Jul 28, 2006

China oil imports near 50 percent

BEIJING, July 27 (UPI) -- Chinese oil imports were up 47.3 percent in the first half of 2006, making its way to what some experts say will be 50 percent of its consumption by 2010.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reports China's foreign oil imports rose 4.4 percent compared to the first half of 2005.

The ministry of commerce said net imports of crude reached 70.33 million tons in the first half of 2006, a 17.6-percent growth from the first half of 2005.

Refined imports grew 48.3 percent to 12 million tons.

The ministry said Chinese oil production rose 2.1 percent in the first half of 2006, to 91.66 million tons.

A report from China's Social Sciences Academic Press estimates that imports will be half of the country's consumption by 2010.

Fast Food Cooking Worse for Air Than All the Trucks on the Road

"Here is a great statistic to bite into: Cooking four normal sized hamburgers in a fast food joint emits the same amount of VOC's (volatile organic compounds) as driving a current model car for 1,000 miles. (Engelhard) in Hong Kong, "The 9,000 restaurants in HK also contribute to fine particulates and volatile organic substances. Other components of fumes are oils, fats, aliphatic hydrocarbons, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, aldehydes and elemental carbon." (read study here) In New Jersey, 16,000 restaurants release 2,226 tons of particulates, more than all of the heavy diesel vehicles in the state (1,329 tons, read study here) In the Bay area of California, they will soon require emission control on all chain-driven commercial grills. (report here) So just like your cars, all restaurants in the Bay area will be equipped with catalytic converters to reduce particulates and VOC's, and we should demand it everywhere else. "

Full read here:

Chemical in Air Fresheners Impairs Lung Function

""Even a small reduction in lung function may indicate some harm to the lungs," said NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D., lead investigator on the study. "The best way to protect yourself, especially children who may have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, is to reduce the use of products and materials that contain these compounds."

NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D., a specialist in genetic epidemiology, was lead investigator on the 1,4 DCB study. (Photo courtesy NIEHS)
Volatile organic compounds, VOCs, are compounds emitted as gases from thousands of commonly used products, including tobacco smoke, pesticides, paints, and cleaning products. VOCs are also released in automotive exhaust.

This particular VOC, 1,4 DCB, is a white solid compound with a distinctive aroma, similar to mothballs. It is typically used as a space deodorant in products such as room deodorizers, urinal and toilet bowl blocks, and as an insecticide fumigant for moth control.

The researchers examined the relationship between blood concentrations of 11 common volatile organic compounds and lung function measures in a representative sample of 953 adults 20 to 59 years old. Four measures of lung function were used in the analyses.

They found that of the common VOCs analyzed, including benzene, styrene, toluene, and acetone, only the compound 1,4 DCB was associated with reduced lung function.

This effect was seen even after careful adjustment for smoking.

The researchers found that 96 percent of the population sampled had detectable 1,4 DCB blood concentration levels. African Americans had the highest exposure levels and non-Hispanic whites the lowest. "

Jul 27, 2006

GE Maps censored by French Court | Greenpeace International

: "Marmande, France — If you fly over the south of France you might be tempted to believe that aliens have landed with a huge crop circle appearing in a field of maize. But the aliens aren't from a distant galaxy; it is GE maize from the laboratory of Monsanto -- that the French government says you have no right to know about."

Talkback - Wal-Mart Goes Green or PR

FORTUNE: Talkback: "Wal-Mart Goes Green
The retailing behemoth has embarked on a far-reaching sustainability initiative to reduce energy use, curb waste and sell more products that are good for the environment. It's not only revamping its own practices, but pushing its suppliers to be better stewards of the earth.

Do you believe that Wal-Mart is serious? Will the green campaign help the company repair its image? Does this make you more likely to shop there? -- By Marc Gunther

Read the story."

Energy - New bill to exend tax credits for solar

United Press International - Energy - New bill to exend tax credits for solar: "Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, residents and businesses receive 30 percent tax credits for use of solar systems. However, these credits are set to expire after two years, a period lobby groups argue is too short to 'encourage significant industry growth.'

Green job market heating up

Uncle Sam's environmental protection and resource management agencies were offering 860 new, permanent jobs on the day we checked. To be sure we found them all, we clicked through thousands of listings at USAJOBS and cross-checked 11 agency websites. In addition to permanent jobs, there were hundreds of seasonal, temporary, and internship offerings. Sound good? Not really. For a little perspective, consider that those 860 jobs make up less than one percent of the government's estimated "green" workforce of 150,000+ permanent employees."

Green job market heating up

Uncle Sam's environmental protection and resource management agencies were offering 860 new, permanent jobs on the day we checked. To be sure we found them all, we clicked through thousands of listings at USAJOBS and cross-checked 11 agency websites. In addition to permanent jobs, there were hundreds of seasonal, temporary, and internship offerings. Sound good? Not really. For a little perspective, consider that those 860 jobs make up less than one percent of the government's estimated "green" workforce of 150,000+ permanent employees."

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award (ONES) (R01)

: "# The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award is intended to identify outstanding scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and who intend to make a long term career commitment to research in the mission areas of the NIEHS and assist them in launching an innovative research program focusing on problems of environmental exposures and human biology, human pathophysiology and human disease.
# NIEHS intends to commit $3.6 million in total costs in FY2007 to fund approximately 6 new awards. "

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award (ONES) (R01)

: "# The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award is intended to identify outstanding scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and who intend to make a long term career commitment to research in the mission areas of the NIEHS and assist them in launching an innovative research program focusing on problems of environmental exposures and human biology, human pathophysiology and human disease.
# NIEHS intends to commit $3.6 million in total costs in FY2007 to fund approximately 6 new awards. "

Headlines from 1986 - Why don't we hear about acid rain anymore?

"The headlines from 1986 could just as easily pass for those of today. Signs of impending environmental disaster. Industries slow to act. An alarmed public.

Just replace 1986's scourge of ``acid rain'' with today's ``global warming.'' At the time, poisonous sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants were falling as acid rain from the Rockies to the Adirondacks.

The good news, though, is that the government took on the challenge and acted.

Why don't we hear about acid rain anymore? It's because the invisible hand of free-market innovation went to work."

We need rationing and regulation to cut carbon

: "'Information' on climate change is confused and often contradictory, the tax system is barely used for environmental purposes, and ever since the political shock of the fuel tax protests in 2000 it has been hardly touched as a means to deliver better environmental outcomes. The idea of carbon rationing burst into the mainstream last week when the environment secretary, David Miliband, announced his intention to examine the feasibility of a personal carbon allowances scheme."

Full read here

Rutland Herald: Rutland Vermont News & Information

Rutland Herald: Rutland Vermont News & Information: "Climate change threatens both the financial returns of the companies we all invest in and the performance of state and U.S. economies as a whole. That is why, as Vermont's state treasurer, I value my participation in the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a group of more than 50 institutional investors that collectively manage more than $3 trillion in assets.

Just as thousands of scientists around the world have come to confront the complexities and environmental threats to the planet from climate change, businesses are beginning to understand the financial risks and opportunities from a warming world. Many have already taken action.

Last year, global renewable energy investments hit another record high, eclipsing $40 billion. The Kyoto Protocol is leading dozens of industrialized countries — and their businesses — to find ways to reduce pollutants that are trapping heat in the atmosphere. The international treaty has spawned a new carbon cap-and-trade program in Europe that rewards companies for reducing emissions. More than 230 million tons of carbon dioxide were traded in the first year, with a value of more than $5 billion.

Climate change – it’s already here and happening at a frighteningly accelerating pace

The uniform view was that it was basically too late to avoid climate change – it’s already here and happening at a frighteningly accelerating pace – and that it was getting close to being too late to avoid catastrophic planetary damage. The best we can hope for is containing future impact to modest levels, and even this would require a massive and rapid shift to much lower carbon energy. To prevent widespread loss of species and coastal areas, it is suggested that the U.S. will need to reduce the absolute quantity of annual CO2 emissions by 60-80% from today’s levels by 2050 – which frankly seems beyond reach. Failing that, all we can do is become more adaptable as a species to the sweeping global climatic changes that are inevitably forthcoming.

All of which was terribly depressing, seemingly hopeless. Fortunately, the last two days of the conference were a little more inspiring.

