May 30, 2008

Your Gamma did better than Al Gore on Climate Change...

Be a patriot and save our economy - Grow your own
Thrift, recycling, growing your own - these are the habits that helped win the war. And now they could also help us win back the environment & economy.
 
"Challenges we now face when it comes to getting the message across are quite different, however. Back in war era, conservation messages were received by a far thriftier nation. Attitudes have changed with the birth of the consumer society in the 1950s."
 
Cultivation of fruit and vegetables in shared allotments and back gardens became commonplace during the war years when the nation was forced to quickly adapt to surviving without the 55  million tons of food it had imported not so long before.
 
The emphasis was on sharing knowledge of natural cultivation techniques and reusing materials. "The approach was pretty much organic, although the motivation then was producing crops with the highest nutritional value that were easiest to grow," says Graham Hartley, deputy manager of St James's Park in London, who has overseen the development of a working period allotment to accompany Dig for Victory: War on Waste, a summer exhibition and events season launched by the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms today.
 
Wildlife protection
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.
 
"One of the benefits of this was that the environment worked as a functional community with predators and prey more likely to balance each other out. The lesson from this is the importance of attracting wildlife and making good use of natural predator pest control."
 
Another more modern feature of the allotment is a wormery. While making compost from organic waste has long relied on garden worms, wormeries – enclosed composters housing waste matter and worms – have made the process more productive as compost can now include cooked organic matter without fear of attracting rats.
 
Eat local, seasonal and organic
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.
 
By 1945, 1.5 million allotments were being cultivated, supplying 10 per cent of our food needs. "Evidence suggests vegetables were distributed free to those sharing an allotment or bartered for other food products," says Jane Stockton, the Churchill Museum's access and learning officer.
 
To supply meat, "Communities were encouraged to rear their own livestock with the opportunity to join a pig or rabbit club," she adds. "Club members got help rearing animals, such as free fodder."
 
Rationing forced people to cook with leftovers – a topical issue given recent reports that people in England and Wales throw away 3.6 million tons of food each year. "Little things once commonplace like pinching off the tops of broad beans – a fabulous spinach substitute – or trimming the tops from radishes and serving them as a vegetable are worth reconsidering,"
 
Recycling was mainstream throughout the war years, with public information campaigns encouraging families to think creatively about everyday items they might otherwise have thrown away.  "Bins were positioned at the ends of streets for householders to deposit unwanted food to be used to feed pigs. Rags, bottles and bones were collected, too.
 
Government advice on reusing household items was publicized by the Board of Trade's Make Do and Mend advisory panel. The logic was simple: not buying new allowed resources saved to be put towards the war effort.
 
Clothes rationing was introduced in June 1941 due to a shortage of imported fabric and the need for cloth for uniforms, parachutes and hospital bedding. Reuse and recycling tips included reproofing raincoats by rubbing beeswax over the inside, then ironing.
 
"Recycling was born of necessity," Benge adds. "Today, with almost all of the UK's landfill sites looking likely to be full by 2010, it's on track to becoming a necessity once more."
 
Energy and water conservation
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.
 
Scant attention was paid back then to home insulation and conserving coal and water was a priority.  "'Carbon-saving' tips were widely distributed on posters and in leaflets," says senior historian at the Imperial War Museum Terry Chairman. "People were encouraged to light fires just in one room, to eat where it was warmest in the kitchen, turn off unnecessary lights and unplug appliances when not in use – all messages we are once more being advised to follow today."
 
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,"
 
Read more VIA the independent

WI - State stake claim to Great Lakes

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.

Read more by TIM JONES CHICAGO TRIBUNE

EPA grant to Wisconsin and new method to protect beaches

In time for the start of Great Lakes beach season, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water Benjamin Grumbles will be in Racine on Friday, May 30, to announce why Wisconsin residents and Great Lakes beachgoers can feel better about going to the beach this year. As a result of an EPA grant to Wisconsin and a new method to identify sources of contamination at Great Lakes beaches, Wisconsin beaches will be cleaner and the public can feel more confident about the safety of swimming in the Great Lakes. The new method was successfully piloted at Racine and other Great Lakes beaches and is now being made available to help protect beaches nationwide.
Find out more at: http://epa.gov/greatlakes/live/

Get used to high food costs, water shortages

Shocked by rising food prices? Get used to it -- and be ready for water shortages, too, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture report cataloged effects thought by scientists to be likely over the next 25 to 50 years on agriculture, land and water.
 
