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Daily Archives: 24/02/2012




Tubos de escape para reciclar. (Foto: Pedro Cunha)

Os 50.782 veículos em fim de vida que foram entregues para abate em 2011 permitiram reaproveitar 47 mil toneladas de materiais, a maioria metais, segundo a Valorcar, responsável pela maior rede de centros de abate de veículos em final de vida (VFV) de Portugal.

No ano passado foi ultrapassada a meta comunitária de reciclagem de veículos em final de vida (VFV): em média, cada VFV recebido foi reciclado em 84,6 por cento do seu peso e valorizado em 89,7 por cento, “ultrapassando largamente a meta comunitária” de reciclagem e valorização em pelo menos 80 a 85 por cento do seu peso, respectivamente, destaca.

Segundo a Valorcar, que hoje divulga os dados relativos a 2011, os VFV recebidos foram despoluídos, desmantelados e fragmentados, tendo os seus diversos componentes e materiais totalizado 47 mil toneladas.

Os metais foram o material mais reutilizado, reciclado ou valorizado (35.000 toneladas), seguidos das peças usadas (1990 toneladas), pneus (1680 toneladas), vidros (880 toneladas), baterias (692 toneladas), plásticos (265 toneladas) e óleos (241 toneladas).

Depois de, em 2009, dados do Eurostat colocarem Portugal no 9.º lugar em reutilização/valorização de VFV entre os 27 Estados-membros da União Europeia, a Valorcar destaca que “os resultados agora alcançados deixam boas perspectivas que o país continue a subir nesta tabela”.

Os centros da rede Valorcar recolheram, em 2011, 24.752 toneladas de baterias de veículos usadas, menos 5,9% do que em 2010. As baterias foram enviadas para reciclagem em quatro unidades especializadas. Aqui, é neutralizado o ácido das baterias, recuperado o plástico das caixas (polipropileno) para posterior produção de vasos de plantas, tubos de rega ou mobiliário urbano e é ainda recuperado o chumbo para produção de lingotes. De acordo com a Valorcar, cerca de 90 por cento deste chumbo é utilizado na produção de novas baterias, sendo o restante, de menor grau de pureza, encaminhado para o fabrico de munições, barreiras de protecção contra radiações, lastros de navios e contrapeso de elevadores, entre outros.

Ainda assim, o total de automóveis entregues para abate na Valorcar caiu 35,2% em 2011. A Valorcar atribuiu esta quebra à extinção do Programa de Incentivo Fiscal ao Abate de VFV, que representava mais de 30 por cento das unidades entregues, e ao recuo nas vendas de veículos novos, já que os consumidores conservam por mais tempo o mesmo automóvel. Segundo a Valorcar, esta tendência de decréscimo já se verifica desde 2008, sendo actualmente a idade média dos VFV entregues de 18,1 anos.

A Valorcar é uma entidade privada, sem fins lucrativos, cuja rede engloba actualmente 75 centros licenciados pelo Ministério do Ambiente, localizados em todos os distritos do continente e nas regiões autónomas dos Açores e da Madeira. Totalmente gratuita, a entrega de um VFV nestes centros garante um tratamento ambientalmente adequado para o veículo e assegura que os respectivos registos de propriedade e matrícula serão cancelados, sendo a única forma de deixar de pagar o Imposto Único de Circulação (segundo a Valorcar, se o veículo for abandonado ou entregue a centros não licenciados, o titular do registo continuará a pagar este imposto).

Fonte: Ecosfera – Público / LUSA
Original: http://bit.ly/Aucs3R


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Ladybirds native to the UK and other European countries are declining fast as the invasive harlequin species spreads, scientists have shown.


Bestriding the countryside; harlequins breed more frequently than many native European species

Researchers found that seven out of the eight native British species they studied have declined, with issues also identified in Belgium and Switzerland.

The harlequin is an Asian species brought in for pest control, but which has now become a pest itself.

Some UK species are “near the threshold of detection”, the scientists write.

Scientists are warning of potential damage to ecosystems’ “resilience”.

In an unrelated study released at the same time, researchers found that the colour of ladybirds shows how toxic they are to predators.

The harlequin (Harmonia axyridis) was first spotted in Belgium in 2001, and in the UK and Switzerland in 2004.

Scientists have warned since it appeared that native species were likely to be vulnerable, but this study, reported in the journal Diversity and Distributions, measures the scale of the impact and ties it squarely to the alien’s arrival.