The Chair of the conference, NREL’s Chuck Kutscher, asked experts from each of the segments of renewable energy and energy efficiency to quantify the economically/technically plausible deployments of these technologies in the U.S. by 2030, to see if we could get onto a path of 60-80% CO2 reduction by 2050. When each of these independent analyses was added together, the overall conclusion at the closing session was that it was indeed viable for the U.S. to achieve the dramatic emission reductions that are estimated to be necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Environmental advocates, industry groups argue over lawn chemicals' effects on health

JS Online:Turf war: "Whitefish Bay is a sidewalk community," Joyce said. "That's why we moved here. We breathe in these chemicals. We drag them into our houses on our shoes."

Eighty miles away, Dane County and the City of Madison adopted ordinances in 2004 banning lawn care products that contain phosphorus.

Brett Hulsey, a Dane County supervisor and chairman of the county's Lakes and Watershed Commission, said the ban was prompted by health and environmental concerns.

"Three or four years ago, a young man died after swimming in a pond on a golf course that was filled with blue-green algae," Hulsey said, adding that the growth of the algae was associated with the use of fertilizers containing phosphorous.

"Then two or three years ago, a dog died after getting in the same stuff. If a dog - an animal that drinks out of your toilet - dies after swimming in a lake, you have a problem."

Pesticides, the toxic cocktail of pollutants interact.

Body & Health powered by MediResource: ""People think that their food, unless they buy organic, is laced with pesticides," said Peter MacLeod, executive director of CropLife Canada, an industry association of pesticide manufacturers and distributors.

"The truth is that they're not."

Federal inspections in 2004-05 turned up chemical residue in just over 22 per cent of both domestic and imported fresh produce, but at levels lower than the maximum residue limits, the analysis concludes.

Only 0.65 per cent of domestic and 1.1 per cent of imported fresh produce exceeded those levels.

What's important, said MacLeod, is that even when residues were found, they were detected in minute quantities - in the range of parts per million or lower.

While environmentalists and health advocates agree the amounts are tiny, they say it's impossible to be definitive in asserting they pose no health risk, especially when it comes to children.

Some experts worry that some chemicals are unsafe at any level, that many safety standards are out of date, and that Ottawa doesn't test for all chemicals in use.

A key worry is how the toxic cocktail of pollutants interact.

"We are concerned about the health effects of low levels of many different chemicals in a person's body," said Sarah Winterton of the group Environmental Defence.

"We really don't know the health impacts of low-level exposure, particularly within the context of how many different chemicals we are exposed to every day."

Results of a study released by Environmental Defence last month detected a wide array of toxins in the bodies of seven children and six adults from five families living in different parts of Canada.

The chemicals, among them pesticides, PCBs and flame retardants, are known carcinogens, hormone disrupters and neurotoxins.

The disturbing findings prompted Health Canada to announce it would study 5,000 people for signs of pollution-related toxins.

"Pesticides are among the most widely used chemicals in the world, and also among the most dangerous to human health," according to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

"They are a leading cause of poisonings here in Canada and have been estimated to account for thousands of deaths each year globally."

EPA on Clean Air Regulation

: "Agency officials said the EPA and the Bush administration are making progress. By next year, the EPA said, emissions of toxic air will have dropped by 57 percent from 1990 levels due to new standards affecting dozens of types of industrial facilities.

'Environmental progress is similar to a relay race with each administration passing the baton to the next,' EPA spokeswoman Jessica Emond said. 'The Bush administration completed one leg of the race, while accelerating environmental progress for future generations.'"

Jul 26, 2006

Big money gets US$1 Billion Coal Plant

: "Developers of a US$1 billion coal-burning power plant which aims to be the world's cleanest generating facility will build in either Illinois or Texas, US energy officials said on Tuesday. "We are not being critical, we need this technology. But we need to move faster and don't need to take so long to demonstrate it. The private sector is getting to the future faster than FutureGen," said David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center.

With the federal government slated to fund up to US$700 million of the total cost of the project, states have been eager to participate, seeing the plant as a veritable job generator.

In addition to Illinois and Texas, states vying to host the plant were Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado, and West Virginia. Construction could begin in 2009, with operations beginning in 2012, developers said. "

Energy Connections

Record Power Demand Sweeps the United States
The United States has seven regional independent operators of electrical grids, stretching from California to New England, and every one of them experienced record power demand last week. A press release from a group representing the seven regional grid operators notes that the peak power demands reached a level that was 0.9 percent to 4.5 percent higher than in 2005. According to the group, regional grid operators reported a new aggregated peak record of electricity usage of 483,233 megawatts during the extreme heat and high humidity, a full 7,500 megawatts above last year's peak. Despite the high electrical loads, the grid operators were able to maintain adequate reserve margins to avoid rolling blackouts. See the press release on the Midwest Independent System Operator Web site.

Jul 25, 2006

WDNR - DNR News - July 25, 2006

: " Mooove over cream puffs --the Wisconsin State Fair is adding another great tradition for fairgoers: the chance to recycle away from home.

Seventy-two bottled-shaped bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans will be scattered throughout the fair grounds, making it easy for fairgoers to follow the same recycling routine they use at home.

“Wisconsin residents do a great job of recycling aluminum cans and plastic bottles at home, but we find that too many of those containers are discarded with other trash when people travel during the summer and attend special events,” says Cynthia Moore, Department of Natural Resources recycling coordinator. “The recyclable bins at Wisconsin State Fair are an innovative way to help make it easy for people to recycle away from home.”

Wisconsin recycles about 55 percent of the aluminum cans and plastic bottles citizens discard, a higher proportion than in most states but not as high as state recycling officials would like to see.

DNR estimates, almost $20 million worth of plastic bottles and aluminum cans are thrown away every year in Wisconsin, with a good share of them thrown away when people are on the road or at special events like festivals, fairs and concerts, Moore says.

“Keeping aluminum cans and plastic bottles and other recyclable items out of landfills has significant and positive environmental and economic impacts,” she says. “Not only is recycling a good environmental choice, but in Wisconsin it helps our economy grow, it provides thousands of jobs and it help conserve valuable oil.” Recycling one ton of plastic can save 16 barrels of oil. "

Demand for Ethanol May Drive Up Food Prices, Science News Online, July 22, 2006

Science News Online, July 22, 2006: "'The lines between the food economy and the energy economy [are] becoming blurred,' says agricultural economist Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Last week, his organization issued an economic analysis on the subject.

The analysis found an emerging 'competition between the 800 million people who own automobiles and the 2 billion low-income people, many of whom already spend over half their income on food,' Brown says. Furthermore, he says, 'taxpayers may be subsidizing a rise in their own food prices.'

To encourage the use of alternative fuels, U.S. law subsidizes ethanol production at 51 cents per gallon and production of other so-called biofuels at up to $1 per gallon. Those incentives tempt farmers to sell crops to biofuel distilleries or, if they instead sell to food manufacturers, to demand higher prices than they otherwise would.

One-fifth of corn and almost one sixth of the U.S. grain harvest overall goes toward ethanol production, according to the institute's report. And while the world's production of grain will grow by about 20 million tons this year, 70 percent of the increase could be used to generate ethanol for U.S. automobiles, Brown says."

Global Warming -- Signed, Sealed and Delivered - Los Angeles Times

"Earth scientists long believed that humans were insignificant in comparison with the vastness of geological time and the power of geophysical forces. For this reason, many were reluctant to accept that humans had become a force of nature, and it took decades for the present understanding to be achieved. Those few who refuse to accept it are not ignorant, but they are stubborn. They are not unintelligent, but they are stuck on details that cloud the larger issue. Scientific communities include tortoises and hares, mavericks and mules. "

One of the greatest scientist of all time, Isaac Newton, warned against this tendency more than three centuries ago. Writing in "Principia Mathematica" in 1687, he noted that once scientists had successfully drawn conclusions by "general induction from phenomena," then those conclusions had to be held as "accurately or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypothesis that may be imagined…. "

Climate-change deniers can imagine all the hypotheses they like, but it will not change the facts nor "the general induction from the phenomena."

None of this is to say that there are no uncertainties left — there are always uncertainties in any live science. Agreeing about the reality and causes of current global warming is not the same as agreeing about what will happen in the future. There is continuing debate in the scientific community over the likely rate of future change: not "whether" but "how much" and "how soon." And this is precisely why we need to act today: because the longer we wait, the worse the problem will become, and the harder it will be to solve.

Planet Ark : Planned US Coal Plants Would Hike Warming - Group

: "If the more than 150 coal-fired power plants being planned in the United States were built it would boost coal demand 30 percent and raise national emissions of gases thought to cause global warming by 10 percent, according to an advocacy group."

"This list is illustrative of a phenomenon -- which is after years of no coal plants being built, all of a sudden there's a flurry of plans for them," said Rob Sargent, an energy analyst at PIRG. He said that by the 2020s, coal-fired capacity could reach the highest levels in 40 years.