Although not all the effects of climate change will be bad, many seeming pluses actually aren't, the research team said. For example, more carbon dioxide makes plants grow faster. But, "as they grow quicker, they are generally going to be smaller plants," said Jerry Hatfield, of the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service.
 
Grain crops may benefit from warmer temperatures, growing more quickly -- but could be endangered by more heat waves or other climate disruptions. Horticultural crops such as tomatoes, onions and fruit are more likely to be affected than grains.
 
"Let's acknowledge that we are heading into uncharted territory," said Jeff Koenings, a scientist who leads the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Clearly, he said, salmon runs are an indication of a struggling ecosystem and "something is going on," but more research is needed to pinpoint the precise effect.
 
One of the scientists, UW marine scientist Terrie Klinger, tried to emphasize the uncertainty and said it is possible that some marine species may actually benefit from higher acidity. Small comfort, Inslee said.
 
"This is not a problem of tomorrow but a problem for today," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., noting that nearly 10 percent of protein in the human diet is from the oceans. "It just scares the heck out of me."
 
Read more from the Seattle post

Animal Waste into plastic

A process developed at the University of Waikato in New Zealand will allow animal waste to be turned into a useful biodegradable plastic.

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

Source: grist

Put Your Waste Heat To Work With a Green Machine

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). waste-heat.jpg

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)

BPA - oh the drama

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

DOE release "Industry Reports" on closing the nuclear fuel cycle

In May 2007, DOE issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for GNEP Studies, providing financial assistance to selected applicants to perform analyses to help inform a decision on the potential GNEP path forward, including the design of initial nuclear fuel recycling facilities and fast reactors as well as technology development plans and business plans to close the nuclear fuel cycle in the United States. Information related to the FOA can be found below under the section titled "Industry Reports".
 

Link to Industry Reports: gnep.energy.gov

May 27, 2008

Verified - Sustainable Ethanol

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 InĂ¡cio 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."

Read more by jcwinnie on forestry

U.S. Vehicle emissions down over 4% in 2008

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.

Via: CNN

Air Force's bill for aviation fuel was about $6 billion in 07,

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

"Clinton, Obama Talk Up Clean Coal"

...both candidates are playing up the ascendant role of commercially untested and so far economically nonviable ways of converting America's plentiful coal supplies into electricity without spewing massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases."
 
"US Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are talking more about 'clean coal' and less about global warming as they woo voters in West Virginia and Kentucky -- two states that sit at the heart of the nation's coal economy. In a bid to draw voters ahead of Democratic primaries.
 

May 24, 2008

Google Goes Geothermal

Google goes geothermal is a load of hot air By Silvie Barak - SEARCH ENGINE GIANT GOOGLE could be interested in going geothermal, according to Israeli newspaper reports. Google is apparently in discussions with an Israeli firm called Ormat Technologies, which already has a geothermal plant set up in the Nevada desert in the USA. Geothermal energy, which harnesses energy generated by heat under the Earth's surface... read more from The Inquirer

May 22, 2008

Study Shows Persistent Nature of Antimicrobials

The active ingredients of anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning agents have come under scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, due to both environmental and human health concerns.
 
Two closely related antimicrobials, triclosan and triclocarban, are at issue. Triclosan (TCS) has a structural resemblance to dioxin, and triclocarban (TCC) is one of the top 10 pharmaceuticals and personal care products most frequently found in the environment and in U.S. drinking water resources.
 
Researcher Rolf Halden and co-workers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have traced the active ingredients of soaps – used as long ago as the 1960s – to their current location, the shallow sediments of New York City's Jamaica Bay and the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary.
 