“This study provides strong evidence of a link between the arrival of the harlequin and declines in other species of ladybird,” said Helen Roy from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, who worked with colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge as well as Belgian and Swiss research institutes.

“This result would not have been possible without the participation of so many members of the public gathering ladybird records across Britain, Belgium and Switzerland.”

The UK database contains nearly 90,000 observations of ladybirds made between 2006 and 2010.

The Belgian sample is somewhat smaller but began earlier.

Surveying the same batch of species in the same locality year after year enables researchers to make a good estimate of the rate of change.

And for some native species, the rate is spectacularly high.

Numbers of the two-spotted ladybird (Adalia bipunctata), they estimate, fell by 44% in the UK and 30% in Belgium in the five years following the harlequin’s arrival.

The harlequin and the two-spot share a habitat of deciduous trees and as the harlequin is larger, it is able to out-compete its smaller rival for food, and prey on its larvae.

The only UK species apparently unaffected by the harlequin’s arrival was the seven-spotted ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) which is of a similar size and does not share the same habitat.

Declines were also seen in Switzerland, but the data was not as comprehensive.

The researchers warn that potentially serious consequences lie ahead if the harlequin continues its rampant march.

“Ladybirds provide an incredibly useful ecological function by keeping aphids in check,” said Tim Adriaens, from the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) in Belgium.

“At the continental scale, the arrival of the harlequin could impact on the resilience of ecosystems and severely diminish the vital services that ladybirds deliver.”

Currently, there is no way of selectively killing the harlequin. Gardeners are advised to take care if they decide to squish them, as their highly variable colour pattern means they can be hard to distinguish from native species.


The big seven-spot is able to hang on

Red signal

Another reason why the harlequin is able to out-compete native species appears to be because it is more toxic to birds and other animals that may try to eat it.

Working with the seven-spot, researchers discovered that individual ladybirds with red wings are more toxic than others.

As they detail in the journal Functional Ecology, the reason seems to be that these individuals are well-fed, enabling them to produce relatively large amounts of their defensive chemicals and the red pigment that probably warns predators off.

“Producing warning signals and chemical defences is costly, so when individuals lack access to an abundant supply of food they produce relatively weak chemical defences,” said lead scientist Jon Blount from Exeter University.

There is no explicit link to the harlequin study; however, if the harlequins are eating better than the native species, as appears to be the case, that could increase the difference in toxicity between the natives and the invaders.

Author: Richard Black
Source: BBC
Original: http://bbc.in/yCcICP


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O Congresso dos Estados Unidos condenou na segunda-feira a legislação europeia sobre as emissões de carbono dos aviões e pediu ao governo americano para fazer tudo o que for possível para combater a taxa de carbono europeia.

Na discussão de uma lei sobre o financiamento da Administração de Aviação Civil (FAA), o Congresso deparou-se com um artigo sobre a diretiva que entrou em vigor a 01 de janeiro e que obriga todas as companhias aéreas que entrarem no espaço aéreo europeu a pagar o equivalente a 15 por cento das suas emissões de carbono, ou 32 milhões de toneladas, para combater o aquecimento global.

O Congresso americano considera que a medida “não está em conformidade com a Convenção relativa à aviação civil internacional” de 1944 e é “contrária à cooperação internacional para regulamentar eficazmente o problema das emissões de gás de efeito estufa pela aviação”.

Fonte: Expresso / LUSA
Original: http://bit.ly/yCSMEW


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When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took office last year, his administration seemed to be in hurry-up mode as it decided whether to allow hydraulic fracturing, a controversial gas drilling process. State regulators kept to tight deadlines to produce for public review an environmental impact study and proposed drilling rules, and the state’s top environmental official said drilling permits could be granted as early as this year.

But now, a decision on the process, known as hydrofracking — its scope, its timing or whether it will happen at all — seems much more uncertain, and the approval process has slowed considerably despite almost four years of study, debate and intense lobbying on both sides of the issue.

Mr. Cuomo did not mention hydrofracking in his State of the State address last month, and did not provide money in his proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year for regulating the new industry.

The governor’s office declined to answer questions Monday on the slowing of the approval calendar, but cited a statement by Mr. Cuomo in the fall of 2011 that a decision on hydrofracking should be based “on the facts and on the science.”

