May 31, 2008
May 30, 2008
Encouraging wildlife to feed in your garden or allotment can be not only a great natural pest control but also an important part of wildlife conservation. "The range of invertebrate life you would have found across the board in a typical allotment or garden 60 years ago would have been far greater than is the case today," says Royal Parks community ecologist Dr Nigel Reeve.
Wartime principles of eating seasonal food grown locally and organically have fresh resonance at a time of growing concerns over carbon footprints, global warming and the impact of soaring oil prices.
Energy conservation was vital for the war effort and the then government created the Ministry of Fuel and Power, which recruited and co-ordinated a network of local fuel wardens to encourage the nation to use scarce resources more sparingly.
Householders were urged to draw a line around the inside of their baths to use less water. Men were advised not to leave the tap running while shaving.
"In certain periods – the early Seventies, especially, and the past few years – attention has turned back to wartime austerity measures – and there is much we can learn from them,"
The new oil - Water
Piece by piece, a 5,500-mile wall around the Great Lakes is going up.
You can't see it, but construction is progressing nicely, along with an implied neon sign that flashes, "Hands off -- it's our water."
Tuesday when Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle finalized his state's approval of the so-called Great Lakes Compact, a multistate agreement designed to protect and restrict access to nearly 20% of the world's supply of fresh water, contained in the five Great Lakes Wisconsin joined the pact to limit access to water; Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania remain
"The Great Lakes are our Grand Canyon. It's our resource to protect; it's the backbone of the region," said Joel Brammeier, vice president for policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
States, cities and countries have been arguing over water rights for decades, but the fights -- often called water wars -- have taken on a heightened sense of national and international urgency in light of prolonged droughts, mounting evidence of climate change and, closer to home, declining lake levels. The drought-stricken Spanish port of Barcelona, for instance, is now shipping in drinking water from large tankers.
In the United States, states in the South and West are hoping for relief from drought conditions that prompted drastic conservation measures last year, as well as renewed talk of water diversions.
In some regards, water is the new oil, and the governors of the states adjacent to the Great Lakes are the new OPEC, jealously guarding a resource that will be a big part of their future.
Congress must OK plan
But this won't end water wars. It merely will redefine them in a heavily industrialized region of the country grappling with the legacy of pollution that has tainted groundwater and drinking wells with radium, arsenic and other toxic materials.
Find out more at: http://epa.gov/greatlakes/live/
The new process, developed over two years by University of Waikato chemical engineer Dr Johan Verbeek and Masters student Lisa van den Berg, can turn animal protein waste like blood meal and feathers into a biodegradable plastic using industry-standard plastic extrusion and injection molding machinery.
'The material we can produce has the strength of polyethylene - the plastic used in milk bottles and plastic supermarket bags - but it's fully biodegradable,' said Dr Verbeek.
'Proteins are polymers so we know they can be turned into plastics,' Dr Verbeek said. 'Plant proteins have successfully been used to make bioplastics, but animal protein has always ended up gumming up the extruder. The process we've developed gets round that problem.'
He said a group of design students was drawing up a blueprint for a commercial-scale plant to assess the commercial viability of producing bioplastics from animal protein waste.
Dr Verbeek expected the bioplastic would be suitable for agricultural plastic sheeting, seedling trays, plant pots and even biodegradable golf tees, for which, he said there was a surprisingly high demand.
University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Prof Roy Crawford said farmers faced pressure to work in an environmentally sustainable way, and this type of innovation from the university could help them.
University of Waikato scientist Dr Johan Verbeek says the bioplastic created from animal protein waste can be used for plastic sheeting
Electratherm goes after low-grade heat that is usually wasted with its Green Machine- making electricity from water that is only 200 Degrees F. (96 C) at a cost of under 4 cents a kilowatt-hour. (3 cents per horsepower-hour for those who don't use the metric system).
