Jan 31, 2012
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With large cargo freighters being a major source of CO2 emissions worldwide it's been encouraging to see various efforts to make such vessels more efficient. In recent years we've seen the development of the world's biggest container ship to cut CO2 emissions per container moved, air bubbles used to cut the friction between a ship's hull and the ocean, and even plans to return to the use of sails to cut fuel use. Now Nissan has launched an energy efficient coastal car carrier called the Nichio Maru that employs solar panels, LED lighting, a low friction hull coating hull and an electronically controlled diesel engine to cut fuel consumption... Continue Reading Nissan unveils energy-efficient Nichio Maru car carrie
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Groups representing states and cities in the Great Lakes region on Tuesday proposed spending up to $9.5 billion on a massive engineering project to separate the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed in the Chicago area, describing it as the only sure way to protect both aquatic systems from invasions by destructive species such as Asian carp.
The organizations issued a report suggesting three alternatives for severing an artificial link between the two drainage basins that was constructed more than a century ago. Scientists say it has already provided a pathway for exotic species and is the likeliest route through which menacing carp could reach the lakes, where they could destabilize food webs and threaten a valuable fishing industry.
"We simply can't afford to risk that," said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, which sponsored the study with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. "The Great Lakes have suffered immensely because of invasive species. We have to put a stop to this."
The report's release is sure to ramp up pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting its own study of how to close off 18 potential pathways between the two systems, including the Chicago waterways. The corps plans to release its findings in late 2015, a timetable it says is necessary because of the job's complexity and regulatory requirements. A pending federal lawsuit by five states – Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania – demands quicker action.
"This study shows that hydrological separation is both technically and economically feasible," said Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican.
AT&T has ordered 1,200 Chevrolet Express dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) cargo vans for deployment to AT&T service centers nationwide. It is the largest-ever order of CNG vehicles from General Motors.
AT&T, which has announced its intention to invest up to $565 million to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles over a 10-year period through 2018, will use the vans to provide and maintain communications, high-speed Internet and television services for AT&T customers. Last week, the company announced the milestone deployment of its 5,000th alternative-fuel vehicle, a Chevrolet Express van, as part of the commitment. (Earlier post.)
Chevrolet Express CNG vans are powered by a Vortec 6.0L V8 engine equipped with hardened exhaust valves, and intake and exhaust valve seats for improved wear resistance and durability with gaseous fuel systems. The vans are factory-ordered and delivered to customers with their factory-engineered and fully integrated gaseous fuel system in place...
Jan 30, 2012
Pick a product sold in the US, and chances are it’s made in China. But now in an ironic twist of fate, American-made goods are becoming more popular in China. According to a report by Jing Daily, workwear labels like Red Wing, Woolrich, Billy Reid, and Gitman Brothers are all gaining popularity in China, and just last month high-end shoemaker Allen Edmonds announced plans to expand to China. “Suddenly ‘Made in America’ has a value to the Chinese customer in almost the same way that ‘Made in France’ or ‘Made in Italy’ once had for Americans,” NYC designer Patrik Ervell recently told Bloomberg News. READ MORE at inhabitat
By securing local consent, the panel said, the government might avoid the kind of conflicts that led to the cancellation of plans to create a repository at Yucca Mountain, a site 100 miles from Las Vegas, in 2010. It noted that local willingness had been crucial to decision-making on sites for nuclear waste depots in Finland, France, Spain and Sweden.
Source: The New York Times,In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers -- as well as dozens of other American industries -- have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history. However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious -- sometimes deadly -- safety problems.
“What is today an energy problem could become a financial problem,” Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said in Madrid. The government passed a decree today stopping subsidies for new wind, solar, co-generation or waste incineration plants.
In a regulatory filing today, the EPA said that palm-oil biodiesel, which is primarily produced in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, provides reductions of as much as 17 percent in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel, falling short of a 20 percent reduction necessary to qualify under the law.
Chugoku Electric shuts Shimane No. 2 reactor, leaving Japan with only 3 reactors online ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion
The shutdown leaves only three reactors operating in Japan out of a total of 54, as public concerns about safety in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have prevented the restart of reactors shut down last year for maintenance.
The U.S. east coast already sees the threat of a temporary spike in gasoline to $4 or more per gallon for the summer driving season and could pay some of the highest prices in the nation, due to the shutdown of refining capacity in that market.
Jan 29, 2012
Full Time Executive/Managerial: 1,711
Full Time Professionals: 6,772
Total Executive/Managerial/Professional: 8,483Therefore, in 2010, there were 49% more full-time administrative/professional staff than full-time faculty.
