Apr 23, 2007

Thanks, Sarah Gardner - From from the Sustainability Desk!

Thank you for taking the time to visit our site!

China - Tax that win's!

Concerns about energy availability and climate change are becoming more prominent in China; the government  adjusted the tax structure to provide a financial disincentive for the purchase of large-displacement vehicles: a 50% sales tax on engines greater than 4.0 liters, and a 27% tax on engines between 2.2 and 4.0 liters.

The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them. - Diplomatic Immunity, 2002


Apr 22, 2007

Fish-Killing Virus Spreading in the Great Lakes

New York Times: A virus that has already killed tens of thousands of fish in the eastern Great Lakes is spreading, scientists said, and now threatens almost two dozen aquatic species over a wide swath of the lakes and nearby waterways. The virus, a mutated pathogen not native to North America that causes hemorrhaging and organ failure, is not harmful to humans, even if they eat contaminated fish. But it is devastating to the ecosystem and so unfamiliar, experts said, that its full biological impact ...

Screw Earth Day! Make This Earth Day Your Last!

Earth Day, which every year has become less and less the revolutionary event it once was, seems this year to have entered a new phase of meaninglessness. Indeed, this year it appears to gone into a form of retrograde motion and begun to move actively away from the concept of comprehensive sustainability that drives all rational environmentalism. ...

The biggest problem with Earth Day is that it has become a ritual of sympathy for the idea of environmental sanity. Small steps, we're told, ignoring the fact that most of the steps most frequently promoted (returning your bottles, bringing your own bag, turning off the water while you brush your teeth) are of such minor impact (compared to our ecological footprints) that they are essentially meaningless without larger, systemic action as well. The strategy of recycling as a gateway drug -- get them hooked on it and we can move them on to harder stuff -- has failed miserably. ...

What may be worse is the recent plethora of "green issues" and special Earth Day sections that have blanketed our media. A decade ago, we would have been excited to see green ideas (even lame ones) given such prominent play, but these days, such editorial eco-ghettos strike us more as an admission of skewed priorities, with ecological sanity presented as a product feature, like a well-designed cupholder, rather than as a fundamental strategy for avoiding widespread collapse.

Celebrating Earth Day through consumption?

Ah, Earth Day. What could be a better way to celebrate our planet than buying more stuff and then having it shipped halfway across the country?

Apr 19, 2007

Three Decades of Federal Clean Air Act Violations have caused our global crisis

As this and 100's of similar articles point out:  Utilities Have Failed To Follow Federal Clean Air Act Regulations for Three Decades

And now the question should be asked -  Who is accountable?
These massive violators have NO problem blaming U.S. consumers and their SUV's for causing global "manmade emissions", but find it impossible to own up to the inarguable fact that these sources caused it (by proof of reems of EPA data).
Our nation must hold these companies not only accountable for the massive environmental problems they have caused to our great resources, but also for the restoration of these resources.
FACT - Your SUV didn't cause it and can't stop it: Data, facts, laws are right... and you are not wrong, just misinformed.

Corn ethanol: it really does suck

Grist lays it out on ethanol... 
"Yes, this is another bitter polemic against ethanol, but I want to make one point up front, because I sometimes forget to: The only concrete alternative energy/climate policy that our political class can agree on -- a plan that unites Democrats and Republicans to commit some $5 billion per year and rising -- is a clear and obvious boondoggle: a cash sieve that has done and will do much more harm than good."

This is our main public intervention into the energy markets on behalf of "alternative fuel"? The opportunity costs alone are staggering. Say what you want about Amtrak, but its annual federal budget amounts to about $1 billion per year. I suppose building out a woefully inadequate train system doesn't quite match the urgency of churning out flex-fuel Hummers and the like.

As for the grand hope of cellulosic ethanol, here's what the authors have to say:
The logistical difficulties and the costs of converting cellulose into fuel, combined with the subsidies and politics currently favoring the use of corn and soybeans, make it unrealistic to expect cellulose-based ethanol to become a solution within the next decade.
So cellulosic is ten years off -- not five, the timeframe its boosters have been flogging for the last, oh, 15 years.