It is based on the organic Rankine cycle, where a high molecular mass organic fluid (in this case an EPA/Kyoto approved chemical) is vaporized, runs a turbine and then condensed in a closed loop, creating no emissions. How much waste heat is there that could run these things? Probably thousands of industrial and commercial sites. Hook them up to warm water coming from geothermal sites across America and you have both power and heat. Perhaps a bank of solar hot water heaters.
The smallest unit at 30 kW costs $ 81,500, but produces $25,500 of electricity per year at 10 cents per kWh, so it pays for itself pretty fast. This is the kind of thing we talk about when we say go for efficiency and go for the low-hanging fruit- we are just throwing energy away when we could be making it into electricity for next to nothing. Electratherm via Jetson Green via TreeHugger (picture)
Ohhh... the Drama from Treehugger: Bisphenol A Is In Your Tomato Sauce
Reality - an adult would need to consume hundreds of cups of the tested products each day to exceed the limit.
Exposure in infants and small children need to be the focus.
From treehugger We have discussed the danger of gender-bender chemical Bisphenol A from cans before; (see BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles) Now the Globe and Mail and CTV have tested a range of canned foods and found that they are leaching more than double the amount of the stuff than the baby bottle and Nalgenes that everyone has been dumping. Tomato sauce had 18.2 parts per billion, kid's ravioli 6.2 ppb and tomato juice 14.1 ppb. "These results provide further evidence that we are marinating in this chemical on a daily basis,"... Female mice given traces of the chemical during fetal development and early in neonatal life developed double the amount of milk ducts, something the researchers surmised would increase breast cancer risk in humans. The concentration used was only 25 parts per trillion - Health Canada's safe limit is a thousand times above that and the concentrations found in Canadian canned foods were hundreds of times above what was used in the Boston experiment. Globe and Mail
See more at Treehugger video: Hidden chemical in cans
Canada Calls Bisphenol A "Dangerous" : TreeHugger
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles ...
Time to Pack In the Polycarbonates : TreeHugger
Gender Bender Chemicals Also Make You Fat : TreeHugger
FDA Based BPA decisions on Industry Studies, Ignored Others ...
Wal-Mart Dumps BPA Bottles; More Studies Pan BPA
May 29, 2008
Link to Industry Reports: gnep.energy.gov
May 27, 2008
Almost all biofuel used today results in more GHG (Green House Gas) emissions than conventional fuel, when one examine current practices from the viewpoint of sustainability, And yet, we learn from Green Car Congress1 that the Swedish company SEKAB, which delivers about 90% of all ethanol in Sweden for E85 and ED95 (ethanol for heavy-duty vehicles using compression ignition engines), has announced something called "Verified Sustainable Ethanol".
According to the company and its Brazilian partners, ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane that they distribute will be quality-assured from environmental, climate and social perspectives. This and other such assertions have come about, after the European Commission stated that biofuels need to be sustainable, rather than just renewable. The entire production chain of the biofuel must be analyzed to validate a claim of emissions cuts. The findings of Zah et al. indicate that while production of ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane, in general, result in approximately 40% of the GHG emissions from production of gasoline, the total environmental impact is greater than gasoline (approximately 130%).
"The findings of Zah et al. are striking. Most (21 out of 26) biofuels reduce greenhouse- gas emissions by more than 30% relative to gasoline. But nearly half (12 out of 26) of the biofuels-including the economically most important ones, to include Brazilian sugarcane ethanol."
Cropland is incapable of absorbing as much carbon as does rain forest or even scrub land. Even venture capitalists like Vinod Khosla are recognizing that, with an increasing call for "a more granular assessment of the benefits and impacts of different biofuels", the appropriateness of biofuels for the transportation sector now should include an assessment of land use.
SEKAB, together with Brazilian ethanol producers, launched a Sustainable Ethanol Initiative and developed criteria that cover the entire lifecycle of ethanol from the sugarcane fields to its use in flexi-fuel (FFV) cars… In terms of the climate, the demands will result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from farming, production and transport—-i.e., in the field-to-tank component of the lifecycle—by at least 85% compared with gasoline.