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"Reporters Without Borders released its 2011-2012 global Press Freedom Index. The indicators for press freedom in the U.S. are dramatic, with a downward movement from 27th to 47th in the global ranking, from the previous year. Much of this is correlated directly to thearrest and incarceration of American journalists covering the 'Occupy' protest movements in New York and across the country. 'This is especially troubling as we head into an election year which is sure to spark new conflicts between police and press covering rallies, protests and political events.' Only Chile, who dropped from 33 to 80, joined the U.S. in falling over 100% of their previous ranking. Similarly, Chile was downgraded for 'freedom of information violations committed by the security forces during student protests.'"
Japan used seawater to cool nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant after the tsunami in March 2011 -- and that was probably the best action to take at the time, says Professor Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California, Davis.
But Navrotsky and others have since discovered a new way in which seawater can corrode nuclear fuel, forming uranium compounds that could potentially travel long distances, either in solution or as very small particles. The research team published its work Jan. 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This is a phenomenon that has not been considered before,” said Alexandra Navrotsky, distinguished professor of ceramic, earth and environmental materials chemistry. “We don’t know how much this will increase the rate of corrosion, but it is something that will have to be considered in future.”
Japan used seawater to avoid a much more serious accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, and Navrotsky said, to her knowledge, there is no evidence of long-distance uranium contamination from the plant.
Uranium in nuclear fuel rods is in a chemical form that is “pretty insoluble” in water, Navrotsky said, unless the uranium is oxidized to uranium-VI — a process that can be facilitated when radiation converts water into peroxide, a powerful oxidizing agent....
(CNN) -- FaceTime, the Apple video-chat application, is not a replacement for real human interaction, especially for children, according to a new study.
Tween girls who spend much of their waking hours switching frantically between YouTube, Facebook, television and text messaging are more likely to develop social problems, says a Stanford University study published in a scientific journal on Wednesday.
Young girls who spend the most time multitasking between various digital devices, communicating online or watching video are the least likely to develop normal social tendencies...
Romney Collects More in Donations From the Five Biggest Banks Than All Other Candidates Combined | Truthout
|US Air Force||$23,335|
|Mason Capital Management||$14,000|
|University of California||$107,501|
|Credit Suisse Group||$203,750|
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The Massive Debt Bomb: $7,600,000,000,000 Dollars Of Debt Must Be Rolled Over In 2012 (NYSEArca:TZA, NYSEArca:SDS, NYSEArca:SPXU, NYSEArca:SH, NYSEArca:EWZ, NYSEArca:UUP, NYSEArca:UDN, NYSEArca:RSX) | ETF DAILY NEWS
The following list compiled by Bloomberg shows the amount of debt that these various nations must roll over in 2012….
Japan: 3,000 billion
U.S.: 2,783 billion
Italy: 428 billion
France: 367 billion
Germany: 285 billion
Canada: 221 billion
Brazil: 169 billion
U.K.: 165 billion
China: 121 billion
India: 57 billion
Russia: 13 billion
computerworld...Another day, another hack. All aboard the crazy cyber-attacked train? The TSA claimed that hackers launched a cyberattack that manipulated a railway company's computers. Then, last night, AntiSec hacktivists set sail and hacked OnGuardOnline.gov, a U.S. government online security website. The FTC managed site was rooted and a pastebin statement threatens to dump the looted booty if SOPA or PIPA legislation passes. read more
computerworld...Since Bill Gates left Microsoft, he has become the world's premier philanthropist, but has largely stayed away from politics. But now, in an aside in an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, he lightly weighs into U.S. politics, saying that increasing taxes on the rich would be a good way to close the budget deficit. read more
The licence for the San Onofre nuclear power plant is due to expire in 2022, and the Diablo Canyon plant will not be permitted to continue generating after 2024, unless it applies for a 20-year extension. The facilities have a combined nameplate capacity of around 4,300 MW.
California’s once-through cooling policy which will prevent power stations from releasing hot water into the sea will result in the retirement or modification of 16 power plants from as early as 2015. In addition to these retirements, California also has to meet its AB32 goals to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, said Karen Douglas, commissioner at the Californian Energy Commission.
Douglas told media at the Geothermal Energy Finance and Development Forum in San Francisco that CEC regulators were preparing plans to maintain grid capacity of 31,000 MW of peak load electricity...
