would probably not tolerate the conditions. The six most affected nations will probably be Senegal, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Sierra Leone. However, the situation might get worse, as the study, published in the Global Environmental Change journal, is based on IPCC’s mid-range projection, which is considered an underestimate.
The OECD and FAO released an advance summary of the Agricultural Outlook 2009-2018 that addresses, among other issues, the interdependence between food and energy markets and the possible impacts of expanding demand for biofuels on agricultural commodity prices. It highlights that oil prices above US$90 per barrel would imply significantly higher food prices.
During the past 50 years, freshwater flow dropped up to 14% for some of the major rivers feeding the Pacific and Indian Oceans, mainly due to changing precipitation patterns linked to climate change, according to research by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions; Climate change and the risk of violent conflict in the Middle East report [see above item ‘7.2 Threats and Strategies for Addressing Climate Change in the Middle-East’] specifically warns about potential increasing armed conflict in the Middle East over control of water resources. The report refers to expert opinions that even under the present condition of moderate global warming, by 2100, the Euphrates (which runs through Turkey, Syria and Iraq) might shrink by 30%, the Jordan River by 80%, while the Dead Sea is shrinking by 1 meter per year due to overuse of its tributaries, and climate change. The study notes that Israel’s National Communication warned that water supply may fall by 60% of 2000 levels by the end of the century.
Sources:
FAO press release http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/20568/icode/
Warming may outstrip Africa's ability to feed itself: study http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5imolPwNU5DuvGHV01-85nlm4XH5g
AFRICA: What will we eat in the future? http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=84892
Shifts in African crop climates by 2050, and the implications for crop improvement and genetic resources conservation (subscription required) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VFV-4WFGRNC-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=2b4d92336f74bb5b44d3d4270ce85654
FAO Press Release: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/20770/icode/
Advance Summary: http://www.agri-outlook.org/dataoecd/5/27/43037451.pdf
Never the same river twice. Freshwater flows change as global climate shifts. http://pubs.acs.org/action/showStoryContent?doi=10.1021/on.2009.05.26.380568
Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions; Climate change and the risk of violent conflict in the Middle East http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2009/rising_temps_middle_east.pdf
160 Syrian villages deserted 'due to climate change' http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jXbS8a3ggiMm4ekludBbmWQMb-HQ

Migration
More than 200 million people could be displaced due to climate change by 2050, underlines the report In Search of Shelter: Mapping the Effects of Climate Change on Human Migration and Displacement by a consortium of several international organizations. The report presents several maps of climate change impacts and population distribution patterns, and suggests that a better understanding of the dynamics of climate-related migration and displacement is needed in order to incorporate human mobility into international and national adaptation plans. Meantime, Christian Aid estimates that climate-induced displacement could be closer to one billion by 2050. Nevertheless, the debate over a framework to deal with this increasing segment of the population continues. Developed countries tend to oppose the term ‘refugee,’ that might imply application of the 1951 UN convention on refugees, and favor other terms, like ‘environmentally induced migration.’
The Global Governance Project launched the Policy Forum on Climate Refugees, a Web-based clearinghouse with up-to-date information on climate-related migration. The Forum proposes the term ‘climate refugees’, defined as: “people who have to leave their habitats, immediately or in the near future, because of sudden or gradual alterations in their natural environment related to at least one of three impacts of climate change: sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and drought and water scarcity. The Forum’s website is: http://www.glogov.org/?pageid=80.
“We’ve never before had to deal with disappearing states. Who’s going to take responsibility for people who are losing their country?” asks Dr Charles Erhart, of CARE International, referring to disappearing island-states.
Sources:
New report: Climate Change is detectable driver of migration http://www.care-international.org/New-report-Climate-Change-is-detectable-driver-of-migration
Climate change could displace 25 million by 2010 http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200906101451.htm
Climate change causing 'environmental migrants' http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0611/1224248612413.html
Making the Case for Climate as a Migration Driver http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/business/energy-environment/15iht-green15.html
Climate change causing 'environmental migrants' http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0611/1224248612413.html

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
While it’s still too early to say whether the 2009 melt will exceed the record 2007 melt, since the annual low-point is reached in September, the trend line for 2009 shows a lower sea ice coverage, according to the latest data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Uganda’s National Environmental Management Authority said that at the present rate, Mount Speke ice cap, the main water source to the neighboring communities, might be melted away by 2023, threatening the livelihoods of the people of Bundibugyo, who rely on agriculture to survive. It will also impact the Nile basin and Lake George and Lake Albert.
Sources:
Arctic Sea Ice Extent Trending Below Record 2007 Melt http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/arctic-sea-ice-47061201
Lifestyle melts away with Uganda peak snow cap http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5juO8oIXAPsiP4pVfkU4nHsI0TNGg

Rising Sea Levels
Computer models show that sea levels could rise faster along the U.S. East Coast than in other densely populated parts of the world, due to changes of pressure from ice caps melting, and ocean current modifications. In addition to sea level rises and erosion, the region from New York to North Carolina is falling about six inches per century.
The Maldives decided to adopt a “safe islands” program that includes 25% of its 196 low-lying islands and is considering abandoning the rest, according to one of the authors of a new study on the impacts of global warming.
Sources:
East Coast May Feel Rise in Sea Levels the Most http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/05/AR2009060501342.html
Climate change causing 'environmental migrants' http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0611/1224248612413.html

Health
Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, warns Professor Anthony Costello, co-author of the article “Managing the health effects of climate change” published in The Lancet. The article outlines the global health implications of a range of climate change projections from the optimistic average global temperature rise of 2°C to the catastrophic 6°C, considering a wide range of pathways through which climate change could impact human health. Professor Costello proposes three action points emerging from this report: add health experts to the mitigation debate; address the massive inequality in health systems around the world; and develop win–win situations so that mitigation and adaptation to climate change strategies also improve human health and well-being.
Sources:
Running a Temperature http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/06/24/running_a_temperature_0
Managing the Health effects of Climate Change http://www.thelancet.com/climate-change
Climate change: The biggest global-health threat of the 21st century http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0905/09051501/
Climate ‘biggest health threat’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8049061.stm

Adaptation
The second session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held June 16-19, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, concluded with a call to halve disaster-related deaths by 2015. Other specific targets identified include: by 2010, the establishment of clear national and international financial commitments to disaster risk reduction (DRR), for example to allocate a minimum of 10% of all humanitarian and reconstruction funding, at least 1% of development funding, and at least 30% of climate change adaptation funding to DRR; and by 2015, all major cities in disaster-prone areas to include and enforce DRR measures.
The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility recommended that all mitigation projects and also, as appropriate, GEF strategies should incorporate climate adaptation measures and promote mitigation-adaptation synergies. It also advised that the GEF should consider the whole landscape approach regarding natural resource and chemicals life cycle management, and that it critically apply risk assessment to its proposed actions in order to maximize resilience to climate change while investing in mitigation.
The Zambezi River Basin Initiative (ZRBI) launched by The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is an adaptation project focusing on disaster preparedness rather than post-emergency relief operations. About 80% of the region’s 32 million people depend on agriculture and fishing. It is a joint program among seven southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, combining risk reduction efforts with food security, health, HIV prevention, and capacity building activities.
Gordon Brown says that developed nations should create a $100 billion per year fund to help developing nations cope with the effects of global warming. This is less than the 1% of developed countries’ GDP that the G77 group has suggested. Brown’s suggestion still needs to be endorsed by the EU-bloc before it could be put forward at the Copenhagen negotiations.
Sources:
UNISDR release: http://www.unisdr.org/
Chair’s summary: http://www.preventionweb.net/globalplatform/2009/background/documents/GP09-Chair%27s-Summary.pdf
GEF STAP Recommendations: http://www.gefweb.org/uploadedFiles/Documents/Council_Documents__(PDF_DOC)/GEF_35/C.35.13_STAP.pdf
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Climate proofing the Zambezi http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=85013
Zambezi River Basin Initiative http://www.ifrc.org/Docs/pubs/disasters/160400-Zambezi_River_Project_LR3.pdf
Gordon Brown puts $100bn price tag on climate adaptation http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/26/gordon-brown-climate-adaptation-cost

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The second round of preliminary negotiations for a UN climate treaty revealed that developed countries are unlikely to cut emissions between 25% and 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, Japan, U.S., and Canada being among the ones that are hindering negotiations, due to tough resistance from industry at home. Hence, a 15% target seems more realistic. However, the Association of Small Island States is pushing for a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment adopted the Nairobi Declaration on climate at a week-long special session, to be put forward at the Copenhagen negotiations. Some argue that the “G2” of China and America determines the global post-Kyoto agenda.
Meantime, the U.S. Congress passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which gives stronger power to the U.S. at the Copenhagen negotiations. The bill sets a framework for reducing greenhouse gases in the U.S. by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83% by 2050. The bill sets a CO2 cap-and-trade system––scheduled to begin in 2012, requires at least 20% renewable electricity production by 2020, and allocates billions of dollars to new energy-efficient and low-carbon projects.
During the climate change preparation conference in Bonn emissions trading and emissions credits systems were also discussed. Nevertheless, experts and environmental groups are increasingly opposing the carbon credits market, as a source of pollution in developing countries.
Sources:
Heating up or cooling down? http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13832227
Climate pact: What kind of deal can emerge in Copenhagen? http://www.terradaily.com/2007/090614011736.b0erysqv.html
700,000 addresses face being washed off map http://www.smh.com.au/environment/global-warming/700000-addresses-face-being-washed-off-map-20090612-c64c.html
Nations may form global CO2 market without U.N. deal http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE55B67V20090612
The great carbon credit con: Why are we paying the Third World to poison its environment? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1188937/The-great-carbon-credit-eco-companies-causing-pollution.html
Friends of the Earth slams "fundamentally flawed" offsetting model http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2243304/friends-earth-slams
INTERVIEW-Global warming is a security threat - Kofi Annan http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSLN472597
'Climate change is already here' http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=91436&cat=1
African Ministers Adopt the Nairobi Declaration on Climate http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=589&ArticleID=6199&l=en&t=long
American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 http://thehill.com/images/stories/news/2009/june/getdoc.cgi.pdf
House Passes Bill to Address Threat of Climate Change http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/27/us/politics/27climate.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
European Report on Workplace Exposure to Nanoparticles
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA) has released a 91-page "Literature Review - Workplace exposure to nanoparticles.", which, according to an item in Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, “reviews the most recent publications on nanoparticles and focuses on the possible adverse effects of workplace exposure while also presenting the regulatory background and activities being taken to manage this emerging risk.”
Source:
Literature Review - Workplace exposure to nanoparticles http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/literature_reviews/workplace_exposure_to_nanoparticles

Wide Use of Nano-Silver Raises Health and Environmental Issues
Friends of the Earth and Health Care Without Harm Europe have published a report describing the public health threat posed by the use of nano-silver particles as an anti-microbial element in consumer products. Use of this material may risk the development of bacterial resistance to it, and, as it is released into the environment, it may interfere with bacterial action in waste treatment processes.
Source:
Nano & Biocidal Silver http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/Nano-silverReport_US.pdf
Nano-silver: Extreme Germ Killer Presents Growing Threat to Public Health http://www.foe.org/nano-silver-extreme-germ-killer-presents-growing-threat-public-health

New Policy Brief: Appropriate Risk Governance Strategies for Nanotechology Applications in Food and Cosmetics
The International Risk Governance Council has published a recommendations document, Appropriate Risk Governance Strategies for Nanotechology Applications in Food and Cosmetics. This report presents the conclusions arrived at as the result of an April 2008 “multi-stakeholder expert workshop (with representatives from regulators, industry, academia and consumer groups) … to discuss key issues and to develop risk governance policy guidelines for nanotechnology applications in food and cosmetics.”
Sources:
Appropriate risk governance strategies for nanotechnology applications in food and cosmetics http://www.irgc.org/Appropriate-risk-governance.html
Appropriate Risk Governance Strategies for Nanotechnology Applications in Food and Cosmetics http://www.irgc.org/IMG/pdf/IRGC_PBnanofood_WEB.pdf

Study of Scientists’ and Public’s Views of Nanotechnology
A new paper reports on “the heuristics that the leading U.S. nanoscientists use when they make policy decisions about regulating nanotechnology” and compares them with the corresponding process in the general public. Included in their work is data on which nanotech application areas the scientists feel are most in need of new regulations. The authors highlight that although there is no conclusive evidence on many environmental and health aspects of nanotechnology, policy and some legal framework should be established.
Sources:
Of risks and regulations: how leading U.S. nanoscientists form policy stances about nanotechnology http://www.springerlink.com/content/627323076677745q/fulltext.html
Scientists and Public Differ on Views about Nanotechnology Regulation http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/15361

Comprehensive Overview of Nanomaterial Properties and Biological Interactions
Researchers at UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), together with colleagues in academia and industry, have published a research review article that is described as “a comprehensive overview of current knowledge on the physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials that allow them to undergo interactions with biological molecules and bioprocesses”. The paper details several important research advancements and their implications for risk assessment.
Sources:
Research explores interactions between nanomaterials, biological systems http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/exploring-the-world-of-nanomaterial-94257.aspx
Paper: http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v8/n7/full/nmat2442.html (by subscription only)

ObservatoryNANO Annual Report Published
The EC FP7 ObservatoryNANO project has published its Annual Report, summarizing developments in the field, including their effects, and concerns for human health and the environment.
Source:
ObservatoryNANO Annual Report http://www.observatorynano.eu/project/catalogue/9AR/

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
Convention on Cluster Munitions is Effective
The report Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice assesses the cluster munitions-related situation in 150 countries, including progress on the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions requirements in the signatory or party states. It documents that many countries already started to destroy their stockpiles of the weapon before the treaty formally came into force, and are expected to complete the destruction earlier than the eight-year deadline stipulated by the convention. Spain is the first country that completed the destruction of its cluster munitions stockpiles. Other countries that began the process include: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Sources:
"Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice" Report Released http://www.icbl.org/index.php/icbl/Library/News-Articles/Work/Banning-Cluster-Munitions
Launch of New Report - Banning Cluster Munitions http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=1534

Threats and Strategies for Addressing Climate Change in the Middle-East
Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions; Climate change and the risk of violent conflict in the Middle East, by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, is an analysis of the security issues in the Levant region over the period to 2050, in view of the implications of climate change. Acknowledging that the legacy of 60 years of conflict undermines adaptation efforts, it identifies and details six climate change-related potential threats which are likely to become obstacles to peacebuilding: 1) increasing competition over scarce water resources; 2) intensifying food insecurity; 3) worsening poverty and social instability; 4) forced migration; 5) “militarization of strategic natural resources;” and 6) the danger of inaction on climate change, which might lead to “growing resentment and distrust of the West (and Israel) by Arab nations.” The study also suggests four strategies that could turn climate change into a peacebuilding tool: promote conservation and efficiency; develop joint adaptation projects, including water management; advance solidarity and green energy policies; and be actively involved in developing regional and international adaptation strategies. [Previous related items: Security Risk due to Climate Change in December 2007, Security Implication of Climate Change to the EU in March 2008, and Food and Water Security in October 2008 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions; Climate change and the risk of violent conflict in the Middle East http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2009/rising_temps_middle_east.pdf
Report warns of environment wars http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=294712&version=1&template_id=37&parent_id=17
160 Syrian villages deserted 'due to climate change' http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jXbS8a3ggiMm4ekludBbmWQMb-HQ

New Report Summarizes Pacific Environmental Threats and Solutions
The Pacific Ocean Synthesis report, from the Center for Ocean Solutions, presented at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, Indonesia, in May 2009, discusses environmental threats and potential solutions in seven regions of the Pacific, It represents the results of a review of more than 3,400 publications from 50 countries in the Pacific basin, and both synthesizes information from research and points out gaps in the studies.
Sources:
Pacific Ocean Synthesis. Scientific Literature Review of Coastal and Ocean Threats, Impacts, and Solutions http://www.centerforoceansolutions.org/PacificSynthesis.pdf
Research reveals Pacific Ocean threats and solutions http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/39989

Geo-engineering Promises/Threatens Major Consequences
Discourse over the use of geo-engineering in the strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions increases. While some projects appear to offer major environmental benefits at a fraction of the cost of currently proposed remedial measures for climate change, many also raise the specter of potential catastrophic and perhaps unforeseen consequences. The National Academy of Sciences recently held a workshop to discuss this topic. Some of the papers are available online and the proceedings are expected to be posted soon.
Sources:
Re-Engineering the Earth http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200907/climate-engineering
Scientists Debate Shading Earth As Climate Fix http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105483423
Geoengineering Options to Respond to Climate Change: Input to the Workshop and Suggested Reading http://americasclimatechoices.org/Geoengineering_Input/GeoInputHome.html

The Center for a New American Security Launched National Security Program
The Center for a New American Security launched the National Security Program, based on its work on the national security and foreign policy implications of energy and climate change.
Sources:
CNAS on Natural Security http://www.cnas.org/naturalsecurity
Natural Security, A Working Paper, Sharon Burke, CNAS, June 2009 http://www.cnas.org/files/documents/publications/CNAS_Working%20Paper_Natural%20Security_SBurke_June2009_Web_1.pdf

Back to Top


May 2009

International Standards Needed to Reduce Hi-tech SIMAD Threats
The development of artificial biology, cognitive science, nanotechnology, electromagnetic pulses, and other hi-tech advances, combined with the availability of information via the Internet and low-cost components necessary to produce hi-tech weapons by individuals or non-state actors, as well as the increase of terrorism and social unrest (often exacerbated by environmental factors), increase the threat of SIMAD (single individuals massively destructive). “E-bombs” based on electromagnetic pulses are capable of destroying the electronics in civilian aircraft; suitcase-sized electronic warfare devices can disable the power grid of an entire region; and research on computer-mediated telepathy such as Silent Talk might one day be used to intercept and distort thoughts. There are no international standards to help prevent such hi-tech systems’ future use by SIMAD. [See also New Technologies Need New Regulations Systems in March 2009.]
Sources:
Aircraft could be brought down by DIY 'E-bombs' http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227026.200-aircraft-could-be-brought-down-by-diy-ebombs.html
In the final analysis, electronic warfare will decide the outcome of future military conflicts http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20090414/121112527.html
Pentagon Preps Soldier Telepathy Push http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/pentagon-preps-soldier-telepathy-push/

New International Agreement on Recycling of Ships
The International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted at the International Convention held in Hong Kong, May 11-15, 2009. The new Convention covers all phases of a ship’s life and operation, from design to dismantling in an environmentally and safe manner, and the establishment of an enforcement mechanism. It also requires all vessels to maintain records of hazardous materials, for workers to be equipped with protective gear, and for recycling centers to have disposal procedures for hazardous materials. The Convention will be open for signature from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2010 and for accession thereafter; it will enter into force 24 months after ratification by 15 States representing 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage.
Sources:
New international convention adopted to ensure safe and environmentally sound ship recycling http://www.imo.org/About/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1773&doc_id=11368
Agreement on Ship Recycling Wins Wide Support http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/business/energy-environment/15ship.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Energy-saving Communications for Underwater Environmental Sensing Networks
A low-cost, low-power modem subsystem for short-range, low data-rate underwater networking is being developed by a team of computer scientists from the University of California at San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. The technology is based on reconfigurable hardware, and will enable the construction of low-cost, more efficient, underwater sensor networks that can capture and transmit environmental data back to land in real time.
Source:
Toward cheap underwater sensor nets http://www.physorg.com/news162640918.html

Nano-engineered Gold Surface Mercury Vapor Sensor
Professor Suresh Bhargava and a research team from the Industrial Chemistry Group at RMIT Univ., Melbourne, Australia, have developed a greatly improved sensor for mercury vapor, using a nano-engineered gold surface as the mercury-attracting element, producing a device which is less susceptible to interference from organic compounds, ammonia, and water vapor. The modified surface is 180% more sensitive than a non-engineered one.
Source:
Measuring mercury with nanotechnology http://www.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=xwzx3dxlgxzi

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Lithium-sulphur Battery Problem Solved by Nanotechnology
Researchers led by Prof. Linda Nazar at the Univ. of Waterloo, Ontario, have developed a cathode nanostructure for a lithium-sulphur battery that can store and deliver more than three times the power of conventional lithium ion batteries, according to Nanowerk News.
Source:
Lithium battery technology breakthrough could triple their power http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=10689.php

New Palladium-Platinum Catalyst Structure Increases Fuel Cell Efficiency
Prof. Younan Xia has led a group of scientists at Washington University and the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the development of a fuel cell catalyst nanostructure comprising a palladium core supporting dendritic platinum branches. This material and arrangement is two and a half to five times more effective than existing techniques.
Source:
Going platinum: New catalyst could boost cleaner fuel use http://www.physorg.com/news161529265.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Stockholm Convention Updated with Nine New Chemicals
The 4th Conference of the Parties (COP4) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) held May 4-8, 2009, in Geneva, adopted 33 decisions including: listing nine new chemicals for elimination (in addition to the 12 already listed); implementation plans; and improved evaluation mechanisms. No agreement was reached on non-compliance mechanisms, with further discussion to be continued at COP5. Of the nine new chemicals listed under the Convention, some are banned with no exemptions for production or use: alphaHCH, beta hexachlorocyclohexane, HBB, chlordecone, and pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), while others have some specific exemptions: perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether (c-pentaBDE), hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether (C-octaBDE), and Lindane. Exceptional use of DDT was approved in the fight against malaria until effective alternatives are found. [See also New Compounds Considered under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions in October 2008.]
Sources:
UN-backed conference promotes elimination of poisonous chemicals http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30686
Summary of the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutant http://www.iisd.ca/vol15/enb15174e.html

Resources Trigger Overlapping Claims for Maritime Areas
May 13 was the deadline for the 128 states that became parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea prior to May 1999 to submit to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf claims for extending their rights beyond the present lines. States that acceded to UNCLOS after May 1999 have 10 years from the date the Convention entered into force for them to make a submission or provide preliminary information to the CLCS. This leaves the Arctic region open to debate, since Canada and Denmark have until November 2013 and November 2014 respectively, while the U.S. has yet to ratify the LOS.
Some of the overlapping claims for extended shelf include: the South China Sea, where China is asserting sovereignty over a series of islands also claimed by neighboring countries; in the South Atlantic, with overlapping claims from the UK and Argentina; and a series of cases where the claims are linked to previous unresolved international conflicts and boundary disputes.
Meantime, the energy-rich seabed of the Caspian Sea is the object of negotiations among Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran, while also being a crucial element for EU’s alternative energy supplies from Central Asia. [See also New Developments Concerning the Arctic in April 2009, Disputes over Polar Regions Expands in October 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
70 states meet continental shelf deadline http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/news/boundary_news/?itemno=7954
Squaring off for a seabed scrap http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13611528
Russia warns of war within a decade over Arctic oil and gas riches http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6283130.ece
China asserts sea border claims http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8047206.stm
Britain and Argentina dispute rights to seabed around the Falkland Islands http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/24/falklands-britain-argentina-dispute-seabed

Research Labs Safety Questioned
The World Health Organization is investigating allegations that the influenza H1N1 (swine flu) virus might have arisen and been released into the environment as an accidental happening at a biological research laboratory or vaccine production facility. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is skeptical. Meantime, a Canadian researcher was caught at the border trying to smuggle 22 vials with genetic material linked to the Ebola virus from Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory into the U.S. [See also Dangers Increase from “Amateur” Genetic Engineering; the Biological Weapons Convention to be Updated in December 2008 and other items in previous environmental security reports on this theme.]
Source:
Swine Flu May Be Human Error; WHO Investigates Claim (Update1) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=afrdATVXPEAk&refer=worldwide
Canadian accused of smuggling Ebola http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2009/05/14/9453961-sun.html

Maldives to Become World’s First Carbon Neutral Country in 10 Years
The Maldives, one of the countries most affected by climate change, has become the seventh country of the UNEP-led Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), announcing that in 10 years it wants to become the world’s first carbon neutral country by fully switching to renewable sources of energy.
Source:
Maldives joins UN emissions scheme in drive to be first carbon neutral country http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30697&Cr=climate&Cr1=change

Steps for an International Regime for Space Debris and Space Traffic Control System
There is general agreement that some international regime should be developed to address the increasing problem of space debris, and space safety in general. After the 5th European Conference on Space Debris held in April at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, a Congress of technical and legal experts was held in Montreal, focusing specifically on the legal aspects and guidelines for debris mitigation. The possibilities mentioned were a mechanism similar to the Missile Technology Control Regime, or the Limited Test Ban Treaty, along with an eventual international space traffic control system. The recommendations will be further discussed at the next workshop to be held at the University of Cologne in May 2010. Several nations such as Russia, France, Germany and Japan have some form of space surveillance capability, the best being the US Space Surveillance Network (SSN), which is capable of tracking objects larger than 5 cm (approx. 2 inches) orbiting in Low Earth Orbit. The DOD’s Commercial and Foreign Entities pilot program, which makes collision avoidance information available to commercial space users, would become an operational program later this year. [See also International Satellite Collision Triggers Regulations Review in February 2009 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
In a related event, an asteroid missed the Earth by 48,000 miles––80% closer to the earth than the moon––and no one knew it was coming. If it had hit the earth, possibly 800 square miles would have been wiped out. “NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that on March 2, asteroid 2009 DD45 came within about 48,000 miles of Earth. In astronomical terms, that’s way too close for comfort. And yet during President Barack Obama’s most recent press conference, no reporter asked him about this just-missed catastrophe. The fact is, the world hardly noticed” and “Asteroid 2009 DD45 was estimated to be between 69 and 154 feet in diameter. An asteroid that size exploded over Siberia in 1908 and flattened more than 800 square miles of forest, killing everything in its path. No one had a clue that 2009 DD45 was out there or that it was basically on a years-in-the-making possible collision course with our planet. The need for the governments of the world to come together to formulate a plan?”
Sources:
Key findings from the 5th European Conference on Space Debris http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Space_Debris/SEMYN9LTYRF_0.html
An Urgent Call To Action On Space Debris http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/An_Urgent_Call_To_Action_On_Space_Debris_999.html
Making The Space Environment Safer For Civil And Commercial Users http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Making_The_Space_Environment_Safer_For_Civil_And_Commercial_Users_999.html
Asteroid 2009 DD45 Misses Earth http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1527316/asteroid_2009_dd45_misses_earth.html

Advancements on Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament
The 3rd conference of the preparatory committee for the May 2010 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty concluded successfully, agreeing on a president and agenda. Meanwhile, the international Conference on Disarmament agreed on a working plan that includes negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty; a ban on space-based weapons––proposed by Russia and China; and a comprehensive nuclear disarmament proposed by India and Pakistan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is considering proposals for establishing an international center for production and distribution of civilian nuclear power plant fuel. The main proposals are from Russia, which offered to establish an international fuel enrichment station in Siberia, a German proposal that calls for an IAEA enrichment site on “internationalized soil;” and from Kazakhstan, that offered hosting a nuclear fuel bank. [See also Nuclear Security in October 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Agenda set for UN-backed 2010 review of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30816&Cr=npt&Cr1
Obama to Support Compromise at U.N. Disarmament Talks http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090527_4184.php
Big names and bucks back nuclear 'bank' http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/19/AR2009051902267.html

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
Weather pattern changes observed now in Australia were not expected to manifest until 2020, says Professor Ian Lowe, one of the country’s most prominent climate change scientists, who made such estimates 20 years ago.
The Assessment Report on Climate Change and its Consequences in Russian Federation, by the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, notes that over the past century, the average surface air temperature in Russia has risen by nearly 1.3ºC, almost twice as much as the global mean. The assessment also details potential changes in permafrost by 2020 and 2050 due to climate change. Permafrost covers 60% of the land in Russia.
Sources:
Copenhagen the Focus as Australia Shows Effects of Climate Change http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/17301/
Russia makes major shift in climate policy http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090526/full/news.2009.506.html?s=news_rss
Assessment Report on Climate Change and Its Consequences in Russian Federation http://climate2008.igce.ru/v2008/pdf/resume_ob_eng.pdf

Food and Water Security
The 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development held May, 4-15, 2009, focused on the interdependence and the role of agriculture and climate change. The meeting’s final agreement calls for some urgent policies such as: developing and implementing comprehensive strategies for dealing with climate change, drought, desertification and natural disaster; sustainable management of water and land resources; sustainable agriculture; and providing secure access to food and social safety nets. The CSD’s decisions will be forwarded for consideration by the July 2009 meeting of the Economic and Social Council.
For addressing their food and water security, several food-importing countries including China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, have started buying or leasing land in poor countries in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, for producing food. The International Food Policy Research Institute, that conducted the study at the request of the UN, estimates that 2.5 million hectares (about 20% of all EU farmland) in poor countries have been subject to transactions or talks involving foreigners since 2004, in deals estimated to worth $20 billion-$30 billion, which is at least 10 times as much as an emergency package for agriculture recently announced by the World Bank and 15 times more than the American administration’s new fund for food security. Some of the countries involved are Sudan––the recipient of the largest food-aid operation in the world, and Pakistan, which is promising Gulf investors a security force of 100,000 to protect the assets. Left unchecked, this trend could further exacerbate the turmoil in the food market and potentially lead to conflicts over land and food.
As glaciers in the Andes are melting away, tensions are rising between those living upstream and downstream, small farmers and agribusinesses, and even among states. As per the World Bank’s estimates, most of the Andes’ glaciers will disappear within 20 years, threatening the water supplies of nearly 80 million people, and jeopardizing energy security in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, which depend on hydropower for about half their electricity.
Sources:
Advance unedited adopted text of CSD Decisions: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/resources/res_pdfs/csd-17/Final_text.pdf
CSD website: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/csd/csd_csd17.shtml
“Land Grabbing” by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries: Risks and Opportunities http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/bp/bp013.asp
Buying farmland abroad – Outsourcing's third wave http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13692889
China looks abroad to grow its own food http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/1942254/China-looks-abroad-to-grow-its-own-food.html
Large-Scale Foreign Land Acquisitions Could Harm Local People, Says UN-Backed Report http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30920
Huge Bolivian glacier disappears http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8046540.stm
Glaciers go, leaving drought, conflict and tension in Andes http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2009/05/glaciers-go-leaving-drought-conflict-and-tension
Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier is gone http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/1030126.html

Migration
Rising sea levels and extreme heat due to climate change, coupled with environmental degradation, would force Australia’s indigenous people to move off their traditional lands, resulting in “cultural genocide” according to the Human Rights Commission’s annual Native Title Report.
The Chinese government estimates that 150 million people will have to be resettled, mainly due to desertification, water shortages exacerbated by over-irrigation and climate change, and population increase. The Minqin regional population rose from 860,000 to 2.3 million over the last 60 years.
Sources:
Native Title Report 2008 http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/nt_report/ntreport08/index.html
'We have taken every measure we can think of to stop the desert moving closer and submerging our crops and villages' http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/18/china-ecorefugees-farming
Climate change 'cultural genocide' for Aborigines http://www.spacedaily.com/2006/090504095259.4zbkjyfc.html

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Bolivia's 18,000-year-old Chacaltaya glacier completely melted away this year. Bolivian scientists surveying the glacier since the 1990s predicted that it would survive until 2015. As per the World Bank’s estimates, most of the Andes’ glaciers will disappear within 20 years.
Temperatures in the Tibetan plateau rose by 0.32ºC every 10 years since 1961––much higher than the average national rise of 0.05º-0.08ºC, thus accelerating glaciers’ melting, reports the China Meteorological Bureau.
Sources:
Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier is gone http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/1030126.html
Huge Bolivian glacier disappears http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8046540.stm
'Climate threat' to Tibet region http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8035774.stm

Rising Sea Levels
New melting estimates and their consequences show that melting of one of the world’s largest ice sheets could alter the Earth’s field of gravity and even its rotation, and disproportionately raise more sea levels on the west and east coasts of North America.
Sources:
Melting ice could cause gravity shift http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/melting-ice-could-cause-gravity-shift-1685201.html
Another study warns of threat of rising sea levels in the Northeast http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/politics/wire/sns-ap-us-sci-rising-seas,1,4691387.story

