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Ecological News

One-stop science shop has become a favorite of industry - and Texas.

Michael Dourson’s organization - TERA - filled a gap left by the EPA, which has evaluated the safety of only 558 of 84,000 chemicals on the market today. But an investigation shows the firm has close ties to chemical manufacturers, tobacco companies and other industry interests.
Categories: Ecological News

EPA expected to treat coal ash waste like garbage.

Environmentalists and industry experts widely expect the first federal standards for the waste generated from coal burned for electricity to treat the ash like household garbage, rather than a hazardous material.
Categories: Ecological News

EPA to issue new regulations for the disposal of coal ash.

Six years after a catastrophic coal ash spill took out part of a Tennessee town, 10 months after a cascade of toxic grey sludge fouled a North Carolina river, the Obama administration is poised to unveil the first rules for the disposal of coal ash on Friday.
Categories: Ecological News

Heart experts warn of air pollution dangers.

Air pollution should be one of the avoidable heart risk factors – just like smoking and excess fat – that doctors warn patients to steer clear of, according to a new statement from 20 heart experts.
Categories: Ecological News

Duke agrees to clean up last of South Carolina’s coal ash ponds.

After nearly three decades of safety questions, Duke Energy is joining other South Carolina utilities in agreeing to clean up toxic coal ash that has polluted groundwater and threatened rivers across the Palmetto State.
Categories: Ecological News

Washington D.C. expands do-not-drink advisory; tests reveal petroleum.

D.C. Water expanded the boundaries of a do-not-drink advisory that closed three schools and left residents in part of two neighborhoods without drinkable water for more than 24 hours. Officials also said that some tests came back positive for petroleum in the water there.
Categories: Ecological News

Drug pollution risk 'a global responsibility.'

Rich countries should help poorer countries deal with the risk posed by pharmaceutical contamination of the environment, says an Australian expert, following the release of a study – the first to compare the risk of pollution from drugs in high-income and lower-income countries around the world.
Categories: Ecological News

Saving money and the environment, a salt shaker works fine.

As fish-killing chloride continues to rise in Twin Cities lakes, streams and groundwater, many communities are finding they can do more to balance public risk on streets and sidewalks with the ecological damage caused by winter applications of road salt – while also saving money.
Categories: Ecological News

Why is Ecuador selling its economic and environmental future to China?

If President Rafael Correa mounts another run, the battle over the Amazon oil reserves will be a big talking point in the Ecuadorean election, but the outcome will also be shaped by deals being made on the other side of the world, in Beijing.
Categories: Ecological News

Could New York's fracking ban have domino effect?

New York's decision to ban fracking for health reasons could reverberate beyond the state, bolstering other efforts to limit the controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas.
Categories: Ecological News

Where has all the (sea trash) plastic gone?

In a new study, published this week by the journal Royal Society Open Science, a British scientist reports the riddle of the "missing" plastic as solved: It sits in deep waters, broken down into tiny fibers and embedded in the sediment of the most remote places on Earth.
Categories: Ecological News

Report gives US low grades on preparing for disease.

Ebola exposed significant weaknesses in the ability of the U.S. to handle infectious disease outbreaks, according to a report that gives the nation low grades in preparedness.
Categories: Ecological News

Coastal sprawl and a last stand for wetlands.

Sprawling urban and industrial development along China's 1,800 kilometer east coast is a lifeline for the nation's economy but a threat to the region's dwindling wetlands.
Categories: Ecological News

Will Population Growth End in This Century?

World Watch - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 03:58

New Worldwatch Institute analysis explores the debate about our planet's future population

For Immediate Release | December 18, 2014 | CONTACT GAELLE GOURMELON

Notes to Editors:     

Journalists may obtain a complimentary copy of "Will Population Growth End in This Century?"  by contacting Gaelle Gourmelon at

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Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than a dozen languages. For more information, visit

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Vital Signs Online provides business leaders, policymakers, and engaged citizens with the latest data and analysis they need to understand critical global trends. It is an interactive, subscription-based tool that provides hard data and research-based insights on the sustainability trends that are shaping our future. All of the trends include clear analysis and are placed in historical perspective, allowing you to see where the trend has come from and where it might be headed. New trends cover emerging hot topics-from global carbon emissions to green jobs-while trend updates provide the latest data and analysis for the fastest changing and most important trends today. Every trend includes full datasets and complete referencing.