Home Depot set to give away a million CFLs this Sunday

From the hugg (moreminimal)
 Home improvement giant Home Depot is planning what may be the biggest one-time giveaway of CFLs ever. The retailer will give away one million CFLs to customers this Sunday in observance of Earth Day. They're also showing-off a shiny new green website with some very useful features» original news

OSHA - Quote of the day:

"So many families will never be the same. Their loss hangs over everything we're doing in the Senate today and will for a very long time. We need to do everything we can here in Congress to save lives and prevent violence from reaching into our schools, homes and workplaces."
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, introducing legislation addressing workplace violence... Go to the full story in Workforce

German firm promising second generation for biofuels

The CEO of Choren says his company plans to start operations later this year at the first commercial-scale site making transport fuels from non-food plants, using second-generation technology. The CEO says that while output of synthetic diesel from woodchips will not be large, it will allow the company to refine its methods. Read more from Reuters

Yahoo - Wants your "GreenBacks" on EarthDay

As know "Green" is the Green to put big corps in the black in 2007.
Yahoo is just trying to compete with their latest attempt to get you to buy their "green" with your $Green$

Schwarzenegger can not catch a break

QUOTE: Schwarzenegger has become the GOP's Al Gore but the trouble is that his "environmentalism" isn't about curbing our reckless consumption; it's about having more cool choices -- if you can afford them.
Arnold Schwarzenegger does seem to understand that the planet is in trouble. As a green Republican, he is a welcome contrast to the know-nothing, do-less attitude of President Bush. His movie star persona is perfect for delivering lines like "Arnold to Detroit: Get off your butt."

But when he says the problem with environmentalism is that it's not hip or sexy -- that the movement has been a failure because it's based on guilt and sacrifice, not optimism and fun -- I must respond with one of the more eloquent lines from his signature role as an android assassin: Wrong


FREE Compact Florescent Lights (CFLs) Energy Savings Calculator

At less than $3 each. I am sold on buying CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs, at least until LEDs become commercially available at cost effective prices.
Calculate the savings for yourself here

Does Anyone "REALLY" Care About Global Warming?

We may not agree on the problem, but the solution...

Governments in the U.S. Prepare for Peak Oil

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report says that since most studies suggest decline of oil within around three decades, the U.S. government must prepare the country for that eventuality.

We will ride the Disneyland biodiesel railroad next week!

VIA boingboing.com: Disneyland has switched the old time locomotives that pull the Disneyland Railroad to biodiesel:

For Disneyland, the switch to biodiesel saves as much as 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year, while potentially reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent, Disneyland Resort spokesman Bob Tucker said Monday.

"The decision, once we knew the trains would perform well, was an easy one," said Frank Dela Vara, technical director for Disneyland's Environmental Affairs. 
 (via The Disney Blog) http://www.thedisneyblog.com/

China Top CO2 Emitter in 2007 or '08 - IEA

"Either this year or next year," China will overtake the United States as the world's biggest emitter of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) , the chief economist at the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, said on Wednesday.
Latest data show China is building a coal-fired power plant every four days, British foreign ministry official John Ashton said this week.
China is having to try and balance 10 percent annual economic growth with environmental and energy suppply issues.
The rapid growth in Chinese emissions puts in perspective western efforts to fight climate change, Birol said.
"What we do in Europe may be with good intentions, may be very ethical... but if you put it in terms of numbers it's meaning is very limited."


The Great (Lakes) Disappearing Act

If water drops by five feet, approximately 100 feet of shore will be added to the beaches. As a newspaper in Michigan points out, the new water levels will skyrocket real estate along the lakes but make navigation difficult for boats. Shipments through the lakes can be expected to be reduced by 23 percent, which would certainly hand a financial blow to the region and businesses.

Meanwhile, policy continues to delay serious action, supposedly to preserve the American way of life. When will we fully recognize that our way of life will change dramatically if we do not act?

Apr 18, 2007

Kids Allergies On The Rise Around the Globe

"allergic-to-nuts-tshirt.gifWe're all aware that people with allergies to nuts must be particularly careful around them because they can prove to trigger a fatal reaction. In fact, the kids in my school have a designated "Peanut Free" table just to keep them from any possible danger. But did you know that the number of young children with peanut allergies literally doubled between 1997 and 2002, according to a survey conducted in 2003? In fact, there are about 2.2 million U.S. school-age children who have food allergies, and roughly 1 out of 17 children under the age of 3 has a food allergy as well according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. And it's not just in the U.S. either, as children's allergies across the board from asthma and allergic skin diseases to hay fever and allergies to eggs, wheat and dairy products have increased worldwide according to a survey released in August 2006 that looked at more than 700,000 children in 56 countries since 1991. Now that's comprehensive! And while the reasons for the troubling increase are unclear for the moment, there are a number of ideas about the ways in which humans are impacting our environment that could be to blame..."

One points to the fact that the life in the First World has become so incredibly clean and antiseptic that kids immune systems aren't being challenged sufficiently to develop resistance, while another points out that the antibiotics so frequently used to combat childhood infections may be to blame by hindering the development of the friendly bacteria found in the intestinal tract that aid the immune system in warding off allergens. Another idea points to an increase in environmental pollutants, changes in diet, and food-processing techniques that could also be playing a role; while yet another reason could be simply that doctors are diagnosing more allergies now than in previous generations. Whatever the true cause is we're not likely to find out in a hurry, but the overriding truth is that of the reasons given above, the only one that does not have some connection to the way in which humans are impacting our environment in some way is the last… And that may be food for thought as we make decisions that have implications for our own children, and for those around the world.


Ethanol Vehicles Pose Significant Risk To Health, New Study Finds

This was news back on 1998 (EPA) and earlier... where did it go? and why is it back ;-)

Corn: Do We Feed It Or Do We Burn It?

While the future of the Cornbelt may be ethanol, the future will also be focused on innovations with livestock feed rations resulting from the availability of distillers' grains. They may make 10% of the ratio less expensive, but the other 90% may be more expensive. At the same time, livestock producers will have to become more adept at balancing rations to adjust for different qualities of the distillers' grains... read more here

Synthetic Fragrances carry in Human Milk

Jessica L. Reiner, Chung M. Wong, Kathleen F. Arcaro, and Kurunthachalam Kannan (Article) DOI: Linked Here

Effects of Ethanol (E85) versus Gasoline Vehicles on Cancer and Mortality in the United States

 Wed, 18 Apr 2007 (Article) DOI: Linked here

Cellulosic ethanol: the hopeless fuel of the future -- gristmill.org


Environmental News Bits (From Laura B.)

Chemical Industry Expands Work with EPA in Solving Environmental Problems
The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents 130 companies accounting for approximately 85 percent of U.S. chemical production by volume, has agreed to work with EPA in the Sector Strategies Program. ACC joins the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), a participant in the program since 1998. Together, ACC and SOCMA represent the majority of chemical production in the United States.

The chemical industry is an essential contributor to the U.S. economy, with about $555 billion in annual revenues. There are approximately 13,500 chemical manufacturing facilities in the United States, owned by more than 9,000 companies. The sector is one of the nation's largest exporters, accounting for 10 cents of every U.S. export dollar.
Chemical Manufacturing Sector Strategies Program http://www.epa.gov/sectors/chemical/index.html

Degreasers to Cut Air Toxics Emissions
Approximately 50 of the largest degreasing facilities will reduce air toxics emissions under tighter EPA standards that will prevent an additional 1,700 tons of solvent emissions and save the industry more than $1 million per year. Degreasers, also known as the halogenated solvent cleaning industry, use solvents to remove soils such as grease, oils, waxes, carbon deposits and tars from metal, plastic, fiberglass and other surfaces.
EPA issued a national rule to limit emissions of air toxics from degreasing operations in 1994. This rule is one of 96 rules called maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards that require 174 industry sectors to eliminate 1.7 million tons of 187 air toxics. Congress listed these toxic air pollutants in the Clean Air Act. There are nearly 1,900 degreasing operations in the United States. EPA estimates that the 1994 standards prevent nationwide emissions of air toxics by 85,300 tons per year. A copy of the final rule http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t3pfpr.html

Small Engine Rule to Bring Big Emissions Cuts
EPA continues to mow down harmful emissions from the non-road sector with a new proposal that sets strict standards for most lawn and garden equipment and small recreational watercraft. (more…)

Americans Report Increased Environmental Consciousness and Expectation That Companies Will Take Action
The 2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey released today finds one-third of Americans (32%) report heightened interest in the environment compared to a year ago. In addition, they are overwhelmingly looking to companies to act: 93% of Americans believe companies have a responsibility to help preserve the environment. http://www.csrwire.com/PressRelease.php?id=8183

An Inconvenient Tooth: Food Is Major Contributor to Climate Change
Global warming activists have a new ally in their fight to save the planet—lunch. It turns out that food (and all the energy it takes to make it) is one of the largest human activities contributing to global warming. The average American creates 2.8 tons of CO2 emissions each year by eating—even more than the 2.2 tons each person generates by driving, according to recent research (Echel and Martin, 2006). Beginning on Earth Day, 2007, Bon App├ętit Management Company—the nation's pioneer in "greening" food service, is launching a national campaign to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and help their guests do the same. http://www.csrwire.com/PressRelease.php?id=8169
Read more Environmental News Bits - By Laura B. (Thanks!)

Oakland is No. 1 user of renewable energy

Business Times: Oakland topped a list of U.S. cities using renewable energy, with 17 percent of its power coming from solar, wind and geothermal sources. Oakland beat out cross-bay rival San Francisco, which tied with Sacramento and San Jose for second place in the survey by SustainLane, which was released on Monday. Those three cities each get 12 percent of their power from renewable sources. San Francisco-based SustainLane surveyed the 50 largest cities in the United States for this ..


Your wood flooring is destroying endangered habitat

Shoppers are unwittingly playing a part in the destruction of one of the world's last great wildlife habitats by buying flooring made of endangered wood from "paradise forests". Just as demand for mahogany is disfiguring the Amazon, demand for the golden wood merbau is doing immense damage to the forests of New Guinea, described as the place on earth that best resembles "the Garden of Eden". Dozens of new creatures such as a new species of ..Read more VIA EcologicalInternet.org

Going native with plants: A new-old direction for water conservation

Ethanol May Cause More Smog related Deaths

Tropical rain forests are being cut down and burned to make way for biofuels

Reuters: Tropical rain forest is being cut down and burned to make way for soy and palm plantations destined to provide plant-based diesel for Europe's fuel tanks, environmentalists said on Wednesday. They cited cases of deforestation in Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia to make way for energy crops, and urged governments there to act. "In Brazil...one of the most affected areas is the state of Mato Grosso, where vast areas have disappeared to make room for soy crops destined for ...    * Link

Green Festival in Chicago

When: April 21 - 22, 2007
Where: McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago
The Chicago green festival features more than 200 visionary speakers and 400 green businesses. The event also includes how-to workshops, green films, yoga and movement classes, green career sessions, organic beer and wine, delicious organic cuisine and live music. Tickets are $10 for general admission or $19 for a Membership Fastpass which includes an organic t-shirt, weekend admission for two adults and other benefits. There are discounts for bike riders, public transit users, seniors and students. For more information, please visit
Link via:  (www.glrppr.org) update, April 13, 2007

Chemists design world's lowest-density crystals for use in clean energy

Chemists at UCLA have designed new organic structures for the storage of voluminous amounts of gases for use in alternative energy technologies http://www.physorg.com/news95617436.html

Environmental Tip of the Week is from EPA.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across America celebrated the first Earth Day. It was a time when cities were buried under their own smog and polluted rivers caught fire. Now Earth Day is celebrated annually around the globe. Through the combined efforts of the U.S. government, grassroots organizations, and citizens like you, what started as a day of national environmental recognition has evolved into a world-wide campaign to protect our global environment. Learn more about Earth Day at http://www.epa.gov/earthday.

Apr 17, 2007

60 MPG Passat is one of the cleanest internal combustion vehicles in the world.

Another highlight in the area of environmentally-friendly technologies is the Touran EcoFuel (80 kW / 109 PS) that is also being presented in China for the first time. The use of natural gas as fuel reduces practically all harmful exhaust components. Besides 20 percent lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, about 80 percent less carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) is produced, and emissions of methane-containing hydrocarbons (HC) are about 70 percent lower.

Read on at: autobloggreen.com

3M chemical is found in Lake Calhoun

A former 3M chemical that has contaminated drinking water and fish in the east metro area has now shown up in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, prompting a fish consumption advisory and a wider investigation of how far the pollutant has spread.
Scientists found PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) ...The average concentrations in bluegill fillets was about 320 parts per billion. PFOS accumulates in blood, and it does not break down in the environment.

Matt Simcik, associate professor of environmental health at the University of Minnesota, said he was surprised to learn that PFOS levels in fish are so high, and that bluegills seem to accumulate it more than other species. "These chemicals keep throwing us for a loop every time we think we've got them understood," he said. "From an environmental chemistry standpoint, they hold a lot of mystery."

Read more from star tribune

EPA Publishes National U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory

"The Bush Administration's unparalleled financial, international and domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is delivering real results," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "As America's economy continues to grow, our aggressive yet practical strategy is putting us on track to reach President Bush's goal to reduce our nation's greenhouse gas intensity 18 percent by 2012."

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2005 were equivalent to 7,260 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The report indicates that overall emissions have grown by 16 percent from 1990 to 2005, while the U.S. economy has grown by 55 percent over the same period.


Apr 16, 2007

If we don't get it together, our last supper could be Al Gore's frog soup.

I think our human egos like to think that we caused global warming because it also helps us believe we can fix it. If only it was that simple. 
The best "carbon neutral" plans MAY be steps in the right direction, but they are only Band-Aids applied to a much larger problem. If the Earth continues to warm, humankind will have to adapt, or die.  The chances of the worldwide coordinated effort to collectively fight global warming seems extremely unlikely given our current propensity for war, hoarding resources and the mounting demand for a dwindling supply of essential resources like water and food. Instead of fighting over the last remaining drops of oil, we ought to be putting our resources and greatest minds to the task.  I am confident there are many high-tech answers to some of the problems we face, but low-tech also holds much promise.
Whether we agree on who or what is causing it, the fight to slow global warming must take place at the lowest common denominator - us. I don't think we have a chance to fix it, but we could slow the process down long enough to see if we can adapt quickly enough to survive as a species in a hotter world. The alternative is extinction... Read more from Juan Espinosa,  http://www.chieftaincom/metro/1176533784/6

We Can't Go On Feeding - And Breeding - Like This

Overshoot is when a species reproduces to a number that its environment can't sustain.
In 1944, for example, 29 reindeer were introduced onto St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea. With few competitors, no predators and plenty to eat, the herd increased to about 6,000 by the summer of 1963, consuming almost all available food. That winter most of them died. The surviving population in 1966 numbered 42.
The human population is now 6.5 billion. Given Earth's limits, there already are too many of us for the long run. But the day of reckoning is many years away, and it is notoriously difficult for political leaders to seek moderate sacrifice today to prevent terrible sacrifice tomorrow when there is too little general recognition of the trouble ahead.

...this can't last. The aquifers, oil and natural gas that made possible a fourfold population increase are finite. Over the coming decades, petroleum will become harder and harder to find, extract and put to use, until eventually it becomes unavailable for agriculture in any significant amount. Meanwhile, another 2 billion people are predicted worldwide by 2050.

Is the situation really this dire? In our dependence on the environment for food and water, we most certainly are subject to those constraints. Without a solution, we will die just as surely as the St. Matthew reindeer.
It's hard to be optimistic. There is probably no real solution to this problem, only halfway measures to lessen the eventual impact. And whatever we do to support population growth will only make overshoot worse in the end. Read full from David Bacon here

"National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency," startlingly frank about the futility of seeking energy independence.

"hypercars," "the reduction could be stunning." For example, a PHEV with next-generation lithium batteries, constructed with carbon fiber, charged overnight from the grid (preferably from domestically generated renewable energy), and running on E-85 cellulosic ethanol or biodiesel, could squeeze 1,000 mpg from the petroleum it uses.

Stunning indeed! Read more from "Fighting Terror with Hypercars"

WI Governor Plans Regional Global Warming Summit

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) has been elected to serve as chair of the Midwestern Governors Association. He plans to hold a summit of Midwest governors in his state this fall to discuss regional efforts to achieve energy independence and fight global warming.

Unlike the northeast states and the western states that are formally agreed to collaborate on cutting global warming pollution, the Midwest has yet to go so far. But with its abundant renewable energy sources like wind, biomass, and biofuels, it is poised to join other states in moving toward a cleaner, more secure energy future.

At the signing, Governor Doyle announced: "With our vast agricultural and forestry resources, our strong research institutions, and our strong manufacturing base, I want the Midwest to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy with Wisconsin at the forefront. "


Read more from Maria Surma Manka Maria Surma Manka's picture



Related Story Links: American Wind Energy Association, Wisconsin State Journal

MI Families given choice of 'heat or eat': DHS

LANSING - The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced that it is out of funds for energy crisis assistance for fiscal year 2007.

Individuals receiving home heating credits will continue to receive assistance through September, but new applications for energy crisis assistance will be denied due to lack of funds.  About $1.9 million goes to Michigan families each week. Energy programs help families by providing home heating credits to low-income households to pay energy bills and crisis assistance to prevent shutoffs or make emergency repairs. Reduced federal funding will further limit energy assistance for Michigan families.

"For many Michigan families, it is a choice of whether to heat or to eat," DHS Director Marianne Udow said. "I can only add my voice to the many Michigan leaders, including Gov. Granholm, who urged the president to release emergency LIHEAP funds."

My next NEW car could cost as low as $2,500

Disposable living will soon be including cars...
Haase comments: How could we possibly have any future hope for daily exercise or reducing cars on the road when we'll make them as cheap as flat screen T.V.'s?

Report blames coal-fired plants for carbon dioxide increases

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- A report released Thursday by an Illinois environmental group blames coal-fired power plants for nearly half the country's increase in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels between 2000 and 2004.
Carbon dioxide emissions increased 22 percent in Illinois and 18 percent across the country during that time, according to the report from Environment Illinois and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Why cellulosic ethanol, biofuels are unsustainable and a threat to America

Peak Soil:  There are many serious problems with biofuels, especially on a massive scale, and it appears from this report that they cannot be surmounted. So let the truth of Alice Friedemann's meticulous and incisive diligence wash over you and rid you of any confusion or false hopes. The absurdity and destructiveness of large scale biofuels are a chance for people to eventually even reject the internal combustion engine and energy waste in general. One can also hazard from this report that bioplastics, as well, cannot make it in a big way.

YIKES - Will The Supply Meet The Demand For US Wheat?

The 2006 crop, reduced by fewer acres and fewer rains, will not contribute much to the total supply, should the 2007 crop also be reduced from the weather. However the acres devoted to the 2007 crop will be 60.3 million, up 3.0 million or 5% from 2006, according to the USDA's March 30 acreage and planting intentions report:
1) 2007 winter wheat is forecast at 44.5 million acres, 10% above last year.
2) Growers intend to plant 13.8 million acres this year of spring wheat, down 7% from 2006.
3) Area seeded to durum wheat is expected to total 2.0 million acres, up 6% from 2006. Durum planted area in 2006 was the lowest since 1961.
4) Soft white wheat planted area is expected to be 3.8 million acres for 2007, up from 3.7 million acres in 2006. Hard white wheat planted area is expected to be 0.7 million acres for 2007, up from 0.6 million acres in 2006.

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

Scientists claim radiation from handsets may be to blame for mysterious "colony collapse" of bees Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to  return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.  » original news (VIA-Hugg's)

Apr 14, 2007

Millions of Workers Have No OSHA Protection - Teamsters blame Bush...

In 2005, more than 4.2 million workers were injured and 5,702 workers were killed due to job hazards. Another 50,000 died due to occupational diseases.

And more "talk and blame" from the Teamsters: http://www.teamster.org/resources/sh/hottopics/workmemday2007_bushfails.htm

Millions of Workers Have No OSHA Protection - Teamsters blame Bush...

In 2005, more than 4.2 million workers were injured and 5,702 workers were killed due to job hazards. Another 50,000 died due to occupational diseases.

And more "talk and blame" from the Teamsters: http://www.teamster.org/resources/sh/hottopics/workmemday2007_bushfails.htm

Apr 12, 2007

2001 Comparison of CO2 Emissions for U.S. States vs. Nations

1. China 3,467.3
2. Russian Federation 1,572.4
3. Japan 1,234.4
4. India 1,076.5
5. Germany 911.5
6. Texas 678.8
7. United Kingdom 595.9
8. Canada 529.6
9. Korea (South) 494.8
10. Italy 466.7
11. France 407.2
12. Mexico 399.7
13. California 386.0
14. South Africa 362.2
15. Brazil 355.1
16. Iran 353.8
17. Spain 337.8
18. Australia 336.9
19. Indonesia 318.2
20. Ukraine 313.1
21. Saudi Arabia 306.7
22. Poland 303.5
23. Pennsylvania 262.1
24. Taiwan 253.2
25. Ohio 250.7
26. Florida 237.1
27. Netherlands 234.3
28. Illinois 225.7
29. Indiana 225.7
30. New York 209.1
31. Turkey 203.6
32. Thailand 200.0
33. Michigan 190.9
34. Louisiana 184.6
35. Georgia (U.S.) 158.6
36. Kentucky 147.6
37. Kazakhstan 146.3
38. Venezuela 145.8
39. Belgium 145.1
40. Egypt 141.4
41. North Carolina 141.0
42. Malaysia 134.7
43. Alabama 133.5
44. Argentina 132.3
45. Missouri 131.9
46. Singapore 127.3
47. Czech Republic 125.2
48. Tennessee 124.4
49. Uzbekistan 122.4
50. New Jersey 121.6

New Jersey to offer guidance for perfluorinated chemicals drinking water...

New Jersey officials have issued the most stringent preliminary health-based guidance yet on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) levels in drinking water in the U.S. The guidance, a first step in regulating PFOA, was issued as a benchmark so that water companies can judge whether the low levels of perfluorinated chemicals in their drinking water are safe for humans. New Jersey is the latest state to issue advice on PFOA in drinking water; the guidance follows action in two other states where past chemical industry operations have led to PFOA contamination of drinking water.

PFOA is unregulated in the U.S. Last year, the U.S. EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) classified PFOA as a likely human carcinogen, but EPA's risk assessment process, a precursor to any regulatory action, is likely to take years to complete, according to the agency. "States are running with this because the EPA process is too slow," says Kristan Markay with Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization.

The LED - older than we thought


psychohistory of climate change...

 Dan Vergano at USA Today enterprisingly evokes the fictional ghost of Isaac Asimov's sci-fi protagonist Hari Seldon to take a stab at it. His story, specifically, describes an exercise in prognostication led by people at the Netherlands Environmental Assesment Agency. Their conclusion is not encouraging.

See Also: The IPCC delivered its latest "what" report early this year, then its "so what?" report last week. Next comes the "now what?" report on the policy choices facing nations. Vergano has today a more conventional piece on this upcoming chunk with a list of likely options.

By Charlie Petit on Environment Stories

Headlines from Green Car Congress

California Governor Tells Automakers to Get Off Their Butt

  • Bloomberg. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said Detroit's carmakers must get off their "butt" on greenhouse gas reduction. More...


China Auto Output and Sales up 20%+ in 1Q

  • Xinhua. China's auto output and sales rose more than 20% in the first quarter of 2007, according to figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).


GM Puts Hold on Development of RWD Vehicles Pending CO2, CAFE Regs

  • Chicago Tribune. In an interview with Tribune auto columnist Jim Mateja, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said that the company was putting a hold on the development of future rear-wheel drive vehicles until regulations on CO2 limits and fuel economy are sorted out.  More...
Read more from greencarcongress.com

The 29th Annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention

The Wisconsin Association of Lakes (WAL) is the only statewide organization working exclusively to protect and enhance the quality of Wisconsin's 15,000 lakes. The 29th Annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention will be held April 26-28, in Green Bay, bringing more than 500 lake enthusiasts together to celebrate and learn about Wisconsin's lakes. www.wisconsinlakes.org

Fw: Trash to energy


Colbert: excuse me for breathing

stephen colbert loves paper towels

Gotta love Colbert - While interviewing Colin Beavan, the NoImpact Man, Colbert insisted that "what you're doing is extremely dangerous. You're anti-consumerism, and being an American is being a consumer" "(if) you're not consuming things. By not poisoning the Earth you are poisoning our capitalist society."
Colbert points out, "You can't strangle a seabird these days without hearing from the reduce, re-use and repsychos."

Apr 11, 2007

Free - Web Seminar: "Surviving the Compliance Tidal Wave", April 19, 2007

Stanley Consultants will be offering this free web seminar as part of their Environmental Integration Solutions program. The Environmental Integration Solutions streamline environmental, health, and safety compliance practices, reporting, and implementation in light of decreasing resources and budgets.
In this 60-minute web seminar, you'll hear how this technology platform has helped organizations like yours save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. By attending this free web seminar, you will:
  • Gain control of your complex compliance requirements
  • Preserve institutional knowledge
  • Hear case studies about companies utilizing the technology platform
  • Simplify compliance management
  • Reduce the risk of non-compliance.
This webinar will be especially useful for Environmental, Health, and/or Safety personnel in charge of compliance requirements.
For more information: http://www.stanleyconsultants.com/environmental_env_web.php

EPA issues refiner requirements for mixing biofuel with gasoline

Under orders from Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency issued regulations setting requirements for oil refiners in mixing renewable fuels with gasoline. The new rule says they will have to use at least 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels in gasoline by 2012 and 4.7 billion gallons this year. USA TODAY/Associated Press
Link from smartbrief.com

Fear that Environmental factors may be killing off the boy gender

Study seeks to explain drop in male births (David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post)
A30-year decline in the percentage of male births is raising concern.
A new study says environmental and other factors may be affecting conception of male embryos and hindering the health of male fetuses.