Health
At the 62nd World Health Assembly, held May 18-22, 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland, member States unanimously agreed to the resolution and work plan for scaling up the WHO’s technical assistance to countries for assessing and addressing the implications of climate change for health and health systems. The work plan is organized around four objectives: advocacy and awareness raising; engagement in partnerships with other UN organizations and sectors to ensure that health issues are included in adaptation and mitigation policies; supporting the generation of scientific evidence; and strengthening health systems to cope with the threats posed by climate change.
The UNFCCC Secretariat posted the submission by WHO, which will be examined in the 6th session of the Ad Hoc Groups on Long-Term Cooperative Action in Bonn, Germany, to be held June 1-12, 2009. The paper, “Protecting the health of vulnerable people from the humanitarian consequences of climate change and climate related disasters” is based on the recognition that climate change mitigation and adaptation are important for protecting the health of vulnerable populations and aims to document the range of risks that climate change poses to human health associated with humanitarian emergencies.
WHO also launched a report, “Protecting Health from Climate Change: Global research priorities,” during the meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers held in Geneva, Switzerland. The report, based on a global e-consultation and meeting of over 70 leading experts, proposes a series of recommendations on the most important directions for future work in five research areas: assessing risks, identifying the most effective interventions, guiding health-promoting mitigation and adaptation decisions in other sectors, improving decision-support, and estimating the costs of protecting health from climate change.
Sources:
World Health Assembly closes with resolutions on public health http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2009/world_health_assembly_20090522/en/index.html
Protecting the health of vulnerable people from the humanitarian consequences of climate change and climate related disasters http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/smsn/igo/047.pdf
Protecting Health from Climate Change: Global research priorities http://www.who.int/phe/news/madrid_report_661_final_lowres.pdf

Computer Modeling
MIT Integrated Global Systems Model, a comprehensive computer simulation including global economic activity and climate processes, involving 400 runs with slight variations of parameters, revealed––compared to 2000, a median probability of surface warming of 5.2ºC (9.4ºF) by 2100, with a 90% probability of 3.5º-7.4ºC (6.3º-13.3ºF). A 2003 median projection was a warming of 2.4ºC (4.3ºF). However, the estimates might be understatements, as they don’t include positive feedbacks from phenomena like methane release as consequence of arctic permafrost melting. The model was run and illustrated for situations with and without “policy change” for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sources:
Climate change odds much worse than thought http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/roulette-0519.html
Global warming of 7C 'could kill billions this century' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5357725/Global-warming-of-7C-could-kill-billions-this-century.html
Global warming could be twice as bad as forecast http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE54I6PF20090519

Adaptation
During the 17th session of CSD, UNEP launched a new report, “The Environmental Food Crisis: The Environment’s Role in Averting Future Food Crises,” which provides an overview of how environmental stresses such as climate change, water stress, invasive pests and land degradation may impact food prices and world food security. The report stresses the need for a Green Revolution in Africa, noting the challenges of water scarcity, lack of infrastructure and impacts from climate change, and proposes a seven-point plan to reduce the risk of hunger and food insecurity in the 21st century. At the launch, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated that reversing environmental degradation and investing in ecological infrastructure such as forests, soils, and water bodies is part of the Green Economy solution. He also pointed to opportunities to diversify livelihoods and incomes via the emerging carbon markets, including renewable energy and income from conserving forest, soil and vegetation cover to sequester carbon.
Sources:
Environment-Led Green Revolution Key to Future Food Security in Africa http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=585&ArticleID=6170&l=en&t=long
The Environmental Food Crisis: The Environment’s Role in Averting Future Food Crises: http://www.grida.no/publications/rr/food-crisis/
Anchoring Agriculture within a Copenhagen Agreement A Policy brief for UNFCCC parties by FAO http://www.fao.org/forestry/foris/data/nrc/policy_brief_sbstabonn.pdf

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The text for a new treaty on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to be negotiated at the December meeting in Copenhagen was posted online. The 53-page negotiating text includes four sections: “A shared vision for long-term cooperative action; Enhanced action on adaptation; Enhanced action on mitigation; Chapter IV: Enhanced action on financing, technology and capacity-building.” The next talks on the negotiating text will be held in Bonn, June 1-12.
Sources:
Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/awglca6/eng/08.pdf
Another step towards new climate change pact taken with online UN publication http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30854
"It's the first time [a] real negotiating text will be on the table which can serve as a basis for governments to start drafting a Copenhagen agreed outcome." http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/awglca6/eng/08.pdf

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
International Approaches to the Regulatory Governance of Nanotechnology
The Regulatory Governance Initiative (RGI) at Carleton University, Ottawa ON, has published a new report, International Approaches to the Regulatory Governance of Nanotechnology, that addresses the question: "How have Canada and other jurisdictions reacted to the recent emergence of nanotechnology-based products in the marketplace (and what is the current state of affairs)?" According to the story in Nanowerk News, it contains descriptions of the policy, regulatory, and stewardship approaches undertaken, and discusses the effectiveness of these approaches.
Sources:
International Approaches to the Regulatory Governance of Nanotechnology (report) http://www.carleton.ca/regulation/publications/Nanotechnology_Regulation_Paper_April2009.pdf
International approaches to the regulatory governance of nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=10642.php

New Estimation Technique for Nanoparticles in the Environment
Christine Robichaud, at Duke Univ.’s Pratt School of Engineering, and colleagues at Duke and UCLA, have developed a new way of estimating how much of a possibly hazardous material, e.g., titanium dioxide nanoparticles, is being generated, allowing future studies to assess possible risks. “We combined science and engineering knowledge with business and economic modeling to come up with what we think is the maximum amount of titanium dioxide nanoparticles out there,” Robichaud said. “By taking the amount of bulk titanium dioxide produced, which is better understood, and applying the rates of new technologies to convert it to the nanoparticle form found in journal articles and patent applications, we estimated the maximum ceiling amount.”
Source:
Novel Approach Estimates Nanoparticles In Environment http://news.duke.edu/2009/05/nanotitan.html

Proposal for Establishing an Arab Council on Nanotechnology (ACON)
An expert meeting on ethics of nanotechnologies in the Arab region has called for creation of an Arab Council on Nanotechnology (ACON). According to the proposer, Dr. Mukhles Sowwan of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, “The mission of ACON should be to raise awareness of the benefits and dangers of molecular nanotechnology, and assist in the creation and implementation of comprehensive balanced plans for responsible use of this technology.”
Sources:
Al-Quds Nanotech Research Lab http://www.eng.alquds.edu/nrl/nrl_site.swf
Call to set up a nanotech Arab body http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=291882&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

New South Wales Pushes for Nanotech Risk Protection
The government of New South Wales (Australia) will push for national mandatory labeling of nanoparticles used in workplaces, and for improved testing facilities to assess the safety of new nanomaterials. Suggestions for including immediate labeling of nanoparticles in food, sunscreens and cosmetics, and that nanoparticles be treated by regulators as new chemicals were not taken.
Source:
NSW pushes for nano risk labels http://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw-pushes-for-nano-risk-labels-20090504-asmk.html?page=1

New report on Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology
The Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies has issued a new report that calls for the creation of a new Department of Environmental and Consumer Protection to oversee product regulation, pollution control and monitoring, and technology assessment.
Source:
Former EPA Official Calls For New Environmental & Consumer Protection Agency http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/davies4/

Research Awards on Nanotech and Energy Presented to Nine Projects
E.ON, a leading power and gas company, has presented the E.ON Research Awards to international universities and research institutes. Nine research proposals representing outstanding ideas and innovations in applications of nanotechnology to energy problems were awarded grants. One that attracted particular attention was for a sunlight-driven photocatalysis hydrogen generating process being developed by Prof. Gianluca Li Puma,of the Energy Technologies Research Institute at the Univ. of Nottingham, England.
Sources:
Research Awards on Nanotech and Energy http://www.eon.com/en/unternehmen/21278.jsp
Accolade for solar-hydrogen project http://www.physorg.com/news161870957.html

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
Improved Governance Needed for Reducing Risks of Environmental Disaster
2009 Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction: risk and poverty in a changing climate is the first biennial global assessment of disaster risk reduction coordinated by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). The study is a comprehensive analysis of disasters and their effects, with concrete suggestions. It notes that between 1990 and 2007, global disaster risk increased by 13% as mortality, and 35% as economic loss, with low- and middle-income countries bearing far greater burden because of weak economic and governance systems. For example, Japan and the Philippines have roughly equivalent population exposure to tropical cyclones, but 17 times more people would die in the Philippines than Japan. The study identifies three primary ‘risk drivers’: unplanned urban development, vulnerable livelihoods, and ecosystem decline, each exacerbated by climate change, and proposes a 20-point action plan based on major shifts in development thinking by including preparedness in all strategies at international, national, and community levels.
The study The View From the Frontline, to be released in June, conducted by the Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction, focus on communities’ role in reducing disaster effects and calls for systemic changes in policy by governments. For example, the study says, education in local communities is needed to overcome a tendency to accept high disaster tolls as a matter of fate, instead of, for example, a result of lax building codes or lack of warning systems.
The Climate Gap, a study by a team from the University of California, Berkeley, documents how poor people are disproportionately affected by climate change in the U.S., and warns that a widening “climate gap” could exacerbate current and future social disparities. Therefore, the report highlights the importance of including environmental justice in climate change policies.
Sources:
2009 Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction: risk and poverty in a changing climate http://www.preventionweb.net/english/hyogo/gar/report/index.php?id=9413
Global assessment report launched: Landmark report on poverty risk in a changing climate http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/news/v.php?id=9425&pid:50
Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony launching The Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=3858
The Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction http://www.globalnetwork-dr.org/gndr/members.html
Studies Tie Disaster Risk to Urban Growth http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/world/17WebDisaster.html?ref=global-home
Report Reveals Climate Gap among Minorities, Poor in U.S. http://college.usc.edu/geography/ESPE/documents/ReleaseClimateGap_FINAL.pdf

New Arctic Maps Detail Geological Features
The most comprehensive geological atlas of the Arctic has been published. It maps detailed information on continental plates, rock types, and highlights the potential reserves of oil, gas, and other mineral resources. It estimates that the area within the Arctic Circle might contain around 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas resources and 13% of oil reserves. The research, published in Science magazine, is the result of data compiled over several years by an international team of northern countries researchers. Meanwhile, Durham University updated its map of the Arctic highlighting the disputed territories. These publications should aid in environmental surveillance, resource exploration, and negotiation of Arctic sovereignty disputes. [See also The Debate over Strategic Control of the Arctic is Heating Up in July-August 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New map of Arctic could point to Canadian gas, minerals http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2009/05/07/tech-geological-map-arctic-marc-st-onge.html
(See “External Links – Mirage Map Database”)
Arctic's black gold mapped http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090528/full/news.2009.527.html
Maritime jurisdiction and boundaries in the Arctic region http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic/

Back to Top


April 2009

International Response to Contain Influenza A(H1N1) Outbreak
The World Health Organization raised the level of influenza A(H1N1) alert to five on a one to six scale, meaning that it considers a pandemic highly probable. All countries are asked to activate their pandemic plans and be prepared to deal with emergency situations. The flu––a combination of swine, bird, and human viruses––started in Mexico and rapidly spread around the world, with cases confirmed in 11 countries, as of the end of April. WHO flu expert Dr Keiji Fukuda said, "Containment is not a feasible operation." In response to the outbreak, WHO has applied the International Health Regulations 2005 that entered into force in 2007 for all member states. Some experts consider that the influenza A(H1N1) will test IHR 2005’s efficiency and countries’ compliance, as well as provide an opportunity for increased preparedness for eventual future acts of bioterrorism and expedite research for a vaccine that would protect against a larger spectrum of viruses. The Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development announced that the development of a universal flu vaccine is getting closer to reality. [See also Global Pandemic Containment Efforts in October 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
WHO influenza A(H1N1) information http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html
Disease and Terror http://www.newsweek.com/id/195422
US military 'monitoring' flu outbreak http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.8282347267271b64646e51f83dc4437f.501&show_article=1
Universal Flu Vaccine in Development http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2009/2009-04-27-094.asp

UN to Conduct Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment in Gaza
UNEP’s Post Conflict and Disaster Management Branch will deploy a team of up to eight experts to the Gaza Strip to assess the environmental impact of the December 2008–January 2009 invasion by Israel. The focus will be infrastructure and contamination risks assessment, wastewater and hazardous wastes management, state of coastal and marine environment examination, and institutional and economic evaluation. The ten-day mission is scheduled for mid-May, with results expected by early June, followed by a report and recommendations in July. [See also Environmental Legacy of Hezbollah-Israeli War in January 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Assessment and Rehabilitation of Damaged Infrastructure Key Focus of UN Environment Chief's Mission to Gaza Strip
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=579&ArticleID=6132&l=en&t=long

Central Asian Water Security Tensions Continue
The Central Asian water summit held on April 28 at Almaty, Kazakhstan, gathered the Presidents of all five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) to discuss activities of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. When the contentious cross-border water sharing issues came up, tensions arose between upstream Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, who want to build power stations to address energy shortages in their countries, and downstream Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which need large quantities of water for their economic activities. No agreement was reached and the final statement mentions only the issues related to the decline of the Aral Sea. Since the Soviet Union’s cross-border water distribution system fell apart, the lack of a regional transboundary water management agreement became the most serious Central Asian security concern. Therefore, the international community should intensify such efforts as those started at the Fifth Ministerial Conference, “Environment for Europe”, held in Kiev in 2003 to develop a Central Asian Initiative on environment, water and security. [See also Unless Water Management Improves, Conflicts over Water Are Inevitable in August 2006, A Project to Address the Aral Sea Disaster in February 2005, Network of Environment Centres in Central Asia in February 2004, and First EU-Central Asia Security Forum Included Environmental Security in September 2008 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Central Asian Leaders Fail To Overcome Differences At Water Summit http://www.rferl.org/content/Central_Asian_Leaders_Fail_To_Overcome_Differences_At_Water_Summit/1617787.html
Central Asia Water Talks Break Down http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/1009/42/376690.htm
Central Asia fails in water talks http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8021900.stm

Regulations Might be Needed for New Greenhouse Gases
New findings show that some compounds developed to replace banned chemicals are powerful greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. The hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that replaced the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) can be up to 10,000 times more powerful in climate-warming than CO2. And, with their use growing at 8.8% per year, they might represent up to a third of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2030–2040. The Obama administration is considering proposing HFCs phase-out by an amendment to the Montreal Protocol or by creating a new international agreement. Similarly, sulfuryl fluoride, a fumigant introduced to replace methyl bromide, is a heat-trapping gas 4,800 times stronger than CO2. Delegates at the Bonn climate change meeting targeted more than a dozen new synthetic compounds for inclusion in the post-Kyoto treaty as potent greenhouse gases. The list includes nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) ––used for LCD televisions, computer circuits, and thin-film solar cells––estimated to be an about 17,000 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and developed to replace perfluorocarbons (PFCs) covered by the Kyoto Protocol.
Sources:
New Greenhouse Gas Identified http://www.terradaily.com/reports/New_Greenhouse_Gas_Identified_999.html
New greenhouse gas identified. Early detection may permit 'nipping it in the bud' http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/prinn-greenhouse-tt0311.html
US wants to move on climate change http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view/2009_04_29_US_wants_to_move_on_climate_change
New greenhouse gases targeted by UN talks http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/New_greenhouse_gases_targeted_by_UN_talks_999.html

Rocket Launches Might Need Regulation to Safeguard Ozone Layer
Scientists warn that rapid growth of space activity requiring more rocket launches might lead to dangerously high levels of ozone-destroying emissions and therefore recommend adopting international regulations for rocket launches. One option would be to include the space industry in the Montreal Protocol that bans use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in aerosol cans, refrigerants and air conditioners. “If left unregulated, rocket launches by the year 2050 could result in more ozone destruction than was ever realized by CFCs,” said a team member, Professor Darin Toohey of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder. [See also Call for Expanding Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances in September 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Scientists: Regulate Rocket Launches to Safeguard Ozone Layer http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2009/2009-04-01-091.asp

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Chemical Weapons-Resistant Chameleon Fabric to be Developed
Scientists at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico are working on research that could lead to developing synthetic materials that would react to surrounding conditions––change color and temperature, and even “seal” upon contact with a hazardous chemical agent. Now that the theory is understood, they hope to get material results (mainly using nanotechnology) in five to ten years. “The long-term goal and payoff has a number of different applications, both in civilian applications as well as military ones,” said principal investigator George Bachand.
Sources:
US company envisions chameleon camouflage http://www.smalltimes.com/news/display_news_story.cfm?NewsID=176913
Sandia research points way toward chameleon-like camouflage http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2009/nano_camo.html

Waste Gasification Still a Controversial Technique
A recent article in New Scientist reviewed the current state of waste gasification and also noted objections being raised to that technology. According to the article, “Pilot gasification plants are being set up at various sites in the US, Canada, France, the UK and Portugal, most of them using the plasma technique. Japan already has two commercial plasma plants, but these are focused primarily on simply disposing of household waste rather than generating energy from it.” Plans for a large plant in Florida have been scaled down, and earlier plasma plants in Germany and Australia were shut down after failing to meet emissions standards. [See also Mobile Unit Turns Waste into Energy in February 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
Could your trashcan solve the energy crisis? http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227051.500-could-your-trashcan-solve-the-energy-crisis.html?page=1

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Water Filter Effective Against Parasites
A new sand filter reportedly has the ability to clean water 30 to 50 times faster than similar existing devices, with the added advantage that it is effective in removing oocysts of the Cryptosporidium protozoan parasite from the flow. The filter, being developed by Prof. James Amburgey of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, uses a chemical pretreatment scheme based on ferric chloride and a pH buffer that is added to the water; a single formulation of the chemicals in the scheme seems to be effective regardless of water quality.
Source:
Simple Filter Delivers Clean, Safe Drinking Water, Potentially To Millions http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309211938.htm

Fast Multi-hazard Water Analyzer
A new automatic Biohazard Water Analyzer directly measures individual species of pathogenic bacteria, protozoa and viruses in the same test, and provides reports in two to three hours time. The technology is RNA-based, developed by Early Warning, Inc. of Troy NY and is licensed from NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Sources:
Early Warning, Inc. http://www.earlywarninginc.com/
Biohazard Water Analyzer Employs a Revolutionary Nanotechnology-Based Biosensor http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=10982

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
First Flexible Supercapacitor Built
Prof. George Grüner’s group at UCLA has developed the world’s first flexible supercapacitor by spraying carbon nanotubes onto plastic films that serve as both the device’s electrodes and charge collectors. Their current designs are relatively inefficient, but the scientists believe that valuable insights are being obtained into the issues of manufacturing and material selection engineering.
Source:
Printed supercapacitor could feed power-hungry gadgets
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16939-printed-supercapacitor-could-feed-powerhungry-gadgets.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Hydrogen Production by Catalytic Light-induced Splitting of Water
Prof. David Milstein and colleagues in the Organic Chemistry Department of Israel’s Weizmann Institute have carried out the first steps in the development of a new technique for catalytic production of hydrogen. The method depends on a series of thermal- and light-driven processes, aided by a recoverable ruthenium metal complex catalyst.
Source:
A Unique Approach for Splitting Water. Weizmann Institute Scientists Develop a Unique Approach for Splitting Water into Hydrogen and Oxygen
http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/site/en/weizman.asp?pi=371&doc_id=5517

Diatoms Help Build Better Dye-sensitized Solar Cells
Researchers at Oregon State University and Portland State University have created a new way to make “dye-sensitized” solar cells, according to an announcement by chemical engineering Prof. Greg Rorrer at OSU. It turns out that diatom skeletons have an ideal nanostructure to serve as the basis for the semiconductors for a dye-sensitized solar cell. The skeletons may have come from diatoms raised in an environment containing titanium rather than silicon, so that they actually consist of titanium dioxide, or they may be normal skeletons that have been “frosted” with the titanium material. In either case, the physical “shape” of the diatom film is such that a solar cell made with these semiconductors is more efficient at converting incident light into energy.
Source:
Ancient diatoms lead to new technology for solar energy http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/osu-adl040809.php

Genetically Engineered Viruses Produce Advanced Battery Electrodes
Profs. Angela Belcher, Gerbrand Ceder, and Michael Strano of MIT have developed the first devices that use a potentially fast and inexpensive technology in which battery anodes and cathodes are “grown” by a genetically engineered bacteriophage that accumulates conductive materials on a polymer separator. The researchers are now working on up- and down-sizing the components, and improving their rechargeability life.
Source:
Virus battery could 'power cars' http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7977585.stm

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Airline Group Supports Including Aviation in Global Emissions Trading Scheme
An aviation group expressed support for a global emissions-trading scheme and hopes that their proposal will be included in the new post-Kyoto pact to fight climate change. The 43-point proposal covers all carbon pollution from the international aviation sector, suggesting a framework for allowances and the creation of a UN body for administering the system, and recommending that nations agree to a global cap on aviation emissions. The six-member group includes four of the world’s top airlines (Air France/KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic), airport operator BAA, and the international NGO, The Climate Group. [See also Provisional Agreement for Including Aviation in the Emission Trading Scheme from 2012 in June 2008 environmental security report.]
Source:
Airline group backs global emissions trading scheme http://uk.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUKSP41096120090406

U.S. and Canada to Control Air Emissions from Ships
The U.S. and Canada have proposed that the International Maritime Organization create a North American Emission Control Area around their coastlines, extending out 200 nautical miles in the jurisdictions of the United States and Canada. In order to comply with the new standards, ships should use fuel with a maximum of 1,000 parts per million sulfur beginning in 2015, and new ships should use advanced emission control technologies beginning in 2016. The proposal is part of a comprehensive EPA program to address harmful emissions from ships under the National Clean Diesel Campaign and the Clean Ports Program, in an effort to protect the population from harmful emissions. The IMO is expected to begin reviewing the proposal in July, with expected approval in 2010. [See also Tougher Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships in October 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
US and Canada Request IMO Create Emissions Control Area Around Coastlines http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/03/us-and-canada-request-imo-create-emissions-control-area-around-coastlines.html
U.S., Canada Seek to Control Air Emissions from Ships http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2009/2009-03-30-02.asp

European Climate and Energy Package Formally Adopted
The European 20/20/20 energy and climate package was formally adopted, setting legally binding targets requiring that by 2020 greenhouse gas emissions be cut to 20% below 1990 levels, the share of renewable energy increase to 20%, and energy efficiency improve by 20%. The package consists of six legislative acts and will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal, expected in May 2009. [See also EU Renewable Energy Policy becomes Legally Binding in December 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Commission welcomes adoption of climate and energy package http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/628&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Norway Proposal to Ban Gasoline-only New Cars by 2015
Norway Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen wants to put forward a proposal to ban from 2015 the sale in Norway of new cars that run solely on fossil fuels. The proposal’s intent is to force carmakers to shift to greener models, to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. [See also European Commission Proposed Binding Legislation for Vehicle Emissions Cuts in December 2007 and All-Electric cars coming from Norway and China with More than Hundred Mile Ranges in April 2008 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Ban Gasoline Cars from 2015: Norway Finance Minister http://planetark.org/wen/52660

Canada Increases Chemicals Control
Ontario has joined Quebec in enacting restrictions on the use of pesticides and is going further by prohibiting the sale and cosmetic use of more than 80 ingredients and 250 products. Other provinces are considering similar measures. Ontario also proposed the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, aiming to reduce the use of toxic and hazardous substances in manufacturing and industrial operations. If enacted, the directive will bring Ontario manufacturing into compliance with the EU REACH regulations. [See also Canada Extends Toxic Substances Lists in March 2009 and New Chemicals Considered for Toxic Lists in January 2009 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Ontario to enact toughest pesticide ban in Canada http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/621989
Ontario Proposes Industry Detox Legislation http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2009/2009-04-08-02.asp
Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTA2MTQ5&statusId=MTU5MTk4&language=en

New Developments Concerning the Arctic
The declaration adopted by the Arctic Council ministerial meeting held in Tromsø, Norway, April 28-29, represents a comprehensive instrument for international cooperation and policies in the region. Some of the most significant issues are: negotiation of an international instrument for cooperation on search and rescue services; a demand for the IMO to develop new guidelines for ships operating in Arctic waters and mandatory regulations on safety and environmental protection in the region; development of standards and guidelines for economic activities and oil and gas exploration in the Arctic; creation of a task force on short-lived non-CO2 drivers of climate change such as black carbon, methane and tropospheric precursors in Arctic climate change; ecosystems-based ocean management; and addressing effects of climate change on indigenous people and ecosystems. Russia said that it opposes the presence of any military-political blocs in the Arctic and invited support for its new initiative “The Electronic Memory of the Arctic,” an open access on-line information resource. The request of the EU, China, Italy, and South Korea for permanent observers’ status was put on hold for now. The next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council will be in 2011, although, given the increasing importance of the Arctic, meetings at political level will be held yearly. Denmark will take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
Canada announced the location of the two satellite reception ground stations for the Polar Epsilon project designed to enhance its Arctic surveillance and security capabilities and capacity to exploit space-based data for defense, maritime security and environmental monitoring.
Norway became the first Arctic nation to accept limits to its northern seabed with the new defined continental shelf at 550 kms (342 miles) from the Pole, which is claimed by both Russia and Denmark. [See also Arctic Security and Sovereignty Debate Continues in January 2009, Arctic Needs New International Regulations in September 2008 and other items on the Arctic debate in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
The Tromsø Declaration ratified http://arctic-council.org/article/2009/4/the_tromso_declaration_ratified
Russia does not view Arctic as area of potential conflicts – Lavrov http://www.interfax.com/3/490967/news.aspx
Government of Canada Announces Location of Satellite Reception Ground Stations for Polar Epsilon http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Department-Of-National-Defence-967526.html
Oslo sets limit on Arctic seabed, short of North Pole http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE53E3X420090415

Fiber Check Dams with Chemicals Control Polluting Construction Runoff
Research by Dr. Rich McLaughlin, associate professor of soil science at NC State Univ., and colleagues has shown that fiber check dams constructed from a mix of straw wattles and coir logs, with added granulated, anionic polyacrylamide (PAM), are enormously more effective in protecting watercourses from the muddy runoff around road and other construction projects than the currently used "sediment traps" and rock check dams in ditches. Turbidity of road runoff improved by a factor of more than 100.
Sources:
Improving construction site runoff quality with fiber check dams and polyacrylamide http://www.jswconline.org/content/64/2/144.abstract
Study finds better way to protect streams from construction runoff http://www.physorg.com/print159190208.html

Possibly Tainted Imported Drywall Raises Health Fears
A number of complaints from around the US have alerted authorities to possible health and other problems allegedly caused by imported Chinese drywall. It appears that a large but unknown quantity of this product may contain, or have been contaminated with, chemicals that over time emit noxious fumes.
military facilities and projects (past, ongoing and planned), if necessary.
Source:
AP IMPACT: Chinese drywall poses potential risks http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_12122912

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
A poll conducted by Reuters with experts, who were among authors of the 2007 IPCC report, attending the Bonn Climate Change meeting revealed high agreement that it is “unlikely” (less than 1/3 chance) the world would manage to limit warming to 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. Out of 11 scientists participating in the survey, 6 said world average annual temperatures would set a new record by 2015, and 4 said it would happen by 2020. As for sea level rise by 2100, projections varied from 30-40 cm (11.8–15.7 inches) to up to 140 cm (55.1 inches), and 10 of those polled projected that Arctic late summer sea ice could vanish before 2050, with two saying it would happen by 2020. A similar poll conducted by the Guardian with participation of 261 experts showed that 46% of those who answered the question on temperature rise estimated that it would reach 3–4°C (5.4–7.2°F) by the end of the century.
The Right to Survive report by Oxfam International reveals that the number of people affected by the 6,500 climate-related disasters recorded since 1980 has doubled in 30 years and estimates that by 2015 it might further increase by 54%, to an average of more than 375 million people per year. The emergency organizations might be overwhelmed by the rising number of people in poor countries affected by climate hazards, while worldwide emergency aid spending would need to be doubled to at least $25bn a year to help cope with the situation.

Food and Water Security
The First G8 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting, held in Cison di Valmarino, Italy, April 18–20, under the theme “The World Food Emergency,” was attended by Ministers of Agriculture of the G8 countries and Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Australia and Egypt, and the heads of UN agencies. The Declaration adopted includes proposals to place agriculture and food security at the core of the international agenda and sustainably increase renewable energy production from biomass without compromising food security. The Declaration will be forwarded to the G8 Heads of State summit to be held in Italy in July 2009.
Delegates attending the 65th Session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) held in Bangkok, Thailand, April 23-29, discussed the financial crisis and its convergence with other threats to development and the need to work toward a stable and supportive financial system for development. The meeting was convened under the theme of “Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Asia and the Pacific” with the special body on least developed and land locked developing countries addressing the food-fuel-financial crisis and climate change, and associated threats to development.
Rivers in some of the world’s most populated regions are losing water due largely to climate change, reveals research led by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., to be published May 15 in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate. Among the 925 big rivers, rivers with decreased flow outnumbered those with increased flow by 2.5 to 1 and freshwater discharges into the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean dropped by 6% and 3% respectively over the past 50 years (from 1948 to 2004). Added to the effects from damming, irrigation, and other water use, these changes could become a threat to future supplies of food and water, warn the researchers.
The "Asia's Next Challenge: Securing the Region's Water Future" report produced by the Asia Society, warns that Asia may see more conflicts over scarce water resources in the coming years due to the combination of climate change, urbanization, and population growth. Most vulnerable are the relations between India and Pakistan, and those related to the Mekong River, which is shared by China and its southern neighbors, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The ten recommendations put forward in the report include greater regional cooperation and ensuring that water management organizations work directly with those responsible for defense and diplomacy.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Recent evidence of ice loss from both poles renewed the fears that global warming is progressing faster than scientists predicted. The latest evidence from satellite observations from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the decade-long trend of shrinking sea ice cover is continuing, and the ice cap is thinning. Compared to the 1980s and '90s, thicker ice, which lasts two summers or more, decreased to less than 10% of the northern polar ice cap in winter, from 30–40% (and 20% just two years ago), while thinner seasonal sea ice (which melts in summer) now accounts for about 70% of the Arctic total, compared to 40–50%. Similar observations were made by Pen Hadow, the head of a British team walking to the North Pole to assess the Arctic ice sheets melting rate, who found that, so far, the average depth of the ice has been under 1.8 meters (6 feet), suggesting most is new first-year ice that is likely to melt in summer months.
Similar phenomena are happening at the South Pole, where the European Space Agency satellite data show massive amounts of ice are breaking away from the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Health
At the ceremony on World Health Day, April 7, Michel Jerraud, Secretary-General of WMO, noted the need for early warning systems for climate hazards. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, discussed the need for long-term planning, especially for those areas that will become disaster-prone due to climate change, and also made connections between climate change and needs to ensure disaster-related health care.