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Washington, D.C.—The human population nearly tripled from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 7.3 billion today and will continue growing through 2070, according to two recent demographic projections. After that, demographers disagree on whether populations will begin to shrink or continue to rise into the next century, write Worldwatch Institute Senior Fellow Robert Engelman and Research Assistant Yeneneh Terefe in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online article (

Two population projections—one from the United Nations Population Division, the other from the International Institute for Applied  Systems Analysis (IIASA)—agree on how population has grown until now. But their future scenarios document a breakdown in consensus.

U.N. demographers rely on a methodology that applies past behavior and expert opinion about the future to assign quantified probabilities to various population outcomes. Defying a widespread media and public perception that a stationary world population of 9 billion in 2050 is a near certainty, the U.N. analysts report that the most likely long-term future is for continued growth into the 22nd century.

Demographers associated with IIASA, based in Laxenburg, Austria, however, differ with this analysis. They foresee world population peaking around 2070 at 9.4 billion people and then gradually shrinking to 8.9 billion by the century’s end.

The disagreement between these two respected groups of population researchers lies in their varying assumptions, mostly regarding two topics: Africa and the future of education. The U.N. demographers point to recent surveys showing that human fertility (defined as the average number of children that women in a population give birth to over their lifetimes) is not falling in some countries as earlier projections had assumed they would.

The IIASA demographers, by contrast, focus largely on educational trends. In every region of the world, including Africa, the proportion of young people enrolled in school has generally been rising. and these rates are likely to continue to rise, the analysts argue. Because even moderately high levels of educational attainment are associated with reductions in fertility, fertility even in high-fertility countries is likely to fall more than current fertility trends on their own suggest, the demographers reason.

Two Australian environmental scientists, Corey J. A. Bradshaw and Barry W. Brook, recently published another set of population projections—with a twist. They add scenarios in which humanity experiences increases in the deaths of children due to climate change or outright demographic catastrophes due to “global pandemic or war.” In their most extreme scenario, 6 billion people die in the early 2040s, in which case human population would decline to about 5 billion by 2100.

The Australian analysts are non-demographers engaging in a one-off thought exercise. But the significant differences among the various projections tell us something important about population and the human future. Despite general perceptions that demographers confidently forecast future population, no one knows when population will stop growing or the level at which it will peak. Moreover, the future of population growth may respond to decisions made today, so ideally these decisions would support a reduced incidence of unintended pregnancy (now about 40 percent of all pregnancies globally) rather than allow environmental and social conditions to deteriorate until death rates reverse their historic decline.


The full data and analysis are available for purchase through our Vital Signs Online website.

Notes to Editors: Journalists may obtain a complimentary copy of "Will Population Growth End in This Century?" by contacting Gaelle Gourmelon at

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Categories: Ecological News

Closing the Gate on GMO and the Criminal Transatlantic Trade Agreement

Farm Wars - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 01:52
Phrases like 'harmonization' and 'regulatory cooperation' are a frequently occurring part of TTIP trade speak. But in the end it's all going one way: downwards.. to the lowest common denominator. What this means is that new, highly controversial GM seed lines will have virtually no publicly scrutinized safety-net to slow or halt their progress to the fields and dinner plates of Europe.
Categories: Ecological News

EU Trade Secrets Directive - a threat to health, environment, human rights

The Ecologist Magazine - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 00:34
The new Commission may have dropped environmental protection from its 2015 work plan - but it's pressing ahead with a new Directive to protect corporate secrecy, threatening consumers, journalists, whistleblowers, researchers and workers.
Categories: Ecological News

Closing the gate on GMO and the criminal transatlantic trade agreement

The Ecologist Magazine - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 23:51
A key element of the TTIP is the deregulation genetically modified seeds and plants for cultivating in European soils, writes Julian Rose. This alone is reason enough for us to reject it - but it's only the beginning of a huge power grab that would make our governments more accountable to corporations, than to people.
Categories: Ecological News

Six Freedom owners, managers, employees charged; company takes plea deal with feds.

Environmental Health News - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 19:30
Federal prosecutors charged the six with criminal violations of the Clean Water Act related to the January 2014 chemical leak that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people in Charleston, West Virginia, and surrounding communities.
Categories: Ecological News

Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines, opens door for polluters.

Environmental Health News - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 19:30
In 2007, Texas regulators quietly relaxed the state’s long-term air pollution guideline for benzene, one of the world’s most toxic and thoroughly studied chemicals. The benzene decision was part of Texas’ sweeping overhaul of its air pollution guidelines.
Categories: Ecological News

China's largest coal power plant violating air pollution levels every week.

Environmental Health News - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 19:30
China’s largest coal-fired power plant has been violating national emission standards for chemicals that cause dangerous fine particulate matter pollution, official figures show.
Categories: Ecological News
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