Let's hope that this will be something more than "pencil-whipping". The GCC post notes, "An independent international verification company will audit all production units twice a year to ensure the established criteria are met."
The requirements also have zero tolerance for child labor, slave labor and the destruction of rain forests. There are also requirements concerning working conditions, labor laws and wages.
Die back of the Amazon rainforest (approx 50 years, large uncertainty) is one of the major tipping point. Global warming and deforestation will probably reduce rainfall in the region by up to 30 percent. Lengthening of the dry season, and increases in summer temperatures would make it difficult for the forest to re-establish. Models project die back of the Amazon rain forest to occur under three to four degrees Celsius global warming within fifty years. Even land-use change alone could potentially bring forest cover to a critical threshold.
Sugarcane ethanol is much less off the scale than ethanol from corn (for which one can find a number of policy wankers to extol the virtue of "cruise on booze"), so Verified Sustainable (Brazilian sugarcane) Ethanol might be possible. On the other hand, the attitude of Business As Usual and Above All Else is other than exclusive to American politics. For instance, the Guardian reports2 that there have been fears expressed about survival of the Amazon rain forest with the resignation of Marina Silva, Brazil's environment minister.
Environmentalists saw Silva, a 50-year-old native of the Brazilian Amazon, as a key ally in the fight against the destruction of the country's rainforest, 20% of which they believe has been destroyed… In her resignation letter to president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Tuesday, Silva said her decision was the result of the "difficulties" she was facing in "pursuing the federal environmental agenda". She said her efforts to protect the environment had faced "growing resistance … [from] important sectors of the government and society."
Americans have curtailed their driving at a historic rate.
The Department of Transportation said figures from March show the steepest decrease in driving ever recorded.
Compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less — that's 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT's Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it "the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history." Records have been kept since 1942.
According to AAA, for the first time since 2002, Americans said they were planning to drive less over the Memorial Day weekend than they did the year before.
The U.S. Air Force operates the "world's largest airline" and every $10-per-barrel increase in crude oil boosts its annual operating costs by $610 million, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said. The Air Force's bill for aviation fuel was about $6 billion in fiscal 2007, Wynne told a defense industry group. He declined to predict what the total would be for 2008. REad full via: enn.com
May 26, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 22, 2008
At the request of the board in 2006, ARB researchers carefully reviewed all scientific studies on the subject and consulted with health scientists. While exposures to particulate matter have long been known as a serious health threat, new information suggests that the pollutant is even more toxic than previously thought.
Bay air basins.
disease are most at risk of experiencing adverse health effects from PM2.5 exposure. Even small increases in PM2.5 exposures may increase health risks.
May 21, 2008
Report Calls Energy Efficiency an "Invisible" Energy Boom (From: eere news)
Energy efficiency has met three-quarters of the U.S. demand for new energy services since 1970, but it goes relatively unnoticed amid a focus on energy production, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report notes that the U.S. economy uses half as much energy per unit of economic output than it did back in 1970, making energy efficiency the "fastest-growing success story of the last 50 years."
The report focuses specifically on 2004, when roughly $300 billion was invested in energy efficiency in the United States, supporting 1.6 million jobs. That investment was triple the amount invested in the energy supply infrastructure, and it generated 1.7 quadrillion Btu, or quads, of energy savings. For comparison, the United States currently consumes about 100 quads of energy. The 2004 savings were roughly equal to the combined energy output of 40 mid-sized coal-fired power plants. Nearly 60% of total energy efficiency investments were made in buildings, including homes, commercial buildings, and energy efficient devices, while about a quarter of the investments went toward industrial energy efficiency improvements. Only 11% of the investments went towards improving the fuel economy of cars, trucks, aircraft, and other forms of transportation, despite the fact that the transportation sector consumes 28% of the U.S. energy supply.