Adaptation
The European Commission presented a White Paper outlining the framework for reducing the European Union’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Since the impacts of climate change vary by region, the strategy would complement Member States’ policies through an integrated and coordinated approach, particularly in cross-border issues. It underlines that adapting to climate change should be integrated into all EU policies. The plan has two phases: the first one spans 2009-2012 for preparing the knowledge base and policy instruments for phase two, commencing in 2013, that would be the implementation of the adaptation strategy. The White Paper covers phase 1, which is based on “four pillars of action” covering increasing understanding of climate change and identifying actions and policy instruments to be embedded in key EU policies. The paper specifies that a Clearing House Mechanism should be established by 2011 to exchange information on climate change impacts and adaptability measures. The Commission will set up an Impact and Adaptation Steering Group to ensure the successful completion of phase 1. The Commission also presented three discussion papers on water, coasts and marine, and agricultural and health issues based on the framework set out in the White Paper.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro highlighted links between the issues of gender, disaster risk reduction, climate change, and poverty reduction in a statement delivered to the International Conference on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction, from 20-22 April, in Beijing, China. Migiro stressed that women, who constitute 70% of the world’s poor, are disproportionately impacted by disasters and warned that climate change is expected to exacerbate this suffering, as well as threaten food security, health, and water supplies. She called for a “21st Century multi-stakeholder partnership” to mitigate the growing scourge of disasters.
Nearly 500 indigenous representatives from 5,000 distinct indigenous groups across 80 nations gathered for the Indigenous People’s Global Summit on Climate Change, hosted by the Inuit Circumpolar Council, April 20-24, in Anchorage, Alaska, to discuss how to integrate indigenous views, policies, traditional values and visions into the global response to the challenges of climate change. The Summit’s final recommendations contain two options regarding the use of fossil fuels: the first calls for a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling, while the second proposes an eventual phase-out of fossil fuels use, while at the same time respecting the rights of indigenous people to develop their resources. The recommendations will be presented to COP15.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The first of three sessions preparing for the Copenhagen conference, held March 29-April 8 in Bonn, Germany, was attended by more than 2,000 delegates from government, business and industry, environmental organizations, and research institutions. While progress was made on many issues, mainly related to technology cooperation between industrialized and developing countries and deforestation, the deadlock concerning rapidly developing countries––such as India and China––in mandatory reductions framework continues. Meantime, an alliance of 43 island states, backed by more than a dozen nations from Africa and Latin America, urged developed countries to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by at least 95% below 1990 levels by 2050. Countries have the opportunity to provide input to the draft for the negotiating text ahead of the next round of talks to be held in June.
Sources:
World will not meet 2C warming target, climate change experts agree http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/14/global-warming-target-2c
Right to Survive http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/right-to-survive-report
The First G8 Agriculture Minister’s Meeting http://www.g8agricultureministersmeeting.mipaaf.com/en/
As World Warms, Water Levels Dropping In Major Rivers http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421101625.htm
Asia's Next Challenge: Securing the Region's Water Future http://www.asiasociety.org/taskforces/water/
Lack Of Permanent Arctic Ice Surprises Explorers http://planetark.org/wen/52513
Satellite imagery shows fragile Wilkins Ice Shelf destabilized http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMRAVANJTF_index_0.html
World Health Day http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2009/en/index.html
Living with climate change in Europe http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
Latest round of UN talks on pact to combat global warming wraps up in Bonn http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30433&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
China, India reject climate agreement that obstructs economic growth http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=local&newsid=119511

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
EU Parliament Recommends Stronger Nanotech Precautions
Meridian Nanotechnology & Development News reports a Bureau of National Affairs story that the European Parliament has forwarded to the European Commission a resolution saying that current regulations are not sufficiently precautionary for handling nanomaterials. According to the story, it “has no legislative force, but must be considered by the European Commission when formulating EU policy on nanotechnology. The Commission's current approach to nanomaterials is that no major regulatory initiative is necessary.”
Sources:
European Union Should Review Regulations Governing Nanomaterials, Parliament Says http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=1866
EU Parliament wants tighter nano regulation http://euobserver.com/9/28015/?rk=1

New OECD Report on Nanotech Risks in the Workplace
The OECD has published a report, Preliminary Analysis of Exposure Measurement and Exposure Mitigation in Occupational Settings: Manufactured Nanomaterials that, “provides researchers with suggestions on how to respond to the lack of standards on techniques for measuring workplace exposure to nanomaterials.” Further, “Researchers can still institute and develop standards on an individual basis, the report says, but recommends that consensus standards, biomarkers, and other tools and resources need to be developed.” The report also outlines the first part of an OECD project on this issue.
Sources:
OECD Addresses Shortfalls in Measuring Exposure to Nanomaterials in Workplace http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=1859
Preliminary Analysis of Exposure Measurement and Exposure Mitigation in Occupational Settings: Manufactured Nanomaterials, report http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2009doc.nsf/LinkTo/NT000029E6/$FILE/JT03263204.PDF

SAFENANO Publishes First Global Review of EHS Risks of Nanotechnology
According to an article in Nanowerk News, Defra, the UK Government Department for Food & Rural Affairs, has published a report, EMERGNANO: A review of completed and near completed environment, health and safety research on nanomaterials and nanotechnology, from the SAFENANO initiative. “[The report] provides a unique identification and analysis of research carried out worldwide on nanotechnology safety, including that relating to hazard, exposure, risk assessment & regulation.“ The article continues, “EMERGNANO identified more than 670 projects from around the world, and … assessed more than 260 unique, relevant projects …. The final report provides a comprehensive listing of projects, alongside detailed evaluation of their outputs.” See also UK Launches New Nanotechnology Environmental Service in January 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
EMERGNANO: A review of completed and near completed environment, health and safety research on nanomaterials and nanotechnology report http://www.safenano.org/Uploads/EMERGNANO_CB0409_Full.pdf
SAFENANO team completes global review of nanomaterial EHS research http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=10088.php

China Moves Strongly into Nanotech Arena
China has budgeted $18 billion of its stimulus package for R/D this year, and the expectation is that a large piece of that will go into its sweeping nanotech program. A sign of this is that China now produces more papers on nanotech than any other country. A major concern in the future, of course, will be the safety of nanotech-containing Chinese exports.
Source:
China's giant step into nanotech http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/mar/26/nanotechnology-china

New Comparison of Micro- and Nano-particles’ Toxicity to Cells
Researchers in the Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences at the Univ. of Massachusetts, led by Prof. Baoshan Xing, have published a new study showing that the size of oxide nanoparticles, in addition to their composition, is an important factor in their toxicity to bacteria, a characteristic with ecological implications.
Sources:
Bacterial toxicity comparison between nano- and micro-scaled oxide particles http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VB5-4VGW7M2-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=b422b89cdc653ab8474130db850abf65
Size matters. Comparing the toxicity of micro- to nanoparticles http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=10128.php

New Book Studies Media and Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology, Risk and Communication, co-authored by Professor Stuart Allan of Bournemouth University, United Kingdom [Palgrave Macmillan 2009], is “one of the first major studies of media coverage, policy debates and public perceptions about nanotechnology.”
Sources:
Nanotechnology, Risk and Communication http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=277172

International Nanotech Workshop to Precede June Prague Meeting
The 1st ICPC NanoNet Workshop will be held on June 1st, 2009, at the same venue as EuroNanoForum 2009, which begins on June 2nd. [See item European Nanotech Meetings to Be Held in June and September 2009 in March 2009 environmental security report.] The Workshop will present reviews of nanotech activities from speakers representing all regions of the world.
Source:
1st ICPC NanoNet Workshop http://www.icpc-nanonet.org/content/category/6/40/91/

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

Wearable Computing Show Scheduled in Milan 20 May 2009
The Road Show wearIT@work: The Present and the Future of Wearable Computing - Application in real-life work environments will take place on 20 May 2009 at the HP Milano site in Cernusco sul Naviglio, Milan, Italy. wearIT@work is an Integrated EU FP6 Project and is the largest project worldwide in Wearable Computing. Its major goal is the development and integration of wearable computing as a way of bringing computer support to workers without interfering with their normal activities.
Sources:
wearIT@work Road Show - 20 May 2009, Milan http://www.wearitatwork.com/Road-Show-Milan-20-May-2009.321.0.html
wearIT@work project http://www.wearitatwork.com/

Solar Storm Could Wipe Out Power Grid
A recent article in New Scientist, sparked by a report from the National Academies, calls attention to the grave danger to the electronic environment posed by a very large “coronal mass ejection” – a solar storm, one of which, although admittedly extremely rare (the worst one so far was in 1859), could effectively destroy the electricity grid over a large section of the US. Magnetospheric effects from the coronal plasma ball would induce large DC currents in the high-voltage grid, melting transformers and leading to a national disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Sources:
Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12507#top
Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20127001.300-space-storm-alert-90-seconds-from-catastrophe.html?full=true

Back to Top


March 2009

Climate Change Triggers Redrawing Swiss-Italian Borders
Switzerland and Italy are cooperating in redrawing their national borders in the Matterhorn mountain area, due to melting Alpine glaciers that previously set the border lines. The new proposal considers the rocks rather than glaciers as border criteria. The Swiss-Italian border change will not affect any inhabited area. Franco Narducci, of Italy’s opposition Democratic Party, who is preparing the bill for redefining the frontier, said that similar negotiations will be proposed to France and Austria. Redrawing these borders creates a precedent with implications for other effects of climate change in other regions such as the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and the Low-lying Island States.
Sources:
Melting snow prompts border change between Switzerland and Italy http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/melting-snow-prompts-border-change-between-switzerland-and-italy-1653181.html
Climate changes Europe's borders – and the world's http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16854-climate-changes-europes-borders--and-the-worlds.html

Water-related Rights and Security Addressed by 5th World Water Forum
25,000 attended the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, March 16-22, 2009. Several theme-based and regional sessions addressed water resources, security implications, and risk management in the context of global change—mainly the effects of climate change and related economic crises. Some suggestions made at the Forum include: constitution of a “World Water Parliament”; stricter zoning laws; linking water and energy efficiency initiatives; proactive policy processes for addressing disasters and reducing water-related conflicts; the need to respect international law protecting water resources during conflict; and recognizing the right to water and sanitation as a human need. Documents launched or adopted by the Forum include the Ministerial Declaration, “Water in a Changing World” (the 3rd World Water Development Report), and “Managing Water for All: An OECD Perspective on Pricing and Financing by OECD.”
Meantime, the NATO report “New Horizons,” highlighting access to water as an aspect of energy and resource scarcity, notes that the countries of the Middle East and Africa already suffering from absolute water scarcity “will most likely be joined by China, India, Pakistan and South Africa around 2025.”
Sources:
Summary of the 5th World Water Forum http://www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/sd/ymbvol82num23e.pdf
NEW HORIZONS. Finding a path away from NATO’s de-solidarisation http://www.natonewhorizons.org/NewHorizons-DigitalEdition.pdf (14MB file)

Environmental Early Warning Systems with Web Crawlers
Web crawlers (“software programs that browse the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner”) could serve as part of an early warning system for changes that may indicate impending ecological/environmental problems, points out an article by researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and the University of East Anglia. They suggest, “web crawlers can collect information on the drivers of ecosystem change, rather than the resultant ecological response,…. future early warning systems can make use of the recent insight that shows that ecosystems sometimes ‘signal’ a pending collapse, … [and the crawlers] may find information that describes ecological changes at small scales, which may warn of similar shifts in other locations”
Sources:
Doing it online: Internet can detect eco-crises http://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/researchnews/doingitonlineinternetcandetectecocrises.5.589e653711f5b17101b8000415.html
Can information and communication technology help us save the planet? (Blog) http://resilienceinnovation.blogspot.com/
Can web crawlers revolutionize ecological monitoring? (abstract) http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/070204
Crawling the Web to Foretell Ecosystem Collapse http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/ecodatamining.html

Future Lithium Dependency Raises New Energy Security Concerns
World demand for lithium is growing rapidly. It is the key element of improved batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, cell phones, laptops, etc. today. Bolivia has nearly half the world’s lithium reserves and will build lithium batteries domestically. Allegedly, some attempts by US, Japanese and French electric car makers to obtain lithium concessions failed. Official talks of plans for establishing a lithium cartel similar to OPEC to control the resource raise new energy security concerns. Current large lithium producers are Argentina (about 50% of current world production), Chile, China, and Australia. However, at the recent Lithium Market and Supply conference held in Santiago, Chile, it was said that there is plenty of lithium supply to meet demand for the foreseeable future. Considering the potential energy and environmental security implications of access to lithium reserves, it is wise to develop alternative battery technologies, such as those based on sodium nickel chloride or zinc-air, that do not face resource depletion or restriction issues. (Reportedly, Toyota and Germany’s RWE are focusing R&D on zinc-air batteries.)
Sources:
Bolivia pins hopes on lithium, electric vehicles http://www.physorg.com/news155115838.html
Mineral wealth, political weapon. Morales wields control of nation's lithium, uranium as cudgel http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/10/mineral-wealth-political-weapon/
Peak Lithium: Will Supply Fears Drive Alternative Batteries? http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/02/03/peak-lithium-will-supply-fears-drive-alternative-batteries/

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Air Quality Evaluation Tool
According to a news story in Science Daily “The Grupo de Modelos y Software para el medio Ambiente of the Facultad de Informática at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has developed a very sophisticated tool (OPANA) that estimates the impact of air quality on the health of citizens using last generation models. … [It produces] extremely precise measurements of the concentration of a certain atmospheric contaminant that a person breathes in a determined time and place, from a particular source (an industry, an incinerator, a motorway, etc.). It is possible to determine the consequent impact under almost any circumstances or distance from the source.” The results require the input of accurate data on local topography and land use, meteorology, and, most importantly, the estimated emissions in the area.
Sources:
New Tool For Study Of Air Quality Developed http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090311085406.htm
The evaluation of the air quality impact of an incinerator by using MM5-CMAQ-EMIMO modeling system: North of Spain case study (abstract) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V7X-4SBYYGS-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=7cd8a3dfb80125e265f078e654526891

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Soil Bacterium May Convert Toxic Metals to Harmless Form
An international group of scientists at the Ohio State University, Columbus have published an on-line paper describing how the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis, found in soil, including nuclear waste dumps, breaks down metal oxides to chemically extract oxygen, leaving behind a non-soluble, and therefore harmless, residue.
Sources:
Antibody-recognition force microscopy shows that outer membrane cytochromes OmcA and MtrC are expressed on the exterior surface of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/AEM.02108-08v1
Common Soil Bacteria Could Clean Up Nuclear Contamination http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2009/2009-03-17-092.asp

Carbon Nanotube Adsorbents Remove Water Impurities
Prof. S. Ramaprabhu of the Alternative Energy and Nanotechnology Laboratory and Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, has led research resulting in the filing of a patent application for a nanocomposite adsorbent that could treat polluted wastewater from industrial plants and other sources, eliminating viruses, bacteria, toxic metal ions, and other organic molecules, although possibly requiring some modification for certain purposes. The news story reporting this also mentions water treatment research by Catalyx, Inc. of Anaheim CA, using reverse osmosis, and a project at the Center for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon Univ., based on tetra-amido macrocyclic ligand catalysts.
Sources:
IIT uses nanotech for cheap textile wastewater cleanup http://www.cleantech.com/news/4271/iit-uses-nanotech-cheap-textile-was
Catalyx develops two-way osmosis to purify wastewater http://www.cleantech.com/news/4095/catalyx-develops-two-way-osmosis-wa
Researchers claim chemistry breakthrough for environmental cleanup http://www.cleantech.com/news/3247/green-chemistry-catalyst-promises-safe-clean-alternative

Robot “Fish” Evaluate Underwater Pollution
BMT Group, of Teddington, England, announced plans for initial testing of a new device for sensing underwater pollution. The device, developed by Prof. Huosheng Hu and associates at the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex, is physically modeled on a fish, is autonomous, requiring no external control, and communicates findings from its chemical sensors via a Wi-Fi connection at a charging point.
Sources:
Robotic fish: the latest weapon in the fight against water pollution http://www.bmt.org/News/?/3/0/510
G8 Robotic Fish (video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSibkb6aKHM

New Membrane for Energy-efficient Water Filtration
IBM Research (San Jose CA), Central Glass Co., Ltd. (Tokyo), the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (Riyadh), and the Univ. of Texas at Austin announced development of a new material for the energy-efficient membrane technology for water purification. The new formulation exhibits resistance to chlorine damage and performs well in mildly basic conditions, making it suitable for arsenic removal as well as water desalination.
Source:
IBM Makes Water Clean With Smarter, More Energy-Efficient Purification http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/26921.wss

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Photoelectric Energy Efficiency Increase by Photosynthesis-type Semiconductor Structure
Prof. P. G. Lagoudakis of the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton (England), and colleagues have developed a colloidal nanocrystal quantum dot technique. It was suggested by natural photosynthesis structures, and is reported to yield a six-fold increase in photocurrent conversion efficiency compared to previous semiconductor devices.
Source:
Ultimate In 'Green' Energy: Plants Inspire New Generation Of Solar Cells http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/39402

Electrostatic Capacitors Offer Energy Storage Improvement
Prof. Gary Rubloff, director of the University of Maryland's NanoCenter, and his team have developed a family of nanotech-based electrostatic capacitors suitable for energy storage for such devices as electric vehicles. They are said to offer a 10 times improvement in energy storage density over current commercially available devices, while preserving high power and fast recharge characteristics.
Source:
For New Energy Options to Work, Better Storage Methods Needed http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/for-new-energy-options-to-work-better-storage-methods-needed,750464.shtml

New Lithium-Ion Material Improves Recharging Time
Gerbrand Ceder and Byoungwoo Kang of the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced development of a new lithium-ion battery electrode material which they hope will give batteries a fast charging time equivalent to that of a supercapacitor. The material consists of nanospheres with a core of lithium iron phosphate and a surface of glassy lithium-phosphate, with the latter providing a fast path for electron travel during recharging.
Sources:
Battery materials for ultrafast charging and discharging http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7235/full/nature07853.html
Batteries now included http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13277371

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

United States Bans Cluster Munitions Export
The US adopted legislation banning export from the United States of cluster munitions that leave behind more than 1% of their submunitions as duds, and conditions export on agreement of the receiving country that “cluster munitions will not be used where civilians are known to be present.” The law is seen by many as a move of the US closer to the Convention on Cluster Munitions that completely bans these weapons’ use, production, and trade. So far, 96 nations have signed and 5 ratified the Convention; thirty ratifications are required for its entry into force. [See also The Cluster Munitions Treaty Signed by 94 Nations in December 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Cluster Munition Coalition welcomes U.S. Cluster Bomb Export Ban http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=1393
States must take action to ensure elimination of cluster munitions, says Migiro http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30230&Cr=disarmament&Cr1=

Russian Security Unit and Draft Law for Reinforcing Arctic Claims
The Arctic Group of Forces under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federal Security Service is planned to be deployed by 2020. Its mission will be to consolidate security and environmental protection in the area, as well as to participate in defining the Arctic Shelf “with respect to Russia’s national interests.” In the meantime, Russia is drafting a new law that would allow it to block foreign military vessels, deny entry to, or impose Russian escorting on, commercial ships deemed unsafe for navigation, and charge fees. NATO’s recent report, New Horizons, highlighting that the Arctic is becoming of “prime strategic importance,” notes that Russia will begin exploitation at a major oil and natural gas field in the Arctic in 2013––the deadline year set by the UN for the Arctic continental shelf demarcation. [See also Arctic Security and Sovereignty Debate Continues in January 2009, Arctic Needs New International Regulations in September 2008 and other items on the Arctic Debate in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Russia plans Arctic security unit http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/russia-plans-arctic-security-unit/story.aspx?guid={66566728-4484-46AD-BB8C-6EC140149C97}&dist=msr_1
Canada won't be 'bullied' by Russia's plans to protect Arctic interests: Cannon http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5irfclfyLnfcwNnVS84Bw9CxVv7mQ

ENVSEC to Expand Environmental Co-operation in South Caucasus
The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) held a meeting bringing together officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia with representatives from the OSCE, other international organizations, and environmental experts to discuss ways for expanding environment and security cooperation in the South Caucasus region. The ENVSEC helps capacity building to assess and address environmental threats to security in Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus. [See also Environment and Security Program in the East-Caspian Region in September 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Expanded environmental co-operation in South Caucasus on agenda of OSCE-supported meeting in Tbilisi http://finchannel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31073&Itemid=8

New Technologies Need New Regulations Systems
The “New Life, Old Bottles: Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology” report published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, addresses the relevance of existing regulatory systems in view of developments in synthetic biology specifically and emerging new technologies generally. It argues that the current regulatory framework might not be adequate to address the challenges associated with conditions and properties related to emerging technologies (such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology); and, therefore, new sets of regulations might be needed. While specifically investigating the U.S. system, the principles and analysis are valid globally. [See also The Woodrow Wilson International Center Opens Synthetic Biology Project in January 2009, Dangers Increase from “Amateur” Genetic Engineering; the Biological Weapons Convention to be Updated in December 2008 and other similar issues in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New Life, Old Bottles: Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology http://www.synbioproject.org/process/assets/files/6319/nano_synbio2_electronic_final.pdf
Synthetic Biology Project—publication announcement http://www.synbioproject.org/library/publications/archive/synbio2/

Canada Extends Toxic Substances Lists
Health Canada declared four chemicals with varied uses to be toxic to human health (but not toxic to the environment): 2-(2-Methoxyethoxy) ethanol (DEGME); 2-Methoxyethanol acetate (2-MEA); 2-methoxy-1-propanol; and C.I. Pigment Red 3. Actions to manage related hazards have been proposed or are under study. In January the government declared two types of siloxanes, D4 and D5, as toxic to the environment. Health and Environment Canada also determined that pigments yellow 34 and red 103, thiourea, isoprene, and oxirane were toxic to human health, and that 2,4,6-tri-tert-butylphenol or TTBP is an environmental toxin. [See also New Chemicals Considered for Toxic Lists in January 2009 environmental security report.]
Source:
4 chemicals used in consumer products slapped with toxic label http://www.canada.com/news/chemicals%20consumer%20products%20slapped%20with%20toxic%20label/1362478/story.html

Global Fuel Economy Initiative Aims to Increase Cars’ Fuel Efficiency 50% by 2050
The Global Fuel Economy Initiative was launched by a coalition of the FIA Foundation, the International Energy Agency, the International Transport Forum and UNEP to call on the global auto industry and governments to reduce by 50% emissions from cars by 2050, mainly by improving fuel efficiency. The report “'50 by 50' Global Fuel Economy Initiative” explains that improving new car fuel efficiency by 50% could stabilize world emissions through 2050, and outlines a roadmap on how to achieve the goals, with interim targets for 2020 and 2030. An additional outcome is increased energy security, by reducing dependency on oil imports. The number of cars is expected to triple by 2050. The initiative was launched at the 79th international motor show held in Geneva, March 5-15, 2009. [See also World Leaders Discuss Environmental Security Policies at Davos in January 2008, EU Renewable Energy Policy becomes Legally Binding in December 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
'50 by 50' Global Fuel Economy Initiative http://www.fiafoundation.org/50by50/Documents/50BY50_report.pdf
UN-backed roadmap for halving auto emissions unveiled in Geneva http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30083&Cr=greenhouse&Cr1

UK Could Seize Planes to Enforce European Emissions Trading Scheme
The UK Environment Agency will have increased power to seize assets from airlines that do not respect the new scheme to limit flights’ carbon emissions in view of the European Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation. The measure is introduced in an effort to enforce regulations in the special case of airlines, which do not have fixed assets in the UK. [See also Provisional Agreement for Including Aviation in the Emission Trading Scheme from 2012 in June 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
Airlines that break emission rules could have planes seized http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/mar/04/carbon-emissions-airlines-climate-change

“Roving” Marine Protected Areas as Climate Change Affects Migration
Climate change affects weather patterns, ocean currents, and temperatures, which affect ecosystems and animals’ migration; hence, areas set aside for wildlife protection may have to change as well. None of the over 4,500 marine protected areas worldwide have been designed factoring in climate change, say experts. Hence, scientists are speculating about possibilities of drawing “roving” protected areas as a function of changing conditions. Although technical advancements facilitate the task of identifying ecosystem changes, the issues of governance might be a greater challenge. The current 0.7% of the world’s oceans being designated as protected is far from the 20% to 30% by 2012 goal declared at the 5th World Parks Congress in 2003. [See also Marine Protection to Increase in June 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
Parks that can move when the animals do http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/03/04/parks-that-can-move-when-the-animals-do/

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
“Worst case” scenarios are already becoming reality and an increase in average temperatures of 6°C (10.8°F) by the end of the century is not ruled out, cautioned over 2,500 leading environmental experts attending a climate summit held in Copenhagen ahead of the December post-Kyoto negotiations. They issued a statement warning that unless swift political action, “dangerous climate change,” was imminent. Steven Sherwood, climate expert at Yale University, noted that due to the physiological limits of the human body, temperature rise by 7°C (12.6°F) over pre-industrial levels would render many parts of the globe uninhabitable, while 10°C (18°F) would encompass the bulk of today’s population. Along the same lines, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said that 5°C (9°F) global warming over present values would reduce human population to 1 billion.
Global warming might be further exacerbated by CO2 released from the Antarctic Ocean because of shifting wind patterns due to orbital shift, found a team of scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
"Assessing Dangerous Climate Change Through an Update of the IPCC 'Reasons for Concern", a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, updates some of the findings of the IPCC’s 2001 Third Assessment Report. It found that even a lower level of increase in average global temperatures could have serious consequences in all five domains of concern analyzed: 1) risk to threatened ecosystems; 2) risk of extreme weather events; 3) vulnerability disparities; 4) damage assessment; and 5) risks of large-scale discontinuities due to phenomena with very large impacts (e.g. melting of major ice sheets.)

Food and Water Security
“Water in a Changing World,” the 3rd World Water Development Report, notes that by 2050 population would reach 9.1 billion if fertility rate continues to decrease, while if it would stay at the present level of 2.56, the population would reach 11 billion, consequently increasing demand for food and water in both cases. Over the last 50 years, freshwater withdrawals have tripled and irrigation doubled due to population growth. The report also made the link between poverty and water resources, noting that “The number of people living on less than $1.25 a day coincides approximately with the number of those without access to safe drinking water.”
Population growth to 8.3 billion by 2030 will increase food and energy demand by 50% and fresh water by 30%, said John Beddington, chair of a new UK Cabinet Office task force set up to address food security, at the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference. Underlining a belief that climate change will be an exacerbating factor, he suggested swift policy measures to improve agriculture and consumption practices. For addressing the situation at the European level, he proposed the creation of a position of chief science adviser to the European Commission.
A new report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), calls for a global shift from the industrial model of agriculture toward sustainable practices. The recommendations include an international rights-based approach that ensures water availability for ecosystems and people and harmonization of policy approaches to water, agriculture and climate.
At the annual UNIS-UN conference on “The Food Crisis: A Global Challenge”, held March 5-6, 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the linkages between food security and climate change and stated that helping communities around the world adapt to climate change will be a key issue at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009.
The Water and Disaster Action Plan, prepared under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, provides a tool for the UN System to mobilize and coordinate its efforts in assisting member States to face the challenge of natural disasters. It was launched at the fifth World Water Forum, held in Istanbul, Turkey, March 16-22, 2009
The First Ministerial Forum on Water of the Group of 77, held February 23-25, in Muscat, Oman, concluded with the adoption of the Muscat Declaration on Water, which suggests the recognition of human right to clean water and sanitation as a key goal. Ministers in charge of water recommended the promotion of innovative technologies among developing countries to address the negative impacts of water-related disasters.
On World Water Day, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Luc Gnacadja, called for prudent water management to halt land degradation and its consequences, including conflict over scarce resources.
“The Roadmap to End Hunger” report prepared by more than 30 organizations, calls for the US to boost spending on food and agricultural aid by 60% in 2010 to $6.36 billion, and commit to further increases to $13.31 billion by 2014. Other recommendations include: a strengthened emergency response to better address short-term hunger needs; more flexible safety nets to mitigate the impacts of shocks on vulnerable populations; improved nutrition programs to ensure that people in the developing world have access to the nourishment needed to lead healthy lives; and expanded programs to enhance the productivity of smallholder farmers, which is critical in addressing chronic hunger. New bipartisan legislation expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks incorporates key recommendations of the Roadmap.
Gender inequality has amplified the impact of the financial, food and climate crises on African women, said Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice-President of Gambia, at the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held on March 4. The panel organized by The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) called on the international community to promote gender-specific plans and programs to help women better address these crises.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
New evidence shows that the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Over the past three decades, the average warming over the Arctic Ocean was 3°C, even reaching 5°C (9°F) in some parts where the ice has been lost, while the average global temperature has risen by less than 1°C (1.8°F). The lakes in Siberia are now five times larger than in 2006, notes Katey Walter, ecologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. She underlines some potential consequences, such as increasing permafrost melting and runaway warming, the growing amount of fresh water flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the melting sea ice, glaciers, and rivers, changing the ocean conveyor current, with consequences on the Asian monsoon and rain patterns affecting food and water supply of a large part of world population.
Considering the rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, sea levels might be rising by 1 meter or more by 2100, twice as fast as forecast by the IPCC, said scientists at the Copenhagen environmental conference.

Health
Changes in rainfall patterns and rapid urbanization increase dengue fever outbreaks in Asian countries such as Indonesia, said an official of the World Health Organization Southeast Asia.
A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives notes that higher temperatures, humidity and rainfall associated with climate change have led to increased outbreaks of West Nile Virus infections across the United States in recent years. The authors warn that the pattern will only get worse in coming decades with increased economic and health burdens.
At the international scientific congress “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions,” from 10-12 March 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark, WHO noted the uneven distribution of health impacts of climate change globally, identifying populations in small island developing States, mountainous regions, large urban areas, coastal areas, and areas that lack access to water among the most vulnerable. WHO estimates that around 150,000 deaths (85% of them young children) occur in low-income countries each year due to malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria, and flooding as effects of climate change alone.
On World Water Day, March 22nd, UNEP highlighted the potential benefits of investing in the world’s freshwaters, including the potential benefits to the global economic recovery and to accelerating a response to climate change. According to UNEP, the market for supply, sanitation, and water efficiency is expected to be nearly US$660 billion by 2020, and that global economic benefits of US$38 billion annually could be reaped from investing US$15 billion annually in halving by 2015 the number of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation.

