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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
Los Angeles City Hall, Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center and Spring Street Courthouse - Los Angeles Superior Court, on Oct. 5, 2018. Russell Mondy / Flickr

By Maria Stamas

Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti on Monday committed all new or substantially rehabilitated buildings owned by the City of Los Angeles to be 100 percent carbon free — and to use less carbon-intensive building materials in the process. His executive directive not only has Los Angeles leading by example on ways to reduce building emissions, it breaks new ground.

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Caleb George / Unsplash

By Doug Norlen

This month the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a startling report, which finds that severe impacts of climate change are happening much sooner than previously expected, and that countries must take far more aggressive actions to avoid the most catastrophic impacts. The report finds that the burning of fossil fuels must be curbed sharply.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

69 percent of Chicago's office space square footage is now green-certified. Marco Verch / CC BY 2.0

By Hilary Firestone and Olivia Walker

City Energy Project cities once again dominated CBRE's list of greenest U.S. commercial real estate markets. CBRE, the world's largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, released their fourth annual Green Building Adoption Index study in partnership with Maastricht University, examining nationwide commercial building energy use trends and impacts of energy efficiency programs and policies on U.S. building markets.

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Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon facility. Scott L / CC BY-SA 2.0

A major California utility has agreed to pay nearly $120 million in a civil settlement over a huge methane leak that forced thousands to flee their homes in 2015.

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The Los Angeles, CA city skyline on Sept. 18, 2016. prayitnophotography / CC BY 2.0

By Jason Daley

There's little question that air pollution is toxic for the human body. Studies have shown that particulate matter in the air can lead to lung disease, heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer. But researchers thought the brain might be protected due to the blood brain barrier—a natural system that filters out foreign substances and certain neurotransmitters before they circulate in the brain. A new study from researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles shows that many heavy metals found in the air may make it into brain tissue, and those pollutants are activating genes that may lead to cancers or neurodegenerative disorders.

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According to new WHO data, Cairo is one of the world's most polluted mega-cities. Gary Denham / Flickr

The latest World Health Organization (WHO) air quality report revealed that air pollution is as much a global public health threat as ever, killing seven million people every year, a number that study authors told The Guardian is distressingly close to 2016's assessment.

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Traffic on the I-405 in Los Angeles. Eric Beteille / Flickr

By Nicholas Bryner and Meredith Hankins

Editor's note: On April 2, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Trump administration plans to revise tailpipe emissions standards negotiated by the Obama administration for motor vehicles built between 2022 and 2025, saying the standards were set "too high." Pruitt also said the EPA was re-examining California's historic ability to adopt standards that are more ambitious than the federal government's. Legal scholars Nicholas Bryner and Meredith Hankins explain why California has this authority—and what may happen if the EPA tries to curb it.

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A fire in Los Angeles has burned more than 7,000 acres since erupting on Friday.

Officials reported Monday that the La Tuna fire, one the city's largest fires in decades by acreage, is now at least 30 percent contained.

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The Port of Los Angeles—the nation's largest port by container volume and cargo value—is building the world's first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewables.

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How will Los Angeles County prepare for a warmer future? And what role could clean energy investments play?

A joint project of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and UCLA Luskin Center for InnovationLos Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER)—provides new data designed to help the public and policymakers prepare for the effects of climate change, from current environmental health risks to estimated temperature increases and climate change vulnerability throughout the region. It can also be used by communities to help identify opportunities to invest in projects that will create renewable energy jobs and cut electricity bills.

Source: UCLA Luskin Center, “Los Angeles County

Solar Atlas” (2011). UCLA used and modified data from the Los Angeles County Chief Information Office, the
Los Angeles County Solar Map. http://solarmap.lacounty.gov. Disadvantaged communities are outlined in grey lines and identified per California Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, “California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool Version 2.0” (2014). http://oehha.ca.gov/ej/ces2.html.

“The project is timely because with new state funding sources becoming available, LASER can help inform how the region invests resources to address pressing environmental challenges while providing job opportunities in its most impacted communities,” said Colleen Callahan, lead author of the study and deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

The data-driven mapping tool, by parcel-level analysis, illustrates the area’s renewable energy potential through rooftop solar energy generation and energy efficiency measures. L.A. County presently has about 98 percent of its solar capacity untapped. The tool points out that if the county achieved only 10 percent of its rooftop solar potential, it would generate 47,000 jobs and cut almost 2.5 million tons of CO2 emissions each year.

The release today of the newest version of LASER is part of UCLA's "Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles" project, which sets a goal for the region to use solely renewable energy and local water by 2050, and a response to President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, which calls for leveraging public data to stimulate collaboration and innovation in support of national climate change preparedness.

LASER was highlighted in a White House announcement emphasizing ongoing efforts to broadly advance the initiative. “Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call.”

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