"Our group has shown that antimicrobial ingredients used a half a century ago, by our parents and grandparents, are still present today at parts-per-million concentrations in estuarine sediments underlying the brackish waters into which New York City and Baltimore discharge their treated domestic wastewater," said Halden, a new member of the institute's Center for Environmental Biotechnology. "This extreme environmental persistence by itself is a concern, and it is only amplified by recent studies that show both triclosan and triclocarban to function as endocrine disruptors in mammalian cell cultures and in animal models."
 
Aiding in his team's research was another type of contamination: the radioactive fallout from nuclear testing conducted in the second half of the last century. Using the known deposition history and half-lives of two radioactive isotopes, cesium-137 and beryllium-7, Halden and his collaborators Steven Chillrud, Jerry Ritchie, and Richard Bopp assigned the approximate time at which sediments observed to contain antimicrobial residues had been deposited in the two East Coast locations.
 
Read more via  eponline.com

Report: Energy Use Down, Costs Increasing

A dramatic increase in utility costs of running a facility...
The study, Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs, shows that utility costs — which include electricity, gasoline, fuel oil, steam water, and sewage — have jumped 19 percent compared to similar data from 2006.
 
While the increase in utility costs may come as no surprise; it is happening when energy consumption is down. When compared to the association's 2006 benchmarking figures, average electricity consumption — measured in kBTUs per square foot — has dropped from 93 to 81, while gas consumption has remained constant at 35 kBTUs per square foot. This decrease in energy usage could be attributed to companies implementing energy conservation practices, lighting improvements, and equipment upgrades at their facilities.
 
"In recent years, many organizations have invested in their electrical and mechanical systems to make them more energy efficient," said Shari Epstein, associate director of research. "Performing simple measures such as installing occupancy sensors, adjusting heating and air conditioning controls, and performing preventive maintenance checks to keep equipment running efficiently can make a measurable impact in reducing energy consumption."
 
To learn more, visit eponline.com

Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Launches “Clean Boats Every Day” Initiative

Through a new "Clean Boats Every Day" Initiative, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration has declared the 2008 boating season a summer-long celebration of sustainable recreational boating throughout the Great Lakes. Through the Initiative, Great Lakes Governors, Mayors, Members of Congress, Tribes, Federal Agencies and other partners have joined forces to promote sustainable boating practices that will protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species (AIS).
 
The basin-wide "Clean Boats Every Day" Initiative will be highlighting the work of several national, state, and local outreach campaigns. Events throughout the summer will help participants learn how to inspect, clean, and drain their boats in order to prevent the spread of AIS.
 
Recreational boating is a hugely popular activity in the Great Lakes and a significant component of the region's economy. Nearly 4.3 million boats are registered in the eight Great Lakes states. These boaters spend nearly $16 billion on boats and boating activities in a single year. Recreational boaters can easily reduce the impact of their activities and help protect the Great Lakes.
 
Learn more at: www.glrc.us

More premature deaths than previously thought from particles in vehicle exhaust

New research reveals significant new information
 
SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board was presented with research today showing long-term exposures to fine particle pollution pose a greater health threat than previously estimated.

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.
 
Annually, in California 14,000 to 24,000 premature deaths are estimated to be associated with exposures to PM2.5, a mix of microscopic particles less than 2.5 microns in size. A majority of these deaths occur in highly populated areas around the state.
Bay air basins.
 
"Particle pollution is a silent killer," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "We must work even harder to cut these life-shortening emissions by further addressing pollution sources head-on."
 
Particulate matter (PM) is a complex blend of substances ranging from dry solid fragments, solid-cores fragments with liquid coatings, and small droplets of liquid. These particles vary in shape, size and chemical composition, and may include metals, soot, soil and dust.
 
Hospitalizations, emergency room visits and doctor visits for respiratory illnesses or heart disease have been associated with PM2.5 exposure. Other studies suggest that PM2.5 exposure may influence asthma symptoms and acute and chronic bronchitis. Children, the elderly and people with pre-existing chronic
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.
 