Is a new Solyndra brewing in the halls of power in Washington? One might think so with word today of a new report released by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. According to Bloomberg, this report basically accuses the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a cover up of sorts over the battery fire issue the NHTSA just closed its investigation on last week.
From the 16-page report’s executive summary:
The delayed public notification of serious safety concerns relating to the Chevy Volt raises significant concerns regarding the unnatural relationship between General Motors (GM), Chrysler and the Obama Administration. Rather than allowing GM and Chrysler to enter into a traditional bankruptcy process, the Obama Administration intervened and forced the companies to participate in a politically orchestrated process. The result was that GM and Chrysler emerged as quasi-private entities, partially owned by the United States government.
President Obama has used this unusual blurring of public and private sector boundaries to openly tout the results of this partnership as a top accomplishment of his Administration –creating a dynamic where the President is politically reliant on the success of GM and Chrysler.Moreover, in the case of GM, the Administration has offered substantial taxpayer funded subsidies to encourage production of the Volt, such as $151.4 million in stimulus funds for a Michigan-based company that produces lithium-ion polymer battery cells for the Volt as well as $105 million directly to GM. It has also extended a significant subsidy to encourage consumers to purchase the vehicle, offering buyers of the Volt a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 per vehicle.
In the face of that political dependency, it is deeply troubling that public notification of the safety concerns related to the Volt was inexplicably delayed for six months – a period of time that also coincides with the negotiation over the 2017-2025 fuel economy standards. The necessity of a full explanation for NHTSA’s silence concerning the Volt’s safety risk has been compounded by its lack of cooperation with the Committee...
SunPower broke ground this month on a big solar installation at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. Though it’s not a utility scale system of the magnitude being developed elsewhere in the desert – like the 392-megawatt (MW) Ivanpah concentrating solar plant, for instance – at 13.78 MW it is large enough to hint at the kind of solar development the military would like to see take place on its bases in the California desert.
“This is the largest solar project in the Navy,” the assistant Navy secretary for Energy, Installation and Environment, Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, said in a statement. “It demonstrates tangible progress toward national energy independence and reaching the Department of the Navy’s energy goals.”
You might recall our recent story about the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) study that promoted the concept of developing at least 50,000 acres at four Southern California military bases for solar power production. The study said the department could reap up to $100 million annually in lower power costs and rental-fee income with such a program. All told, the study said, some 7,000 megawatts could be mined in the desert by private developers using 6,777 acres at China Lake, 24,327 acres at Edwards Air Force Base, 18,728 acres at Fort Irwin and 553 acres at Twentynine Palms...
Whether or not you get a diagnosis of obesity may come down to more than numbers on the scale -- it may actually be about what your doctor's weight is.
A new study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that when a doctor had a normal body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) they are more likely to talk to their patients who are obese about weight loss (30 percent of normal-weight doctors, compared with 18 percent of obese or overweight doctors).
In addition, 93 percent of normal-weight doctors are likely to diagnose a patient with obesity if the patient's BMI is the same or greater as their own, while just 7 percent of overweight and obese doctors were likely to do this, researchers said.
"Our findings indicate that physicians with normal BMI more frequently reported discussing weight loss with patients than overweight or obese physicians," study researcher Sara Bleich, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins, said in a statement. "Physicians with normal BMI also have greater confidence in their ability to provide diet and exercise counseling and perceive their weight loss advice as trustworthy when compared to overweight or obese physicians."
On the other hand, researchers found that obese doctors were more likely to prescribe and report success with prescribing medications for obesity to their patients.
thepumphandle...Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released some disappointing news: several demonstration projects aiming to contain growth in healthcare spending are not showing cost savings. Specifically, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been focusing on programs involving either disease management and care coordination or value-based payment systems for the fee-for-service Medicare population. A CBO issue brief reviews programs in both these categories that have been conducted over the past two decades, and I'm particularly interested in what it says about the disease management/care coordination projects.
CBO reports on six major demonstration projects involving 34 disease-management programs that focused on the management of chronic conditions -- mainly diabetes, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease -- among Medicare beneficiaries. All of the programs relied on nurses functioning as case managers "to educate patients about their chronic illnesses, encourage them to follow self-care regimens, monitor their health, and track whether they received recommended tests and treatments."Read the rest of this post...
A group of 300 scientists, physicians and public health experts are urging President Obama to direct his Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to complete its review of a proposed Labor Department health standard on the carcinogen crystallline silica. OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has been reviewing the proposed rule for nearly a year, although the Executive Order (EO) giving OIRA authority for such review sets a four-month maximum time limit.