Adaptation
NATO’s “New Horizons” report emphasizes that energy and environmental standards should be considered in security-related reconstruction and stabilization activities (e.g., levees, earthquake-proof housing, improved agricultural practices, and alternative energy systems), as well as better information sharing to assess future needs of individual communities/countries.
The first-ever meeting of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was held March 25-27, 2009, gathering more than 200 delegates including ministers and senior officials from 25 countries of the most disaster-prone region, to discuss the creation of Disaster Risk Reduction strategies. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 42% of the world’s natural disasters, and 65% of their victims. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, announced that ESCAP would establish a regional platform for sharing information among disaster risk management authorities. ESCAP will also produce the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report, which will synthesize information from member States, provide assessment of the disaster risk reduction in the region and identify future priorities and trends.
The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) launched the Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI) at a conference titled “Cities and Climate Change,” on March 17 in Oslo, Norway. The initiative focuses on mitigation and adaptation to climate change impacts on human settlements within the framework of urban governance, decentralization, strengthening local authorities, and environmental planning and management. The conference also marked the launch of pilot projects to help Maputo in Mozambique, Kampala in Uganda, Sorsogon City in the Philippines, and Esmeraldas in Ecuador to adapt to climate change by redesigning infrastructure. The results of the deliberations will be forwarded to the Copenhagen climate change conference in December 2009.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
An International Scientific Congress on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions was held in preparation for the December conference. The outcomes will be published in a full synthesis report June 2009. However, there are concerns that the richness of new information might increase policy-makers’ confusion about setting priorities and targets. Scientists tend to agree that the widely accepted 2°C (3.6°F) warming target might not be enough to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change.
India announced that it intends to resist accepting legally binding greenhouse gases emissions cuts at the negotiations for the new post-Kyoto treaty

Sources:
Severe global warming will render half of world's inhabited areas unlivable, expert warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/12/global-warming-temp-rise-population
Scientist: Warming Could Cut Population to 1 Billion http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/scientist-warming-could-cut-population-to-1-billion/
Lower Increases In Global Temperatures Could Lead To Greater Impacts Than Previously Thought, Study Finds http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221425.htm
Global crisis 'to strike by 2030' http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7951838.stm
The Fifth World Water Forum http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=1842
Ministerial Forum on Water of the Group of 77 http://www.g77.org/water/
Arctic meltdown is a threat to humanity http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20127011.500-arctic-meltdown-is-a-threat-to-humanity.html?full=true
A sinking feeling. Sea levels are rising twice as fast as had been thought http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13277407
Changing climate increases West Nile threat in U.S. http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/west-nile/Changing-climate-increases-West-Nile-threat-in-U.S
Health hazards demand stronger climate change measures, argues UN agency http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30155&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=health
NEW HORIZONS. Finding a path away from NATO’s de-solidarisation http://www.natonewhorizons.org/NewHorizons-DigitalEdition.pdf (14 MB file)
Asia-Pacific Countries See the Need to Cooperate to Reduce Risk of Disasters http://www.unescap.org/unis/press/2009/mar/g24.asp
"Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions", 10-12 March 2009, Copenhagen http://climatecongress.ku.dk/
Climate scenarios 'being realised'. Tough climate signal to West http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090301/jsp/nation/story_10608007.jsp

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

Evidence of Damage to Beneficial Microbes from Nanoparticles
Papers presented at the annual conference of the American Chemical Society by scientists from the Univ. of Toledo, the Univ. of Utah, and Utah State Univ. indicated that titanium dioxide, copper oxide, zinc oxide, and silver nanoparticles, all used in consumer products and likely to turn up subsequently in the environment, may damage environmental microbes that perform vital functions, such as removing pollutants from water and may also pose a hazard to aquatic life.
Source:
Nanoparticles from sunscreens damage microbes http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/nanoparticles-damage-microbes

EU Tightens Safety Precautions on Nano-containing Cosmetics
The European Parliament has tightened up safety requirements on cosmetics to require additional checks on those containing nanomaterials; the new rules take effect in 2012.
Source:
Cosmetics companies to face new rules in Europe http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/03/24/business/EU-EU-Parliament-Cosmetics.php

Pressure Increases in Australia for Nanotech Safety Regime
After a recent panel discussion on nanotechnology and occupational health and safety held at Parliament House in Canberra, Australian unions and industry are calling for urgent regulation to protect workers from nanotechnology risks in the face of a dearth of hard data, making for difficult decisions on the nature and timing of new safety requirements. According to an ABC report, Brian Power of the Australian Nano Business Forum believes 98% of nanotechnology is safe, but agrees workers should be protected from any risks. He also emphasizes Australia will ultimately have to follow international guidelines on a company register and labeling.
Source:
Calls to protect workers from nano risks http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/03/24/2524875.htm

New Study of Nanomaterials and Plant Toxicity
According to an article and a technical review in nanowerk, Prof. Pu Kun Che and colleagues at Clemson Univ. have published one of the few papers so far on the effects of nanoparticles on plants, and the possible resulting hazards to both the plants and the associated food chain. They determined that nanoparticles above certain concentrations could clog the vascular systems of plants.
Sources:
Starting to explore nanotechnology's impact on major food crops http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=9516.php
Nanoparticle uptake by plants http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=6331.php

New Paper Reviews Aspects of Public Perception of Nanotech
According to an article in Meridian nanotechnology & development news, “This article compiles much of the research conducted over the last several years regarding what factors influence the public's perception of nanotechnology.”
Sources:
Hearts and Minds and Nanotechnology http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=1757
Public perceptions of nanotechnology www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v4/n3/full/nnano.2009.16.html (purchase or subscribe)

New Review of Analytical Methods to Assess Nanoparticle Toxicity
According to the abstract, “Nanotoxicology relies on many analytical methods for the characterization of nanomaterials as well as their impacts on in vitro and in vivo function. This review provides a critical overview of these techniques from the perspective of an analytical chemist, and is intended to be used as a reference for scientists interested in conducting nanotoxicological research as well as those interested in nanotoxicological assay development.”
Source:
Analytical methods to assess nanoparticle toxicity http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/AN/article.asp?doi=b818082b

European Nanotech Meetings to Be Held in June and September 2009
EuroNanoForum 2009 will be held from 2 to 5 June 2009, at the Prague Congress Centre, under the auspices of the Czech government and with the support of the Industrial Technologies Programme of the European Commission. According to the announcement, it “…will address the contribution and challenges of nanotechnology research for a sustainable development of European industry and society, such as the need for reduction in carbon emissions and fossil fuels dependence, the substantial increase in energy demand, pollution control, clean water management and sustainable quality of life of the European citizen, as well as material production sustainability and efficiency.”
Nanotech Europe 2009 will be held in Berlin 28-30 September 2009. Topics will include health and biology (e.g., improved sensors), and safety (toxicological studies of nanomaterials, risk management, and regulatory issues).
Source:
EuroNanoForum 2009. Nanotechnology for Sustainable Economy
European and International Forum on Nanotechnology, 2-5 June, 2009, Prague, Czech Republic http://www.euronanoforum2009.eu/
Nanotech Europe 2009, Berlin, 28-30 September 2009 http://www.nanotech.net/

Reports Suggested for Review

NATO Report on New Security Threats and Trends
NATO’s report “New Horizons,” released ahead of the organization’s 60th anniversary summit, addresses the challenges that the organization faces in view of the new threats and trends triggered by current geopolitical developments. Most of the threats and trends have an environment-related root, ranging from structural energy and resource problems that, “may lead to energy/raw material nationalism by anti-Western states,” and resource conflicts, to the various direct and indirect consequences of climate change that will lead to “acceleration in the breakdown of ecosystems and more severe ‘natural’ disasters and food shortages, in turn leading to much higher levels of migration, increased human suffering and greater social unrest”. The report quotes a NATO official: “[Climate change] is a global problem requiring the involvement of the UN, NATO, EU and other regional organizations. NATO forces must develop the resiliency to adjust to changing climate and react to its consequences.” However, the report emphasizes, “The only aspect of climate change that was considered to be truly affecting the Alliance was resource competition.”
Sources:
NEW HORIZONS. Finding a path away from NATO’s de-solidarisation http://www.natonewhorizons.org/NewHorizons-DigitalEdition.pdf (14 MB file)

U.K.’s Military Technology Plan Includes Alternative Energy
The Defence Technology Plan of the British Ministry of Defence outlines the British military’s long-term research objectives to help defence contractors set R&D priorities. It highlights five “capability visions,” including reducing dependency on fossil fuels by introducing new alternatives.
Sources:
MOD unveils future UK defence tech research plan http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/EquipmentAndLogistics/ModUnveilsFutureUkDefenceTechResearchPlan.htm
Defence Technology Plan http://www.science.mod.uk/Strategy/dtplan/default.aspx

Addressing Potential Business-related Water Scarcity Issues
Water Scarcity & Climate Change: Growing Risks for Businesses & Investors report by the Pacific Institute at the request of Ceres (national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change) addresses the impact of climate change and business practices on water and the potential consequences of water scarcity to businesses. The report also explores the role of investment strategies to mitigate harmful impacts. Using information from over 100 companies, the report identifies water-related risks specific to eight key sectors such as energy, mining, and computer technology, and offers a framework to calculate and address industries’ “water footprints”.
Sources:
Water Scarcity & climate change: Growing Risks for Businesses & Investors http://www.pacinst.org/reports/business_water_climate/full_report.pdf
Impending water shortages spell unforeseen financial losses http://pubs.acs.org/action/showStoryContent?doi=10.1021/on.2009.03.24.302968&cookieSet=1

Back to Top


February 2009

UNEP Conference Furthers Environmental Governance
The 25th session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-25/GMEF) took place February 16-20, 2009, at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, with over 1000 participants from 147 countries. The meeting adopted 17 decisions on issues such as hazardous substances (including a proposed ban on mercury), biodiversity, special requirements for Africa, environmental management, and the environmental situation in Gaza (see Appendix for more detail and sources).
Sources:
25th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (documents) http://www.unep.org/GC/GC25/working-docs.asp
25th Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (analysis) http://www.iisd.ca/unepgc/25unepgc/
Historic Treaty to Tackle Toxic Heavy Metal Mercury Gets Green Light http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=562&ArticleID=6090&l=en

UN Report on the Role of Natural Resources in Conflict and Peacebuilding
The report “From Conflict to Peacebuilding – The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment”, co-authored by IISD and UNEP, assesses the linkages among environment, conflict, and peacebuilding. It notes that since 1990 at least 18 violent conflicts have been driven by factors related to natural resources and/or environmental degradation. Over 40% of intra-state wars are linked to the exploitation of natural resources. These situations are twice as likely to return to conflicts or become “re-wars” within the first five years. Unfortunately, fewer than 25% of relevant peace agreements address the environmental or resource aspects. The report analyzes 13 case studies including Afghanistan, Darfur, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, and Gaza.
Sources:
From Conflict to Peacebuilding – the Role of Natural Resources and the Environment http://www.unep.org/publications/search/pub_details_s.asp?ID=3998
Natural Resource Management Critical to Peacebuilding http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=562&ArticleID=6091&l=en

South Korea Adopts a Green Growth Policy and Influences Next G-20 Meeting
President Lee Myung-bak stressed “Green Growth” at the Global Korea 2009 forum in Seoul as a way to address both the global financial crises and climate change at the same time. He will be a member of the G-20 management Troika for the April 2009 G-20 meeting in London along with leaders of Brazil and the U.K, and is expected to push the Green Growth strategy.
Sources:
Global Korea http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2901440
Lee ambitious about Korea's role in G20 meeting http://www.korea.net/news/issues/issueDetailView.asp?board_no=20234
President Lee drives eco-friendly growth with "Green New Deal" project http://dynamic-korea.com/news/view_news.php?main=KTD&sub=&uid=200900273650&keyword=

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Improved Techniques for Water Treatment
According to an NSF announcement, the Center of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is developing “sensors with specially designed and synthesized DNA to detect trace amounts of lead, mercury, arsenic and other contaminants” and “chemically activated fibers and granules of carbon for removal of heavy metals and pesticides like atrazine in the presence of natural organic matter that interferes with many existing sensors”.
Source:
Clean Water for a Crowded, Contaminated World http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=112996&govDel=USNSF_1

Inverse Fluidization of Aerogels Removes Oil from Water
Scientists from the Otto H. York Department of Chemical Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, have reported a very efficient water decontamination technique in which a floating bed of surface-treated hydrophobic aerogel (Nanogel) granules are fluidized by a downward flow of oil-contaminated water in an inverse fluidization mode. According to an abstract, “Among the advantages of the process is the extremely low energy consumption (low pressure drop) during oil removal and the large absorption capacity. Oil concentrations of about 2000 mg/L in water could be reduced to less than 10 mg/L by the inverse fluidization process.”
Source:
Removal of Oil from Water by Inverse Fluidization of Aerogels http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ie800022e

Simple New Technique Supplies Chlorine for Water Purification
John Hays, superintendent of Washington, Iowa’s water treatment plant, developed an electrolytic chlorination technique that offers an easy, inexpensive way of creating potable water in primitive circumstances. The method involves passing salt water through an electrolytic device (driven by, say, a 12 v. battery), to produce a combination of ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and chlorine, which can then be used for water purification. The method is being offered commercially by International Water Management Systems of Washington IA
Sources:
International Water Management Systems http://www.iwmsystems.com/
Iowan makes tainted water fit to drink http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090222/NEWS02/902220344/1001/NEWS

Isotope Ratio Evaluates Decontamination Success
A recent EPA report describes a new method for monitoring the success of biodegradation in decontaminating underground water. The technique, developed at the Univ. of Toronto's Stable Isotope Laboratory, depends on the active microbes’ preference in the cleansing process for the carbon-12 isotope over carbon-13. The resulting change in the ratio of these isotopes in the contaminant indicates that the decontamination is proceeding satisfactorily.
Sources:
A Guide for Assessing Biodegradation and Source Identification of Organic Ground Water Contaminants using Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA) http://www.epa.gov/ada/pubs/reports/600r08148/600r08148.pdf
EPA Ground Water and Ecosystems Restoration Research www.epa.gov/ada
New technique put to use to test clean up of contaminated groundwater http://www.physorg.com/news152539505.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Mobile Unit Turns Waste into Energy
The IST Energy Corp. of Waltham, MA has announced its new GEM (Green Energy Machine) mobile waste-to-energy conversion system that can turn two to three tons of post-consumer rubbish – paper, plastic, food, wood and agricultural materials – a day into usable “energy pellets” that can be gasified and used to run a natural gas generator, which in turn can power the unit.
Source:
IST Energy (corporate site) http://www.istenergy.com
New England Firm Says Its New Waste-to-Energy System is a GEM http://www.greenerbuildings.com/news/2009/01/01/gem

Carbon Nanotubes Could Replace Expensive Platinum Catalysts in Fuel Cells
Prof. Liming Dai at the University of Dayton (Ohio) and his group have shown that arrays of vertically grown, nitrogen-doped, carbon nanotubes could be used as the catalyst in fuel cells, replacing expensive platinum catalysts now used; it is claimed that they would also be longer lasting than the platinum types. Other work in fuel cell electrodes is underway by Kotaro Sasaki at the Brookhaven National Lab (atom-thick platinum films), at Monash Univ. in Australia (a polymer, PEDOT), and at the Argonne National Lab (nanotube arrays with small quantities of platinum or iron).
Source:
Cheaper Fuel Cells. Carbon nanotubes could replace expensive platinum catalysts and help finally make fuel cells economical http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22074/

New Materials Better for Separating Hydrogen from Other Gases
One of the biggest difficulties for the fuel cell economy is efficiently producing pure hydrogen. Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, a chemist at Northwestern University, has developed a new class of honeycomb-like porous materials (a new family of germanium-rich chalcogenides) that are much more effective than current methods at separating hydrogen from complex gas mixtures. The technology is based on the differing behaviors of varieties of gas molecules as they pass through the separation material.
Sources:
Mesoporous germanium-rich chalcogenido frameworks with highly polarizable surfaces and relevance to gas separation http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmat2381.html (Requires subscription or individual article purchase.)
Chemists offer new hydrogen purification method http://www.physorg.com/news153928167.html

New Titanium Nanotube Catalyst A Step Forward in CO2 to Methane Conversion
Craig Grimes and his group at the Materials Research Lab of the Pennsylvania State University have developed a technology, based on catalytic titanium dioxide nanotubes coated with copper and platinum particles, that uses sunlight to convert a mixture of carbon dioxide and water vapor to natural gas at a rate twenty times higher than any previously published results. This is not yet a practical level, but the researchers are working on improvements that they hope would provide at least two orders of magnitude better performance.
Source:
High-Rate Solar Photocatalytic Conversion of CO2 and Water Vapor to Hydrocarbon Fuels http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl803258p (Abstract; full text by subscription)
Sun-powered device converts CO2 into fuel http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16621-sunpowered-device-converts-co2-into-fuel.html

Study of Cost and Availability of Possible New Solar Cell Materials
A new study from the Energy and Resources Group and the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) investigates the cost and availability of a number of possible solar cell materials. According to a story from the Environmental News Network, “The UC Berkeley study evaluated 23 promising semiconducting materials and discovered that 12 are abundant enough to meet or exceed annual worldwide energy demand. Of those 12, nine have a significant raw material cost reduction over traditional crystalline silicon, the most widely used photovoltaic material in mass production today.”
Sources:
Cheaper materials could be key to low-cost solar cells http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/02/17_solar.shtml
Cheaper materials could be key to low-cost solar cells http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=32198

Largest Chinese Car Maker Produces All-electric Model
China's largest independent carmaker, Chery Automobile, has begun producing its first plug-in electric car, the S18, rated at 93 miles per charge, 72 mph, and charging times of 30 minutes/half charge, six hours/full. No general availability date has been announced [See also All-Electric cars coming from Norway and China with More than Hundred Mile Ranges in April 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
China's Chery Auto unveils electric car: company http://www.physorg.com/news154363401.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Undersea Abandoned Ordnance Presents Increasing Environmental and Health Hazards
Leaking abandoned ordnance since WWII or from military excercises is contaminating the waters around Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island with carcinogenic materials, endangering the marine ecosystem and the health of inhabitants who eat local seafood, noted University of Georgia ecologist James Porter at the Second International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions held February 25-27 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Other previous findings also show dangerously high levels of heavy metals and other toxic chemicals related to military activities in the area. In 2001, Vieques’s residents filed a $100 million damage claim against the US Navy for increased cancer incidence due to military excercises. U.S. Navy efforts to clean up areas of Vieques were so far limited to land and shoreline. Experts note that Vieques Island is one of many marine sites around the world incresingly affected by abandoned ordnance. [See also CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War Entered into Force in November 2006, and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Addressing Assessment, Characterization, Management and Communication of Risk in Chemical and Conventional Munitions, Worldwide http://underwatermunitions.com/index.php
Undersea bombs threaten marine life http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/02/26/undersea.munitions.cleanup/
Carcinogens found in marine life in island of Vieques in Puerto Rico http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-14429--21-21--.html
U.S. Joins Four Law of War Treaties http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/01/115309.htm

International Satellite Collision Triggers Regulations Review
The collision between a decommissioned Russian spacecraft and a commercially owned US satellite on February 10, 2009, triggered review of international regulations for operating near-Earth objects. According to some space scientists, the accident may have caused 700 pieces of space debris in an area where other satellites orbit, thus raising the likelihood of other collisions. Experts note that, considering the over 17,000 (and the number is increasing) man-made objects of size over 10 cm that orbit Earth, an advanced ability to monitor objects in orbit, such as a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) system might be needed. The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs called on all Member States and international organizations to help curb space debris by fully implementing the voluntary Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The issue was also discussed at the recent 46th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and an international response will be presented for consideration in 2010, at the Subcommittee’s 47th session. The 46th meeting also adopted the draft Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Source Applications In Outer Space, to be transmitted for consideration and agreement by the IAEA Commission on Safety Standards during its meeting to be held in Vienna, April 22-24, 2009. [See also China’s ASAT Test Created Serious Long-Range Low-Earth Orbital Pollution in February 2007, Outer Space Policy in November 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
UN Reiterates the Importance of the Implementation of the Space Debris Guidelines to Curtail Space Debris in Future http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2009/unisos376.html
Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee Concludes its 46th Session in Vienna http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2009/unisos377.html
Following Collision of Satellites, UN Space Office Calls For Preventive Steps http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29908&Cr=outer+space&Cr1=
When Satellites Collide http://www.spacemart.com/reports/It_Finally_Happened_Two_Satellites_Collide_999.html
Sat collision highlights growing threat http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7885750.stm?lss

New Recommendations for Reducing Nuclear Risk
“Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating the Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons” is a plan released by the British Foreign Ministry on steps towards elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide.
“Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015” by the U.S. National Academies and the Russian Academy of Sciences presents avenues for cooperation to improve the international nuclear security environment by 2015. [See also Nuclear Security in October 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating the Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/pdf1/nuclear-paper
British Policy Paper Calls for Eliminating Global Nuclear Weapons http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090204_1382.php
Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12590
Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12477

Nordic Countries Alliances for Addressing Arctic Issues
At a NATO Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North, held in Reykjavik, Iceland, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer underlined that changes in the Arctic region will increase the Alliance’s role in the area. The Allied nations have the necessary capabilities and equipment to address potential risks linked to increased activities in the Arctic region, and the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre has the necessary expertise for relief and rescue operations. Along the same lines, a 13-point Proposal was presented at the extraordinary meeting of Nordic foreign ministers held in Oslo, February 9, 2009, laying out the framework for the creation of Nordic cooperation on foreign and security issues, including a Scandinavian Defence Union to include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. Considering the rapid Arctic ice retreat, the report suggests the establishment of a monitoring and early warning system (including a polar orbit satellite system by 2020), as well as a common rescue force (to include both civilian and military personnel), rapidly deployable in case of disastrous events in the Nordic sea areas. The integrated Nordic system and “battlegroup” would be the first such regional initiative. The proposal will be further discussed in April, at the Nordic foreign ministers meeting in Reykjavik. [See also Arctic Security and Sovereignty Debate Continues in January 2009 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Speech by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on security prospects in the High North http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2009/s090129a.html
Nordic Cooperation on Foreign and Security Policy. Proposals presented to the extraordinary meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Oslo on 9 February 2009 http://www.regjeringen.no/upload/UD/Vedlegg/nordic_report.pdf
Nordic countries to pool troops and intelligence http://euobserver.com/9/27574/?rk=1
Nordic military alliance to challenge Russia in Arctic http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/37071

Energy and Environmental Security Increasingly Addressed Together
Chinese officials and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed to join efforts in addressing the world economic crisis and environmental and security issues. The two countries would cooperate on “clean energy” technology that would include such elements as carbon capture and sequestration, and the smart grid.
Some Canadian think tanks related to the oil industry suggest the creation of a North Pacific Energy Security Framework that would include six countries that share geographic proximity and account for 54% of world energy demand: Canada and Russia—two of the world’s top oil and gas producers and exporters; and the US, China, Japan, and South Korea—among the world’s top energy consumers. The pact would address issues related to developing Arctic resources, investment in energy and energy trade, and climate change.
The proposed new U.S. Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) legislation would require electric and gas utilities to reduce demand by 15% and 10% respectively, by 2020, by increasing energy efficiency. The Obama administration is also considering introducing national rules for regulating greenhouse gas emissions for automobiles, to achieve an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. (California’s proposed standard is about 42 mpg.) [See also European Energy Security Strategies in January 2009, North American Environmental Security Action Plan in June 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
China, U.S. agree to add climate, security topics to talks http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-clinton-china-sliderfeb22,0,4463769.story
Clinton, Chinese add environmental and security issues to economic talks http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-fg-clinton-china22-2009feb22,0,2814624.story
Obama Agrees To Work With Canada On Clean Energy http://planetark.org/wen/51741
The Oil Sands: Energy Security v. Climate Change http://www.kciinvesting.com/articles/9852/1/The-Oil-Sands-Energy-Security-v-Climate-Change/Page1.html
'Energy Efficiency Resource Standard' Would Reduce Energy Costs, Global Warming Pollution, Avoid New Power Plants, Says Alliance http://news.prnewswire.com/ViewContent.aspx?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/02-04-2009/0004966695&EDATE
U.S. May Set Greenhouse Gas Standard for Cars http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/23/AR2009022302575.html?hpid=topnews

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
A decade of drought, a record-breaking heat wave, and strong winds created exceptional conditions for the rapid spread of the bushfires in the state of Victoria, Australia. Over 200 people were killed and thousands of homes burned by the worst fires in the country’s history. However, the region might expect longer and more extreme dry periods in the future due to climate change. The International Workshop on Drought and Extreme Temperatures organized jointly by the World Meteorological Organization and the China Meteorological Administration in Beijing, February 16-17, 2009, warned that the frequency and intensity of severe drought, heat waves, and wildfires are likely to increase this century. The regions considered most vulnerable to severe drought are: continental U.S. and Mexico, the Mediterranean basin, parts of northern China, southern Africa and Australia, and parts of South America. Severe heat waves are expected to increase everywhere, but especially in the continental western U.S., northern Africa, the Middle East, central Asia, and southern Africa and Australia. The issues will be further addressed at the World Climate Conference-3 to be held August 31-September 4, 2009 in Geneva. It was recommended that a drought index be developed to help the world better cope with increasing droughts and extreme temperatures.
The level of Africa’s Lake Victoria, a vital source for the Nile, had dropped 3 meters over the past six years, due to warmer temperatures and reduced precipitation.
“The Humanitarian Costs of Climate Change” report reveals that natural disasters affect an average of some 250 million people yearly; and since 1992 nearly $2.7 trillion dollars have been spent on international response to environmental disasters. The report estimates that this spending could increase by 32%, considering changes in the frequency of disasters, and 1,600%, factoring in other criteria, such as intensity.
New data from the National Climatic Data Center show that global temperatures have risen 0.22° F since 1990. The organization warns that even lower warming levels in the future will cause serious consequences of water shortage, extreme weather events, and threats to ecosystems and humans.

Food and Water Security
“The Environmental Food Crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crises” report by UNEP warns that 25% of the world’s food production might be lost by 2050 due to environmental breakdown. In the meantime, over half of the food produced today is lost, wasted, or discarded as a result of inefficient food chain management. In addition, the share of the world’s cereals used for animal feed is projected to increase from a third today to a half by 2050. With the global population expected to continue increasing, world food prices might rise by 30-50% over the coming decades. The report proposes seven goals for reducing food insecurity, ranging from short-term price issues to long-term global warming measures.
The High-level Meeting on Food Security for All, held from January 26-27, 2009, in Madrid, Spain, issued a statement that calls for a consultative process on options for a Global Partnership for Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition. At a roundtable meeting on disaster, risk reduction, and climate change in Nairobi, held February 20th, Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga underlined that climate change is a threat to food security and could dampen efforts aimed at tackling poverty in Africa unless urgent steps are taken to address it.
Hundreds of millions of South Asians face growing water stress due to over exploitation, climate change, and inadequate cooperation among countries. All three factors are threatening river basins that sustain about half of the region’s 1.5 billion people, warns the report “Freshwater Under Threat: South Asia” by UNEP and the Asian Institute of Technology. South Asia is home to 25% of the global population but has access to less than 5% of the world’s freshwater resources. The report calls for urgent policy attention and more research into the impact of climate change on water resources, infrastructure, and management practices, as well as improved cooperation among the affected countries and integrated basin management. China declared a drought emergency and earmarked Rmb400m (US$58.5m) for relief. The agriculture ministry says water shortages are affecting up to 43% of the country’s wheat-producing area and around 3.7m people.
A new study published in Fish and Fisheries warns climate change threatens the livelihood of millions of people in fishery-dependent nations. The study identifies 33 countries of high vulnerability, 19 of which are already in the UN “least developed” category. The countries listed as most vulnerable are: Malawi, Guinea, Senegal, Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, Yemen, Peru, and Colombia.
“The World’s Water 2008-2009 Biennial Report on Fresh Water Resources” states that providing clean water and proper sanitation to the poorest billions is directly related to governance and commitment to the task, not money or lack of available transport and technology. Discussing “Peak Water,” Peter Gleick notes that although water is a renewable resource—and therefore we should never completely run out of it—increasing population and agricultural needs might drain the non-renewable aquifers. Some recommendations include improving water-use efficiency; accurate water pricing; updating the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act to include new contaminants, actively enforcing the standards already in place, and strengthening water institutions.
The 10th session of the Human Rights Council to be held March 2-27, 2009, in Geneva, will consider a report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and human rights such as right to safe and adequate water and food, health, and housing. The report was produced in consultation with member States and relevant actors, including IPCC and UNFCCC.

Migration
A panel of experts from the EU and U.S. pointed out that without comprehensive analysis of environment-induced human migration—assessing when, where to, where from, and how many people are going to move—there is a danger of focusing on wrong areas, underestimating certain regions’ needs while over-allocating resources to others. They also stressed that: climate security and energy security should be addressed jointly; and worse case scenarios should be analyzed against the tradeoffs that are realistically acceptable to cut emissions and address climate change causes and effects. The session “Climate Security Roundtable: U.S. and EU Research and Policy” was organized by the Environmental Change and Security Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center.
First the Maldives and now the president of Kiribati are calling on the international community to help relocate their populations due to forecasted sea level increases.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
A glitch in satellite sensors caused underestimation of the extent of Arctic sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said. The error was due to a problem called “sensor drift.” The revised data will be available soon.
New evidence shows that the Pyrenees have lost almost 90% of their glacier ice over the past century, and scientists estimate that they might disappear completely within a few decades due to global warning. Other European glaciers seem to have the same fate.
During the International Polar Year (IPY) (covering a two-year period, March 2007-2009), some 160 multi-disciplinary research projects were conducted, involving scientists of more than 60 countries. The findings are summarized in the study The State of Polar Research by the UN World Meteorological Organization and the International Council for Science, and a major IPY science conference is planned for Oslo, in June 2010. Although many questions remain, there is consensus that global warming is more intense in the Polar Regions than previously forecasted, and snow and ice are declining in both regions, raising sea levels and changing global ocean and atmospheric circulation, with a wide range of consequences for humans and ecosystems.

Rising Sea Levels
According to a study by the National Centre for Space Studies in France, over the last 15 years the world’s oceans have been rising at 3.4 mm a year, more than twice the average 1.7 mm recorded by tidal gauges over the past 50 years.
A Canadian research team, analyzing how the coastlines around the world would be affected by melting of parts of Antarctica discovered that modifications in the gravitational pull on the ocean will determine water moves that will cause different sea level rises in different parts of the world. An entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt might cause the Earth’s rotation axis to shift approximately 500 metes from its present position, moving water from the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans northward. Hence, while Southern Chile and Argentina might not experience sea-level change, Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada and the U.S. could experience as much as 6-7 meters sea level rise, inundating cities such as Vancouver and New York.
Erosion is another important phenomenon changing coastlines. Geophysical Research Letters reports that the rate of erosion along a stretch of Alaska’s northeastern coastline has doubled over the past 52 years, increasing from 6.8 meters per year in the period 1955-1979, to 13.6 meters between 2002 and 2007, while from 2007 to 2008 the coastline lost 25 meters. The changes are attributed mostly to effects of climate change, such as stronger storms, loss of sea ice, warmer ocean, and sea level rise.

Health
WHO approved a five-year work plan on climate change and health. The work plan aims to enhance capacity for monitoring and assessment. It will also seek strategies and activities that can protect health, especially that of the most vulnerable; and promote the sharing of knowledge with the following four objectives: advocacy and awareness raising; partnership building with other UN organizations and sectors; promotion and support for the generation of scientific evidence; and strengthening health systems to contend with climate impacts.
Jointly with the EU, WHO will conduct assessments of health security and crisis management to enhance the adaptive capacity of EU countries to manage health crises. In addition to topics such as chemical safety and disaster preparedness planning and response, country reports include sections on climate change. Assessments are underway in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Israel, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Climate change will be one of the main topics on the agenda at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, scheduled for 2010 in Parma, Italy. The agenda includes children’s environmental health and climate impacts related to inequality, gender and stakeholder participation, among others. WHO and EU are also expected to propose a European strategy on health and climate change that follows the 2008 World Health Assembly’s Resolution 61.19 (call for protecting health from climate change), as well as recommendations that were developed during several European meetings held in 2007-2008 on the topic.

Computer Modeling
A computer model by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in Britain shows that over the next 40 years, even if CO2 emissions continue to grow at the current rate (1.9% annual average), global temperatures will still rise 2° C relative to the pre-industrial age. The computer model also predicts that by the end of the first decade of the 22nd century, atmospheric CO2 would be 4 times the pre-industrial level—even with a decreasing rate of emissions, and by 3000 almost all of Greenland’s ice would be melted and Atlantic ocean circulation would be fundamentally changed.

Adaptation and Preparedness
The Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network (ELAN) is being created as a platform for sharing information globally and to be a resource linking scientists with managers and decision-makers to help some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and societies cope with the impacts of global climate change. It is a collaboration between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and WWF International.
Although about $18 billion were pledged by the world’s richest countries to help poorer ones adapt to climate change, less than $1 billion has been disbursed. The Global Environment Facility distributed $760 million over the past three years, but about 33% of that went to China, India, and Brazil, while the 49 poorest countries received less than $100 million.
At the Pacific ICT Ministerial Forum, “Connecting the Unconnected,” in Nukualofa, Tonga, from 17-20 February 2009, organized by the International Telecommunication Union, 13 ministers from Pacific Island Countries issued a joint communiqué calling for, inter alia: greater coordination among partners to minimize overlap and maximize the impact of investments in ICT development projects; the rapid implementation of regional connectivity initiatives; reinforced efforts to build human capacity in ICT; and making full use of ICTs for early warning and response systems to improve disaster preparedness.

