November 8, 2013  Lawmakers hope to rid Bay State of plastic bags

It’s a race against the clock for state lawmakers who hope to make Massachusetts the first state to ban disposable plastic bags at stores.
With the end of the formal legislative session weeks away, state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, on Thursday screened a documentary film about how the bags harm the environment.
Ehrlich said she hopes to bring greater awareness to a bill she filed in April along with a similar Senate bill sponsored by Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton.
"I’m a strong supporter of her bill and we are working hard to get it passed this session," Eldridge said in a telephone interview after the screening.

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November 3, 2013 wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming

PITTSBURGH — Some of the world’s top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.

Four scientists who have played a key role in alerting the public to the dangers of climate change sent letters Sunday to leading environmental groups and politicians around the world. The letter, an advance copy of which was given to The Associated Press, urges a crucial discussion on the role of nuclear power in fighting climate change.

WASHINGTON — In an aggressive move to impose President Obama’s environmental policies overseas, the Treasury Department on Tuesday largely declared an end to United States support for new coal-fired power plants around the world. The decision means that Mr. Obama’s administration will no longer contribute to coal projects financed by the World Bank and other international development banks.

“What we’re trying to do is to use the leverage associated with public finance to help developing countries move in the direction of cleaner energy,” said Lael Brainard, the under secretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department.

It is unclear how much impact the new policy will have. The United States does not have a veto over which projects in other countries get financed through organizations, and the number of coal plants built overseas with public money is small relative to the number that are likely to be built with private investment.

By leading a coalition of like-minded countries — including several European ones that have already announced similar intentions — officials said the administration would be able to influence the direction of power plant construction.

A recent study led by Chinese scientists shows a strong link between smaller air pollution particles and a range of serious health conditions.

Scientists said the smaller the airborne particles, the more likely they are to cause illness, suggesting the need for monitoring of particulate matter of 1 micron or less in diameter — a category of pollution rarely monitored.

In recent years, many locations across the country have been blanketed with heavy air pollution, raising concerns for public health. Among the main categories of pollutant measured is PM2.5, which can enter the respiratory system and contribute to a range of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease.

Now, in a new study published in the public health journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from the School of Public Health at Fudan University in Shanghai have demonstrated correlations between PM2.5 pollution and the incidence of particular illnesses.