Major contributors to PM2.5 include trucks, passenger cars, off-road equipment, electric power generation and industrial processes, residential wood burning, and forest and agricultural burning. All combustion processes generally produce PM2.5.
 
Read full information, at: arb.ca.gov

May 21, 2008

Efficiency an "Invisible" Energy Boom

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

Great Lakes Program Funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program currently has 4 outstanding funding opportunities:
* 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.
 
Information about these opportunities is available through a link from: http://epa.gov/glnpo/fund/glf.html

May 16, 2008

Insecticides in pet shampoo may trigger autism.

Expectant mothers who used the treatment to kill their pet's fleas were twice as likely to go on to have children with autism, Professor Irva Hertz-Picciotto, from the University of California, will tell an international meeting on the condition.
 
The findings will add to theories that environmental factors in combination with certain genetic factors can cause autism.
 
Scientists asked mothers of children with autism to detail any chemicals their offspring may have been exposed to, including insecticides, pet shampoos, and weedkillers, in the three months before conception until their first birthday.
 
They found that mothers of autistic children were twice as likely to report using pet shampoos which contained the pyrethrins as those who children did not have the condition.
 
The strongest association was in the second three months of the pregnancy, when mothers with autistic children were 2.6 times more likely than others to have been exposed to the chemical.
 
Widely used to control fleas, pyrethrins work by affecting the pests' central nervous system.
 
In laboratory tests, pyrethrins have also been found to affect a part of the brain that protects it from chemicals within the blood.
 
But Richard Mills, the director of research at Research Autism, called for more studies... stating "Autistic disorders are complex and it is not possible to isolate specific causes or risk factors on the basis of such evidence."
Read full from telegraph

May 15, 2008

hybrid hype - not very green...

"How a 6,000-pound behemoth can be the green car of the year is beyond me," said David Champion, director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Division. "It's a marketing exercise rather than reality."  Tahoe gets only about 20 miles per gallon
 
The eight-passenger vehicle is plastered with "hybrid" labels and named "Green Car of the Year." by executive director of The Sierra Club
 
Few companies out and out lie, but they often use vague terms with no defined meaning, such as "earth friendly," or tout an environmental benefit while leaving out the environmental harm their product can cause.
 
Consumers in the United States are expected to double their spending on green products and services in the next year to an estimated $500 billion, according to an annual consumer survey by Landor Associates. Turn on the television or walk down any store aisle, and it's impossible to escape products and services being sold as greener: potato chips, household cleaners, garage doors - even trash hauling.
 
One marketing consultant calls the phenomenon "shop for salvation." It began in earnest with rising public concern about global warming, though marketers now also highlight other environmental benefits. Still, green buying won't come close to cutting emissions 50 percent worldwide, the amount that the leading scientific authority on global warming says will be needed by 2050 to avert the worst consequences.
 
Marketers, some environmentalists and marketing specialists say, are merely tapping into people's desire to feel like they're saving the earth - but not sacrificing their lifestyle.
 
"That's the paradox," said Frederic Brunel, associate professor of marketing at Boston University. "Most people agree green solutions are better than less green solutions, but how green? You could have the green McMansion with energy efficiency, but well, the house is still 6,000 square feet. . . . We need goals and standards."
 
The marketing of faux green products is now so widespread that there is a term for the practice - "greenwashing."
 
Read more via greenchange.org

Clean energy no CO2 storage, no smokestacks no gimmicks

Asia Times: In the shadow of steep volcanic mountains, Indonesia is seeking to develop a cleaner future for its energy industry. Pressurized steam from a score or more of wells is piped to power generation plants a few kilometers away, feeding into the country's main Java-Bali power grid. There are no coal storage yards, no power plant smokestacks to mar the area's beauty or sully with soot the vegetable gardens that thrive in the rich volcanic soil. Indonesia appears ready to tap geothermal ... Link

Price of gas down or just down?

Gas prices down and expected...Elastically Speaking
http://www.komanoff.net/oil_9_11/
    Year   Year         Real Year Observed
  Usage Change GDP Change Expected Variance Price GDP Defl Price Change Elasticity
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