Sources:
Australia Fires A Climate Wake-Up Call: Experts http://planetark.org/wen/51548
The burning bush http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13109772&amp;fsrc=nwl
International Workshop on Drought and Extreme Temperatures (WMO Press Release) http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_837_en.html
Heat waves and extreme drought will increase with climate change, UN agency says http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29957
The Humanitarian Costs of Climate Change report http://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/display/FIC/The+Humanitarian+Costs+of+Climate+Change
The Environmental Food crises: Environment's role in averting future food crises http://www.grida.no/_res/site/file/publications/FoodCrisis_lores.pdf
High Level Meeting on Food Security for All http://www.ransa2009.org/en/index.htm
Freshwater Under Threat: South Asia http://www.roap.unep.org/pub/southasia_report.pdf
Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and human rights (Advance unedited version) http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/climatechange/docs/A.HRC.10.61_AUV.pdf
The World's Water 2008-2009: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources (Report Launch) http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1413&fuseaction=topics.event&event_id=497575
Climate Security Roundtable: U.S. and EU Research and Policy http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1413&fuseaction=topics.event&event_id=497578
Climate Fears Are Driving 'Ecomigration' Across Globe http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/22/AR2009022202378.html
Satellite sensor errors cause data outage http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
Many glaciers will disappear by middle of century and add to rising sea levels, expert warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/19/glacier-rising-sea-levels
Polar research reveals new evidence of global environmental change http://www.ipy.org/index.php?/ipy/detail/state_of_polar_research/
Polar ice caps melting faster http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5683655.ece
Collapse Of Antarctic Ice Sheet Would Likely Put Washington, D.C. Largely Underwater http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142132.htm
Arctic Coastal Erosion Doubles in 50 Years http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/220/2
Climate and Health Work Plan http://www.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB124/B124_11-en.pdf
Model Sees Severe Climate Change Impact By 2050 http://planetark.org/wen/51637
Climate Change and Ecosystem Management http://www.iucn.org/about/work/initiatives/climate_news/_/climate_change_and_ecosystem_management/
ITU launches new partnerships for ICT development in the Pacific http://www.itu.int/newsroom/press_releases/2009/05.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

New EU Committee Report Very Critical of Nanotech Regulation
Nanoforum reported that the European Parliament is currently discussing its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety’s draft report on regulatory aspects of nanomaterials. The report is very critical of the present state of nanotech regulation in the EU and calls for much more stringent measures.
Sources:
Nanoforum Newsletter No. 39, February 2009 http://www.nanoforum.org/nf06~modul~loadin~folder~8074~sent~~step~~.html? (free registration required)
DRAFT REPORT on regulatory aspects of nanomaterials (2008/2208(INI))
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-418.270+01+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN

EPA to Require Company Nanotube Use or Import Notices
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance will begin enforcing a requirement that companies file premanufacture notices for manufacturing or importing carbon nanotubes, beginning March 1, 2009.
Source:
EPA to Enforce Premanufacture Reviews for Carbon Nanotubes Beginning March 1 http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=1728

California Requests Nanotube Safety Data
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has asked more than two dozen manufacturers and importers of carbon nanotubes to provide toxicity, monitoring, and safeguards data on those products. There is also a report that Environment Canada may shortly make a similar request to nanomaterial users.
Sources:
California Gives Carbon Nanotube Makers One Year to Provide Toxicity, Other Data http://www.merid.org/NDN/more.php?id=1686 (abstract)
Canada first country to ask companies to report use of nanomaterials http://www.standard-freeholder.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1409797

New EU Study on Regulation and Governance of Nanotechnologies
“Mapping Study on Regulation and Governance of Nanotechnologies” published by the EU project FramingNano provides a comprehensive overview of nanotechnology regulations and governance at European and global levels, as well as identifying relevant stakeholders for further negotiations of a Governance Plan for responsible development of nanotechnologies.
Sources:
Mapping Study on Regulation and Governance of Nanotechnologies http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/media/archive2/publikationen/FramingNano_MappingStudy.pdf
FramingNano Mapping Study on Nanotechnologies Regulation and Governance Released http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/index.php?section=news&cmd=details&newsid=157&teaserId

US/Africa/Caribbean Nanotech Conference to Be Held
The United States-Africa and Caribbean Nanotechnology Initiative (USACANI) Workshop will be held from June 21-26, 2009 in Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago. According to an announcement in Meridian Nanotechnology & Development News, “The purpose of the conference is to bring together nanoscience and nanotechnology leaders to discuss issues critical to the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean.”
Source:
Invitation: US-African and Caribbean Nanotechnology Initiative (USACANI) Workshop http://www.fonai.org/News.html

Reports Suggested for Review

UNEP Year Book 2009
The UNEP Year Book 2009 offers a view on scientific understanding of global environmental change and foreseeable issues, helping to raise awareness about potentially threatening issues. It outlines some policies and actions that could help mitigate climate change and reduce the human environmental footprint.
Sources:
UNEP Year Book 2009. New Science and Developments in Our Changing Environment http://www.unep.org/geo/yearbook/yb2009/

Suggestions for Addressing Energy and National Security
The article “Energy Security as National Security: Defining Problems Ahead of Solutions” analyzes the link between energy and national security looking at military and domestic vulnerabilities and economic issues, and suggesting some strategies. The article warns about the danger that associating energy issues with national security to the point of using “military power or the language of security diplomacy” might have negative effects on energy security itself. The suggestions include: improving systemic resiliency of critical infrastructures; reducing energy price volatility by maintaining a climate of non-violence and adequate investment in energy sources; and sharing security information and intelligence cooperation for increasing transparency. The article is part of the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Energy Security, a good source of information and analysis in this area.
Source:
Energy Security as National Security: Defining Problems Ahead of Solutions http://www.ensec.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=183:energy-security-as-national-security-defining-problems-ahead-of-solutions1&catid=92:issuecontent&Itemid=341

Back to top


January 2009

U.S. Policy Shift May Improve International Environmental Security
Appointments of environmental scientists to the new U.S. administration, presidential memoranda, and speeches all signal that the new White House will give special attention to environmental matters from energy security to international cooperation for addressing climate change. [See Appendix for more detail].
Sources:
Barack Obama makes history as he takes office with green agenda http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=556&ArticleID=6040&l=en
SUBJECT: The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential_Memorandum_fuel_economy/
SUBJECT: State of California Request for Waiver Under 42 U.S.C. 7543(b), the Clean Air Act http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential_Memorandum_EPA_Waiver/
World-Class Environmental Scientists Take Leadership Positions on Obama’s Team http://blog.nature.org/2009/01/obamas-scienceteam
'Climate hope' in economic plans http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7851227.stm
Stepping on the gas http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13009620&fsrc=nwl

Green Economy a Solution for Addressing the Global Economic Crises
Fiscal stimulus packages adopted around the world to help address the economic crises include important measures involving renewable energy and environmental issues. Energy and climate change themes also dominated the World Economic Forum 2009, highlighting that industries related to energy-efficiency are a growing jobs-creating sector. The report Green Investing: Towards a Clean Energy Infrastructure, launched at the Forum, states that clean energy investment should more than triple––to at least $515 billion a year between now and 2030––to prevent emissions reaching unsustainable levels. In the same spirit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggests creating a global Green New Deal. Such initiatives could be important also to reduce potential social unrest in developing countries that could experience a reversal of progress due to the global financial crisis. The crisis could reverse progress by cutting access to capital markets, income from trade and remittances, money from voluntary contributions for UN and other international development efforts, and increasing economic nationalism. As tensions triggered by the economical crises already led to social unrest in several countries around the world, and climate change warnings increase, green economy policies should be implemented without delay as a comprehensive strategy to address both. [See also Briefings on Environmental Security at NATO Conference in April 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Ban urges leaders at Davos to forge ‘Green New Deal’ to fight world recession http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29712&Cr=Ban&Cr1=Climate+change
World Economic Forum Report: US $515 Billion needed in Green Investments http://www.investorideas.com/news/012909f.asp
World Economic Forum 2009, Davos http://www.reuters.com/davos
World Economic Forum Explores Green Strategies for Recovery http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2009/2009-01-29-02.asp
The other global warming http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/01/25/the_other_global_warming/

European Energy Security Strategies
The recent natural gas crises caused by the Russia/Ukraine clash prompted Europe to address energy security more aggressively. The European Commission proposed a €3.5 billion (approx. $4.5 billion) program for new gas pipelines and electricity networks and offshore wind projects; earmarked €250 million (approx. $320 million) for the politically controversial Nabucco project (the outstanding balance to the estimated €8 billion (approx. $10.25 billion) to be covered by member states and private companies); and Germany is promoting the Nord Stream pipeline project. Europeans might also emulate the U.S. super-grid scheme to carry solar energy from the Sahara, geothermal energy from Iceland, hydropower from Scandinavia, and wind power from the North Sea. [See also EU Renewable Energy Policy becomes Legally Binding in December 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Worst-hit EU states get least in post-gas crisis plan http://euobserver.com/9/27493/?rk=1
Merkel puts pressure on EU for Russian pipeline http://euobserver.com/9/27497/?rk=1
As Europe Fiddles, U.S. May Take Lead on Climate Change http://www.alternet.org/environment/119300/as_europe_fiddles%2C_u.s._may_take_lead_on_climate_change_/?page=2

Global Plan to Address Freshwater Supplies Negotiated
In preparation for the 5th World Water Forum to be held in March 2009 in Istanbul, senior officials from more than 60 countries met in Rome, January 21-23, to negotiate a global plan of action for addressing issues of freshwater resources and improving water governance. Industrial and agricultural use, growing population, pollution of ground and underground reservoirs, and effects of climate change all reduce the amount of clean water available and threaten water security. The Rome meeting is expected to negotiate a Ministerial Statement to be adopted by the Ministerial Conference at the World Water Forum. [The outcomes of the meeting were not available at the time of this writing.] Meanwhile, addressing the meeting “Managing our Future Water Needs” held in Davos, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined, “The problem is that we have no coordinated global management authority in the UN system or the world at large. There is no overall responsibility, accountability or vision for how to address the related problems of climate change, agricultural stress and water technology.” [See also Unless Water Management Improves, Conflicts over Water Are Inevitable in August 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Moving closer to a global plan of action for water http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=2279
"Unique Insights to the World's Water Problems" http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/fileadmin/wwc/News/WWC_News/Guest_view-magazine_ISO.pdf
5th World Water Forum http://www.worldwaterforum5.org/
Davos, Switzerland, 29 January 2009 - Secretary-General's remarks at event entitled "Managing our Future Water Needs" [as prepared for delivery] http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=3682

The Woodrow Wilson International Center Opens Synthetic Biology Project
Genomic pioneer Craig Venter has said that we will write genetic code to create artificial biology, as we wrote computer code to create software. Synthetic biology holds great promise but also may create unintended consequences and a new weapons source for bioterrorists of the future. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars launched the Synthetic Biology Project in January within the Center’s Foresight and Governance Project to “foster informed public and policy discourse concerning synthetic biology” by providing “independent, rigorous analysis that can inform critical decisions affecting the research, commercialization and use of synthetic biology.” Some experts estimate that by 2015 a fifth of the chemical industry could be dependent on synthetic biology. A Wilson Center panel exploring unresolved synthetic biology ethical questions remarked that, although threats related to synthetic biology are not different from those related to most sciences, regulations are lagging, opening the possibility for misuse. Hence, they suggested that the problem to be addressed is to get policy and commercial organizations to adopt ethical criteria, standards, and policies.
Sources:
Synthetic Biology: Is Ethics a Showstopper? http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=492968
Synthetic Biology Project http://www.synbioproject.org/about/
WMD Detection Facility Opens in Singapore http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090121_2237.php

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Process Improves Water Desalination Efficiency
Yale University researchers have developed a new energy-saving forward osmosis technique for water purification. The method, which is claimed to require only 10% as much power as previous ones, uses a new formulation for the “draw solution” in the osmosis process. Oasys Water, Inc. has been formed to exploit the discovery.
Sources:
A Low-Energy Water Purifier. A Yale spinoff hopes to solve the big problem with desalination http://www.technologyreview.com/business/21934/?nlid=1636&a=f
Global Challenges in Energy and Water Supply: The Promise of Engineered Osmosis http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es800812m?prevSearch=McGinnis+osmosis&searchHistoryKey=

Another “Green” Concrete Announced
In a press release, Ekocrete, Inc. announced, “…the availability of a new ‘green’ concrete that uses 90% recycled and by-product materials without sacrificing strength or durability.” The new product uses crushed recycled concrete for aggregate, plus fly ash waste from coal mills, and other industrial byproducts that provide nano-fibers for crack reduction and nano-particles for surface density to reduce water penetration. [See also Environmentally Polluting Ash Turned into Concrete-like Structural Material in November 2008 environmental security report.
Sources:
Ekocrete Launches 'Green' Concrete That Uses 90% Recycled and By-Product Materials http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=8868.php

New Material Makes Biodegradable Plastic Bags
A research group led by Truong Phuoc Nghia at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Sciences has developed a nanocomposite plastic bag material that is less expensive than others, made from renewable sources, and is biodegradable in landfills. Its application may be somewhat limited by the facts that the resultant bags are reusable only if they do not come in contact with water, and that they rely on bacterial degradation for their low environmental impact.
Source:
Vietnamese scientists come up with natural plastic http://www.thanhniennews.com/print.php?catid=4&newsid=45235

New Technique Provides Cheaper LEDs
A team at Cambridge University, led by Colin Humphrey, has developed a new production technique for gallium nitride LEDs that allows them to be grown on a silicon wafer and brings their price down to levels competitive with other types of light sources. [See Light Emitting Diodes Offer Big Environmental Advantages in December 2008 environmental security report.]
Source:
Cheap, super-efficient LED lights on the horizon http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16496-cheap-superefficient-led-lights-on-the-horizon.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
New Techniques for Multi-nanowire Detection Arrays
A team from the Electrical Engineering Department at Pennsylvania State University has developed an improved, potential mass production technique for assembling detector nanowires into an array on a silicon chip, using an electric field. Once in place, with electrodes on top of them, the set of treated wires yields a portable and very sensitive detector for multiple toxins or pathogens. A nanowire detectably changes its conductivity when a target substance (say, a toxin) binds to the specific complementary coating on the wire. Harvard chemist Charles Lieber earlier devised a competing technique to line up nanowires using polymer bubbles, and Prof. Mark Reed at Yale attacked the problem using an etching process.
Sources:
Nanosensors Made Easy. A trick to assemble nanowires on silicon could lead to cheap, tiny sensing devices http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/21974/?a=f
Practical Nanowire Devices. A way to align nanowires could lead to better sensors and flexible displays http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/18802/?a=f
Easy-to-Make Nanosensors. Tiny electronics-based detectors could provide simple tests for cancer or bioterror agents http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/18127/

Manure Aids in Removing Hydrogen Sulfide from Biogas
SulfaMaster is a product combining manure and other ingredients to produce a filtering material that removes hydrogen sulfide, an acid rain- and corrosion-causing component, from biogas, a renewable energy source derived from the breakdown of animal waste. It is especially suitable for small biogas-producing operations that cannot afford large scrubbers. The developers are Gary Harman, professor of plant biology at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, and Terry Spittler, a retired analytical chemist at Cornell.
Source:
Cornell technology makes biogas greener http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/39043

New Deep Water Marine Sensors Being Developed
Prof. Hywel Morgan from the UK’s University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science and Dr. Matt Mowlem at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, have performed initial testing of new technology marine sensors that are “capable of measuring harsh environments [and] can be deployed for months at a time”, according to a University announcement. The four-year project’s two goals are said to be “to develop lab-on-a-chip chemical and biochemical analyzers to detect nutrients and pollutants at the ultra-low concentrations found in the ocean, and to develop small chips to identify individual phytoplankton in the oceans”. The researchers foresee applications wherever the condition of environmental water needs to be assessed.
Source:
World’s first deep-sea ‘lab-on-a-chip’ sensors proved to work http://www.soton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2008/dec/08_233.shtml

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

New Chemicals Considered for Toxic Lists
Health Canada and Environment Canada are recommending adding diethyl sulphate to the country’s list of toxic substances. The compound is used in the production of fabric softeners, flocculants, pharmaceuticals, fragrances, and dyes. Various foreign jurisdictions, including the European Commission, consider it a possible carcinogen. The agencies also designated butane and isobutane for further assessment.
Concerns over the use of formaldehyde in pressed-wood products are getting increased attention. California issued new rules on these products, and the EPA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
An investigation by CDC is underway to determine if antimony in fire-resistant clothing is posing a health risk. The issue was triggered by complaints in the Boca Raton FL Fire Dept.
The European Parliament voted to prohibit around 22 substances used in pesticides due to their potential health hazards. Two separate bills address the issue: one banning the very hazardous substances from pesticides and another considering use reduction of all pesticides. Three transborder geographical regions within the EU––rather than countries––can rule on the use of specific products, while countries can ban a product because of specific environment or agricultural circumstances. [See also New Hazardous Substances to be Banned in October 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Backgrounder on Batch 4 of the Chemicals Management Plan http://www.chemicalsubstanceschimiques.gc.ca/challenge-defi/batch-lot-4/background-information_e.html
Formaldehyde Emissions from Pressed Wood Products http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/chemtest/formaldehyde/index.htm
Ailing Boca Raton firefighters blame chemical in pants http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2009/01/10/a1a_boca_pants_0111.html
Toxic pesticides banned in Europe http://euobserver.com/9/27399/?rk=1

New Jersey Ports Pushing for Toxic Diesels Ban
The New Jersey Port Authority is considering imposing a ban of some kind on polluting diesel trucks at the ports of Newark and Elizabeth, perhaps similar to the one already set up in Southern California. [See U.S. Policy Shift May Improve International Environmental Security this month and Aviation and Shipping should be Subject to Emissions Cuts in September 2008 environmental security report.]
Source:
N.J. pushing for restrictions on diesel trucks at ports http://www.northjersey.com/environment/NJ_pushing_for_restrictions_on_diesel_trucks_at_ports.html

Chemical and Biosecurity Issues
Reportedly, the al-Qaeda cell that shut down operations in the Tizi Ouzou province in Algeria after an accident might have been developing chemical and biological weapons. Last year, it was reported that allegedly up to 100 potential terrorists had attempted to enter postgraduate programs in Britain to gain access to laboratories. Experts and security organs repeatedly warn that the security measures to stop eventual development and use of such weapons by terrorist groups are insufficient and inadequate.
Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War by Jeffrey A Lockwood warns about the possibility of terrorists developing an insect-based weapon and conducting a biological attack more easily than a chemical or nuclear strike. He therefore urges governments to create an effective “pest management infrastructure” able to detect insects carrying a deadly disease.
Countries with inadequate safety standards for pharmaceutical and food production combined with insufficient import verification mechanisms open a new avenue for terrorist activity. In an increasingly globalized world with greater access to S&T knowledge and software, international standards, information-sharing agreements, common ground for cooperation with the local authorities, improved inspections and testing systems, and stronger and more comprehensive import safety regulations (especially for pharmaceutical and food production) are needed. [See also Better International Controls Needed to Prevent Bioterrorism in July 2006, Call for Reinforcements to Chemical Safety in September 2006, and other items on this theme in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Al-Qaeda Reportedly Suffers WMD Mishap http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090121_4538.php
Experts Debate Threat of Nuclear, Biological Terrorism http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090113_7105.php
Al-Qaeda cell killed by Black Death 'was developing biological weapons' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/algeria/4294664/Al-Qaeda-cell-killed-by-Black-Death-was-developing-biological-weapons.html
Bioterrorists Could Employ Insects, Expert Warns http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090106_5074.php
Book Review: Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/39506/title/Book_Review_Six-Legged_Soldiers_Using_Insects_as_Weapons_of_War_by_Jeffrey_A._Lockwood_
Drug Safety Watchdog Sees Al-Qaeda Risk to U.S. Food, Drug Imports http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090129_3617.php

Arctic Security and Sovereignty Debate Continues
Delegates to a NATO meeting held in Iceland discussed the security implications of Arctic thawing and the potential need for a NATO military presence in the region. In view of the arguments among powerful nations over sovereignty and resources, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer noted, “It should be a military presence that is not overdone, and there is a need for political cooperation and economic cooperation.” The U.S. Arctic policy was published January 9, 2009. [See also EU Arctic Policy Guidelines in November 2008, Arctic Needs New International Regulations in September 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
NATO chief wants military in Arctic as it thaws http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28907448/
Defence warns of climate conflict http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/global-warming/defence-warns-of-climate-conflict/2009/01/06/1231004021036.html
National Security Presidential Directive and Homeland Security Presidential Directive NSPD-66/HSPD-25, January 9, 2009 http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/nspd-66.htm
New policy emphasizes U.S. interests in Northwest Passage http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/569679
Who Owns Rights to Melting Arctic? http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/jan2009/db20090127_954391.htm

Greenhouse Gas Observing Satellite Could Help Enforcing Environmental Regulations
Japanese Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite "IBUKI" (meaning “breath”) is the world’s first satellite dedicated to monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. It circles the earth every 100 minutes and monitors the levels of CO2 and methane at 56,000 observation points. The data should help the global effort to understand and combat global warming. [See also Increased Use of Space Technology for Monitoring Environmental Events in September 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite "IBUKI" (GOSAT) http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/gosat/index_e.html

India to Enact Regulation Curbing Plastic Bags Use
India’s regulation to curb plastic bags gets increased enforcement by the decision of the city of Delhi to outlaw the, “use, storage and sale”, of all polyethylene bags, and apply severe penalties for non-compliance. The law is effective immediately, and applies to customers and retailers alike, but the first target is manufacturers, to restrict availability. India thus joins other countries that have introduced similar regulations. [See also Restrictions on Plastic Bags Expanding in January 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Heavy baggage. India’s urban environment http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13041382
In India, plastic bag use is a capital offence http://www.theage.com.au/world/in-india-plastic-bag-use-is-a-capital-offence-20090117-7jl4.html

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
According to the Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters, in 2008 there were 321 disasters, below the 398 annual average for 2000–2007. Nevertheless, the 235,816 people killed, and the $181 billion in economic losses were considerably higher then the yearly average for the same period. About 211 million people were affected, with the highest number of deaths in Asia, mainly due to Cyclone Nargis and the Sichuan earthquake. The largest numbers of disasters were recorded in China––26, the Philippines––20, U.S.––19, Indonesia––16, and Vietnam and India––10 each.
A NASA study based on five years of data shows that for every 1oC (1.8oF) increase in average ocean surface temperature, there is a 45% increase in the frequency of the very high clouds associated with severe storms and rainfall. Senior Research Scientist Hartmut Aumann notes that at the present rate of global warming of 0.13oC (0.23 oF) per decade, the frequency of severe storms could increase by 6% per decade.

Food and Water Security
Half the world’s population might face food crises by 2100, warns a team of scientists from Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment. The main cause is a combination of climate change and water shortage, reducing crop yields in the tropical and subtropical regions (between about 35° north latitude and 35° south latitude) where the world’s fastest-growing and poorest populations are. They suggest rethinking the whole agricultural system in view of the new environmental and demographic trends.
The number of hungry people increased by 40 million in 2008, said FAO, but $30 billion a year investment in infrastructure and agricultural production could eliminate the root causes of hunger by 2025. This represents only 8% of the support to agriculture by OECD countries. In sub-Saharan Africa only 4% of the arable land is irrigated (compared to 38% in Asia), and only 3% of renewable water reserves are used.
Before the high level meeting, “Food Security for All,” held in Madrid, January 26-27, the ETC Group released a Communiqué on global governance of food and agriculture. It suggests that the four main agencies (FAO, CGIAR, IFAD, WFP) should coordinate and work together along with smaller more specialized organizations from the developing countries.
The UK created a new Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) by merging several Defra agencies and thus better integrating food and environmental security research and policy.
Indonesia’s rice production was very good in 2008, but inefficient implementation of land reforms and improvement of economic conditions of farmers led to numerous conflicts.
Two-thirds of the Tibetan plateau glaciers might be gone by 2050 if the current temperatures rise continues, note scientists. Water shortages would affect 2 billion people in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
In Africa, by 2020, water shortages might affect 250 million people, and agricultural productivity could decline 50%. These points were stated at the two-day meeting organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the African Union (AU), aimed at developing a continent-wide policy framework to protect pastoralists in Africa.

Migration
The Australian Defense Force report Climate Change, The Environment, Resources And Conflict, warns of possible conflict in the South Pacific triggered by increased illegal immigration and fishing and potential failed states, as a consequence of climate change and rising sea levels.
In an address to the UN Security Council, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres warned of new forms of displacement, with natural disasters on the rise due to climate change. He explained the interrelationship between climate change, extreme deprivation, and conflict, and how they can exacerbate each other as causes of displacement.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
The University of Zurich’s World Glacier Monitoring Service published the latest data showing that alpine glaciers from the Andes to Alaska and across the Alps shrank twice as fast as a decade ago, losing on average 0.7 meters of thickness in 2007––the most recent data available. The experts warn that most glaciers will disappear by mid-century.
Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.2: Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes is a comprehensive synthesis of science literature about the Arctic, integrating research on the past 65 million years of climate change, with contributions from 37 scientists from several countries. The conclusions show that faster warming at the Arctic than other places in the Northern Hemisphere is expected to continue, with all its consequences––sea-ice retreat, rising sea levels, increased erosion, etc. Additionally, human activity might induce changes that would exceed documented natural variability and trigger serious transformations.
Despite earlier beliefs, all of Antarctica seems to be warming, reported climatologists in the article “Warming of the Antarctic ice-sheet surface since the 1957 International Geophysical Year” published in the journal Nature. The conclusions resulted from combining satellite observations over the entire continent with data from land weather stations for the past 50 years. Warming of the continent’s western side has been twice as rapid as the East Antarctica.

Rising Sea Levels
Research published by European scientists in Climate Dynamics shows that the next century might be 3°C warmer, and the ocean level could rise between 0.9 and 1.3 meters. Similarly, models by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth Systems Research Laboratory show that sea levels would be 1.3 to 3.2 feet higher from thermal expansion of ocean water alone, if CO2 increase would cap at 600 parts per million, but twice as much if CO2 peaks at 1,000 parts per million. The models also showed that even if warming stopped, climate change effects might last until 3000.
According to a report by the State Oceanic Administration, the sea level along China’s coastal areas has risen about 2.6 millimeter per year in the past 30 years, 0.8 millimeter higher than the world's average, and might rise 0.13 meter in the next three decades.
Tens of thousands of people were displaced in the Pacific islands as a consequence of climate change effects. Coastal residents of Fiji were instructed to move to higher ground to avoid storms and flooding.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The EU proposes that richer countries cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, and that developing countries (except the poorest) cut emissions to 15%-30% below “business as usual” levels. The proposal suggests setting up a carbon market for richer countries by 2015 and that poorer countries be included five years later. The proposal will be submitted for member states’ approval at a summit in March. An important shortfall is the lack of budget.
The McKinsey report Pathways to a low carbon economy addresses the feasibility and conditions to keep global warming within the 2°C limit. The report finds that it is possible to reduce GHG emissions “to stay on track until 2030” but immediate action and a strong policy framework are needed. Any delay might result in missing the 2°C limit.
At the World Economic Forum, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said that the world should establish a price for carbon emissions.
Delegates attending the Ministerial Conference on Transport held January 14-16, 2009, in Tokyo, called on the International Maritime Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization to prepare by the end of the year “a package of appropriate mechanisms for reducing emissions,” from the aviation and shipping sectors.
Sources:
CRED Disaster Figures. Deaths and economic losses jump in 2008 http://www.unisdr.org/eng/media-room/press-release/2009/pr-2009-01-disaster-figures-2008.pdf
NASA Study Links Severe Storm Increases, Global Warming http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2008-242
Global crisis talks move to Davos http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/davos/7830633.stm
H(a)LF a Loaf: Finally, in Madrid, a High-Level Forum considers Governance http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=715
Half of world's population could face climate-induced food crisis by 2100 http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=46272
UK creates Food and Environment Research Agency http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2009/090114a.htm
AFRICA: Pastoralists grapple with climate change http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82614
Defence warns of climate conflict http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/global-warming/defence-warns-of-climate-conflict/2009/01/06/1231004021036.html
University of Zurich’s World Glacier Monitoring Service http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/index.html
Many glaciers will disappear by middle of century and add to rising sea levels, expert warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/19/glacier-rising-sea-levels
All Antarctica seems to be warming, report says http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/22/MN8015E0U9.DTL
Sea level rise of 1 meter within 100 years http://www.physorg.com/news150645386.html
Tens of thousands abandon flooded Pacific villages http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SYD379288.htm
Climate change: Commission sets out proposals for global pact on climate change at Copenhagen http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/141&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
BP's Hayward Says World Needs A Carbon Price http://planetark.org/wen/51403
Ministerial Conference on Transport Calls on IMO and ICAO to Pursue Work on Reducing GHG Emissions http://www.mlit.go.jp/kokusai/MEET/index_en.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
• companies under pressure to make public the presence of nanomaterials in their products, and their policies for dealing with these possibly hazardous substances.
• high aspect ratio (much longer than wide) nanoparticles (HARN), such as nanowires and carbon nanotubes, may pose the same health risks as asbestos fibers.
• quantum dots (QDs) may be toxic to cells under acidic or alkaline conditions
• Nanotech Conference & Expo 2009 May 3-7, 2009 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas
• Nanotech Europe 2009 will take place 28-30 September 2009, in Berlin
• nano tech 2009 International Nanotechnology Exhibition & Conference in Tokyo 18-20 February 2009
• observatoryNANO consortium will hold a dissemination event in London at the BERR conference center in London on 19 March 2009.
• report on Ethical Evaluations of Nanotechnology
• nano Magazine issue 10 features energy and environment
Sources:
Increase Expected in Shareholder Resolutions Urging Disclosure of Nanomaterials, Policies -- The Bureau of National Affairs' Daily Environment Report (1/15/2009) http://news.bna.com/deln/DELNWB/split_display.adp?fedfid=11312763&vname=dennotallissues&fn=11312763&jd=A0B7U4H4J7&split=0 (subscription required)
An outline scoping study to determine whether high aspect ratio nanoparticles (HARN) should raise the same concerns as do asbestos fibres http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=CB0406_7760_FRP.pdf
Quantum dots may be toxic to cells, environment under certain conditions http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=9059.php
Nanotech Conference & Expo 2009: http://www.nanotechexpo.jp/en/index.html
observatoryNANO consortium http://www.nano.org.uk/events/ionevents.htm
Ethical Evaluations of Nanotechnology http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/ethical_evaluations_nanotechnology/

Reports Suggested for Review
State of the World 2009
State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World by Worldwatch Institute is a comprehensive analysis of potential evolution of climate change by the end of the century and of the urgent actions and policies that need to be taken now. It is “intended to inject new inspiration and energy into national and international climate negotiations.” It examines the technologies that would be the most efficient for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; policies and strategies to address climate change; ideas for saving biodiversity; and security implications of climate change. It also includes a climate change reference guide and glossary.
Source:
State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5658

New 2009 Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) released an extensively upgraded terminology to help international common understanding and application of disaster risk reduction concepts. It also includes new concepts that are not in widespread use but are of growing professional relevance.
Source:
UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction (2009) http://www.unisdr.org/eng/library/lib-terminology-eng.htm

Back to Top


December 2008

New International Renewable Energy Agency Opens in January
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will be established January 26th in Bonn, Germany, as an intergovernmental organization to promote renewable energy worldwide. It will assist member countries in matters of technology transfer, assessment and dissemination of information on new technologies and best practices, and will help support projects related to renewable energy and tackling global warming. All interested UN member states are invited to become members of IRENA at the Founding Conference in January. The Japanese government declined to join, stating that the agency’s functions overlap those of the International Energy Agency. The organization was initially promoted by Denmark, Germany, and Spain, with strong support from other countries.
Sources:
IRENA website: www.irena.org
Promoting IRENA for a Stable Climate. Joint Press Release Germany-Denmark-Spain http://www.irena.org/downloads/Press/PM_SideEvent_IRENA_081211_EN.pdf
Japan won’t join intl eco-agency http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20081231TDY02306.htm

France Supports Brazil’s Permanent UN Security Council Seat to Promote Environmental Issues
Increasing Brazil’s role in international affairs, including a permanent seat on the UN Security Council to provide leadership on environment-related issues, was strongly supported at the second Brazil-EU summit, held in December 2008, by Nicolas Sarkozy, French President and holder of the EU rotating presidency. During the visit, the French and Brazilian leaders also addressed, inter alia, security and military affairs. Meantime, Brazil announced that its new strategic defense plan increases the focus on environmental protection and energy security.
Sources:
Sarkozy supports Brazil’s bid for security council http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/22/news/LT-Brazil-France.php
UPDATE 1-Brazil, EU to prepare joint crisis position for G20 http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandidateFeed2/idUSN2251166120081222

Conference on Future of the Dutch Military Includes Environmental Security as an Emerging Military Role
The Netherlands Ministry of Defence and the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) held a conference December 15–17, 2008 in The Hague on future roles for the Dutch armed forces. The conference was part of the Future Policy Survey, a comprehensive interdepartmental look at future developments and scenarios to the year 2030 to update the Netherland’s defense policies and roles with NATO and the EU. There was some discussion of re-nationalization of defense policy due to ineffectiveness of the EU and NATO. Among the presentations was an overview of future environmental security roles for the military and why these roles will be increasing.
Source:
Conference “Challenging uncertainties: the future of the Netherlands’ armed forces” http://www.clingendael.nl/cscp/events/20081216/

Likelihood of Climate Lawsuits Increasing
Advances in environmental science and computer modeling are improving estimates of human-influenced climate change and its influence on extreme weather events. Some experts suggest that the likelihood of related litigation might increase, as sectors and companies that are considered serious contributors to climate change or promoters of public misinformation could be held liable for climate-change effects. Beyond Adaptation, a paper by WWF UK, notes that a new UN framework to compensate victims of climate change in developing countries is needed and suggests an international compensation fund to be set up by some future UN treaty.
Sources:
Science paves way for climate lawsuits http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/09/oil-business-climate-change-flooding
Beyond Adaptation http://www.wwf.org.uk/research_centre/index.cfm?uNewsID=2505
New U.N. pact may be needed for climate victims: WWF http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L3148346.htm

Water and Environmental Research Center to Be Established in UAE
The UAE University in Abu Dhabi has been funded to create a Water Environment Centre of Excellence. The research generated will be published, contributing to solving water- and environment-related problems in the UAE as well as in neighboring countries. Mohsin Al Sharif, head of the new center, said that one of the objectives is also to review UAE water-related policies.
Sources:
3 UAEU Centers of Excellence win NRF funding http://www.uaeu.ac.ae/news/20081110_nrf_3_uaeu_centers.shtml
Universities to gain four new centres for academic research http://gulfnews.com/nation/Education/10267860.html