“This is not an issue to be decided by politics or emotion,” the governor added.

State regulators say they need more time to deal with the unprecedented volume of public comments about the drilling plan by the Department of Environmental Conservation — more than 46,000 for or against, or pointing out unresolved concerns. Others say there is less urgency given the low market price of natural gas and a recent announcement by some major drilling companies that they plan to curtail production.

Even some of the most outspoken advocates for hydrofracking are showing patience, including Tom Libous, the second-ranking Republican in the State Senate, who represents the natural-gas-rich Southern Tier, on the Pennsylvania border.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a given,” he said of the state’s permitting hydrofracking. “Economically, we need it desperately. But at the end of the day, if the scientists and geologists at the D.E.C. say ‘this is not a good thing to do,’ I’m not going to challenge it.”

New York officials have been cautious from the start, revising and twice submitting for public review an environmental impact document incorporating the lessons learned from other states that allow hydrofracking on the Marcellus Shale. The extraction process uses vast amounts of water, chemicals and sand to release gas from tight rock and has posed environmental risks, some of them still under study by the Environmental Protection Agency. As New York decides, new concerns have surfaced, including the fear of water contamination and seismic activity related to the disposal of drilling waste.

Opposition to hydrofracking has grown and organized. Some elected officials said the controversy had raised new political considerations, especially during this election year.

“It’s causing everybody to say, ‘Let’s not rush into this,’ ” said Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney, a Democrat from Suffolk County who has sponsored a bill calling for a moratorium on hydrofracking until June 2013, to allow more time for study.

Mr. Sweeney, who leads the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, said the strong public sentiment could not be lost on the Cuomo administration.

“The first time something bad happens,” he said of the consequences of drilling, “it’s going to come right back to them.”

Last month, in his most recent remarks on the subject, Mr. Cuomo indicated that hydrofracking was very much an “if.”

“You would not be hiring staff to regulate hydrofracking unless you believed you were going ahead with hydrofracking,” he told reporters. “And we haven’t made that determination. So the budget won’t anticipate hydrofracking approval.”

An 18-member advisory panel convened by Joseph Martens, the state environmental commissioner, to determine how to pay for state workers overseeing hydrofracking postponed issuing its recommendations, missing the Nov. 1 deadline. The panel has been on hiatus since December. Two of its meetings have been canceled since the public comment period closed Jan. 11, as the Environmental Conservation Department reviews the mounds of feedback, sifting for any information that would warrant further revisions.

Robert Moore, a panel member and executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, said the costs of minimizing hydrofracking’s risks had become a bigger issue now that some gas companies have gone into a retrenchment in response to the glut of natural gas. The industry would ultimately be responsible for the fees and taxes necessary to defray the costs of hiring and training state regulatory workers.

“With gas prices being what they are, it’s unclear what profits can be made,” he said. “If there’s no profit, there’s no tax revenue.”

Another panel member, Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo, a Democrat from Broome County, said, “It all boils down to two questions: what level of risk are we willing to accept, and at what cost?”

Gas companies are fighting New York’s proposed rules, arguing that they go too far and impose unnecessary restrictions and costs on the industry. Companies already estimate that they would have to spend an extra $1 million per well to drill in the state because of tougher requirements, including a rule that would require an extra layer of cemented well casing to prevent the gas from seeping out. Despite the market and the regulatory challenges, companies remain eager to drill, and to determine how much shale gas New York wells might yield.

“We don’t even know the quality of the resource in New York, and how New York production compares to neighboring states,” said Thomas S. West, an Albany lawyer who represents oil and gas companies. “If we opened the door, it’ll be a very slow ramp-up, and that’s a good thing.”

Environmental advocates note that the industry has every incentive to pursue drilling in the state, since it anticipates a bright future in the long term, particularly as it pursues federal approvals for exporting liquefied natural gas overseas. Lawsuits challenging what the state does could also alter the timeline.

“If the D.E.C. doesn’t adequately respond to the comments, there’ll likely be litigation,” said Deborah Goldberg, a lawyer with the environmental law firm Earthjustice.

Among those seeking a drilling ban, some have said they are prepared to engage in civil disobedience if it will stop the new drilling technique.

“People are ready to take unusual action,” said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, a Democrat from Tompkins County and a vocal hydrofracking opponent. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Author: Mireya Navarro
Source: The New York Times
Original: http://nyti.ms/AD3SAc


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