The signatories on the letter to President Obama, many of whom are members of the Union of Concerned Scientists or the American Public Health Association call the delay extraordinary and "with no indication as to when the review will be concluded and the proposed rule issued." I signed the letter, too. My records indicate that a year-long "review" by the White House of an OSHA proposed health standard is unprecedented since EO 12866 took affect in 1993. Not a distinction the Obama Administration should be proud of, given their predecessor's pitiful record on new protective worker safety regulations.Read the rest of this post...
Every year, roughly one billion square feet of buildings are demolished and replaced with new construction in the United States, according to a new report from Preservation Green Lab, and that number is likely to escalate. That’s a lot of CO2 emissions and materials that could easily be saved. Since new buildings are generally more shiny and exciting though, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the greenest building is almost always the one that’s already standing. It seems like common sense, but now we have the hard data to back it up. According to the highly-anticipated report, it can take up to 80 years for a new, energy-efficient building to overcome the environmental impact of the construction process.
Read the rest of New Report Details Why Existing Buildings Are Greener Than New Ones
Ecotricity’s SeaRaser Tidal Power Generator Could be the World’s Cheapest Method Of Producing Electr
Over the years, scientists have come up with numerous ways to produce renewable energy, however cost has always been a huge barrier to the widespread adoption of clean tech – the economics are still in favor of fossil fuels. However UK-based alternative energy company Ecotricity believe all that is about to change – their new project, the SeaRaser, could solve two of the biggest challenges facing renewable energy by providing a steady source of energy at low-cost. Invented by Devon Energy engineer Alvin Smith, the SeaRaser harnesses the constant power of ocean swells to create electricity on demand.
Jan 28, 2012
New Energy-Efficient Battery Charging Standards in California Will Save 1 Million Tons of Carbon Emi
We have all heard the phrases “phantom power” and “vampire energy” about a million times, and yet the problem still exists – many people forget to unplug battery chargers and other electronics when they are done with them. The State of California has decided that instead of trying to change the stubborn behavior of humans, they’re going to change the behavior of the chargers. In 2013 the state will introduce new battery charger standards that will reduce overall consumption by up to 40%, save enough energy to power 350,000 homes, save Californians $300 million in energy bills, and reduce carbon emissions by one million metric tons.
The growth of California’s local solar-power systems, not only on rooftops but in parking lots, farmers’ fields and vineyard irrigation ponds, has kept the state well ahead of others in the total power generated from photovoltaic systems.
In 2011, according to a new report by Environment California, California’s total capacity exceeded 1,000 megawatts — up from less than 10 megawatts in 2000.
But according to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, the state’s lead — California was home to two-thirds of all photovoltaic solar capacity in the country in 2008 — is shrinking slowly as other states, particularly New Jersey, provide incentives that are leading to a burst of new installations (andnew complaints.
Data was available nationally through 2010, when California had 869 megawatts of installed capacity, as reflected in the chart above.
A report released on Tuesday by Environment California pinpoints the areas of California that are are home to the most rapid growth of solar power. Cities including Los Angeles have tripled their solar capacity since 2009, but San Diego leads the state in the number of installations on residential, commercial and government buildings (4,500) and overall capacity (37 megawatts)...
...The wind and solar companies argue that the tax breaks they are seeking are different. The tax credits can be taken only by businesses that are already up and running, so taxpayers are less likely to be stuck subsidizing a failing company, proponents say.
“This is a program that doesn’t pick winners or losers,” said Rhone Resch, president and chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “It’s hard to argue against a program like this that is creating jobs.”
Without the new breaks, industry executives warn, they will be forced to scale back production and eliminate jobs in a still-weak economy....
When the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future was established two years ago, after the Obama administration killed a proposed repository for nuclear waste atYucca Mountain in Nevada, one of the items on its agenda was to determine whether spent nuclear fuel was in fact waste.
Among advocates of nuclear power, considerable disagreement exists about whether the spent fuel can be considered waste, given that it contains unused uranium as well as plutonium, which is created in nuclear reactors and can be used as fuel.
France and Japan have factories that chop up the fuel and chemically remove the uranium and plutonium for reuse. And on paper, there are designs for reactors that could take some of the most long-lived, troublesome materials in the spent fuel and transmute them into elements that would be easier to handle because they break down in centuries rather than millenniums.
But such reprocessing is also a path to making materials for nuclear weapons, so the United States discourages it abroad. Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter banned the technology here; President Ronald Reagan lifted the ban, but so far it has not mattered, because it is commercially unattractive to American utilities.