The ACEEE report also finds plenty of room for improvement, noting that the United States can reduce energy consumption by an additional 25%-30% over the next quarter century through cost-effective energy efficiency measures. In an environment of accelerated market transformation and rapid growth in energy efficiency, the total annual investments in energy efficiency could approach $400 billion by 2030, according to the report. See the ACEEE press release.
May 20, 2008
* EPA-R5-GL2008-2 for a 5 year sub-grant program for Ecological Protection and Restoration in the Great Lakes Basin - due May 21, 2008.
* EPA-R5-GL2008-3 for various Lake priorities to advance protection and restoration and to estimate phosphorus loadings - due June 10, 2008.
* EPA-R5-GL2008-4 for projects to reduce the presence and deleterious impacts of chemicals and for Rochester RAP Management - due June 10,2008.
* Great Lakes Legacy Act Projects for monitoring, evaluation, and/or remediation of contaminated sediments - no specified due date.
May 16, 2008
May 15, 2008
|03 June||9,017||10,224||$ 1.62||183.7||$ 0.88|
|03 July||9,135||10,275||$ 1.57||183.7||$ 0.86|
|03 Aug||9,258||10,337||$ 1.60||184.1||$ 0.87|
|04 July||9,286||1.7%||10,666||3.8%||2.5%||-0.9%||$ 2.04||189.4||$ 1.08||25.9%||-0.03|
|04 Aug||9,335||0.8%||10,697||3.5%||2.3%||-1.5%||$ 2.00||189.5||$ 1.06||21.6%||-0.07|
|04 Sept||9,233||0.6%||10,726||3.3%||2.2%||-1.6%||$ 1.95||189.6||$ 1.03||13.8%||-0.11|
|05 June||9,260||0.5%||10,959||3.1%||2.0%||-1.5%||$ 2.27||194.5||$ 1.17||9.9%||-0.15|
|05 July||9,395||1.2%||10,994||3.1%||2.1%||-0.9%||$ 2.28||194.8||$ 1.17||8.6%||-0.10|
|05 Aug||9,481||1.6%||11,034||3.2%||2.1%||-0.5%||$ 2.37||195.4||$ 1.21||14.9%||-0.04|
|06 Sept||9,469||1.5%||11,340||2.5%||1.7%||-0.2%||$ 2.91||203.4||$ 1.43||7.2%||-0.02|
|06 Oct||9,355||2.1%||11,356||2.4%||1.6%||0.5%||$ 2.66||202.9||$ 1.31||-6.4%||-0.07|
|06 Nov||9,249||2.5%||11,376||2.5%||1.7%||0.8%||$ 2.41||202.1||$ 1.19||-13.1%||-0.06|
|07 July||9,520||0.6%||11,566||2.2%||1.5%||-0.9%||$ 3.10||208.2||$ 1.49||0.6%||-1.48|
|07 Oct||9,362||0.1%||11,665||2.7%||1.8%||-1.7%||$ 2.84||208.4||$ 1.36||3.7%||-0.47|
|07 Nov||9,247||0.0%||11,670||2.6%||1.7%||-1.7%||$ 2.93||209.2||$ 1.40||17.4%||-0.10|
|07 Dec||9,249||-0.4%||11,676||2.5%||1.7%||-2.0%||$ 3.01||209.7||$ 1.44||24.3%||-0.08|
|08 Jan||9,104||-0.6%||11,682||2.5%||1.6%||-2.2%||$ 3.09||210.4||$ 1.47||27.5%||-0.08|
|08 Feb||9,044||-0.5%||11,687||2.5%||1.6%||-2.1%||$ 3.08||210.9||$ 1.46||26.3%||-0.08|
|08 Mar||9,020||-0.1%||11,691||2.4%||1.6%||-1.7%||$ 3.16||212.1||$ 1.49||25.0%||-0.07|