Weekly Environmental News – March 10, 2013

Game Changer: Whole Foods Market to require GMO labels

Despite the blessings of FDA and WHO that food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is safe, consumer are exercising their “right to know” and have made great strides in the fight to see labeling on grocery store shelves.Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. and Canada will now follow suit with their European locations, requiring labels on all genetically modified food products by 2018. Ben & Jerry’s has already made a commitment to be GMO-free by 2014, and many states are proposing mandatory labels for genetically engineered food.

Is improved weather modeling in the forecast for the U.S.?

The nation’s capital and surrounding metropolitan areas effectively shut down on Wednesday, March 6 in anticipation of a severe snowstorm that left mostly slush. A professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington in Seattle explains why the European forecasting system is more accurate than U.S. models, and weather forecasters admit that they could do a better job in communicating uncertainty along with their predictions.

Hot Mess: Spikes in temperature and CO2 pollution

Lots of climate change-related news this week, with evidence that carbon pollution is rising faster than predicted and new research showing that the abrupt U-turn in global temperatures over the past 100 years from cooling to sharply warming trends reflects an unprecedented shift over such a brief period of time.

Leftovers anyone? Remnants of the Manhattan Project looking for new home 

Amid concerns that leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the former Manhattan Project Hanford site in Washington state could potentially threaten groundwater supplies to the 4th largest river in the United States, lawmakers are  proposing to ship 3 million gallons of the toxic sludge to a repository in New Mexico. Not surprisingly,  environmental groups  are against accepting waste from Hanford at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) located in Loving, NM. In the meantime, cleanup efforts in Washington may be slowed by budget cuts.

Process tubes on the front face of the nuclear reactor in Hanford, WA. Creative Commons Image "Manhattan Project Hanford B Reactor Tour" courtesy of Redbeard Math Pirate on Flickr.

Process tubes on the front face of the nuclear reactor in Hanford, WA. Creative Commons Image “Manhattan Project Hanford B Reactor Tour” courtesy of Redbeard Math Pirate on Flickr.

Climate-induced change in guidelines for energy efficiency

The EPA and U.S. Green Building Council announced this week that Puerto Rico would get its own set of guidelines, based on the tropical climate, for home energy efficiency. Plans for infrastructure improvements in the U.S. already take climate change into consideration, to ensure that they are capable of withstanding severe storms and high heat. Will mounting evidence of climate change result in changes to the USBGC’s code throughout the United States?


One Response to “Weekly Environmental News – March 10, 2013”
  1. David says:

    Fascinating news week. I’m enjoying these summaries a lot.

    The veggies look yummy! The reactor face? Not so much. And the WIPP does not and cannot take liquid wastes so there would have to be a lot of drying or something to make Hanford sludges acceptable for salt cavern storage. Liquid + salt is just not a great idea.

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