Japan Sets up e-Waste Collection Locations to Recycle Rare Metals
Odate city in northern Akita Prefecture, Japan has set up collection boxes for people to get rid of old cell phones, hair driers, and other electronic devices to recover rare metals. The demand for rare metals is increasing with the growth of high tech products. Hence, availability and future cost of indispensable rare metals is of increasing concern. This collection of e-waste and recycling is spreading throughout Japan with the help of subsidies from the Environment Ministry.
Source:
City takes lead in recycling rare metals http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200812200045.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Protection for Plastic Electronics
Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a new form of self-healing for the metal oxide thin film layers that protect the plastic covering for a wide variety of electronic devices, e.g., displays, low-cost solar cells, and chemical- and pressure-sensitive sensors. These layers are subject to damage from moisture and flexing. The technique uses a nanocomposite material that combines a water-degradable polymer and a titanium tetrachloride healing agent, which act together to seal minute defects in the protective layer.
Source:
Self-healing protection for plastic electronics http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=8555.php

Reusable Hydrogels Detect and Remove Heavy Metals from Contaminated Water
Scientists at the Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley developed a group of low cost protein-cross-linked hydrogels, incorporating pea metallothioneins, for the detection and sequestration of heavy metal ions, such as cadmium, in contaminated water. The compounds shrink upon absorbing metals, providing a detection capability, and can be reused after the bound metal ions are removed by chelation. The researchers are also working on applying the same technique to other types of pollutants.
Source:
Berkeley chemists pioneer low-cost water testing devices http://www.physorg.com/news149261463.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Nanoparticles Increase Solar Cell Light-gathering Efficiency by 30%
Work led by Kylie Catchpole, now at the Australian National University, has resulted in the discovery that a thin film of metallic nanoparticles applied to the surface of a solar cell can increase light capture for long-wavelength light by a factor of more than ten, and improve overall cell light-gathering efficiency by 30%.
Source:
Enhancing solar cells with nanoparticles http://www.physorg.com/news149266955.html

Light Emitting Diodes Offer Big Environmental Advantages
A recent paper in the special energy issue of Optics Express summarizes the tremendous environmental advantages LEDs offer over other lighting means, and predicts “a revolution in energy-efficient, environmentally-sound, and powerfully-flexible lighting”. They are 5 to 20 times as energy-efficient as other light sources, and their manufacture does not use toxic materials such as mercury. They also offer controllable color and polarization. Researchers in materials science and engineering at the University of Florida produced organic LEDs in various colors that achieve efficiencies of 50 lumens/watt (with hopes for 100 lumens/w or higher, eventually).
Sources:
Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/issue.cfm?volume=16&issue=26
The Green (and blue, red, and white) lights of the future http://www.physorg.com/news148708739.html
Efficient organic LEDs a step toward better lights http://www.physorg.com/news149258474.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
Dangers Increase from “Amateur” Genetic Engineering; the Biological Weapons Convention to be Updated
Scientists from the Vanderbilt Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have used genetic engineering techniques to produce a new SARS-like virus affecting bats and transmittable to mice, in order to study such transferences. Some scientists believe these kinds of experiments might trigger new biosecurity problems. “Garage” bioengineering development (“synthetic biology”) could be done by amateur scientists. The required knowledge is now widely available and affordable equipment is easy to obtain. So far no instances of terrorists exploiting this field have been reported. Another possibility is the accidental release of harmful new organisms into the environment by well-intentioned amateur experimenters.
In the meantime, the annual session of States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention reiterated the need to improve biosafety and biosecurity, increase awareness, and develop codes of conduct for preventing the misuse of bioscience and biotechnology research. The Convention may be updated at the next review conference to be held in 2011 to cover potential new threats. After the meeting, Russia announced that it backs a legally binding mechanism for enforcing the Biological Weapons Convention. [See also ETC Report Warns of the Threat of Synthetic Biology and Calls for Global Regulations in January 2007 and other items in previous environmental security reports on this theme.]
Sources:
Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081225/ap_on_sc/do_it_yourself_dna
Man-made SARS virus spreads fear http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/manmade-sars-virus-spreads-fear/1394539.aspx?storypage=1
Analysts Debate Bioterror Risks http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20081211_8851.php
Informal Advance Report of the Meeting of States Parties http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/%28httpAssets%29/C70514F42F7BF072C1257516005B1E7A/$file/BWC+MSP+2008+Advance+Report.pdf
The 2008 Meeting of States Parties (BioWeapons Prevention Project daily reports) http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/MSP08-combined.pdf
Russia Backs Legally Binding Oversight System for Biological Weapons Convention http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081209_7554.php

Progress in the Elimination of Chemical Weapons Stockpiles
Participants to the 13th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction held at The Hague, December 2-5, 2008, noted progress as nearly half of the stockpiles of chemical warfare materials declared by possessor States have been verifiably destroyed, it and reiterated the call that the actions be completed by the required April 29, 2012 deadline. Two countries have finished the operations, work continues in India, Russia and U.S., and Japan has begun the cleanup of chemical weapons abandoned in China during World War II, while Libya has yet to begin the process. The U.S. has already acknowledged that it can’t meet the deadline and there are also considerable doubts about Russia and Japan meeting it. One of the main issues considered at the meeting was the 2009 budget for the convention’s verification and monitoring body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. [See also Problems with Destruction of Chemical Weapons and Potential Proliferation in October 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Thirteenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties http://www.opcw.org/documents-reports/conference-of-the-states-parties/thirteenth-session/
Ban calls for continued efforts to eliminate scourge of chemical weapons http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29166&Cr=disarmament&Cr1=chemical+weapon
U.N. Chief Promotes Chemical Disarmament http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081203_7682.php

New Nuclear Disarmament Initiatives
Global Zero, a New Initiative for Promoting Global Nuclear Disarmament
Global Zero is a new effort launched by international leaders––including former heads of state and top diplomatic and defense officials––to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide within 25 years. It wants to encourage the international community to establish safeguards and audits for disarmament, using dialogs and strategies different from past approaches. The group plans to organize a global meeting in January 2010, prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference to be held in May 2010. Meantime, the EU also aims to be a leader in nuclear disarmament, suggesting new measures, including a worldwide prohibition on nuclear tests. [See also Nuclear Safety in September 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Global Zero http://www.globalzero.org
A world without nuclear weapons http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/08/nuclear-nuclearpower
World leaders try to ban nuclear weapons http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/06/america/NA-US-Eliminating-Nuclear-Weapons.php
EU pushes for cuts in global nuclear arsenal http://euobserver.com/9/27260/?rk=1

Central Asia Becomes Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone
With the Kazakh Senate approving the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone treaty, and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev expected to ratify it shortly, Central Asia–– including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — becomes a nuclear weapons-free zone, with the parties banning the possession as well as stationing of other nations’ nuclear weapons on their territories. [See also Nuclear-Free Zones Continue to Grow in October 2002 environmental security report.]
Source:
Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Clears Final Hurdle http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20081211_1387.php

The Cluster Munitions Treaty Signed by 94 Nations
94 nations signed the new international treaty banning cluster munitions at a special conference in Oslo December 3–4, 2008. The agreement will become binding international law six months after 30 signatories have ratified it. Four countries have already ratified it: the Holy See; Ireland; Norway, and Sierra Leone. The treaty forbids states parties to produce, trade, and use cluster munitions, as well as requiring them to discourage other nations from using cluster munitions in joint military operations. Dozens of countries that signed are stockpilers, former producers, and users of the weapon, including 18 of 26 NATO nations, such as the UK, France, and Germany. The number of signatories is expected to increase rapidly. [See also The Convention on Cluster Munitions Opens for Signature on December 2nd and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
94 Nations Sign Global Ban on Cluster Munitions http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/04/94-nations-sign-global-ban-cluster-munitions
Dozens of nations sign up to UN-backed treaty banning use of cluster bombs http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29180&Cr=disarmament&Cr1
Six EU states fail to sign cluster bomb ban http://euobserver.com/9/27231/?rk=1
Collateral damage. America won’t sign a treaty banning cluster bombs. But can it use them now? http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12780720

EU Updates the REACH System, and WEEE and RoHS Directives
The EU Member States agreed to align EU legislation on classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures to the UN Globally Harmonized System, as part of a global effort to protect humans and the environment from hazardous effects of chemicals. The new regulation will complement the EU REACH system, which is already in force.
The European Commission proposed a revision of the Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives and restrictions on: the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) for greater coherence with other EU regulations (such as the labeling system, the waste framework, and REACH), easier implementation and enforcement, and higher but more flexible targets. Concerning the WEEE directive, the current collection target of 4 kg per person per year would be replaced by a mandatory collection target equal to 65% of the average weight of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market over the two previous years in each Member State. [See also EC Enforces Compliance of National Legislation with EU Environmental Regulations in October 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
EU Member States approve world-wide rules for labelling of chemicals http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1844&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Environment: Commission proposes revised laws on recycling and use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1878&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

EU Renewable Energy Policy becomes Legally Binding
The targets set by the EU 20/20/20 energy policy become legally binding for all member States by 2020. They are to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, establish a 20% share for renewable energy, and improve energy efficiency by 20%. EU member states have to present their national action plans by June 2010, and report on progress every two years. [See also EU Leaders Support the 20/20/20 Energy Plan in March 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Climate change: Commission welcomes final adoption of Europe's climate and energy package http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1998&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Greens hail EU deal on renewable energy http://euobserver.com/9/27269/?rk=1

Somali Piracy is also an Eco-terrorism Threat
The rise of piracy in Somalia’s waters raised serious environmental and potential eco-terrorism concerns after the hijacking on November 15, 2008 of the large Saudi oil tanker, Sirius Star, reported to contain 2 million barrels of crude oil. While piracy may not present a direct threat to countries’ national security, its consequences could have widespread effects. Nevertheless, the integrity of the international efforts to tackle piracy in the region (the UN Security Council resolution, the EU one-year “Atalanta” anti-piracy mission, and international coalition forces patrolling the region) is seriously undermined by allegations that the EU and Asian countries are unwilling or unable to stop companies that have been dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast for many years. The UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, has in the past few months repeatedly warned about illegal fishing and toxic dumping by European firms off Somalia’s coast. [See also Toxic Waste Disposal of Global Growing Concern in September 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
EU firms should stop toxic dumping off Somalia http://euobserver.com/9/27244/?rk=1
Somalia's piracy problem is everyone's problem http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1208/p09s01-coop.html

Measures Needed to Quiet Underwater Noise
The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species conference held in Rome noted that human activities are making the marine environment noisier, as well as more acidic. The report Ocean Noise: Turn it Down by the International Fund for Animal Welfare states that low frequency underwater noise has doubled every 10 years over the past 50 years, and the number of ships has tripled and is expected to double again by 2025. An alliance of wildlife groups warned that this is disturbing marine mammals that use sound to communicate and navigate and called upon governments to adopt regulations that impose quieter off-shore equipment and ship engines and less intrusive sonar technologies by navies. The EU submitted a draft resolution suggesting a wide range of measures, including noise protection areas, better monitoring of noise levels, databases with noise origins, and a set of guidelines for better managing noise sources.
In the meantime, a three-year lawsuit against the U.S. Navy by environmental groups concerning the Navy’s use of sonar in oceans has been settled in a California court, requiring more extended research on the effects of sonar on whales and other marine mammals. (Note: this is a separate case from the November 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lifts restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar off the coast of California.) [See also U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Navy in Sonar Case in November 2008 and other previous environmental security reports on this issue.]
Sources:
Noisy, Acid Oceans Increasingly Harmful to Whales http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2008/2008-12-03-03.asp
Man-made noise in world's seas threatens wildlife http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE4B26P920081203
Settlement Reached Between Navy And Environmental Groups Over Sonar Use http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7013545335

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
The UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction noted that the number of disasters doubled over the past 20 years, reaching more than 400 annually and it is expected that the intensity, frequency, duration, and extent of weather-related hazards will rise over the next 20 years around the world. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that in the period 1988-2007, over 75% of disasters were climate-related, and accounted for 45% of deaths and 80% of the economic losses caused by natural hazards.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, in 2008 the average temperature on Earth was 0.31°C higher than the 1961–1990 levels, with serious changes in climate patterns, such as the warmest winter in more than 100 years in Scandinavia, the longest hot summer on record in parts of Australia, and unusual cold for a large part of Eurasia. Some parts of the U.S., India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Bangladesh were the nations worst hit by the devastating effects of flooding and cyclones as a result of climate change, with tens of thousands of people losing their homes and more than 10 million displaced. The re-insurance company Munich Re said that 2008 was one of the most devastating years in terms of natural disasters, in both human and economic terms.
The British Met Office warns that the average global temperature for 2009 is expected to be more than 0.4°C above the long-term average, despite the La Niña phenomenon. NASA estimates that a 1°C increase in ocean surface temperatures could trigger a 45% increase in thunderhead formation, potentially increasing the frequency of severe tropical storms and their devastating impacts on developing countries by 6% in the next decade.
Other studies warn about climate change in different parts of the world: Latin America and the Caribbean might experience more destructive hurricanes and melting glaciers; New Zealand is threatened by drought, while the Arctic might have reached the point of irreversible climate change with temperatures rising much faster than anywhere else in the world.

Food and Water Security
FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report warns that some 33 countries around the world are in need of external food assistance as a result of crop failures, conflict or other forms of food insecurity and high domestic food prices. Although cereal harvests in 2008 reached record highs, with wheat and rice production at over 2 billion tons––more than a 5% rise over 2007, most increases were achieved in richer nations.
Martin Parry, former co-chair of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group and lead author of its 2007 report, calculated that the more the year of greenhouse gas emissions reduction is delayed, the higher will be the negative impact on food and water supply, health, coastal areas, and other ecosystems. His study reveals that even in the best-case scenario, 1.7 billion people will face water shortage due to climate change already taking place. This could potentially reach 3.2 billion, if action is delayed. Similarly, crop productivity will be affected through more frequent and more severe droughts, floods, and storms.
In Africa, as 21 countries are affected by food crises, governments should double the percentage of national budgets allocated to increase farm output, improve water sharing, and adopt policies to adapt to climate change, agreed ministers attending a water conference in Libya. Africa’s population of 967 million, of whom 53% are under the age of 20, is forecast to reach 2 billion in 2050. The UNDP Poverty and Environment Initiative implemented in Malawi and other 10 African countries aims to address food security by including environmental objectives such as combating soil erosion, deforestation, and water pollution in development programs.
Low Carbon, High Growth: Latin American Responses to Climate Change estimates that without adequate actions, climate change might reduce farm revenues by 12%–50% by 2100. Climate Change and Food Security in Pacific Island Countries, a report by FAO, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the University of the South Pacific, notes that the region’s food security is seriously affected by natural disasters. Therefore, says Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, “integrating climate change adaptation into national policies, strategies, programmes and budgets related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries should become a major priority.” In the Solomon Islands, food security and livelihood of villagers of Luaniua and Pelau, are already affected by continuous tidal surge onto the land, reports the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Office.
The UK set up the Council of Food Policy Advisers in order to address the growing concern of food security and find strategies to feed the world’s growing population. Professor Lang, member of the newly formed Council, lists “new fundamentals” that will shape future food production, including: oil and energy price volatility; water scarcity, through auditing foods’ water requirements; biodiversity replacement and enhancement by changing practices of land use and food growing; urbanization; and complete use of produce independently of appearance.
Global warming and melting of Tibetan glaciers might produce 15 million “environmental refugees” in South Asia and conflicts within Punjab and Sindh, warns Simi Kamal, member of the Stockholm-based Global Water Partnership Technical Committee, adding that water distribution is political in nature and needs to be resolved in order to avoid conflict.

Migration
An estimated 6 million people a year could be displaced by climate change effects, meaning that by 2050, the numbers might be between 200 million and 250 million, putting heavy pressure on aid agencies to meet basic needs, said L. Craig Johnstone, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. At the Poznan climate change conference, discussions concerning environmentally induced migration focused on helping countries to address the problem within their borders by implementing climate change adaptation measures, rather than considering international aspects. Nevertheless, the European Parliament declaration adopted in June 2008 calling for a legal framework for the protection of the victims of climate events and other similar efforts of the global community increase the likelihood of addressing the international dimension of environmentally induced migration.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Researchers say that the amount of ice flowing out of Greenland this summer is nearly three times more than that lost last year.

Rising Sea Levels
A compilation by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that when factoring in thermal expansion due to warming waters, total sea level rise could reach about 1–2 meters by 2100. They considered glaciological assumptions for sea rise expected from Greenland, Antarctica and the world’s smaller glaciers and ice caps. Along the same lines, the Abrupt Climate Change report by the US Geological Survey found that sea level rise could exceed forecasts, possibly reaching 150 cm by the end of the century, an estimate which itself might “likely need to be revised upwards” because it doesn’t fully count the ice flow processes. Jim Hansen, of NASA, also says that most estimates of sea level rise are too conservative, since climate system feedback could quickly accelerate ice melt, leading to a runaway collapse.
At the Poznan climate conference, a group of 43 small island states, saying that rising seas could wipe them off the map, called for tougher goals for emissions reductions and limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C (2.7° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, which is far lower than the EU suggested 2°C . “We are not prepared to sign a suicide agreement that causes small island states to disappear,” said Selwin Hart of Barbados, a coordinator of the alliance of small island states, referring to a too weak climate change agreement.
A sudden sea swell hit Papua New Guinea in December, affecting some 32,000 peoples and their livelihood. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team went to the area to assess first aid needs.

Computer Modeling
Four models by the Met Office Hadley Centre on climate projections show the possible range of temperature rise by 2100 as a function of actions in greenhouse gas emissions. While all models show that some global warming by the end of the century is inevitable because of the CO2 already in the atmosphere, they outline the direct dependency of temperatures rise on actions to cut emissions. The most optimistic scenario shows global temperature rise of 2–2.8°C with the condition that actions start in 2010 and emissions decrease 47% by 2050 at a sustained rate of 3% per year. In the worst-case (no action) scenario, temperatures could rise by 5.5–7.1°C, with significant and irreversible impacts. The two middle-case scenarios, based on slow emissions reductions, show possible temperature rises of 2.9–3.8ºC in the case of actions starting in 2010, and 4–5.2ºC if action is delayed until 2030.

Adaptation
The Least Developed Countries Fund, established under the UNFCCC and managed by the Global Environment Facility to help the poorest countries implement urgent projects to adapt to climate change, might need $1 billion, said Boni Biagini, who runs the fund. So far, only $172 million was pledged to the fund. Nevertheless, the Central Emergency Response Fund, set up in 2006 to help in case of natural and man-made disasters, has surpassed its annual target, reaching $452.5 million, with some of the 101 contributing nations significantly increasing their donations for 2009, announced the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Meanwhile, at the Poznan climate change conference, it was agreed that the board of the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund would have the legal capacity to grant developing countries direct access to about $60 million to help them cope with the effects of global warming. However, the suggestion by some delegates to increase from 2% to 3% the share of proceeds from the Clean Development Mechanism that finances the Adaptation Fund was rejected. The UN estimates that $86 billion per year might be needed by 2015 for poor countries to adapt to global warming, while some aid groups are calling for at least $50 billion.
At the Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, government officials from more than 40 Asian countries discussed partnerships and regional cooperation for disaster preparedness and early warning systems. The Asia-Pacific region is the most populous and also most affected by disasters in terms of human and economic impacts, according to the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Greater investment in disaster risk reduction is crucial for the region’s development and to reduce relief costs, since studies show that $1 invested in disaster preparedness saves between $4 and $7 in humanitarian relief and reconstruction costs after a disaster happens.
The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) organized disaster-awareness training programs in Russia for members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and in the Middle East. In 2009 it will do so in the West African region. All countries, which join the system, must receive the training. Since its inception in 1993, UNDAC has deployed 183 missions to assist countries affected by disasters.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
Over 11,000 participants from 190 nations attended the conference held in Poznan, Poland, December 1-12, 2008 to advance negotiations for a post-2012 climate change regime.. Despite little progress on filling in the gap between rich countries’ rhetoric and real commitments for addressing climate change (partly due to the global financial conditions), procedural decisions were made and there were commitments from governments for negotiating an effective new UN climate treaty and response to climate change to be agreed at the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. A first draft of the text would be presented at a UNFCCC conference to be held in June 2009, in Bonn. Also, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he is considering convening a summit focused on climate change at the time of the General Assembly in September 2009. While a few industrialized countries openly undermined progress, most developing countries came with clear and constructive proposals. Progress was made in the area of technology transfer with the endorsement of the Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer that aims to increase investments for mitigation and adaptation technologies in developing countries and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Research on Global Warming Effects and adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate-change issues, says that in order to avoid a disastrous climate change, global CO2 emissions would need to be reduced 50% by 2050, meaning an 80%–90% decrease for industrial countries.

Sources: (a selection of sources)
UN, aid partners issue call for global efforts to slash climate-induced disaster risks http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29175&Cr=disaster&Cr1=climate
2009 To Be One Of Warmest Years On Record: Researchers http://planetark.org/wen/51066
Warming fuels rise in tropical storms http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/warming-fuels-rise-in-tropical-storms/1395641.aspx
The accidental environmentalists http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12775599
Crop Prospects and Food Situation, December 2008 http://www.fao.org/docrep/011/ai476e/ai476e00.htm
Water To Combat Hunger http://planetark.org/wen/50955
Food needs 'fundamental rethink' http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7795652.stm
‘Nearly 15 million environmental refugees likely’ http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=154569
Climate change refugees seek a new international deal http://www.climatechangecorp.com/content.asp?contentid=5871
Greenland's Glaciers Losing Ice Faster This Year Than Last Year http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Greenland_Glaciers_Losing_Ice_Faster_This_Year_Than_Last_Year_999.html
Ice sheet at risk http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/09/poznan-ice-sheet-sea-level-greenland-arctic
UN disaster team arrives in flood-stricken Papua New Guinea http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29394&Cr=papua&Cr1=ocha
Sea level could rise by 150cm, US scientists warn http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/16/climatechange-scienceofclimatechange
Abrupt Climate Change. Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.4 http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap3-4/final-report/default.htm
Climate change models. Likely effects of four emission reduction models http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/hadleycentre/news/emissions_270908.pdf
Asian nations focus on disaster risk reduction as UN-backed meeting opens in Malaysia http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29149&Cr=Natural+disaster&Cr1=
Slow Progress in Poznan While Climate Threats Mount http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2008/2008-12-13-01.asp
Time to prepare for disasters caused by climate change is now, says UN http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29154&Cr=Disaster&Cr1=Climate

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

New Nanotube-based Design Yields More Sensitive Pathogen Detector
Hiroshi Matsui, professor of bionanotechnology at Hunter College in New York, and collaborators from the Nanobiosensors and Molecular Nanobiophysics Group at the Research Center on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, developed a new design for lab-on-a-chip pathogen (e.g., bacteria and viruses) detection devices, using an AC-driven peptide nanotube capacitance probe to increase sensitivity of the element. It appears that the design can be scaled up to provide multiple-threat detection in a single device, although there are challenging problems with registration of a number of electrodes.
Source:
Peptide nanotubes for highly sensitive pathogen sensors chips http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=8464.php

National Research Council Calls for Better Nanotech Risk Assessment
The National Research Council issued a new report, Review of Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research, that, “finds serious weaknesses in the government's plan for research on the potential health and environmental risks posed by nanomaterials”, and emphasizes that, “An effective national plan for identifying and managing potential risks is essential to the successful development and public acceptance of nanotechnology-enabled products”.
Sources:
Federal Research Plan Inadequate to Shed Light on Health and Environmental Risks Posed by Nanomaterials (News release) http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12559
Review of Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research report http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12559

UN Report Assesses Nanotech and Climate Change
The Institute of Advanced Studies of the United Nations University issued a new report, Innovation in Responding to Climate Change: Nanotechnology, Ocean Energy and Forestry, that, “offers three innovative solutions in responding to climate change, namely nanotechnology, ocean energy and forestry”, critically assesses, “the opportunities and challenges that each type of innovation presents”, and, “addresses the question why these innovations––despite their large potential to reduce emissions, ocean energy alone could cover the world’s electricity needs–– have not yet reached the stage of mass commercialization.”
Sources:
Innovation in Responding to Climate Change: Nanotechnology, Ocean Energy and Forestry http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=8&ddlID=738

Tunisian Nanotech Association Formed
The creation of the Tunisian Association of Nanotechnology has been announced. The Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development noted, "...the seminal importance of the use of nanotechnologies on the prevention of pollution, water desalination, and the environment", and cautioned that the use of nanotechnology should go, "hand in hand with risk assessment measures to ensure a sound use of these new technologies." According to allAfrica.com, he also announced that the Tunis Environmental Centre of Environmental Technologies (CITET) would open its laboratories to members of the association
Sources:
Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, Headlines for: 12/19/2008
Tunisia: Environmental Use of Nanotechnologies Highlighted in Tunis Seminar http://allafrica.com/stories/200812180921.html

EU to Fund Nanoparticle Environmental Risk Study
The EU is launching a new project, ENNSATOX, led by Dr Andrew Nelson, a chemist at the University of Leeds, to investigate the environmental impact of nanoparticles found in everyday products, such as suntan cream, including the relationship between the physical structure of nanoparticles and their toxicity. The project has been awarded €3 million, and will involve scientists from five countries.
This new project is especially significant since research has not yet settled the question of whether metallic compound nanoparticles in preparations, like sunscreens, applied to the skin constitute a health risk. According to a published report, an inquiry by the New South Wales Parliament in Australia has, “concluded that nano versions of existing chemicals should be assessed as new chemicals and recommended that ‘ingredient labelling requirements for sunscreens and cosmetics include the identification of nano-scale materials’ ". The same report states, “The [Therapeutic Goods Administration] estimates about 70 per cent of sunscreens with titanium dioxide and 30 per cent with zinc oxide have these materials in a nanoparticle form.” The ENNSATOX project will pay particular attention to this family of compounds.
Sources:
ENNSATOX: http://insciences.org/article.php?article_id=770
Sunscreen danger: Holidaying feds leave bathers waiting for suspect sunscreen list http://www.theage.com.au/national/holidaying-feds-leave-bathers-waiting-for-suspect-sunscreen-list-20081227-75x6.html?page=-1

European Nanotech Safety Proceedings Published
The proceedings of the European Commission Dialogue Workshop on Nanotechnology: Safety for Success, held in Brussels in October, have been published online, covering a number of topics in nanotech regulation and risk assessment.
Sources:
2nd Annual Nanotechnology Safety for Success Dialogue Workshop, 2-3 October 2008 http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/ev_20081002_en.htm
Nano. Safety for Success Dialogue report http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/documents/ev_20081002_rep_en.pdf

EuroNanoForum 2009 To Be Held in Prague, June 2-5, 2009
The fourth international nanotechnology conference, EuroNanoForum 2009, an official event of the EU, will be held in Prague, June 2-5, 2009, with the topic “Nanotechnology for a Sustainable Economy”. Among the individual sessions will be “Environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology” and “Nanotechnology: education, standardization and social perception of benefits and risks”.
Source:
EuroNanoForum 2009 http://www.euronanoforum2009.eu/

Back to Top


November 2008

New UN-linked Body Proposed to Protect Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
As the IPCC helped to put global climate change on the world agenda, a new organization is proposed to do the same for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Building on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity, the proposed Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) would bring together the policymaking and scientific communities from the biodiversity and ecosystem areas to provide timely information to support decision making. The framework for the new UN-linked body was discussed at an ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting held November 10-12, 2008 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, attended by over 175 participants from nearly 100 countries and more than 20 organizations. The meeting’s results will be presented at the 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council.
Sources:
Ad hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services http://ipbes.net/en/index.aspx
Summary of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/ipbes/html/ymbvol158num1e.html
How Best to Put 'Nature-Based Assets' at the Top of the International Political Agenda Focus of Malaysia Meeting http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=550&ArticleID=5972&l=en

International Conference on Military’s Role in Climate Change
The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate 2008 conference, attended by over 100 military and environmental experts from 25 countries, plus the EU and UNEP, discussed the security implications of climate change and the role of the military community in addressing it. There was consensus that climate change is a conflict multiplier with global security implications such as: “creating new geopolitical areas of concern; inhibiting the ability to project power; jeopardizing coalition partnerships; increasing operations other than war; overloading UN peacekeeping deployments; and requiring urgent actions by military and civilian leaders and the public” [1]. Therefore military organizations should increase their role in protecting the climate by showing leadership in increasing energy efficiency through procurement and operations, R&D centers of excellence, and transfer of knowledge. Several best practices were discussed and a project was proposed for a global public-private partnership to cooperate in efforts to collect and destroy ozone-depleting substances. Some “visionary military climate strategies” included “self-sustaining energy at the battlefront; a Carbon Non-Proliferation Treaty; and cooperation on Arctic passage & resources” [2]. The conference, which is the fifth in a series that began in 1991, was held in Paris, November 3-5, co-hosted by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and collaborators.
Sources:
The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate: 2008 http://www.igsd.org//conferences/Paris2008.php
[1, 2] Conference Conclusions and Opportunities for Co-operation. Stephen O. Andersen, EPA Climate Liaison to the US Department of Defense http://www.igsd.org//conferences/Paris2008/3%20Andersen%20conclusions.pdf
Key role for military in climate change, US experts say http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/key-role-military-climate-change-us-experts/article-177141

Arab Mediterranean Governments’ Environmental Security Cooperation
The conference Environmental Security in the Arab and Mediterranean sphere: Role of the Civil Society was organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Network for Sustained Development (ARREMED) and the Arab Environment and Development Network (RAED), in Tunis. Attended by high-ranking diplomats and environment and security experts, the conference discussed cooperation and common policies for addressing environmental and human security in the Arab Mediterranean spheres. “Governments should unify policies on environmental security and strengthen partnership in matter of scientific research between Arab countries and prepare a survey of possible risks to evaluate their impact and their cost,” stipulates the conference declaration. Highlighted was that tackling environmental issues is imperative mainly in conflict-threatened regions. Along the same lines, the Arab Environment: Future Challenges report launched at the annual conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development held in Manama, Bahrain, recommends urgent action in four major areas: fresh water scarcity, desertification, air quality, and marine pollution, all of which will likely worsen due to climate change.
Sources:
Environmental experts advocate common Arab-Mediterranean vision http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2008/11/11/feature-01
Arab, Mediterranean governments urged to boost cooperation in environmental security http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2008-11/10/content_7188556.htm
Regional conference on environmental security opens http://www.tap.info.tn/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23393&Itemid=255
Arab Environment: Future Challenges http://www.afedonline.org/afedreport/
State of the Arab environment 2008: 'A lot has been achieved, but much more is still needed' http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=97278

An International Energy and Environmental Security Foresight Network
The Energy and Environmental Security Ecosystem (EESE) is a project initiated by the U.S. Energy Department’s intelligence and counterintelligence unit, for compiling and sharing intelligence and improving understanding of possible security implications of energy and environmental security issues. It will involve a coalition of countries and will consist of a members-only website for selected government, industry and expert representatives, and eventual face-to-face meetings. “The character of the energy and environmental security challenge requires a radically different, more globally systemic process,” says a report by Natural Resources Canada, mentioning the EESE project. Countries involved or interested include Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S. Others may join later. The project is to be launched in the first half of 2009.
Source:
Canada may join U.S.-led energy, environment security project http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5idqDzQ-rStLqmwfoW2VXiMY7E7UQ
Global Intelligence; Developing a Globally Networked Intelligence Capacity (power point presentation) http://www.dniopensource.org/Conference/files/Carol%20Dumaine%20FINAL%2009-12-08.ppt
Support Grows for Integrating Environment, Energy, Economy, Security in U.S. Government http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/2008/11/support-grows-for-integrating.html

Vietnam Cracking Down on Environmental Violators
Over the past several months, Vietnamese authorities have taken strong measures against some environmental polluters, and the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment has ordered the government to get tough on polluters, levied heavy fines on one factory, and threatened criminal prosecutions. The country is having a hard time, however, in balancing the need for cleaning up its environment with the necessity of attracting and keeping industrial development.
Source:
Vietnam Cracks Down on Polluters http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1851331,00.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
Autonomous Robots May Need Environmental Concerns
Current work on intelligent battlefield robots by Ronald C. Arkin at Georgia Tech is focused on building into their programming regard for such elements as rules of engagement and the Geneva Convention.
Source:
A Soldier, Taking Orders From Its Ethical Judgment Center http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/science/25robots.html?_r=1

New Technique May Solve Wind Farm Interference with Radars
Cambridge Consultants Ltd. of Cambridge UK and Boston MA is working on the development of a holographic-infill radar, which aims to solve the problem of wind turbine interference with air traffic radars. The system works by covering the area of the turbines with a short-range radar “patch” with a different characteristic. A test has shown that the method provides a Doppler effect for a target moving on the ground different from one produced by a turbine, a distinction, which it is believed would enable a full-scale system to detect an aircraft intrusion into a wind farm interference area. Flying tests are planned.
Source:
Cambridge Consultants Ltd. http://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/news_pr202.html
Is it plane? How to make radar work in wind farms http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12551574

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Variable Heating Provides New Flexibility for Gas Sensors
Researchers Barani Raman and associates at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new “sensitive detector technology capable of distinguishing hundreds of different chemical compounds with a pattern-recognition module that mimics the way animals recognize odors”, according to a NIST announcement. The current unit comprises eight types of sensors in the form of oxide films deposited on the surfaces of 16 microheaters that allow the sensors to be heated to 350 temperature points between 150°C and 500°C, and “relies on changes in electrical conductance in the sensing film to detect the presence of adsorbed gases. Temperature changes may be used to create response ‘fingerprints’ for different gases.” The new technology is better than previous devices at recognizing previously un-sensed compounds and at dealing with sensor wear over time.
Source:
Sniffing Out a Better Chemical Sensor http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2008_1028.htm#nose

New Material Stores Methane in Dry Form
An inexpensive dry material that will absorb large quantities of methane is being developed by Prof. Andy Cooper, Director of the Centre for Materials Discovery at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Chemistry. The technique is to form methane hydrate by mixing water droplets with a special form of silica that stops them from coalescing, forming a ‘dry water’ powder that absorbs large quantities of methane rapidly at around 0° C.
Source:
Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable. http://www.physorg.com/news146398407.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Compressed Air Car May Offer Environmental Advantages
Zero Pollution Motors of New Paltz, NY is developing a compressed air vehicle planned for US production in 2010. The car may be viewed as an analogue of an electric car, with the battery replaced by a tank filled with air previously compressed by any electric energy source. The air runs a 2-, 4- or 6-cylinder engine, replacing the pressure otherwise generated by the explosion of fossil fuel vapors in the cylinders.
Source:
Pure Driving: The Revolutionary Compressed Air Vehicle http://zeropollutionmotors.us

Proposed Uniform Device-Charging Scheme Could Yield Environmental Benefits
Green Plug of San Ramon California seeks adoption of its environment-friendly charging technology for battery-operated devices. The technique depends on a “smart” universal plug-in-the-wall charger that communicates with a proprietary chip in the attached user device to determine what voltage level to provide to it for recharging. Adoption of this hardware (which would use a single connector configuration) would allow a single multiple-outlet charger to service all portable devices at a given location. In addition to eliminating the proliferation of discarded obsolete chargers into electronic waste dumps, the technology, unlike conventional transformer-type chargers, also uses almost zero power when not actually supplying current.
Sources:
Pulling the Plug on Phantom Power http://www.greenercomputing.com/podcast/2008/11/21/pull-plug-phantom-power
Green Plug: http://www.greenplug.us/index.php

Environmentally Polluting Ash Turned into Concrete-like Structural Material
Prof. Mulalo Doyoyo of Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering has developed a new structural material, Cenocell, that is produced by treating with organic chemicals fly ash and bottom ash left over from coal burning systems. It offers high strength and light weight, uses no cement, and could replace concrete, wood and other materials in many applications.
Source:
Strong, lightweight green material could replace concrete, but contains no cement http://www.physorg.com/news146851488.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
UN Secretary General Reiterates the Link between Environment and Security
On the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, celebrated on November 6, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed the call for “protecting the environment as a pillar of our work for peace.” Reiterating that “The environment and natural resources are crucial in consolidating peace within and between war-torn societies,” he gave the example of the transboundary cooperation in the Great Lakes Region of Africa to manage their shared natural resources, and underlined that lasting peace in war-torn regions like Darfur and Afghanistan is not possible without restoration of the ecosystem to support livelihoods. He noted that although “The natural environment enjoys protection under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions… this protection is often violated during war and armed conflict.” [See also UN Secretary-General on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict in October 2007 environmental security reports]
Sources:
A Day to Prevent Exploitation of the Environment in War http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2008/2008-11-06-02.asp
Action on Nature Part of United Nations Approach to Peace, Says Secretary-General, In Message for World Day to Prevent Exploitation of Environment during Conflict http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11900.doc.htm
Global pact on explosive remnants of war vital tool to end scourge – Ban http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28869&Cr=weapon&Cr1=treaty

Forums Discuss Water-Related Security Issues
The conference Water for Peace – Peace for Water: Lessons from the Past and Current Challenges, jointly organized by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Chirac Foundation, and the French Agency for Development, addressed two issues: transboundary water and cooperation, and access to water in fragile states. The outcomes [to be available soon] will be considered in the Political Process of the Fifth World Water Forum, to be held in Istanbul, March 15-22, 2009.
The International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment and the First Arab Water Forum took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 16-19, 2008 and addressed challenges related to water resources in the area and strategies to address them, including new technologies and Arab water policies for development and water crisis management. In his opening address, Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz warned of possible terrorism targeting water resources and called for a water summit similar to the world economic summits. [See also Unless Water Management Improves, Conflicts over Water Are Inevitable in August 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Water for Peace and Peace for Water Conference http://www.fondationchirac.eu/en/water-for-peace-and-peace-for-water-november-13/
The 3rd International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environments (2008) And The 1st Arab Water Forum http://www.psipw.org/article_208.html
International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment Opened http://www.mofa.gov.sa/Detail.asp?InNewsItemID=86326

The Convention on Cluster Munitions Opens for Signature on December 2nd
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) will be open for signing at a special conference in Oslo, December 2–4, 2008. The CCM prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions. It was adopted at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions in May 2008. [See also International Convention on Cluster Munitions Adopted by 111 Countries in May 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Military Implications:
[Same as previous on this issue] Although the U.S. does not support the Cluster Munitions Convention, it would be wise for the military to make plans for the elimination of cluster bombs, as international support for their prohibition continues to grow.
Source:
Banning Cluster Munitions – making it happen in Oslo http://www.osloccm.no/

EU Arctic Policy Guidelines
The recently published EU ‘Communication’ concerning the Arctic stipulates that the Arctic becomes a priority in the European Northern Dimension policy due to potential implications for European security and stability. It outlines the EU Arctic framework built around three main policy objectives: “1) Protecting and preserving the Arctic in unison with its population; 2) Promoting sustainable use of resources; and 3) Contributing to enhanced Arctic multilateral governance.” [See also European Parliament Adopted Resolution on Arctic Governance in October 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
The EU and the Arctic region http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/arctic_overview_en.html
Commission green-lights industrialisation of Arctic http://euobserver.com/9/27152/?rk=1
Shippers, oil companies gauge benefits of less Arctic ice http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/603373.html

Outer space policy
Increasing Militarization of Space Might Require Outer Space Treaty Review
The European Space Agency Ministerial meeting in The Hague, Netherlands held November 25–26 adopted a new European space policy, which increases ESA’s role in addressing climate change and global security, setting new objectives and budgets for the agency. The programs include: Earth Observation activities (including the second segment of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Space Component); the Meteosat 3rd generation and a novel Climate Change Initiative; continued improvement of the Galileo navigation satellite system; and start of a Space Situational Awareness programme to help protect European space systems against space debris and the influence of adverse space weather. [See also Increased Use of Space Technology for Monitoring Environmental Events in September 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
The Space, Security and the Economy report by Economists for Peace and Security warns that the present U.S. space dominance policy threatens an arms race in space with possible devastating consequences for the economy and the growing scientific and commercial uses of space. The report calls for greater transparency in military space spending, and detailed information about government and commercial space activities. Along the same lines, the report From Venus to Mars: the European Union’s steps towards the militarisation of space by the Netherlands-based think-tank Transnational Institute argues that European and international trends to increasingly use space for military rather than civilian objectives might trigger a new arms race; and, therefore, the UN Outer Space Treaty might need to be reconsidered and broadened.
Sources:
Ministerial Council 2008 http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Ministerial_Council/index.html
From Venus to Mars. The European Union’s steps towards the militarisation of space http://www.tni.org/detail_pub.phtml?&know_id=276&menu=11e
Space, Security and the Economy http://www.epsusa.org/publications/papers/spacesecurity.pdf

Experts Call For Global Network to Prevent Asteroid Disasters
The report Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response by the Association of Space Explorers presented for consideration by the UN calls for an international contingency plan to counter threats from Near Earth Objects (NEO), such as an asteroid impact on the Earth. It points out that although a possible collision is predictable up to 15 years in advance, developing the technology needed to divert an incoming asteroid may require international cooperation. The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will debate the report at its 2009 session to be held in June 2009.
Sources:
Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response http://www.space-explorers.org/ATACGR.pdf
Experts call for global network to prevent asteroid disasters http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Experts_call_for_global_network_to_prevent_asteroid_disasters_999.html

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Navy in Sonar Case
On November 12th the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to lift restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar off the coast of California, arguing that national security interests prevail over possible damages that such sonar might cause to whales and dolphins. [See also Sonar Restrictions Debate Continues in January 2008 and other previous environmental security reports on the same issue.]
Sources:
Navy Wins, Whales Lose U.S. Supreme Court Sonar Case http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2008/2008-11-12-10.asp

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
The World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch reports that climate-warming greenhouse gases reached record levels in 2007. Using the NOAA annual greenhouse gas index, it found that the total warming effect of long-term greenhouse gases has increased by 1.06% compared to 2006 and by 24.2% since 1990. WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports that, compared to the previous year, CO2 rose 0.5%, methane 0.34%, and nitrous oxide 0.25%, while slight decreases were noted for chlorofluorocarbons (mainly due to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol).
The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season set a few records in U.S. and Cuban recorded history––as to number, force, frequency and length of storms, say meteorologists. Data on consequences are still being calculated.

Food and Water Security
About 960 million were malnourished and over 100 million people worldwide were driven into poverty this year due to the food and fuel crisis. The World Bank warns that the situation will continue to get worse as unemployment rates rise, commodity prices remain volatile, and governments face shortages in public money and outside financial assistance. The financial crisis is eclipsing and aggravating the food crisis. Production is threatened by: farmers’ increasingly difficult access to credit, high input costs, and a growing monopoly over seed and agrochemical sales.
“The impact of natural resource degradation is potentially even more devastating in financial terms than the current global meltdown,” said Christian Mersmann, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, at the seventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention. Some 12 million hectares of land are lost yearly due to degradation and environmental causes. Desertification threatens regions that are already the most vulnerable: 65% of agricultural lands in Africa––where 60% of the population depends on agriculture, and nearly 70% of the Arab region.
Countries still strongly affected by food crises include Kenya (where officials have been accused of artificially creating a maize shortage), Zimbabwe (where the political impasse has only made the situation worse), Afghanistan (where attacks on food convoys amplify food insecurity), Swaziland (threatened by another year of drought), Haiti (where 26 children have died in just four weeks from malnutrition), Bangladesh (where broken dams have flooded 13 Khulna villages), North Korea (where there are signs of massive malnutrition despite efforts to hide the evidence), West Africa (where the UN is seeking US$361 million to solve the crisis), and the horn of Africa (with 12 million hungry in Ethiopia, 3 million in Somalia, 2 million in Kenya and Uganda, plus more in Eritrea and Djibouti).
In Latin America, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projects that 10 to 15 million more people could slip below the poverty line in 2008 as a result of food price volatility.
Experts reiterated that half the world will face water shortages by 2080, with Asia being the most affected due to its large population, melting of Himalayan glaciers, and low-lying costal areas. Southeastern U.S. states are being advised to diversify their water supplies in expectation of a drier future climate. In Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, irrigated agriculture could be halved by 2050; and in the Sahel region, an estimated 110 million people might be affected by Niger’s seasonal flooding decrease due to changes in rainfall patterns and human exploitation.

Migration
Because rising sea levels are expected to eventually submerge most if the Maldives’ 1,200 islands, President Mohamed Nasheed announced that the country will create a $1 billion fund from tourist revenues to explore the possibility of buying land to move its 400,000 population.
A year after cyclone Sidr hit in Bangladesh, 1 million people are still homeless. Additionally, some Bangladeshis have already begun relocating to higher lands. They argue that developed nations should be more open to accepting refugees.
Half of Nigeria’s 150 million people might face displacement, as it is threatened by three effects of climate change: desert expansion in the North, farmland erosion in the East, and flooding from the Atlantic Ocean in the South.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Advanced computer models using new surface temperatures data showed that changes in temperatures at the poles over the 20th century could occur only if greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion are factored in. This improved understanding of how the ice sheets will evolve over this century, explained the team of scientists led by East Anglia’s Nathan Gillet.
A report by the Dirección General de Aguas de Chile, the country’s official water authority, warned that the Echaurren glacier and other smaller glaciers near Santiago could disappear over the next half-century. The Echaurren glacier supplies 70% of Santiago’s water needs and is the main source for the Maipo River and its tributaries, the water sources for the region’s agriculture. Water scarcity might cause massive population displacement in central Chile.

Rising Sea Levels
Satellite observations reveal that since 1993 sea level has risen by 3.3 mm a year, almost double the rate of the previous 50 years. While for 1993-2003, about half of the sea level rise was due to the oceans expanding as they became warmer and the other half was due to shrinking land ice, since 2003, about 80% of the annual sea level rise can be attributed to land ice loss from glaciers, Greenland, and Antarctica.

Early Warning
Indonesia launched a sophisticated new tsunami warning system that runs a computer-simulated model and can predict waves’ arrival times and heights, enabling fast emergency measures. Although it will take some more years to cover all the coastal regions, the construction of the system is ahead of the 2010 completion target and was able to predict the tidal wave that struck the Sumatran coast in September.
An ‘adaptation scan’ developed by Tauw and BuildDesk of the Netherlands could help policymakers assess the effects of climate change in their respective areas. It operates using complex combinations of two databases––one with effects and the other with measures, and generates several direct and indirect possible consequences.

Adaptation
Preparations of coastal communities for addressing possible natural disasters are increasing across the globe. The UK has commissioned a study on towns vulnerable to flooding. California is starting a series of adaptation efforts including moving a highway farther inland and constructing flood-resistant buildings. An Alaska village is planning to move their entire community due to rising sea levels. The coasts of New Jersey and New York City have to prepare to be radically altered by 2100. The Netherlands is considering a proposal to build islands off the coast like barrier reefs to deal with rising waters. Australia and Indonesia are in talks to create a center to prepare the region to deal with natural disasters. The coasts of Bangladesh, and of Gujarat in India, are already changing and, as a result, some families are moving. The EU pledged to provide technical and financial assistance to Pacific nations affected by climate change.
The sixteenth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum adopted a declaration to enhance cooperation for improving risk reduction, preparedness, and management to fight climate change, including building domestic disaster management capabilities.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
In the preamble to the Poznan meeting to be held December 1-12 as part of negotiations for a post-2012 treaty, the UN released an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions, showing that of 40 industrialized countries that have greenhouse gas reporting obligations under the Kyoto Protocol 16 are on target, and 20 countries––including Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Spain--are lagging. However, it notes, “the biggest recent increase in emissions of industrialized countries has come from economies in transition, which have seen a rise of 7.4% in greenhouse gas emissions within the 2000 to 2006 time-frame.” The report did not include large emerging economies like those of India and China.
Australia said that it will advocate that rich developed countries––such as Singapore and South Korea––be also included in any binding targets.
The “Algiers Declaration” by Africa’s 53 countries calls for the development of a common vision and to act as a bloc in the negotiations for the new global warming treaty.

Sources: (some selected sources)
WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin 2007: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach New Highs http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/ghg/documents/GHG_833_en.pdf
Latin American ministers gather at UN to tackle social impact of financial, food crises http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29087&Cr=Latin+America&Cr1=
UN gathering takes on causes and impact of land degradation http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28810&Cr=Desertification&Cr1=
Environmental experts advocate common Arab-Mediterranean vision http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2008/11/11/feature-01
Experts: Half world faces water shortage by 2080 http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/11/18/asia/AS-Malaysia-Water-Shortage.php
O give me a home... http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12601940&amp;subjectID=348924&amp;fsrc=nwl
The Dutch adaptation scan for local authorities http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EMS2008/00647/EMS2008-A-00647.pdf
Indonesia launches tsunami warning system http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/11/indonesia-tsunami-warning-system
Climate Change-Latin America: Frightening Numbers http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44818
Press briefing on Key Greenhouse Gas Data and expected outcomes of Poznan: http://unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Biodegradation of Carbon Nanotubes Could Mitigate Potential Toxic Effects
Work done by Dr. Alexander Star, Dr. Valerian Kagan, and colleagues, at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, and reported in Nanowerk, has shown that carbon nanotubes, which can have negative biological effects, can be destroyed by natural biodegradation through enzymatic catalysis, using horseradish peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide over a period of several weeks. This technique is milder and more natural than the previous method, which involved a harsh solvent consisting of sulfuric acid and high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide.
Source:
Biodegradation of carbon nanotubes could mitigate potential toxic effects
http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=8093.php

Microplastics Recognized as Environmental Threat to Oceans
A note has been published on the results of a conference held last month to discuss the increasing threat to the maritime environment posed by plastic “microparticles” (< 5 mm). A report quoted a speakers as stating that, “as plastic items break down, any toxic additives they contain—including flame retardants, antimicrobials, and plasticizers—may be released into the ocean environment”, “plastics can act like sponges to collect hydrophobic persistent organic pollutants, such as PCBs”, and “microplastics can impact marine food chains”.
Source:
International scientists to discuss effects of 'microplastics' on marine environment http://www.tacoma.washington.edu/news/2008_0903.cfm
Why small plastic particles may pose a big problem in the oceans http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/esthag/asap/html/es802970v.html

EU ObservatoryNANO Project in Expanded Operation
The EU FP7 “ObservatoryNANO” project (See this report, April 2008, Item 6.5.1) has expanded its operation. Its Web site, http://www.observatory-nano.eu - is now on-line, and contains (click on “Catalogue”),most of 56 recently written interim reports on scientific and technological developments in all sectors of nanotechnology, including energy, environment, and health.
Source:
EU ObservatoryNANO Project http://www.observatory-nano.eu

UK Report on Novel Materials in the Environment: The case of nanotechnology
The UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution issued this latest report, which “examines issues related to innovation in the materials sector and the challenges and benefits arising from the introduction of novel materials (specifically nanomaterials) … [and] makes recommendations on how to deal with ignorance and uncertainty in this area”. This document is accompanied by four supplemental reports and is partly based on input solicited from more than 100 organizations with relevant experience.
Source:
Novel Materials in the Environment: The case of nanotechnology http://www.rcep.org.uk/novelmaterials.htm

Latin American Personnel Offer Nanotech Cooperation Opportunity
A recent study among Latin American researchers temporarily working in European nanotechnology research organizations has indicated that they “want to cooperate with European colleagues in nanoresearch.” and “Access to high quality research infrastructure and equipment not available in their country is an important reason for cooperation.”
Source:
Interviews with visiting researchers in the NanoforumEULA project http://www.mesaplus.utwente.nl/nanoforumeula/interviews_visiting_researcher/

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
World Energy Outlook 2008
World Energy Outlook 2008 is the authoritative report on energy prospects. The WEO-2008 provides new energy projections to 2030 by regions and fuel types. It focuses on the two sectors that it considers the most pressing today: oil and gas production, including future global oil and gas supply and post-2012 climate scenarios, including possible outcomes of the international negotiations and carbon schemes and implications for global energy markets.
Source:
World Energy Outlook 2008 http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World
Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World by the US National Intelligence Council is an analysis of threats to security and potential geopolitical developments. It features four scenarios: “A World Without the West”; “October Surprises”; “BRICS’s Bust-up”; and “Politics is not Always Local.” It includes a chapter on “The Demographics of Discord” (chapter 2), as well as a section on “Water, Food, and Climate Change” (in chapter 4: “Scarcity in the Midst of Plenty?”)
Source:
Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project.html

Back to top


October 2008

Global Investment Road Map for a Transition to a Greener Economy Launched by UNEP
The United Nations Environment Program launched a Green Economic Initiative to encourage an environmentally friendly economy. A comprehensive road map will be delivered to all governments within 18 to 24 months to help make the necessary transitions. Investments considered the most likely for economic returns and job creations are: clean energy and other clean technologies; sustainable agriculture; ecosystem infrastructure; cutting greenhouse gas emissions; and sustainable urban planning.
Sources:
"Global Green New Deal" - Environmentally-Focused Investment Historic Opportunity for 21st Century Prosperity and Job Generation http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=548&ArticleID=5957&l=en
Landmark New Report Says Emerging Green Economy Could Create Tens of Millions of New "Green Jobs" http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=545&ArticleID=5929&l=en

Draft Agreement for Management of International Aquifers
The draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers aims to create a framework for proper management and exploitation of underground water resources, calling on States to cooperate on aquifers’ use and to prevent and control their pollution. Aquifers contain 100 times the volume of surface fresh water, but are largely not covered by international regulations despite their transboundary conditions, and their great environmental, social, economic and strategic importance. The new Convention would apply to 96% of the planet’s freshwater resources. It was prepared by the UN International Law Commission and experts from UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme, and submitted to the UN General Assembly on October 27, 2008. The same day, UNESCO published the first detailed map of 273 underground transboundary aquifers, including information about the water’s quality and rate of replenishment.
Sources:
UNESCO publishes first world map of underground transboundary aquifers http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=43767&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Global groundwater maps http://www.whymap.org/cln_092/whymap/EN/Downloads/downloads__node__en.html?__nnn=true

UN Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will Enter into Force in January 2009
The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will enter into force on January 2, 2009, three months after 20 States ratified it. “This represents an essential addition to UNESCO’s standard-setting apparatus” declared Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. The Convention aims to curb the destruction of underwater cultural heritage and its Annex details the rules for activities directed at underwater sites.
Sources:
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will enter into force in January 2009 http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=43663&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001260/126065e.pdf

Progress on Defining Environmental Refugees
The International Conference on “Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability” held in Bonn, Germany, October 9-11, 2008, summarized the current state of research and debate on matters concerning environmental migration and moved forward on the issues of definition: what should be considered environmentally-induced migration; measurement procedures and drivers; and legal instruments to protect and assist different categories of environmental migrants. The Council of Europe’s Committee on Migration suggests that environmental migrants’ rights should be considered either in “a separate Convention or as parts of intergovernmental environmental treaties, or as both”, but disassociated from the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention. The conference considered three categories of migrants: environmentally motivated migrants, environmentally forced migrants, and environmental emergency migrants.
The conference also introduced the Climate Change, Environment and Migration Alliance, designed to assist policymakers with environment-related migration issues; and presented preliminary findings by the Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios Project that analyzes migration due to environmental factors in 22 case studies in nine regions. The EFMSV conference was hosted by the United Nations University, was attended by about 600 experts from nearly 80 countries, and was the largest meeting ever held on the topic. The full outcomes of the conference were not yet available at the time of this writing. [See also New Strategies Needed to Deal with Global Displacement and Migration in October 2007 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Environmental Migrants: Conference Aims to Build Consensus on Their Definition, Support and Protection http://www.efmsv2008.org/file/Press+release+before+conference?menu=102
Preliminary Findings of EACH-FOR Project http://www.efmsv2008.org/file/Preliminary+Findings+October
Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability conference http://www.efmsv2008.org/?menu=41

Uganda to Create an Environmental Police Unit
The Uganda National Environment Management Authority announced that it will form a police unit to “address environmental crimes, investigations and prosecution.” The unit is expected to be operational in the next financial year. The Nature and Extent of Environmental Crime in Uganda report lists as leading environmental degradation causes: illegal waste disposal, pollution, and dumping and encroachment on protected areas. [See also East African Environmental Projects to Fight Crime in July-August 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Environmental crime on the rise as Nema forms police unit http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/news/Environmental_crime_on_the_rise_as_Nema_forms_police_unit_73245.shtml

International Meetings Bring Environment and Security Closer Together
The Roundtable on Environment and Security, organized alongside the IUCN Congress, was attended by selected representatives from the security community and major environmental leaders who discussed present and future environmental security issues, explored possibilities for cooperation, examined common strategies, and agreed that the impacts of environmental issues on security are increasingly requiring more attention from governments. Physical conflict and military environmental issues were central to the discussions. The Institute for Environmental Security program “Climate Change and International Security” is organizing several meetings to foster environment-security dialogue and set the agenda for some global environmental agreement(s) to reduce the probability of climate change-related conflicts.
Participants in the IUCN World Conservation Congress pointed out that biodiversity losses are not only more serious than the current financial crises, but are also often irreparable. The IUCN Programme 2009–2012 creates a framework for addressing environmental crises from planning to implementing, monitoring, and evaluating conservation work. Issues that got special attention include: high seas, of which less than 1% are under any kind of protection, nearly all located close to shore; forests––summary of the outcomes of the Forests Dialogue’s Initiative on Forests and Climate Change and agreement on five guiding principles for climate change negotiators and tackling deforestation; the role of the environment in avoiding conflict and for post-conflict stability; and better integration of biodiversity concerns into policymaking in all sectors. The new Red List of Threatened Species, unveiled at the Congress, now covers nearly 45,000 species, specifying those that are particularly susceptible to climate change. Over 8,000 people working in conservation or related areas participated in the 10-day IUCN Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, October 5-15, 2008.
Sources:
Roundtable Workshop Environment and Security. Challenges for Change http://www.envirosecurity.org/challengesforchange/
Barcelona sets environment action agenda http://www.iucn.org/news_events/events/congress/index.cfm?uNewsID=1946
High seas gems in the spotlight http://www.iucn.org/news_events/events/congress/media/press_releases/index.cfm?uNewsID=1791
The Review of the 2008 Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/red_list/review/index.cfm
The conservation Olympics. On being green when the world has the blues http://www.economist.com/daily/columns/greenview/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12405870
Living on the edge. More species of wildlife are under threat http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12332704&fsrc=rss
Time to invest in nature's capital http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7664280.stm

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Substrate Preparations Make for Inexpensive “Labs on a Chip”
Professor George Whitesides and colleagues of the Dept. of Chemistry at Harvard University have developed an inexpensive way of turning a sheet of paper into a microfluidic “lab on a chip” medium for bioassays. The technique is based on soaking the sheet with a hardenable photoresist, covering it with a transparency containing a drawing of the desired pattern of channels, and exposing it to light, rendering it impenetrable except in those areas shielded by the drawing. An analogous scheme is used by Aaron Wheeler of the University of Toronto to inexpensively make copper molds for plastic microfluidic chips. In his method, a pattern is inked directly onto a sheet of copper before a chemical is used to etch away a thin layer from exposed areas, leaving behind the mold pattern for the network of channels.
Source:
Paper lab-on-a-chip makes disease tests affordable http://technology.newscientist.com/channel/tech/dn14790-paper-labonachip-makes-disease-tests-affordable.html
FLASH: A rapid method for prototyping paper-based microfluidic devices http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/LC/article.asp?doi=b811135a
Soft lithography: masters on demand http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/LC/article.asp?doi=b804050h

Miniature Radiation Sensors Could Implement Detection Network
Scientists at Purdue University are working on developing a miniaturized radiation detection device that is small enough to fit into a mobile phone. Their suggestion is that a population carrying such embedded devices, together with software and communications subsystems, could serve as a networked system for the detection of radiological hazards such as “dirty bombs”.
Sources:
My Blackberry As A Bomb Sniffer? (NEWSWEEK, Oct 6, 2008) http://www.newsweek.com/id/161056
Cell phone sensors detect radiation to thwart nuclear terrorism http://www.purdue.edu/UNS/x/2008a/080122FischbachNuclear.html

Ion Jelly Electrolyte Offers Environmental Advantages
A team of researchers led by Susana Barreiros at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal, has developed a conducting “ion jelly” for use as an electrolyte in batteries and fuel cells. The new technique is superior to previous methods of turning environmentally friendly ionic liquids into solids.
Source:
Ion jelly could satisfy appetite for greener batteries http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn14975-ion-jelly-could-satisfy-appetite-for-greener-batteries.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
Iraq Complains of After-conflict Environmental Hazards
“It will take centuries to restore the natural environment of Iraq” said Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman, referring to the environmental catastrophe caused by the conflict: unexploded bombs and 25 million land mines littering the land, hazardous waste and leaking poison of destroyed factories, chemical waste, rubble and trash, obliterated forests to remove the enemy’s hiding places, and chemical weapons and depleted uranium munitions that have created 105 contaminated areas. More than 60% of Iraq’s fresh water is polluted. Unless serious environmental remedial actions are performed, peace will be difficult even after the war ends. [See also Iraqi Chemical Attack Victims Seek Compensation from Supplying Companies in May 2006, CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War Entered into Force in November 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on similar issues.]
Source:
Iraq scarred by war waste http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081024.wiraqenvir1024/BNStory/International/home

EU Legislation Banning Mercury Exports in Effect in 2011
Legislation banning all exports of mercury from the European Union takes effect in March 2011. The EU is the world’s biggest exporter, responsible for about 25% of the global mercury supply. The export ban is part of the EU’s strategy for reducing the global supply of mercury and thereby addressing mercury pollution globally. [See also Progress on Global Mercury Ban in February 2007 and other previous environmental security reports on this issue.]
Sources:
Environment: Commission welcomes adoption of legislation to ban EU mercury exports http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1399&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Nuclear Security
Advancements in Setting the Agenda for the 2010 NPT Review
The first meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament was held in Sydney, October 20-21, 2008. As stated in the press conference, the Commission is at an “idea-formulating stage, … refining and defining the issues” and formulating the work plan. The framework of negotiations is based on the NPT three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation, and peaceful use. The Commission was created to help set the agenda for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference. [See also Australia to Propose Panel to Advance Work for the NPT Review in 2010 in June 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
IAEA Director Warns on Continuous Nuclear Safety Issues
In his annual report to the UN General Assembly, International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that nearly 250 incidents involving theft or loss of nuclear or radioactive material were reported to the Agency during the year ending in June 2008, meaning that the threat of radioactive material use by terrorist or malicious forces remains high. Also troubling is that much of that material is not subsequently recovered, or sometimes material is found that was never reported missing. He reiterated the need for effective binding international agreements and global nuclear security standards, advanced and independent verification technology, and stronger legal authority and resources for the Agency. Since 1993 when IAEA data exchange began, 1,340 incidents were reported, including 18 with highly enriched uranium or plutonium. [See also IAEA Director’s Recommendations to Improve Nuclear Safety in September 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Joint Press Conference between Mr Gareth Evans and Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi, Co-Chairs, International Commission for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament http://www.icnnd.org/media/joint_conf_211008.html
Statements of the Director General http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2008/ebsp2008n010.html
Rate of Nuclear Thefts ‘Disturbingly High,’ Monitoring Chief Says http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/world/28nuke.html?_r=1&ref=world_&oref=slogin
IAEA Updates Nuclear Trafficking Database; Few Trends Seen in Information on Illicit Incidents http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008_9_29.html#802352F5

New Hazardous Substances to be Banned
New Compounds Considered under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions
Several more persistent organic pollutants may be banned or restricted under the Stockholm Convention. In addition to five substances already short-listed in 2007, the fourth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (COP-4) approved four chemicals to be listed under Annexes A, B, or C: commercial octabromodiphenyl ether (c-octaBDE), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), and alpha- and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (alphaHCH and betaHCH), and suggested further evaluation for endosulfan and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) to be listed under the Convention. [See also New Chemicals Proposed to be Added to Stockholm Convention on POPs in May 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
The fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC COP-4) agreed on the inclusion of tributyltin compounds in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention but did not reach consensus on the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos and endosulfan to the trade “watch list”. Delegates also discussed implementation issues and cooperation among the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm Conventions. [See also UN E-Waste Forum and Basel Convention’s Conference of Parties in December 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New List of Hazardous Substances Spotlighted for International Action http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=548&ArticleID=5947&l=en
Summary of the Fourth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention (13-17 October 2008) http://www.iisd.ca/vol15/enb15161e.html
Three Chemicals Considered for Trade 'watch list' http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=548&ArticleID=5953&l=en
Rotterdam Convention COP4 Documents of the Conference of the Parties http://www.pic.int/home.php?type=b&id=138&sid=27&tid=41
Rotterdam PIC COP 4 Highlights (Tuesday, 28 October 2008) http://www.iisd.ca/vol15/enb15165e.html