On Thursday, the special commission on nuclear waste released its final report. It was not encouraging to advocates of reprocessing.
The report did not rule out reprocessing or a new class of reactors. But it said that “no currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments — including advances in reprocessing and recycling technologies — have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenge this nation confronts over at least the next several decades.’’
Among other problems, it said, if there were some reprocessing, the country would still need a waste repository....
Solar panels are the next space race - China produces more than 10,000 MW of solar cells annually. United States, 1,000 MW
...As a portend of things to come for the solar industry, solar power is now cheaper to acquire and use than diesel fuel in India. As a result, Indian manufacturers are exchanging diesel fuel for solar panels to power their operations. That’s a big deal for the environment, as well as the solar industry at large. However, this presents a serious problem – and opportunity – for the United States.
“But wait, you just said solar is cheaper than diesel! That’s great!”
I urge you to hold your enthusiasm and ask an important question: Why is solar power now cheaper than diesel in India?
“That’s easy, solar panel prices have dropped over 50% since last year”
Good, now tell me why solar panel prices have dropped that much.
“Uhh, because… I don’t know. They’re just less expensive.”
Panel prices have come down so much because of Hu Jintao’s decision to massively subsidize the cost of producing solar panels in China.
Those subsidies allow Chinese manufacturers to produce panels at a net cost much lower than American companies can. There is now a huge amount of solar panels produced in China, as those solar subsidies were the equivalent to throwing gasoline on an already stoked flame:
China now has an extreme global advantage in an industry where panels on roofs are sure to become as ubiquitous as handles on doors.
Their low cost of labor and subsidized production have already tightened the vice on several American manufacturers. Last year, Evergreen Solar had to shutter one of its plants because it could not continue to compete with Chinese imports.
A solar panel manufacturing plant in Wuxi, China
On the other hand, solar installers love the decreased panel prices from China, as they are able to present much more financially compelling reasons why homeowners should go solar with a lower net cost of installation.
Meanwhile, American solar installers and manufacturers are at odds with one another as talks of tariffs on Chinese panel imports bubble up in congressional hearings.
American manufacturers are seeking protection from panel prices they cannot compete with, and installers want to protect their rosy sales and installation forecasts by being able to offer the most affordable solar solutions to their clients.
In the end, not much is happening to help domestic manufacturers and we’re starting to see a prosperous window of American opportunity start to close.
There’s plenty to find issue with regarding the philosophy of the Chinese government on many accounts over the course of human history. Though, I simply can’t help but admire China for their ability to take action instead of quibble and be locked in stalemate as is commonplace in Washington...
...Both President Barack Obama and his predecessor in the White House have identified production of ethanol from cellulosic materials such as switchgrass and wood as vital to overcoming the U.S. â€œaddictionâ€ to oil. In recent years, California also adopted several bold new initiatives, including: (1) AB32, The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which caps greenhouse-gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2020, (2) an executive order establishing the first Low Carbon Fuel Standard and calling for a reduction in the carbon intensity of passenger-vehicle fuels by at least 10% by 2020, and (3) an historic agreement with Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through a market-based approach. Meeting these targets will be challenging for a state with a transportation fuels market that dwarfs that of other states. Transportation fuels account for about 40% of California's total energy use; the state is the largest transportation fuels market in the country. Additionally, about 40% of California's greenhouse-gas emissions come from transportation, a higher fraction than the country as a whole.
At present, cellulosic biomass is the only environmentally sustainable resource for producing liquid transportation fuels to meet these goals. California has large quantities of agricultural residues, forest thinnings and residues, and municipal waste. The California Biomass Collaborative estimates that the state produces about 24.2 million dry tons of cellulosic biomass annually, with enough of this available for the sustainable production of fuels displacing about 1.1 billion gallons of gasoline each year ( http://biomass.ucdavis.edu ).
Cellulosic biomass composition
Cellulosic biomass has three major components: hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin. Hemicellulose is an amorphous, branched polymer that is usually composed primarily of five sugars (arabinose, galactose, glucose, mannose and xylose); it typically comprises about 15% to 30% of cellulosic biomass. Cellulose is a large, linear polymer of glucose molecules typically joined together in a highly crystalline structure due to hydrogen bonding between parallel chains; it typically comprises about 35% to 50% of cellulosic biomass. Lignin is a complex phenyl-propane polymer that often comprises about 15% to 30% of cellulosic biomass. Although lignin cannot be converted into fermentable sugars, this component has high value as a boiler fuel and could also be useful as a raw material for making aromatic compounds such as benzene and toluene.