Earth 'on Verge of Major Biodiversity Crisis'

OneWorld U.S. Home / Today's News': "'There is an urgent need to bridge the gap between science and policy to take action,' says a statement from the 19-member group that cautions against the possibility of a 'major biodiversity crisis' facing the Earth.

If governments fail to take appropriate actions in due course of time, the group says it is quite likely that before the end of this century a large number of plant and animal species will have completely disappeared. "

"I would like to call on everyone to join this unprecedented effort to conserve life on Earth," he added.

Finalists to be named for $1 billion power plant of the future

The FutureGen Alliance scheduled an announcement for Tuesday to identify the finalists among 12 sites in seven states vying for the plant. West Virginia is offering 387 acres of state land for the Point Pleasant site it has in play.

FutureGen is a nonprofit collaboration among electric utilities, coal companies and other investors putting up $250 million to design and build the plant. Among the investors are Columbus-based American Electric Power and the U.S. Department of Energy, which is providing $750 million.

Touted as the power plant of tomorrow, FutureGen involves technology that converts coal into highly enriched hydrogen gas that burns more cleanly than coal and would be used to produce electricity for about 275,000 single-family homes.

Plans call for the 275-megawatt plant to capture most of its emissions of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas widely blamed for global warming — and inject them permanently into underground reservoirs, a process called sequestration.

The project would create more than 1,000 construction jobs and as many as 200 jobs at the plant.

The finalists will have to get moving. FutureGen wants to measure the progress of the finalists’ proposals at a meeting next week in Pittsburgh. Environmental impact statements are due in early September, said Jacqueline Bird, the Ohio Coal Development Office director, who is working on that state’s project.

: "$1 billion power plant of the future"

Gore Makes Personal Environmental Appeal

Townhall.com::The News::News Article: "We've fallen into this pattern of consuming more and more and more and I'm part of it, I understand," he said."

Hugg / Sen. Inhofe Compares People Who Believe In Global Warming To ‘The Third Reich’

: "Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) declared that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” and declares that global warming is 'a big lie' Note his tope contributers: The top industries supporting James M. Inhofe are: 1 Oil & Gas $311,208 2 Electric Utilities $180,907 3 Retired $145,771 4 General Contractors $116,611 5 Leadership PACs $100,347 6 Lobbyists $99,741 7 Lawyers/Law Firms $95,372 8 Commercial Banks $79,925 9 Health Professionals $77,550 10 Building Materials & Equipment $75,267 11 Air Transport $75,069 12 Insurance $72,171 13 Automotive $63,250 14 Misc Finance $61,500 15 Defense Aerospace $60,500 16 Real Estate $58,555 17 Business Services $53,766 18 Mining $52,600 19 Pro-Israel $49,300 20 Chemical & Related Manufacturing $47,010"

#1 I've begun a list of these people, so we can use it as a potential database for future lawsuits involving loss of life and property due to negligence and misinformation.

Doctors to Help Prevent Environmental Pollution

Teleosis Institute : Green Health Care - Ecologically Sustainable Medicine

Symbiosis: the Journal of Ecological Medicine is filled with information and answers. Green Health Care provides leadership, advocating for one solutions to complex environmental issues, shift to sustainable medical practices. Medicine must be good for people and the environment.

Joel Kreisberg, DC, MA Executive Director

Texas Tops in Wind Energy Production

News from The Associated Press: "Texas capacity stands at 2,370 megawatts, enough to power 600,000 average-sized homes a year, according to a midyear report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association.

That puts Texas slightly ahead of California, the nation's leader since 1981. California has 2,323 megawatts of capacity. The total U.S. capacity is 9,971 megawatts."

Hundreds of Wis. Bass Found Dead After Meet

News from The Associated Press: ""If we are killing the fish, we definitely want to know why," he said. "However, I also should point out that there's a bass-fishing tournament in La Crosse every weekend, and when's the last time you saw this many dead? After last year's tournament (which was the first year of the study)."

Perhaps the way the DNR conducted the study was a factor, Stellner said.

The agency put about 100 fish a day in 8-by-8-foot holding pens on the Black River. An equal number of tournament-caught fish and fish culled from the wild using electroshocking were kept for a side-by-side comparison."

Four tons of crude oil has spilled from an Exxon pipeline

United Press International -: "The spill occurred Saturday, but the media was not informed of the event until Monday. As soon as the spill was detected, Exxon Neftegaz officials say, the pipeline was turned off and the site of the spill localized."

After deaths - BP chief to step down

United Press International: "The Wall Street Journal reports it is the same plant where 15 contractors were killed in a March 2005 explosion and where numerous safety violations took place, resulting in $21.4 million in fines."

Jul 24, 2006

Oil lobby blames gov't for record gas cost

: "Murphy said ethanol mandates, instead of the free-market approach, along with government prerogatives like gasoline price-gouging legislation, 'exacerbate' the already high prices.

U.S. ethanol producers enjoy both tax subsidies and a tariff on imports, but the increased demand for ethanol now competes for corn with industries feeding humans and animals.

'The rush to ethanol is a competing demand to food and feeding from grain we produce in this country,' said Fritz Corrigan, president and chief executive officer of Mosaic.

Ethanol is primarily made from corn, though a more sustainable and diverse feedstock is expected in the near future if enough research and development and adequate technological advances are gained.

MTBE, a more popular and less expensive alternative to ethanol, is being voluntarily phased out now amid fears of lawsuits from leaks into groundwater, and is banned by many states.

That alone has created more demand for ethanol, bolstered further by requirements in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to double ethanol sales by 2012, according to a report by the Lundberg Survey, a market research company focused on the U.S. petroleum industry.

Ethanol has been pushed heavily as a way to lessen U.S. dependence on oil. Ethanol was first subsidized in 1978 and is currently empowered by the high prices and slow, but growing, commitment of automakers to create more vehicles that can run on E85 -- 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

In tandem with the Chamber's message, the moderator and panelists said prices would drop and energy security would be bolstered if domestic supply was increased.

Jul 23, 2006

Occupational Health & Safety - The National Magazine for Safety, Ergonomic, and Occupational Health Professionals

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell conducted an alternatives assessment comparing the five chemicals with approximately 100 alternatives within 16 applications. For example, formaldehyde, a known cause of cancer in humans and used by beauty and barber shops as a sanitizer, was compared to two alternatives -- ultraviolet light cabinets and storing implements in a dry, disinfected covered container without formaldehyde.

According to the researchers, alternatives to toxic chemicals included drop-in chemical substitutes, material substitutes, changes to manufacturing operations, changes to component/product design, and other technological or market solutions.

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | This trade in carbon emissions won't combat global warming

"It is questionable whether carbon emissions trading will bring a certifiable reduction. As now embodied in the EU emissions trading scheme, fossil- fuel-burning companies such as power utilities, steelworks or cement factories are granted substantial carbon credits that they can sell - on the basis that they have emitted less than expected. That may provide some incentive to look to more efficient technologies, but the assumption is that someone elsewhere, even in another country, is going to buy that credit in order to pollute.

In addition, the use of tradeable carbon units combined with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) - whereby the Kyoto signatories from industrialised nations can invest in emission-reduction projects in developing countries - has huge potential for environmental damage and fraud."

NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Protection

NASA’s New York TimesIn early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted. In this year’s budget and planning documents, the agency’s mission is “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”

But the change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the “understand and protect” phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities. Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

“We refer to the mission statement in all our research proposals that go out for peer review, whenever we have strategy meetings,” said Philip B. Russell, a 25-year NASA veteran who is an atmospheric chemist at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “As civil servants, we’re paid to carry out NASA’s mission. When there was that very easy-to-understand statement that our job is to protect the planet, that made it much easier to justify this kind of work.”

Several NASA researchers said they were upset that the change was made at NASA headquarters without consulting the agency’s 19,000 employees"

Lack of water, energy 'could cause war' - Breaking News - National - Breaking News

Despite an increasing lack of resources "we are still acting in a very wasteful way".

"This is of great concern. It is a problem that basically comes down to the future of mankind," he said.

Mr Gorbachev said by 2020 the "water crisis" would spread across half the world, leaving many countries without drinking water and proper sanitation.

"This kind of situation could only result in a global cataclysm," he said.

"The position of Green Cross International calls for accelerated use of renewable sources of energy, in particular solar energy,"

"At the same time, we are calling for serious and effective steps to more efficiently use the traditional sources of energy."

Say NO to bottled water

"We are what we drink. But how much good is it doing us or the planet? "

But while the summer may be boosting the fortunes of water companies, concerns are growing at the environmental costs of producing and transporting bottled water, not to mention what happens to the millions of bottles used - many of which end up on landfill sites.

According to the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, most containers for bottled water are made from non-degradable plastics and are not recycled. This results in an estimated 500,000 tons of plastic waste being dumped each year which can take hundreds of years to break down.

The cost is not only limited to the production process. More than 22 million tons of bottled water is transported around the world each year, with a resulting cost in carbon emissions.

Jul 21, 2006

Cost of food grows to 18m tons of carbon dioxide

"The figures will heighten concern about the damage done by the supermarkets' policy of flying in products like sweetcorn from Thailand, prawns from Ecuador, or apples from New Zealand. They are also a blow to the Government's commitment - made in its Food Industry Sustainability Strategy earlier this year - to cut the social and environmental costs of food miles on 1990 levels by 20 per cent by 2012.

Environmental campaigners said the figures showed ministers should be doing more to curb emissions of carbon dioxide (Co2), which causes climate change, which has been blamed for this summer's extreme heat."

Gas Escaping From Ocean Floor May Drive Global Warming

Gas escaping from the ocean floor may provide some answers to understanding historical global warming cycles and provide information on current climate changes, according to a team of scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The findings are reported in the July 20 on-line version of the scientific journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

Atmospheric methane is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is the most abundant organic compound in the atmosphere, according to the study's authors, all from UC Santa Barbara.

"Other people have reported this type of methane blowout, but no one has ever checked the numbers until now," said Ira Leifer, lead author and an associate researcher with UCSB's Marine Science Institute. "Ours is the first set of numbers associated with a seep blowout." Leifer was in a research boat on the surface at the time of the blowouts.

The distribution of methane hydrates throughout the world is so vast that energy companies hope one day to tap the resource. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that such formations could harbor as much as 200,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Jul 20, 2006


A zero-waste society is a concept that many people have talked about, but is it feasible? Just about everything in our society is designed to be disposable, single-use, or discarded one day in favor of something newer and better. With this mindset, can we ever create a sustainable zero-waste society? I think so.. if we take steps to reduce our needless consumption, but also redefine what we think of as “waste”.

Step 1: Use less packaging

Step 2: Use biodegradable materials for all short-term uses

Step 3: Compost as much as possible

Step 4: Use reusable containers whenever possible

Step 5: Recycle

Step 6: Design products for their entire lifespan

Step 7: Effectively dispose of the non-usable leftovers

I envision a future where there are public waste receptacles that accept recyclables, compostables, and used products to be sent back to the manufacturers. Robots could sort the materials and transport it to the proper location for processing, handling everything from emptying street bins to sorting bottles inside the recycling facility to delivering cleaned bottles back to food production locations, and delivering finished compost to farms or parks. With proper product design, any product disposed of in a public place would go into one of these 3 places. There would be similar sorting in the home, with the addition of a sanitary waste disposal for items to be burned or otherwise destroyed. There wouldn’t need to be any thinking involved, as the infrastructure, economic model and product design would ensure proper disposal, and as more products and materials adopted this system, we would finally approach a truly zero-waste society.

Al Gore - Hired Guns Aim to Confuse

"'There is a line between public relations and propaganda - or there should be. And there is a difference between using your skills, in good faith, to help rescue a battered reputation and using them to twist the truth - to sow confusion and doubt on an issue that is critical to human survival. And it is infuriating - as a public relations professional - to watch my colleagues use their skills, their training and their considerable intellect to poison the international debate on climate change.'

Well said, Jim. His blog makes fascinating reading. It names names and follows the money trail - often leading back to big U.S. conservative organizations and fossil fuel giants. Jim's making it his mission to expose the liars and the frauds and he's doing a pretty good job.

Al Gore was right, the people do have to be engaged before politicians will listen. But engaging the people sometimes requires clearing the air first. Take the Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org. "

Senate Committee is trying to suggest scientists play by the rules of politicians

The Senate Committee is trying to suggest scientists play by the rules of politicians (God help us were that the case). These elected officials would like the public to believe that a $250,000 gift from an ethically-challenged lobbyist is the same as a $250,000 grant from a foundation headed by a politician’s wife. It’s simply not the case, but as Rennie points out, they’ll bend the truth over backwards to fit their world view.

We’ll close on a related quote from Hansen that Rennie highlighted in his post.

Jul 19, 2006

Half-Baked Smears against Climatologists

"Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as 'synfuels,' shale oil and tar sands were receiving strong consideration. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions. Scenarios that accurately fit recent and near-future observations have the best chance of bringing all of the important players into the discussion, and they also are what is needed for the purpose of providing policy-makers the most effective and efficient options to stop global warming."

Will Europe Freeze Over?

Seager also takes issue with the usual interpretation of the Younger Dryas, a cold snap that struck the North Atlantic region 12,900 years ago. It is typically ascribed to a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation brought on by the collapse of a glacial dam, which released a pulse of fresh water, squelching the "haline" aspect of the circulation. Seager argues that the cooling predated the dam collapse.

Read more here

Jul 18, 2006

Car and Truck Fuel Economy Worse Than 18 Years Ago

Model year 2006 cars and light trucks are the fastest and heaviest since 1975, yet they average the same 21.0 miles per gallon they got last year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) annual fuel economy trends report released today.

But the 21.0 mpg average fuel economy for cars and light trucks is five percent lower than the average fuel economy peak value of 22.1 mpg achieved in 1987-1988."

Jul 17, 2006

Great job for a quality safety professional to fill a full-time Safety Specialist position.

Please Pass On This Great Opportunity -
Midwest Airlines, based in Oak Creek, WI is looking for a quality safety
professional to fill a full-time Safety Specialist position. The pay and
benefits are competitive and this is a great career opportunity to make a
real difference in safety. With 2000 plus employees, it is imperative that
Midwest finds a strong safety leader. Please refer anyone you know who
might be interested to www.midwestairlines.com for details about the
position and how to apply.


Christopher A. Haase

Wal-Mart Warms to a Green Outlook

The retailer is working hard to polish its image but environmental groups have mixed reviews.

Read the L.A. Times article in the Chicago Tribune.

Environmental Politics Could Divide Evangelicals

Associated Press: Southern Baptists are worried that environmental politics could divide evangelical Christians and distract them from their higher calling to spread the gospel. So not long after two influential evangelical groups disagreed publicly over global warming, the Southern Baptist Convention approved its own resolution on the environment at its annual meeting in June. The resolution urges Southern Baptists to be stewards of the environment, but not to align with "extreme ...

The day we become silent about things that matter

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.

"What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient, but restless mind, of sacrificing one's ease or vanity, of uniting a love of detail to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully."
Charles Victor Cherbuliez

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself."
Eleanor Roosevelt

What You Need to Know About Climate Change

"Tom Brokaw has the answer: an overwhelming preponderance of evidence. "

"these are extreme scenarios that some suspect are used just to galvanize public opinion. These few remaining skeptics, led by Senator James Inhofe, impugn Mr. Brokaw's objectivity by noting in a press release that he nearly got a job in the Clinton cabinet and that two of the scientists he interviews actively supported John Kerry in the last presidential election. He also points to James Hansen's article in our March 2004 issue as a confession of just such a manipulation. Unfortunately that confession seems to be missing from the actual article."

Fortunately, websites like Spencer Weart's outlining the discovery of global warming can fill in those gaps.

And for those interested in the hard science there is always Real Climate or, dare I suggest it, this very blog. After all, my colleague George Musser has been patiently answering the skeptic's arguments for months now. That may be a hard road; as Upton Sinclair famously noted: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Read more here:

U.S. and Russia launch major nukes deal

United Press International: "Nuclear energy is not a timely or cost-effective way to reduce our carbon emissions to address global climate change,' Michele Boyd, head of the Public Citizen's Energy Program, which lobbies Congress on energy issues, said ahead of the summit in a statement. 'Nuclear reactors are extremely expensive and take many years to build. They require massive government subsidies that will monopolize funding that instead should be used to develop strategically diverse energy solutions, such as efficiency measures and renewable sources that would quickly reduce carbon emissions.'"

Jul 14, 2006

Celebrity Spokeswoman? Ann Curry Hypes Hybrids, Ethanol | NewsBusters.org

In a segment narrated by NBC reporter Lisa Daniels, the formula was followed to a 't' again this morning by the Today show, with one notable innovation: co-host Ann Curry used the occasion to work in an endorsement of hybrid cars and ethanol.

Before detailing Ann's intervention, one other item of note. An 'inconvenient truth' managed to sneak into the segment. Oil industry expert Trilby Lundberg of The Lundberg Survey let slip that "we're just six cents under the real high, the inflation-adjusted high, of March '81 in today's dollars." Wha-t-t-t? You mean after four years of Jimmy Carter gas prices were actually higher than they are today in real terms and began to head down under Ronald Reagan!?

In any case, at the end of the segment, when things were thrown back to the studio for some parting shots by the hosts, Ann Curry weighed in with this bit of endorsement-by-way-of-commentary:

UPDATE 1-Ethanol boom could hurt world's poor - expert | Reuters.com

UPDATE 1-Ethanol boom could hurt world's poor - expert | Reuters.com: "'What gets lost in this debate is the fact that supply is rising at a near parallel rate with demand,' Geoff Cooper, spokesman for the National Corn Growers Association, said in an e-mail.

Cooper agreed that expected ethanol demand has helped boost corn prices, but said that today's prices were comparable to those seen in the 1970s, the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He also said that as grain prices rise, it spurs corn farmers to grow more.

Brown said instead of making more conventional ethanol, vehicle fuel consumption should be boosted, through higher vehicle mileage and the manufacturing of gasoline-electric hybrid cars.

An emerging high-tech fuel called cellulosic ethanol made from tough woody plants, such as switchgrass and poplar, that grow on land unfit for farming, could also be part of the solution, said Brown."

Oil crisis? And we can't do anything about that, either.

"The dirtiest internal combustion engines on the planet, give or take a cylinder, belong to lawn mowers. Yes, lawnmowers. Gallon for gallon they spew out 93 times the smog-forming emissions of cars. Two percent of the aggregate smog-forming pollution that hovers over California much of the year, for example, is attributable to mowers.

Regulators say there's a fix for this - $25 catalytic converters that would cut daily emissions in California alone by 22 tons, as much as 800,000 cars would produce. But can we make manufacturers install them? No. Efforts to do so have been blocked by powerful senators with lawn mower factories in their states."

Oil crisis? StarNewsOnline.com NC:

Doom and gloom abound in report on Earth's future

Yet amid the gloom and doom, Vital Signs offers more than a few nuggets of hope for those not terminally pessimistic about the planet's prospects.

One of the most promising is the stunning growth in alternative forms of energy. Global wind power capacity jumped 24 per cent in 2005 alone, according to Worldwatch, and has more than tripled since 2000.

Wind energy generation now totals nearly 60,000 megawatts and could reach 271,500 megawatts by 2015, according to one projection. (By comparison, nuclear power now supplies about 369,000 megawatts of electrical power worldwide.)

Solar power is growing even faster. In 2005 alone, global production of photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity from sunlight, grew by 45 per cent. Cumulative production, at 6,090 megawatts, has expanded by an average of 33 per cent a year since 2000.

Biofuel production has also hit a gusher. Ethanol production jumped 19 per cent last year, while production of biodiesel, derived from plant oils, shot up 60 per cent.

Even Mr. Flavin is impressed. "Signs are now growing that the world is on the verge of an energy revolution," he says.

There's also some good news in the transportation sector, despite the addition of 45.6 million new passenger cars, an unhappy record, to the world's fleet of automobiles in 2005.

World bicycle production increased nearly nine per cent, to 101 million units, in 2003, the latest year for which global data are available. Sales of electric bicycles have been especially robust, reaching 10.5 million units last year, a 79-fold increase in the past decade. Almost all were sold in China.

Technology: EcoSavior Water Heater - Saving Money and Environment

Has anyone ever heard of this?
This home hot water heater claims to have a Heating Efficiency of 370%???

My guess is they are using the "Peltier–Seebeck effect" similar to current 12volt heating/cooling devices.
Great idea... if it works.

Let me know if you have heard of anyone who has bought this heater.

Thanks, Chris

Site link:
EcoSavior Water Heater - Saving Money and Environment,

Jul 13, 2006

“Gore Praises Wal-Mart for Sustainability Plans”

At first I thought this post was a joke…

“Gore Praises Wal-Mart for Sustainability Plans”


The demigod of consumable & disposable society…

Simply reading any definition of what “Sustainability“ is


Know for driving the outsourcing of American raw materials, manufacturing and labor, how could anyone read any article and believe Wal-Mart has anything to do with “sustainability”.

While I will applaud any organization or individual for making a positive change, sustainability is a lifetime commitment and not a one time marketing ploy.

The demigod of consumable & disposable society should be used as a poor example at best.

Sustainability is not about what a company is doing today to “green market” eco-conscious consumers, it is about social responsibility and commitment to protect people and their ecosystems.

Wal-Mart has done neither…

I didn’t read the whole article as I do not have the stomach for it.


Jul 12, 2006

Ethanol Not So Green After All?

High gas prices, the threat of shrinking oil reserves, and global warming guilt are driving interest in ethanol, biodeisel, and other biofuels—energy sources produced from agricultural plant matter rather than fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

(Photo: Gas station charges "an arm and a leg.")

But can biofuels really replace petroleum products? And are they really better for the environment than fossil fuels?

Soybean-based biodiesel is more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels, a new study says.

Corn-grain ethanol, however—currently touted in a General Motors ad campaign titled "Live Green, Go Yellow"—is not.

"There are surprisingly large environmental impacts for corn-grain ethanol," said Jason Hill, a biologist with the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.

(Related: "Ethanol More Energy Efficient Than Thought, Study Says" [January 26, 2006].)

Hill is the lead author of the analysis reported today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study evaluated what Hill and colleagues call the three E's of biofuels—their environmental impact, the energy recovered from them, and their economic viability in the marketplace.

According to the analysis, significantly less fertilizer and pesticide are required to grow soybeans than corn.

In addition, soybean biodiesel produces 93 percent more energy than is expended in its creation. Corn-grain ethanol produces only 25 percent more.

And when compared with fossil fuels, biodiesel produces 41 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, while ethanol produces 12 percent fewer.

Biodiesel, rendering plant may have energy solution

A biodiesel and rendering plant in southwest Minnesota believes it has found an answer to the problem.

Farmers Union Industries LLC and Home Farms Technologies USA Inc. inked a thermal energy contract on June 26. For at least the next 20 years, Farmers Union Industries will partially power its biodiesel and rendering plants with steam generated from a $35 million waste-to-energy power plant.

Steam will be produced by the gasification of garbage shipped by truck and rail from counties in southwest and south central Minnesota and also from the Twin Cities. The power station will also be designed to accept corn stover as feedstock fuel. Groundbreaking for the plant is planned for spring 2007.

Farmers Union Industries President Don Davis said the waste-to-energy plant would decrease natural gas use at the 3-million-gallon biodiesel plant by up to 60 percent.

"With all the unrest in the world, especially in the oil producing parts of the world, seeing cheap crude in the future is far-fetched," Davis said.

Davis said it only makes sense to use a renewable fuel source when producing a renewable fuel like biodiesel in an effort to replace fossil fuel dependency. The plant is burning animal fat in some of its boilers in order to cut energy costs. The Farmers Union Industries processing plant makes biodiesel from soybean oil and animal fat.

The idea of a waste-to-energy plant has been kicked around in southwest Minnesota for a couple of decades, first in Lyon County and most recently in Redwood County with a proposed plant near Lamberton. Those proposals never came to be. The difference now, Davis said, is that high and unpredictable natural gas prices have made a plant more feasible.

"It's going to be one of the first plants like this in the United States. There are few plants similar to this," Davis said.

The plant structure includes municipal solid waste material recovery facilities at the Twin Cities and Redwood Falls. Davis said communities that participate in providing solid waste to the plant would significantly reduce landfill waste and increasingly cumbersome expansion costs.

Davis also said waste haulers will pay reasonable tipping fees, which has always been a sticking point for such facilities.

Global warming is a “bipartisan”, “chicken and egg” debate that has gone on for decades...

There are many strong political tactics being used
to manipulate the next voting cycle beyond a "reasonable" party or candidate

Scientist and environmentalist need to take action to make our
democracy work during the next election.

The general public needs to
know what the motives are behind the “reactive” climate reports.

Political “green actions” are volatile and never sustainable. Global warming
is a “bipartisan”, “chicken and egg” debate that has gone on for decades...

It is vital to our existence that we continue to work on sustainable
solutions that are proven to work. Utilizing politically based paranoia &
pseudo science tactics will undermine and continue to divert billions of
dollars away from critical environmental & energy programs that are confirmed
to work.

The articles below exemplify this devastating political
debate and more money wasted.

Imagine if the Millions spent on just the
publication, circulation and promotion of these shows went towards
environmental education a tangible energy programs or current technology?

ANY environmental or energy engineer would tell you that this kind money
diverted to scientific development could have a revolutionary impact in
resolving the real problems in our short lifetimes.

Hey but, I
can't bitch cause I don't vote ;-)


Senate Committee Issues Fatwa on Brokaw

Segueing from the last post (on the Senate Committee on Environment and
Public Works’ attack on An Inconvenient Truth) the Committee has struck
again. Today it attacked former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw on, of all
things, a Discovery Channel program he’ll be hosting on Sunday. The
Committee Majority’s release
is thin on science but is alarmingly rich
with reactionary paranoia.

The Senators embarrass themselves and their
committee with this attack on Brokaw (and Al Gore, James Hansen, Michael
Oppenheimer, and “Hollywood activist Leonardo DiCaprio”). The 860-word
assault haphazardly tosses assertion and conjecture at Brokaw and his
sources, hoping something will stick:

For example,
Brokaw presents NASA’s James Hansen as an authority on climate change
without revealing to viewers the extensive political and financial ties
that Hansen has to Democratic Party partisans. Hansen, the director of the
agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, received a $250,000 grant
from the charitable foundation headed by former Democrat Presidential
candidate John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

There’s a
lot more like that, as the Senators attempt to write off the findings of
three well-respected scientists as being purely partisan motivated. Their
main thesis is that the show fails to include a wide-enough range of
opinions. Curiously, in the attack’s one scientific nugget, the Senators
rely on only one scientist, and one factoid, in their attempt to discredit
Brokaw and the broadcast.

To paraphrase New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, this attack is not science, it’s political science.

Change: What You Need to Know
” airs on the Discovery Channel Sunday,
July 16 and will be repeated Saturday, July 22.


Northern Perspective

In a
guest column
for the Toronto Star, a Canadian chemist makes some nice
outside-the-border observations about the venom being spat at An
Inconvenient Truth.

The U.S. right wing has reacted
venomously to this movie made by the former Democratic contender for
president. On June 27, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public
Works released a statement that included quotes such as, Gore’s “arguments
are so weak they are pathetic,” “a propaganda crusade … mostly based on
junk science” and “this man is an embarrassment to U.S. science … ”

Step back a moment. First of all, in Canada, can you imagine Environment
Canada issuing an official denunciation of a movie? Since when do
government members review films? Second, bear in mind the substance of the
film. If Gore had declared the end of gravity, or claimed DNA to be
optional, he couldn’t have been condemned any more baldly — his critics
have exhausted the dictionary of abuse.

This last
observation is especially well-noticed. Rather than discuss the substance of
what scientists and their champions are saying, skeptics like the Senate
Committee continue to prefer smoke and handwaving. In their effort to make
their argument sound strong, they are painting themselves into a reactionary
rhetorical corner. And it’s getting more bizarre and paranoid each day.


Jul 11, 2006

Least Green Machines - Forbes.com

View a slide show of the least environmentally friendly new cars.

Click here to see the greenest cars on the market.

Pickups and SUVs dominate our first-ever ranking of the market's least environmentally friendly vehicles.
Bill Ford, chairman and chief executive of Ford Motor, frequently touts the company's environmental friendliness. Ford was the first American car company to offer a gas/electric hybrid vehicle that could run on electricity alone (the Escape Hybrid SUV), and 10.4 acres of plants grow on the roof of the automaker's Dearborn Truck Plant.

But our first-ever ranking of the least environmentally friendly new cars isn't just dominated by pickups and SUVs; five of the seven cars on our list are made by Ford Motor

Chile's capital, home to some of Latin America's foulest air

Low rainfall this year has aggravated air quality in the Santiago metro area, home to about 6 million people.

"The smog is worse all the time and kids with allergies have a really bad reaction. You have to take them to the hospital every two weeks with pneumonia, bronchitis, laryngitis," said 39-year-old Jenny Lamey, a mother of three, carrying her coughing baby in the emergency room at San Borja Hospital in Santiago.
Among Latin America's most polluted cities

Santiago's geography does not help matters. The city sits in a dusty, arid bowl up against the Andes, a wall of mountains that inhibit air circulation.

Low rainfall this year has aggravated air quality, and since January Santiago officials have declared 14 alerts, when air pollution reaches the lower end of a potentially dangerous range, making 2006 the most polluted year since 2003.


Clean energy projects make money, GREEN GREED on the rise!

Clean energy projects make money, according to an author of a book on funds.

"This is a pure trading mentality, not an altruistic value of saving the world," said Fusaro, co-principal of New York-based consultancy Energy Hedge Fund Center LLC.

Editor note:


Keep your heart & wallet in your pocket, Invest in your state & community business’s and donate locally and to the "red cross" when possible.

While you may not die with the most money… you will die richer with a big heart and a clean soul knowing you have helped yourself and others along the way.

`Green' Companies Might Cost You Your Green

There are hundreds of shades of gray when it comes to green energy firms. Some are packaged in mutual funds that have verdant names, but don't track solar, biofuel and other alternative power companies well.

The anything-but-petroleum energy frenzy has driven stock prices of some hyped companies into overdrive. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement over alternative energy. More than 50 ethanol plants are under construction as part of an expected $60 billion surge of total capital spending in green energy this year, up from $48 billion last year, according to New Energy Finance Ltd., a research firm in London, which predicts the renewable energy business will grow from a ``25 billion to a $100 billion industry worldwide over the next decade.''

Read full here

Planet-friendly changes do not necessarily mean a lifestyle compromise.

Want to save the planet? Start by turning out the light

Unusual heat waves and floods will become more common as global warming advances, but everyone has the power to turn back its effects, a leading international climate scientist says.

"When you look at greenhouse gas emissions, it's made up of an enormous number of decisions day in and day out by a huge number of people.

But the planet's doom is not inevitable. "If we cause it, we can stop causing it. It requires global change in the way we think about our role in the planet.

"I want us to get away from the debate where if we don't have these intense fossil fuel energy systems, we're going to go backwards.

"There are a lot of little things you can do. You can turn off the lights when you're not using them." Doing so would save significant power, he said.

"We have to get over that debate. Let's think of alternative futures that are attractive, that people want to live and they would enjoy living in, and yet, vastly reduce the amount of these gases. I think we can do it."

Enviromission Solar Tower power generation

The Solar Tower technology is not simply solar energy. Solar Tower technology is created when the sun’s radiation is used to heat a large body of air, which is then forced by the laws of physics (hot air rises) to move as a hot wind through large turbines to generate electricity.

A solar thermal power station using Solar Tower technology will create the conditions to cause hot wind to flow continuously through its turbines to generate enough electricity to power about 200,000 homes.

For more information about the project see the Enviromission website at www.enviromission.com.au or you can contact the company direct.

We already have technologies to cut carbon

MANY -- promise technological salvation: hydrogen fuel cells, ethanol distilled from grass, solar power, windmills, whatever. It's more fun to call for whiz-bang technologies than regulations and taxes. But it's also dishonest.

Companies are drilling for natural gas in the North Sea are starting to capture the carbon dioxide they release and inject it back under the sea floor. Because the United States lacks a carbon tax, natural gas drillers in this country have less incentive to do that. Meanwhile the Energy Department reports that there are plans to build 150 new coal-fired power plants in the United States, enough to generate power for 93 million homes.

Please read in full here (good viewpoint)

EPA Proposes Revised Rule For Lead In Drinking Water

On July 6, EPA proposed regulatory changes to the existing national primary drinking water regulations (NPDWRs) for lead and copper.

According to the agency, the revisions would:
* Enhance the implementation of the and Copper Rule (LCR) in the areas of monitoring, treatment, customer awareness, lead service line replacement
* Improve compliance with the public education requirements of the LCR and ensure drinking water consumers receive meaningful, timely and useful information needed to help them limit their exposure to lead in drinking water.

The LCR has four basic requirements:
1. Require water suppliers to optimize their treatment system to control corrosion in customer's plumbing.
2. Determine tap water levels of lead and copper for customers who have lead service lines or lead-based solder in their plumbing system.
3. Rule out the source water as a source of significant lead levels.
4. If lead action levels are exceeded, require the suppliers to educate their customers about lead and suggest actions they can take to reduce their exposure to lead through public notices and public education programs.

Better way to make Making Diesel Fuel, Industrial Chemicals - (HMF) hydroxymethylfurfural

Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) chemical and biological engineering professor, reported in the June 30 issue of the journal Science on a better way to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) from fructose: fruit sugar. HMF can be converted into plastics, diesel-fuel additive, or even diesel fuel itself, but is seldom used because it is costly to make.

The new process goes beyond making fuel from plants to make industrial chemicals from plants. "Trying to understand how to use catalytic processes to make chemicals and fuel from biomass is a growing area," said Dumesic, who directed the HMF research. "Instead of using the ancient solar energy locked up in fossil fuels, we are trying to take advantage of the carbon dioxide and modern solar energy that crop plants pick up."
"This process is really important because it does not introduce additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," Roman-Leshkov said.

Doyle announces energy goals

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Jim Doyle announced new energy goals for the state Friday, calling for 25 percent of Wisconsin's electricity and 25 percent of transportation fuel to come from renewable sources by 2025.

Doyle's plan to achieve those goals includes boosting ethanol production, making several University of Wisconsin System campuses self-sufficient and handing out grants to businesses working on biofuel technology.

The governor's plan calls for:

-Identifying at least three UW campuses that can generate enough energy themselves to be self-sufficient within five years.

-Doling out $1 million in grants to state businesses developing bioenergy, bioproducts and biofuel technology.

-Seeking federal and state grants for installing ethanol gas pumps around the state.

-Creating a biodiesel association in the state.

-Seeking changes in the next federal farm bill to encourage the growth of alternative fuels and feedstocks for biomass production.

-Launching an interagency effort called the Wisconsin Energy Independence Project to coordinate state government's work toward reaching the goals.

-Tripling the state's ethanol production.

Doyle said in a statement he also wants Wisconsin to capture 10 percent of the market for renewable energy sources by 2030 - a move that would bring the state an additional $13.5 billion annually, he said.


Tom Hanks Talks Electric Car On Letterman

MMSD dumps 190,000 gallons of sewage

Heavy rains resulted in the dumping of untreated sewage in two areas Sunday, Bill Graffin, a spokesman for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, said this morning. An estimated 140,000 gallons of sewage were dumped into Lake Michigan at Bay View Park beginning at about 8:30 p.m. The area has had problems in the past and a $10 million, two-year sewer expansion project is expected to begin this fall. Graffin said the rainfall in the area was estimated at close to 3 inches in a very short time. The second dumping occurred in the Honey Creek at Wisconsin Ave. in Wauwatosa. An estimated 50,000 gallons were dumped at about the same time Sunday. Rainfall estimates were between 3.13 and 3.47 inches. Graffin said there were reports that soil and seed in the flood management control area of Hart Park had washed out.

By mrohde@journalsentinel.com ( Marie Rohde )


EXTINCTION CRISIS FOR AMPHIBIANS / Frogs, toads and other species dying off -- new fungus magnifies environmental problems

"Frogs, toads and other species dying off -- new fungus magnifies environmental problems"

At least one-third of the world's known amphibians are threatened by the combination of attacks, and up to 122 species have become extinct within the past 25 years, the international team of specialists is reporting in today's edition of the journal Science.

"Amphibian declines and extinctions are global and rapid," 50 of the world's leading specialists on water-dwelling animals declared in a joint report. At least 427 species are "critically endangered," they said.

The fungus was discovered in Australia and Panama only eight years ago and since then has spread across Europe and both the Americas, causing skin infections called chytrid disease in every amphibian species it attacks. The death rate from the infections is 100 percent, biologists have found. The disease, they concluded, "causes catastrophic mortality in amphibian populations, and subsequent extinctions."

Ethanol Won't Solve Energy Problems

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ethanol is far from a cure-all for the nation's energy problems. It's not as environmentally friendly as some supporters claim and would supply only 12 percent of U.S. motoring fuel - even if every acre of corn were used.

As far as alternative fuels are concerned, biodiesel from soybeans is the better choice compared with corn-produced ethanol, University of Minnesota researchers concluded in an analysis Monday.

But "neither can replace much petroleum without impacting food supplies," the researchers concluded in the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper said development of nonfood materials such as switchgrass, prairie grasses and woody plants to produce cellulosic ethanol would be a major improvement with greater energy output and lower environmental impacts.

But creation of cellulosic ethanol remains in the laboratory research stage. And even nonfood sources of ethanol would fall far short of replacing gasoline, most researchers agree.

Biofuels such as ethanol are "not a practical long-term solution," and their widespread use - even from nonfood crop sources - could have a "devastating" impact on agriculture, two researchers at the Magleve Research Center of the Polytechnic University of New York, argued recently.

"Ethanol from 300 million acres of switchgrass still could not supply our present gasoline and diesel consumption, which is projected to double by 2025," the researchers, James Jordan and James Powell, wrote in an op-ed article in the Washington Post. "The agricultural effects of such a large-scale program would be devastating."

As a motor fuel, ethanol from corn produces a modest 25 percent more energy than is consumed - including from fossil fuels - in growing the corn, converting it into ethanol and shipping it for use in gasoline.

While often touted as a "green" environmentally friendly fuel, corn-based ethanol's life cycle environmental impacts are mixed as best, the researchers said.

Compared with gasoline, it produces 12 percent less "greenhouse" gasses linked to global warming, according to the study. But the researchers also said it has environmental drawbacks, including "markedly greater" releases of nitrogen, phosphorous and pesticides into waterways as runoff from corn fields. Ethanol, especially at higher concentrations in gasoline, also produce more smog-causing pollutants than gasoline per unit of energy burned, the researchers said.

"There's a lot of green in the money that's going into ethanol, but perhaps not so much green is coming out as far as the environment," said Hill, the lead author, in a telephone interview.

Jul 10, 2006

U.S. Demand for Organic Food Exceeds Supply - Health News | Current Health News | Medical News

"If organic is something created in the image of sustainable agriculture, we certainly haven't accomplished that yet," said Urvashi Rangan, a scientist for Consumers Union. "What people do have to understand is if that stuff comes in from overseas, and it's got an organic label on it, it had to meet USDA standards in order to get here."

The issue causes mixed feelings for Travis Forgues, an organic dairy farmer in Vermont.

"I don't like the idea of it coming in from out of this country, but I don't want them to stop growing organic because of that," Forgues said. "I want people to say, 'Let's do that here, give a farmer another avenue to make a livable wage.'"

"Anybody who's helping to take toxins out of the biosphere and use less poisonous chemicals in agriculture is a hero of mine," Hirshberg said. "There's enormous opportunity here for everybody to win, large and small."

New Act Could Ban Dangerous Pesticides

Pesticide manufacturers have often fought regulation on the grounds that there is often no "conclusive" proof that their products harm human or environmental health. But when it comes to human health, surely extensive evidence should be enough. And the evidence is indeed extensive. According to a recent paper published in the Annals of Neurology, for example, exposure to pesticides - even at low levels - can increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 70 percent.

Unlike some legislation that sounds good on paper, but is rendered ineffective due to political loopholes (the Species At Risk Act comes to mind), this legislation looks like it should do exactly as it was intended - help keep some of the worst poisons out of our food chain, our water supplies and our bodies.

The Biofuel Illusion

Fuel from plants? Sounds pretty good. Just the facts:

-- The United States annually consumes more fossil and nuclear energy than all the energy produced in a year by the country’s plant life, including forests and that used for food and fiber, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Energy and David Pimentel, a Cornell University researcher.

-- To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it. Even a greener fuel source like the switchgrass President Bush mentioned, which requires fewer petroleum-based inputs than corn and reduces topsoil losses by growing back each year, could provide only a small fraction of the energy we demand.

-- The corn and soybeans that make ethanol and biodiesel take huge quantities of fossil fuel for farm machinery, pesticides and fertilizer. Much of it comes from foreign sources, including some that may not be dependable, such as Russia and countries in the Middle East.

-- Corn and soybean production as practiced in the Midwest is ecologically unsustainable. Its effects include massive topsoil erosion, pollution of surface and groundwater with pesticides, and fertilizer runoff that travels down the Mississippi River to deplete oxygen and life from a New Jersey-size portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

-- Improving fuel efficiency in cars by just 1 mile per gallon -- a gain possible with proper tire inflation -- would cut fuel consumption equal to the total amount of ethanol federally mandated for production in 2012.

Let’s switch the billions we now spend on ethanol subsidies to development of truly sustainable energy technologies.

And why not spend money to make on-the-shelf technology like hybrid cars more affordable? Fuel-efficient hybrids aren’t the final solution, but they can be a bridge to more sustainable solutions.

The focus on biofuels as a silver bullet to solve our energy and climate change crises is at best misguided. At worst, it is a scheme that could have potentially disastrous environmental consequences. It will have little effect on our fossil fuel dependence.

Nearly half the energy consumed in the United States each year and half of America's greenhouse gas emissions.

This solar-powered home in Salado, Texas, is enormous at 21,000 square feet, but its environmental footprint is small. Architect Stephen Gist, pictured here in January 2006, positioned the building so that the sun warms the concrete floor in the winter and shade protects it from the back in the summer. By some estimates, buildings account for nearly half the energy consumed in the United States each year and half of America's greenhouse gas emissions.

Paint it Green

Borrowing from military technology that uses dense coatings to reflect solar and radar waves on tanks and planes, Textured Coatings of America, a Florida firm, has adapted the coatings as a replacement for house paint. The treatment can reduce the surface temperature of a home by up to 40 degrees. That keeps the interior cooler, reduces color fading and slows heat-induced deterioration of wood siding.

Green America: Why Environmentalism Is Hot - Newsweek Technology - MSNBC.com

"July 17, 2006 issue - One morning last week ... 29 years after president Jimmy Carter declared energy conservation 'the moral equivalent of war' ... 37 years after the first reference to the 'greenhouse effect' in The New York Times ... one day after oil prices hit a record peak of more than $75 per barrel ... Kelley Howell, a 38-year-old architect, got on her bicycle a little after 5 a.m. and rode 7.9 miles past shopping centers, housing developments and a nature preserve to a bus stop to complete her 24-mile commute to work. Compared with driving in her 2004 Mini Cooper, the 15.8-mile round trip by bicycle conserved approximately three fifths of a gallon of gasoline, subtracting 15 pounds of potential carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere (minus the small additional amount she exhaled as a result of her exertion). That's 15 pounds out of 1.7 billion tons of carbon produced annually to fuel all the vehicles in the United States. She concedes that when you look at it that way, it doesn't seem like very much. 'But if you're not doing something and the next family isn't doing anything, then who will?'"

Ethanol: Frequently Asked Questions

Q & A from - Union of Concerned Scientists
"Q: Some critics say that ethanol is destined to remain a niche product in the Midwest, subsidized by Congress for the benefit of farm-state politicians. Is this charge justified?

A: If ethanol is to grow beyond its midwestern roots, we will need to develop new technologies to produce it more efficiently and from alternative feedstocks. The potential for cellulosic ethanol to help tackle oil dependence and global warming is there, but it will take a long-term commitment and improvements in vehicle efficiency for that potential to be realized. If politicians just use ethanol as a 'flavor of the month' to avoid taking real steps to cut oil dependence through higher fuel efficiency, it could end up as a bit player or even a drain on oil dependence (as we have seen with the dual-fuel loophole that provides automakers credits toward meeting fuel economy standards without requiring that flex-fuel vehicles run on alternative fuels)."

Fuel Scientists See Drawbacks to Clean Hydrogen

"With hydrogen energy you only have 25 percent efficiency to turn wind power to (car) wheel power," he said. It's much more efficient to transport that electricity directly into a car battery, via the grid, and use 90 percent of its power," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Producing hydrogen, either through electrolysis using nuclear or renewable electricity, or refined from biomass or fossil fuels, requires massive amounts of water. One kilogramme of hydrogen requires nine litres of water.

"To serve all planes at Frankfurt airport with hydrogen, we need 25 power plants of 1 Gigawatt and all of Frankfurt's current water consumption," he said.


Tax shifting shuffle

You probably know someone who drives a car bought or leased by their employer. Company cars are usually perks. But this perk may actually be more of a burden.

Under current tax rules, employees who receive company cars pay additional income tax based on the cost of the vehicle. Since the tax rate is the same across the board, a gas-guzzling SUV is taxed at the same rate as a fuel efficient car.

“Tax shifting” is used to describe taxing environmentally destructive activities while rewarding environmentally beneficial activities. One tax shift proposed by the David Suzuki Foundation on company cars would reduce fuel costs for businesses and employees, and cut down on pollutants.

Jul 9, 2006

United We Stand my proud “French American” brother

I recently read my friends blog noting that he had received a joke email “bashing” the French. At first I thought, “Hey, did I send him the email he is referring to”.

I think the “bashing” was not out of hate, but of jealous pride.

I often look at the French culture as a cornucopia of art, expression, passion and most of all freedom (of all I love freedom the most).

Like all cultures, French are much more than that… meet a Frenchman and he will surely let you know this. He is as proud as any American to be who he is.

I do not think this is a “French” thing.
As I am as proud of my “cocktail” culture of second generation American German as one could be… Not of where I came from, but who got me here…who died for my freedom, who sacrificed their own heritage, families and cultures to ensure mine.

Like my “French American” friend, I was born and raised a proud American.

While I may be a little German and little English… I have always felt I had the romantic, passionate and Freedom loving heart of a Frenchman with 100% red American blood pumping through it.

Be proud of who you are America, you have been given that right...

Hugg / Tell Celebs Your Green Ideas, Win Prius

Tell ideas and you can win a Prius. Bono is on board. Steve too. It's a Yahoo promotion for its new website, Yahoo! Answers. People post questions and anyone replies. Bono asks about poverty, Steve saving the world, etc. Great green stuff. It's called Ask the Planet. Ends July 10. Might be where Steve's comments about 'pack your bags' came from."

SEMCOSH Workers Safety and Health Detroit

What me worry?

A Michigan workers' compensation insurance company recently paid for a survey of Michigan employers to find out what they thought were "the greatest barriers to teaching your employees about workplace safety". What they found should not surprise workers.

With a margin of error of 4% the answers were:

    38% - I don't know, we don't care about that

    25% - No time to work safely, we need to make production

    11% - Turnover. Everyone quits before we can train them

    7% - There's no information. OSHA? What's that?

    7% - Costs, it's cheaper to fire injured workers

    11% - Other (lame) excuses

Samuelson's Wishful Thinking on Global Warming: BLOG: SciAm Observations

"Samuelson's column perches at (d) but he manages to make a backward swipe at (b) and (c) when he writes,

I'm unqualified to judge between those scientists (the majority) who blame man-made greenhouse gases and those (a small minority) who finger natural variations in the global weather system. But if the majority are correct, the IEA report indicates we're now powerless.

Bravo! Well played, sir!"

Jul 8, 2006

Green opportunities for green chemists

"Governments are responding to a perceived environmental concern in society," he says, "but the chemical industry is not the bad guy. Green chemistry is being seen by companies as a big potential competitive edge over rivals." He expects funding from both sources to continue increasing.

The trend towards green chemistry is likely to accelerate when the new European regulations, known as REACH (Regulation, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), come online, probably by the end of this year. "REACH will severely limit the use of certain chemicals, like phthalates and bromo-flame retardants," she says. That means that companies will have to find alternatives--quickly. And that means greater demand for green chemists and their wares.

Greenhouse plans 'won't stop warming' - Breaking News - National - Breaking News

The federal government's preferred way to tackle global warming will go only a small way to stop greenhouse gases making the world hotter, a report has found.

ABARE research found these and other greenhouse gas friendly technologies such as hybrid vehicles will not stop global warming.

By 2050, greenhouses gases are likely to be 142 per cent above levels measured in 2001 if current polices are not changed.


Business looks to costs of climate change

'It isn't a debate... If anyone tells you the variations we are seeing is natural, please don't believe them,' Bill McGuire, professor of geophysical hazards at University College London, told business leaders. 'It is a climate change signal we're seeing.'

Most of those dismissing the effects of global warming were not scientists and had political and commercial associations that influenced their arguments, he said."

It was likely that the economic costs of global warming would at least double to $150 billion annually over the coming 10 years, he added.

"We don't know what will happen, but uncertainty means greater risk, and we need to do more now to manage it," he said.

Jul 7, 2006

using food crops to make biofuels "morally inappropriate

Reuters: Royal Dutch Shell, the world's top marketer of biofuels, considers using food crops to make biofuels "morally inappropriate" as long as there are people in the world who are starving, an executive said on Thursday. Eric G Holthusen, Fuels Technology Manager Asia/Pacific, said the company's research unit, Shell Global Solutions, has developed alternative fuels from renewable resources that use wood chips and plant waste rather than food crops.

"We think morally it is inappropriate because what we are doing here is using food and turning it into fuel. If you look at Africa, there are still countries that have a lack of food, people are starving, and because we are more wealthy we use food and turn it into fuel. This is not what we would like to see. But sometimes economics force you to do it."

Just as sweet as the first time I heard it ;-)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Have a great weekend!