Concerns Increasing for BPA Bans and Phthalates
Canada has announced it would ban the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles, and the U.S. Safeway grocery chain will stop selling plastic baby bottles made with BPA. The U.S. National Toxicology Program and the FDA Science Board have recently indicated concern over the health safety of the chemical. Similarly, phthalates, used in a wide variety of products, are also beginning to be subjected to scrutiny for their effect on the genital development of male fetuses. [See also Questions on Bisphenol A Risk Raised Again in April 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
U.S. National Toxicology Program. Bisphenol A Evaluation http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/chemicals/bisphenol/bisphenol-eval.html
3rd Largest U.S. Supermarket Chain to Ban Baby Bottles with Bisphenol-A http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bisphenol-a-47102204?src=rss
Plastics industry behind FDA research on bisphenol A, study finds http://www2.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=809282
Male, interrupted http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20081027_Male__interrupted.html

Tougher Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO adopted regulations to reduce harmful air emissions from large ships. The revised MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships sets progressive reduction in emissions of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and particulate matter from ships. By 2020, ships will be required to use fuel with no more than 5,000 ppm sulfur, a 90% reduction from today’s global cap. The revised Annex VI, and the associated NOx Technical Code, will enter into force on July 1st, 2010, under the tacit acceptance amendment procedure. MARPOL Annex VI entered into force in May 2005 and has, so far, been ratified by 53 countries, representing 82 % of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping fleet. [See also Concerns over Maritime Air Pollution Increase in February 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Major progress on air pollution, ship recycling and ballast water management at IMO environment meeting http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=10268
IMO environment meeting finalizes ships recycling convention for adoption in 2009 http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=10263
IMO environment meeting adopts revised regulations on ship emissions http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=10262
Tough Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2008/2008-10-13-01.asp

EU Batteries Directive Entered into Force
The EU Batteries Directive entered fully into force across the EU on September 26, 2008. It requires waste batteries to be properly collected and recycled by producers and users. [See also Waste Management Policies in June 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
New EU legislation requiring collection and recycling of spent batteries applies from today http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1411&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

European Parliament Adopted Resolution on Arctic Governance
A resolution adopted by the European Parliament on October 9 regarding Arctic governance stipulates that the European Commission should get an ‘observer status’ on the Arctic Council to increase its proactive role in the region and should set up a “dedicated Arctic desk.” It also suggests that the EC open negotiations for an international treaty for the protection of the Arctic, which at the beginning should cover at least the unpopulated and unclaimed areas. Along with preservation, the commission should also consider a framework for possible exploitation of the Arctic’s potentials. The MEPs expressed concerns that the ongoing race for Arctic resources could lead to security threats for the EU. The EU is due to publish its own guidelines for work in the Arctic this November. [See also Arctic Needs New International Regulations in September 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
European Parliament resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic governance http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2008-0474+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN
Arctic governance: European Parliament deeply concerned about the effects of climate change http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/briefing_page/39049-282-10-41-20081008BRI39048-08-10-2008-2008/default_p001c014_en.htm
Consensus on Arctic initiatives http://arctic-council.org/article/2008/9/concensus_on_arctic_initiatives

Rights of Forest Peoples Need to Be Observed in Anti-deforestation Efforts
Research from the Rights and Resources Initiative, announced at the Rights, Forests and Climate Change conference in Oslo, has now shown that the financial costs of setting up legal rights for forest-dwelling peoples are around $3.35 per hectare compared with the estimated costs for elements of the UN-proposed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program ($800 to $3500 per hectare each year for the next 22 years), but can make a large difference in the efforts aimed at reducing deforestation. Ignoring these rights can cause serious problems for the efforts, and full advantage should be taken of those peoples’ well-informed help in protecting what is, after all, their environment. The IUCN’s World Conservation Congress also endorsed the REDD “as long as it remains just and equitable.” [See also International Alliance of Forest Peoples in April 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Forest Peoples' Rights Key To Reducing Emissions From Deforestation http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015110238.htm
Barcelona sets environment action agenda http://www.iucn.org/news_events/events/congress/index.cfm?uNewsID=1946

Coral Triangle May Get Regional Protection
The six Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor) that border the “Coral Triangle” have been discussing measures for additional safeguarding of that fragile region against pollution and other hazards. The US has pledged nearly $40 million to support these efforts. [See also Micronesian Nations Sign Coral Reef Protection Document in September 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Asia’s Coral Triangle could get protection http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27340356/

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences
Worldwatch Institute reports that 874 weather-related disasters were recorded in 2007, representing 91% of all natural disasters, the largest annual total since systematic recordkeeping began. These disasters caused $69 billion in recorded losses worldwide. The Institute says that there is a 66% likelihood that climate change will lead to more heat waves, heavier precipitation, broader droughts, and more-intense tropical cyclones—all of which could further increase the number of catastrophic weather events. Along the same lines, WWF’s report Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner warns that Europe will be confronted with more extreme weather conditions from severe cyclones to heat-waves, floods, and droughts.

Food and Water Security
The food crisis continues in many countries, particularly in North Korea, Somalia, and Zimbabwe, where the situations have been called humanitarian crises. Hunger in Latin America has risen from 45 million in 2006 to 51 million today. Chinese experts warn that the country’s food production might drop by 23% by 2050 due to climate change.
World Food Day focused increased attention on the seriousness of the situation, but much attention is diverted by the financial crisis. The credit crisis is aggravating the food crisis as countries like China institute new export taxes to keep their crops and fertilizers in the country, causing the costs of these goods to rise elsewhere. New trade agreements, like the Thailand and Iran barter of oil for rice, reveal new types of reaction to the fluctuating prices of commodities. Leaders worldwide are calling for action on the food crisis, such as the Asia-Europe Meeting recommending coordinated action between Europe and Asia. A new council was set up in Britain to look at food security.
Middle East water scarcity-related issues are aggravated as the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest freshwater lake, vanishes, threatening the livelihoods of local communities. About 50% of Israel’s drinking water comes from the lake, water is already rationed, and its agricultural use is increasingly reduced, jeopardizing food production.
In Bangladesh, drinking water becomes saline as rising sea levels force salt water further inland. In Zimbabwe, the conflict situation over water has started, as some communities’ local rivers are drying up.

Migration
The Australian government has agreed to accept climate change refugees like the ones from Tuvalu, as a last resort, and might create a new visa category to cover climate change refugees. Allegedly, the Tuvalu PM asked Australia to accept all 10,000 Tuvalians in a worst-case scenario. New Zealand now accepts 75 migrants a year. Expert groups indicate that mass evacuation might be necessary within decades. The situation extends to other low-lying nations such as Kiribati and the Maldives.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Autumn air temperatures in the Arctic reached a record high this year, 5 degree C (9 degree F) above normal, revealed Arctic Report Card 2008 by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The main reason is major loss of sea ice, which allows more solar heating of the ocean, as the region is warming up more rapidly than the rest of the planet. The report also noted that the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts; sea level rose nearly 0.1 inch per year, one of the main contributors being Greenland’s considerable surface ice melting. According to data from ESA’s Envisat satellite, the thickness of sea ice in large parts of the Arctic declined by as much as 19% last winter compared to the previous five winters. WWF’s report Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner shows that the Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and summer sea ice could completely disappear between 2013 and 2040.
Kolahoi glacier, the only year-round source of fresh water for the Kashmir valley, is melting at an alarming rate and might be all gone in 10 years. As water stress threatens the livelihoods of millions, the perspective of lasting peace in the region disputed by India and Pakistan is becoming even more difficult.

Rising Sea Levels
WWF’s report Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner estimates that sea levels’ rise by 2100 might reach more than double the IPCC’s maximum estimate of 0.59m. UN-Habitat’s State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/09: Harmonious Cities highlights the vulnerability of 10% of the world population that lives in low elevation coastal zones, mainly urban populations in deltas. Improving infrastructure is one of the essential first steps for reducing the impact of sea level rise on the population. UNDP predicts that there might be 30 million Bangladeshi refugees by 2050, due to sea level rise. Jakarta could be under water by 2025 due to groundwater mining and rising sea levels. Although Bangladesh’s landmass is increasing by 20 sq km annually as a result of deposits in the Bay of Bengal by big Himalayan rivers, they become inhabitable only after several years and the country’s existing landmass is being washed away faster than new land is being formed. Some islands, such as Kutubdia, are already becoming uninhabitable and the population has to relocate.
A new study by the University of New South Wales examining the effect of climate change on the Australian region from the Central Coast to Wollongong reveals that, by 2050, sea level rise is likely to be 40 centimeters, reaching 90 centimeters by 2100, threatening Sydney’s coastal habitats and infrastructure. It also notes that a 1 centimeter sea-level rise can cause up to 1 meter of erosion on low-lying beaches. The full study is expected to be released in January 2009.
Dubai, Kuwait, and the Nile Delta would be significantly affected by a 1-meter sea level rise, warns Raymond S. Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Centre, suggesting reinforcement measures mainly around Dubai’s coastline.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The WWF report Climate Change: faster, stronger, sooner calls on the EU to adopt an emission reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 (compared to the present 20% target) in the EU territory, rather than by overseas offsetting. It also suggests stronger EU leadership at the international level for a post-2012 climate treaty and increased EU funding for developing countries to address climate change and adaptation.
Japan drafted a new post-Kyoto protocol to be submitted in December at the 14th Conference of the Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP14)
Sources:
Vital Signs Update: Weather-Related Disasters Dominate http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5452
Climate Change: faster, stronger, sooner http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_science_paper_october_2008.pdf
Three billion Asians face food crisis threat http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=4097
Thais to barter rice for oil with Iran http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c47190fe-a452-11dd-8104- (Free, limited subscription required.)
Financial Meltdown Worsens Food Crisis. As Global Prices Soar, More People Go Hungry http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/25/AR2008102502293.html (Free subscription available.)
First council since Second World War set up to look at food security http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/10/06/eafood106.xml
Sinking Tuvualu wants our help as ocean levels rise http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,24446057-948,00.html
Arctic Report Card 2008 http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/index.html
State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/09: Harmonious Cities http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=5964&catid=7&typeid=46&subMenuId=0
The heat is on – climate change gathers pace faster than scientists expected http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=148141

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Russia Introduces Nanotechnology Certification System
Russia has launched NANOCERTIFICA, the Russian Federation’s first certification system for industrial nanotechnology production. According to Nanowerk News, the opening press conference addressed “development of testing and the methodological base of the certification system” and “the financing and qualification level of conformity evaluation centers and the possibility of using nanomaterials in medicine, cosmetology, ecology and water purification”.
Source:
Russia introduces NANOCERTIFICA, its own nanotechnology certification system http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=7893.php

New Batteries Raise Health/Safety Worries about Lithium Nanoparticles
A recent column by Philip Stiff, a member of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center, raises questions about the “foreseen and unexplored environmental, health and safety risks associated with the manufacture, use, recycling, and disposal of nanoscale lithium-ion batteries”, emphasizing the lack of studies on the end-of-life processes for these units.
Source:
Lithium-ion Nanomaterial Batteries: Our new hope with a dose of caution http://www.nanotech-now.com/columns/?article=250

Environmental Effects from Nanomaterial Production May Outweigh Its Benefits
An item in physorg.com states that “Environmental gains derived from the use of nanomaterials may be offset in part by the process used to manufacture them, according to research published in a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology.” A paper by Hatice Sengül and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago, asserts that “strict material purity requirements, lower tolerances for defects and lower yields of manufacturing processes may lead to greater environmental burdens than those associated with conventional manufacturing.” A team led by Vikas Khanna at Ohio State University “found, for example, that the lifecycle environmental impacts [of carbon nanofiber production] may be as much as 100 times greater per unit of weight than those of traditional materials, potentially offsetting some of the environmental benefits of small size of nanomaterials” like less waste and cleaner processes.
Source:
Nanomaterials May Have Large Environmental Footprint http://www.physorg.com/news143907040.html

Indian Conference on Nanotechnology and Regulatory Issues
An Indian National Conference on Nanotechnology and Regulatory Iss
ues is scheduled January 9-10, 2009 at the Centre for NanoScience and Nanotechnology, Saltlake City, Kolkata. The purpose of the conference is to bring together policymakers, nanoscientists, lawyers and academicians to debate and discuss a range of issues relating to nanotechnology regulation in India.
Source:
National Conference on Nanotechnology and Regulatory Issues http://www.scidev.net/en/announcements/national-conference-on-nanotechnology-and-regulato.html

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

Tools for Addressing Humanity’s Growing Ecological Footprint
Earth Overshoot Day this year was on September 23 and is moving forward each year, notes Global Footprint Network. In 2008, humanity used about 40% more than nature can regenerate resources and absorb waste. The Living Planet Report 2008, which documents the extent of human pressure on the planet, reveals that 75% of the human population lives in countries that are “ecological debtors,” demanding more biocapacity than they have within their borders. According to UN moderate projections, by the mid-2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. The Ecological Footprint Atlas 2008 offers country-by-country graphs, data tables, and sources, representing a valuable tool to help manage our ecological assets.
Conservation International is launching a new environmental protection resource, the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (http://biodiversityinfo.org/ibat/), which will provide a centralized source from which organizations can obtain comprehensive information on their possible ecological impacts.
Sources:
Global Footprint Network, World Footprint http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/
September 23 is Earth Overshoot Day http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=overshoot
The heat is on – climate change gathers pace faster than scientists expected http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=148141
Where the wild things are http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12332923&amp;subjectID=348924&amp;fsrc=nwl
Database: http://biodiversityinfo.org/ibat/

miniAtlas of Human Security
The miniAtlas of Human Security, produced by the Human Security Report Project at Simon Fraser University, Canada, is a comprehensive illustrated guide of global and regional trends in human insecurity––with details on: armed conflicts, genocides and other forms of deadly violence against civilians; fatalities from political violence; numbers of refugees and other displaced peoples; and respect for human rights.
Source:
miniAtlas of Human Security http://www.miniatlasofhumansecurity.info/en/

Proceedings of the Conference on Wearable Electronics
An insight into the current state of the field of wearable computing is available in the proceedings of the Fifth International Forum on Applied Wearable Computing, part of the ISWC 2008––12th IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computing, held September 28–October 1, 2008 in Pittsburgh PA.
Sources:
International Symposium on Wearable Computing http://www.iswc.net/

Back to Top

September 2008

UN General Assembly Stressed Environment-related Issues
The issues most frequently mentioned by heads of state and governments at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly were the global food crisis, impacts of climate change, widespread hunger and poverty, access to water, nuclear control and disarmament, human rights, and terrorism. Ukraine suggested the development of a World Environmental Constitution as a binding framework agreement, and the establishment of a UN entity with authority for ecological protection. Mexico proposed a UN-managed Green Fund to help poor nations cope with the effects of climate change. Small island developing nations that are under imminent threat due to rising sea levels appealed for measures to ensure their survival and the Pacific Islands Forum will resubmit a resolution asking the Security Council to investigate the peace and security implications of global warming, although Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Derek Sikua expressed fears that the magnitude of climate change has already outgrown the existing capacity of the UN system to respond.
Sources:
General Debate of the 63rd Session (23 September - 1 October 2008) http://www.un.org/ga/63/generaldebate/
Small Islands to World: S.O.S. http://www.avaaz.org/en/sos_small_islands/

UN and Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean Met to Improve Disaster Anticipation and Response System
The First Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Mexico City, September 10-11, hosted by the Government of Mexico in collaboration with the Government of Canada and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Participants explored how to improve disaster preparedness and response information and coordination systems among national and regional governments and relief organizations. As a first step, it is “essential to establish the basic compatibility of national response systems with the international system, tools and mechanisms,” said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. The next regional meeting will be held in Brazil, in 2009.
Sources:
UN Aid Chief Urges More Coordinated Disaster Relief in Latin America, Caribbean http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28031&Cr=Caribbean&Cr1=Hurricane
First Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships Concludes http://ochaonline.un.org/OchaLinkClick.aspx?link=ocha&docId=1094144
USSOUTHCOM http://www.southcom.mil/AppsSC/index.php

First EU-Central Asia Security Forum Included Environmental Security
The aim of the first EU-Central Asia Security Forum was to consolidate relations between the EU and the Central Asian governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as envisioned in the EU Strategy for Central Asia. This EU strategy focuses on terrorism, non-proliferation, human and drug trafficking, and energy and environmental security. The EU will help with financing and expertise for curbing illegal traffic of people, arms and drugs, while common energy security issues would be addressed by building infrastructure, including the Nabucco pipeline. The meeting was held in Paris, September 18, and attended by foreign ministers from the Central Asian countries and the EU member states and candidate countries, EU dignitaries, and experts from other organizations. Afghanistan observed. Participants agreed to have “regular exchanges” on these security risks.
Sources:
Paris Hosts First EU-Central Asia Security Forum http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3652594,00.html
Human rights take back seat at EU-Central Asia talks http://euobserver.com/9/26778/?rk=1

Indonesian Navy to Tighten Security in Sea Border Areas
The Indonesian Navy announced that it will tighten security in its eastern and western sea border areas to support law enforcement efforts at sea for reducing illegal activities such as environmental pollution, smuggling, and even manipulation of shipping documents. Their law enforcement efforts will include prosecution and monitoring cases until sanctions are applied.
Sources:
Indonesian Navy To Tighten Security In Border Areas http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=359652
CENTRIXS Online for CARAT and Naval Engagement Activity http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=39075
COMLOG WESTPAC http://www.clwp.navy.mil/

NASA-Like Agency to Achieve a 10-Year Environmental Goal Proposed
An international expert meeting on worst-case scenarios for global warming held at the Foundation for the Future near Seattle, Washington, proposed the creation of a NASA-like U.S. agency to achieve a 10-year environmental goal. A lobby, independent from the foundation, is being created, composed of environmental leaders, aerospace engineers, and business executives (working title is the American Climate Alliance) to get the US Congress to create the agency by 2010 that would reach the goal by 2020.
Source:
Meetings and email correspondence with Millennium Project Director, Jerome Glenn and Foundation for the Future Executive Director, Robert Citron.

Nationwide Health Information Network Could Help in Environmental Emergencies
According to information from Indiana University, “Investigators from the Regenstrief Institute [on the campus of Indiana University’s School of Medicine in Indianapolis] have led a demonstration of how health information exchange technologies developed and tested regionally can be used to securely share patient information across the nation during an emergency.” The demo was based on the HHS-supported trial implementation of a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).
Source:
A look to the future http://www.physorg.com/news141397611.html

Conference on Resilience Concepts for Large-Scale Disasters
Applications of chaos theory, self-organization, wisdom of the crowds, and other concepts of how to achieve unity of effort in conditions where there is no unity of command in humanitarian assistance and disaster management associated with large-scale social crisis and global change will be discussed at the U.S. Resilience Summit 2008 to be held at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C. October 23rd. The meeting is intended to lead to an international summit in 2009; however, some UN and other international participation is expected. According to Michael D. McDonald, President, Global Health Initiatives, Inc. and coordinator for the Resilience Summit, lessons will be drawn from disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, the Pakistani earthquake, the Indian Ocean Basin Tsunami, and Cyclone Nargis. Anticipating needs for emerging situations such as in the Philippines, North Korea, Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Northern Baja California, Nigeria, Mexico City, and US inner cities will also be explored.
Sources:
2008 U.S. Resilience Summit announcement
Meetings and correspondence with Michael.D.McDonald and Millennium Project Director, Jerome Glenn.

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Fluorescent Sensor Bacteria Offer Fast Pollutant Detection
Jan Van der Meer, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and his team have announced successful results in their testing of sensor bacteria that release an enzyme in response to a given chemical and that have been genetically engineered so that that release also produces a protein that fluoresces in a particular color. Trials were conducted by testing ocean water for pollution from a simulated oil spill. Results could be obtained in a matter of minutes, as compared to the weeks needed for conventional chemical analysis. The bacteria’s self-reproduction eases the task of supplying test material.
Source:
Detecting Pollution with Living Biosensors http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/21383/page1/

DNA Spotted Microarrays Provide Faster Pathogen Identification
Prof. Sanjeev Narayanan, of the Dept. of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State Univ., and his colleague, Greg Peterson, reported having developed a DNA spotted microarray that finds the specific genetic markers that distinguish one pathogen from another and also determine antibiotic resistance. The new technique permits searches for multiple diseases and antibiotic resistance in about a day, compared to the several days required by earlier methods. According to an announcement, “they can detect as many as 557 genes, making it possible for them to screen for 40 different species of bacteria, 1,200 serotypes of Salmonella, five common serotypes of E. coli, and resistance to the 45 most common antibiotics used to treat human and animal illnesses caused by these pathogens.”
Sources:
Rapid test for pathogens developed by K-State researchers http://www.physorg.com/news138592074.html%20KSU%20microarrays
Researchers Developing Diagnostic 'Lab On A Chip' http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806160105.htm

New Bacterium Can Provide Arsenic Cleanup and Possibly Detection
Thomas Osborne and Joanne Santini from University College, London presented a paper at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn meeting announcing the discovery, at Yellowknife NWT, Canada, of a bacterium which converts arsenic in water from arsenite to much more easily removable arsenate, even at very low temperatures. The researchers also hope that an enzyme enabling the development of an arsenic biosensor can be isolated from these new strains of bacteria. [See also Arsenic-polluted Water Decontamination Using Sulphate in November 2004 and Transgenic Plants to Decontaminate the Environment (removes arsenic from contaminated soil) in the October 2002 environmental security monthly reports.]
Sources:
Bacteria Found That Cleans Up Arsenic Contamination http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2008/2008-09-08-01.asp
Researchers find cold-loving, arsenic-eating bacteria in Yellowknife gold mine http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hWVrCjSf09VceYbYMpwdLAetyBgg

New Treatment Improves Congo Red Decontamination
K.P. Gopinath of the Dept. of Chemical Engineering, A.C. College of Technology, Anna University, Chennai, India, and colleagues reportedly have developed an improved technique for the degradation of the toxic pollutant Congo Red. The method uses sonolysis as pretreatment followed by biological treatment with Bacillus sp. Sonolysis is the breaking of chemical bonds with sound.
Source:
Improved biodegradation of Congored by using Bacillus sp http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V24-4TCXGB9-2&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F07%2F2008&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=7b8acf1bfa93ce92353434722cbd4609

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Small Omnidirectional Wind Turbines Could Provide Remote Power
quietrevolution ltd. [sic] of London, England, has developed a wind turbine, which is silent, only 16’ tall and 9’ in diameter, and responds to wind from any direction. The manufacturer estimates its probable output on a typical site at 6000-10000 kWh per year, i.e., up to about 1 kW continuous equivalent. Further development is expected to greatly reduce its current cost of almost $45,000 plus installation.
Sources:
quietrevolution Company http://www.quietrevolution.co.uk
Tiny Turbines May Have a Bright Future http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,575877,00.html

New Materials Provide Improved Ultracapacitor Storage
Hao Zhang of the Research Institute of Chemical Defense in China is lead author of a paper in Nano Letters describing a new structure for ultracapacitor electrodes consisting of flower-shaped manganese oxide nanoparticles deposited on carbon nanotubes vertically grown on a tantalum-foil base. The authors report that the new arrangement delivers five times as much power as activated-carbon electrodes. Cost may be a problem with this technique. Also, Prof. Rod Ruoff of the University of Texas at Austin is working with graphene as an electrode material, and believes that it may double the storage capability of ultracapacitors. Jiyoung Oh and Mikhail “Mike” Kozlov at the Univ. of Texas at Dallas’ NanoTech Institute are conducting similar work using sheets of single-walled carbon nanotubes embedded with the polymer polypyrrole.
Sources:
Growth of Manganese Oxide Nanoflowers on Vertically-Aligned Carbon Nanotube Arrays for High-Rate Electrochemical Capacitive Energy Storage
http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/nalefd/2008/8/i09/abs/nl800925j.html
Breakthrough In Energy Storage: New Carbon Material Shows Promise Of Storing Large Quantities Of Renewable Electrical Energy http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080916143910.htm
Nanoflowers Improve Ultracapacitors. A novel design could boost energy storage http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/21375
Important Twist in Supercapacitor Research http://www.physorg.com/news141048611.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety becomes part of the International Conference on Chemicals Management
The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety will be integrated into the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) as an advisory body providing an open, transparent and inclusive forum for addressing new and emerging issues related to sound chemicals management. The decision was taken at the sixth session of the IFCS, held in Dakar, Senegal, September 15-19, 2008. The Forum also considered nanotechnology issues, decided to include manufactured nanomaterials on its agenda, and discussed (without reaching consensus) international transport of lead and cadmium via trade. [See also Call for Global Ban on Lead-based Paints in October 2007, Call for Reinforcements to Chemical Safety in September 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security scanning reports.]
Sources:
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety VI: Global Partnership in Chemical Safety Contributing to the 2020 Goal http://www.iisd.ca/chemical/ifcs6/
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety––Forum VI http://www.who.int/ifcs/forums/six/en/index.html

UN to Demand Israel Pay Lebanon Compensations for War Damages
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will submit a motion to the Security Council requesting Israel to pay Lebanon nearly $1 billion for environmental damages caused during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The amount is based on a World Bank damage assessment including, inter alia, the cost of UN clean-up of the oil spill after Israel bombed a large refinery, but not related environmental damages. [See also Report on Lebanon After-war Environmental Assessment in February 2007, Environmental Legacy of Hezbollah-Israeli War in January 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Report: UN to demand Israel pay Lebanon $1 billion in reparations http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1018564.html
UN chief 'urges Israel to pay Lebanon $1 billion' http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=95797

Nuclear Security Addressable only Internationally
The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas D’Agostino, said that the international community should agree on a common set of security standards to prevent the spread of WMD and terrorists or rogue nations acquiring sensitive materials. “Let me be clear when I say I believe the United States has a special responsibility in advancing nonproliferation and global security. But we should not and cannot do it alone,” he said. One important player might be the World Institute for Nuclear Security. The Institute formally opened its doors on September 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria.
Meantime, a new disarmament study, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, examines the steps needed for ‘getting to zero’ and criticizes leaders advocating nuclear disarmament while “none of these states has an employee, let alone an interagency group, tasked full-time with identifying what would be required to verifiably decommission all its nuclear weapons.” [See also Increased Efforts Needed to Counter the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in July-August 2008, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
International Agreement Needed on Nuclear Security Standards, NNSA Chief Says http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008/9/18/2DC031E3-0221-4F30-BFE0-14C4795EC6B1.html
Abolishing Nuclear Weapons http://www.iiss.org/publications/adelphi-papers/2008-adelphi-papers/abolishing-nuclear-weapons/
Study Demands Commitment to Nuclear Disarmament http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008/9/18/E44A3825-D295-4E29-B20B-E25BFC484AB0.html
World Institute for Nuclear Security http://www.nti.org/b_aboutnti/b7_WINS.html

Systems for Reducing Emissions Expanding
New Zealand Adopts Carbon Trading Scheme in 2009
The New Zealand Parliament passed the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill that will set up the country’s first emissions trading scheme to help meet the country’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The carbon credits system begins in 2009 and is set by sectors. All industries in a sector will effectively set limits on the amount of emitted greenhouse gas, with those who surpass their ceilings having to buy credits from emitters that produced emissions below their ceiling. The phases of sector inclusion are: forestry from 2008; transport by 2009; stationary energy, such as coal-fired power stations by 2010; and agricultural waste by 2013. Australia’s carbon trading scheme is set to begin by 2010. [See also Post-Kyoto Negotiations section in the April 2008 environmental security report]
Sources:
Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/c/0/4/00DBHOH_BILL8368_1-Climate-Change-Emissions-Trading-and-Renewable.htm
New Zealand Parliament Passes Carbon Trading Scheme http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50193/story.htm

China Adopting Pollution Tax Systems
Reportedly China formed a team of experts from several government agencies to study whether to impose an environmental tax on polluters to encourage emissions cuts. Deputy Minister for Environmental Protection Pan Yue was quoted as saying that the team is also assessing issues of compensation for environmental damage and creation of a trading system for polluting gases. There are no details of the proposed tax or when it might be introduced. China already introduced taxes aimed at emission reductions: in 2007 it cut export tax rebates for energy-intensive products, and in September 2008 it raised consumption taxes on large passenger vehicles.
Source:
China Mulls Green Tax to Curb Pollution – Report http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50226/story.htm

Aviation and Shipping should be Subject to Emissions Cuts
The EU is proposing to include the shipping industry in the Emission Trading Scheme from 2013. However, climate scientists argue that, given the rapid growth of emissions from international aviation and shipping, it is not enough that they are included in the carbon-trading scheme, but they should be subject to emissions cuts regulations. [See also Aviation to be included in the ETS from 2012 in July-August 2008, Shipping to Face New Regulations to Reduce Air Pollution in September 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Meantime, local actions are increasing. In California, a “clean trucks” program put in place by local port authorities will begin operating 1 October, when all pre-1989 diesel rigs will be barred from entering the Los Angeles and Long Beach waterfront marine terminals. The restrictions will continue incrementally through 1 January 2012, when only trucks meeting federal 2007 emission standards will be allowed in.
Sources:
Aviation and shipping cannot trade away emissions, scientist warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/24/carbonemissions.emissionstrading
EU Lawmaker Demands Shipping Included in CO2 Caps http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50188/story.htm
EU Lawmaker Warns CO2 Caps in Danger, Eyes Shipping http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50185/story.htm
Ports gear up for Clean Trucks Program http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_10580651

Ozone Continues to Thin over Antarctica Casting Doubt on Success of the Montreal Protocol
The World Meteorological Organization estimates that the ozone hole over Antarctica this year is 8% larger than its peak in 2007 and it might take another 50 years to completely recover. Nevertheless, without the Montreal Protocol, the impact at the polar regions would have been more significant, shows the “world avoided” computer model, which considers only chlorine changes, all the other variables being constant. [See also Call for Expanding Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances in September 2007, and other similar items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
The world we avoided http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080905/full/news.2008.1081.html
Ozone hole 8% larger this year, meteorologists say http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/nation/6004433.html
The ozone hole of 2008 is larger than in 2007 http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_829_en.html

Arctic Needs New International Regulations
Legal experts participating to the Polar Law Symposium hosted by the United Nations University and the University of Akureyri in northern Iceland, September 7-9, 2008, concluded that a new legal framework is needed for the fragile and changing polar regions. They put forward a set of recommendations to governments, international bodies and other interested parties (to be distributed within six weeks of the event). “Many experts believe this new rush to the polar regions is not manageable within existing international law,” said A.H. Zakri, Director of the UNU Yokohama-based Institute of Advanced Studies, while Tatiana Saksina of the WWF expressed that “there should be new rules, stricter rules. We are proposing a new convention for the protection of the Arctic Ocean.”
Meantime, Russian President Medvedev re-launched military patrols in the Arctic waters and called on the security agency to establish a formal border in the region since it had “strategic importance” for Russia, while Gazprom announced the creation of a subsidiary company for the Arctic reserves exploration.
The economic benefits of an ice-free Arctic are also pushing the EU’s polar strategy up on the policy agenda, while a US-Canada expedition will explore the Arctic region, collecting data for mapping the Arctic seafloor and studying the geology of the sub-seafloor to build the case for the two countries’ rights. [See also The Debate over Strategic Control of the Arctic is Heating Up in July-August 2008, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
International Symposium: Looking beyond the International Polar Year. Emerging and re-emerging issues in international law and policy in the Polar Regions http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=8&ddlID=620
Thaw Of Polar Regions May Need New UN Laws – Experts http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50115/story.htm
President Medvedev threatens Russian Arctic annexation http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4773567.ece
Russia to cement claim over resource-rich Arctic http://www.neurope.eu/articles/89848.php
Unexplored Arctic region to be mapped http://www.physorg.com/news139663090.html
Melting ice cap pushes Arctic up EU agenda http://euobserver.com/9/