Seventy percent to 80 percent of the total environmental impact is from automobiles, air transport, food (meat and dairy, chief among them), home and related energy use, including heating, cooling and energy-using appliances.
Contributors to the special issue, Priorities for Environmental Product Policy, examined the impacts of products in Cardiff, Wales, in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, and in the European Union (EU) as a whole.
The most recent and influential studies on the relative impact of consumption activities are featured. All independently conducted, the studies conclude that a consistent and robust priority list of product groups can serve as a guide for environmental improvement programs undertaken by industry and government.
In many countries, environmental policy that is centered on production, use and disposal of products, rather than just pollution from smokestacks and drainpipes, is gaining acceptance. The European Union and China are banning hazardous substances from electrical and electronic products, for example, and Japan is implementing a green purchasing law.
"The research findings reported in the special issue are important because they help pinpoint the most problematic types of consumption, which include activities that are now commonplace in our lives such as air transport," said Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "That should lead to clearer priorities and better decisions."
"This special issue demonstrates the power of industrial ecology," says Reid Lifset, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology. "Concepts and tools that lie at the core of this field, such as life-cycle assessment and input-output analysis, help us to gain a much better understanding of the relative importance of specific categories of consumption for the pressures on the environment."
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy