Environment

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.

ecyclewashington.org

Washington's electronics recycling program has collected 78,000,000 pounds of e-waste in its first two years. Put in perspective, that's roughly the same weight as Maine's lobster catch or US black bean exports to Mexico! The state Department of Ecology says the amount of e-waste recycled each year amounts to 5.8 pounds per person.  Old TVs account for 61% of the waste.

Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark says he'll propose legislation to promote making aviation fuel out of wood waste.

Goldmark told the Pacific West Biomass Conference in Seattle on Tuesday that he wants to start a pilot project to make jet fuel as part of the Department of Natural Resources' forest biomass program. 

AP/Oregon Fish & Wildlife

NOAA Fisheries Service is proposing habitat protection for the threatened Pacific smelt. The proposal released Wednesday would designate about 292 miles of freshwater creeks, rivers and estuaries in Washington, Oregon and California as critical habitat areas.

Anna King / N3

Residents with contaminated wells in the Yakima Valley are getting state-funded purification systems, at least some of them are. Many families there have been drinking water polluted with nitrates and bacteria.

Bart Maguire / Flickr photo

A lot of people clear out old documents after the New Year, but you might want to think twice before shredding them.  Paper scraps are too small for some recycling companies to take from residential customers. 

Recycling workers sort out all types and sizes of paper when it arrives at the center.  Newspapers go in one pile, envelopes in another.  But those scraps of shredded bills?    

AP

It was time to put up or shut up. Delegates to the United Nations climate conference in Cancun knew if they came out of the talks empty-handed, the whole effort to reach a global warming treaty could collapse. The agreement that emerged over the past weekend made just enough progress to keep the talks alive for another year.

AP/Lou Dematteis-SpectralQ

The focus of attention at the U.N. climate summit in Cancun, Mexico is global warming caused by too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But there’s another impact of high carbon levels that poses a whole different set of problems: it makes the ocean more acidic.

AP

A pair of college students from Seattle are among the members of the American Youth Delegation at the U.N. climate summit in Cancun, Mexico. They’re allowed to attend some of the negotiations, but the young people say they have a moral right to have a greater say.

When I met with Ian Siadak and Lauren Ressler, they came across as smart, articulate and well-informed. They’re also a little ticked off.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

Nearly 200 countries are represented at the U.N. climate summit this week in Cancun, Mexico. There are also caucuses speaking up for the interests of women, indigenous people, and others whose voices often haven’t been heard. Today I spent some time today with another under-represented group; young people.

Walter Siegmund / Wikimedia.org

Glaciers around the world are losing mass at varying rates, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program. Glaciers in Patagonia are shrinking fastest, followed by Alaska, then the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

Glaciers in Asia - including the Hindi Kush in the Himalayas -- are losing ice more slowly.

Other key findings of the report include:

Technology companies from around the world are gathered as part of the U.N. climate summit in Cancun, Mexico this week. The tech wizards say they can be a powerful force for fighting climate change.

In Cancun today, dozens of companies from Intel to H-P to Microsoft signed onto a statement saying information and communications technology can go a long way toward the deep cuts in greenhouse gases that scientists say we need to make in order to avoid major climate disruption in the coming decades.

Courtest Greenpeace.org

Delegates at the U.N. Climate Conference in Cancun Mexico are still haggling over the same sticking points that prevented an agreement a year ago in Copenhagen: who is going to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions how much by when, and who's going to pay for it all.

And with the U.S. unwilling to sign on to the sort of strict economy-wide carbon diet being pushed by Europe and others, right now the signs of progress are few.

AP

This week, delegates from nearly 200 countries are trying to wrap up their work at the successor to last year's climate conference in Copenhagen. And I'm one of about 2,000 journalists from around the world who are here to cover the event.

I've spent most of the morning weaving my way through checkpoints of armed Federales. The security here is squeaky-tight. which makes getting around between the widely spread-out conference venues a time-consuming challenge.

UNFCCC

A year ago, the United Nations’ climate conference in Copenhagen failed to produce an international agreement on limiting greenhouse gases. Now, delegates from around the world are meeting in Cancun, Mexico to try again. But with the collapse of federal climate legislation in the U.S., regional efforts – like those on the West Coast – are coming back to the forefront.


AP

The planned  tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way viaduct will include tolls, and that will push traffic onto nearby streets and I-5, according to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.  So, he’s hiring a consultant to look at ways to handle extra traffic.  

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