Devra Lee Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, said her study, which included researchers from the United States and Japan, shows that "male reproductive health is in trouble."
, researchers suspect a similar problem in all industrialized nations. Reasons for the trend are still under study, but evidence points to exposure to environmental contaminants of various kinds.
Annie Sasco, a cancer epidemiologist in Bordeaux, France, who has read the study, said people should avoid exposure to environmental contaminants, including growth hormones in American-grown beef. She also recommended avoiding pesticides and contaminants in plastics that can produce a hormonal effect and have impact on sex ratio.
"This study should tell us that if you don't want to see diseases increase, we should be more stringent with contamination of the environment and with products that are carcinogens or endocrine disrupters," Dr. Sasco said. "There is a need for regulatory aspects to reduce the presence of these contaminants in what we eat, breathe and are exposed to."

Total destruction of forests predicted to cool Earth

Total destruction of forests predicted to cool Earth (From nature.com)
Large-scale deforestation — long fingered as a contributing factor in climate change — could cool Earth, say the researchers behind one of the first attempts to model the phenomenon at a global scale.

But he doesn't think that his work provides justification for chopping down forests. "One main reason to fear global warming is the need to protect ecosystems," he says. "To destroy forests would confuse the narrow goal [of fighting climate change] with the broader goal of protecting the environment."

Logging is often attacked because living trees help to mop up carbon dioxide, thereby buffering rises in greenhouse gases. But deforestation has different effects in different parts of the world.

Its message, though, might not be popular. After writing about his work in the New York Times, for example, Caldeira received at least one anonymous phone message accusing him of aiding the timber industry. He also says that some researchers might prefer that he didn't promote his message: "There is a sense among some colleagues that one should keep quiet about this."

Read From nature.com

Newsweek: "Save the Planet-Or Else"

It's a bold cover tagline: "Save The Planet - Or Else." 
Is the push to save the planet a fad, or a turning point? Here's hoping it's the real deal.

First, Science Editor Sharon Begley's discussion that even curbing CO2 emissions won't be enough to get us out of our mess.
Secondly, the "How to Live a Greener Life" section, which includes knowing your personal carbon footprint and these driving-specific tips:
Use public transportation more often: "You can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,590 pounds per year if you leave the car home two days a week and take public transportation instead."
Good tips, sure, but not enough to match the "or else" threatened on the cover... comment from autobloggreen.com
[Source: MSNBC-Newsweek] 

The only thing worse than using corn Ethanol for a fuel stock is increasing the air pollution the production of it...

White House Poised to Roll Back Pollution Restrictions for Ethanol Production - The Environmental Protection Agency has sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget a regulatory proposal that would increase the amount of air pollution that ethanol production plants are allowed to emit. The proposal originated at the White House, e-mails show, and the White House claims authority under an off-the-record process to approve most federal regulations. Bill Lambrecht reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4/08/07 (From sej.org).

First EPA Report on Environmental Impacts of Energy Use in Leading Manufacturing Sectors

From Laura B (www.lib.wmrc.uiuc.edu)

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a report on energy use trends in major manufacturing sectors that highlights the environmental implications of energy use. The report concludes with a general overview of the barriers to energy efficiency and use of clean fuel technologies, and offers some possible policy options for government to help address these barriers.

These sectors account for about 85 percent of all U.S. industrial energy use. The report analyzes each sector's current energy consumption trends and the associated environmental impacts, specifically emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide. Under a business-as-usual scenario, energy consumption across many of these sectors will increase by 20 percent from 2004 levels by 2020, and carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 14 percent. The 12 sectors analyzed are aluminum, cement, chemical manufacturing, food manufacturing, forest products, iron and steel, metal casting, metal finishing, motor vehicle manufacturing, motor vehicle parts manufacturing, petroleum refining, and shipbuilding.

The report shows how each sector could improve environmental performance by becoming more energy efficient or by using clean fuel technologies. It also identifies five strategies that could be used to achieve these goals:

Based on the insights from this report, EPA will now work with the industry partners to explore the best ways to improve energy and environmental outcomes in each sector.

2007 Sector Strategies Energy Report: http://www.epa.gov/sectors/energy/index.html
More information on the Sector Strategies Program: http://www.epa.gov/sectors/

WI-DNR "Earth Day: One day isn't enough in Wisconsin"

MADISON - Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day and a Wisconsin Senator, described his experience organizing the Earth Day movement: "Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the ... Read Full Article

India to get 38 percent less water by 2050 - WaterWars

IANS: The availability of water per person in India will drop by almost 38 percent by 2050, a report on climate change said Tuesday. According to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), gross per capita water availability in the country will decline from 1,820 cubic meters per year in 2001 to 1,140 in 2050. 'The water availability in the county would reduce by almost 38 percent. Less rainfall, melting of glaciers due to climate change, ... Link from EcologicalInternet.org

Apr 10, 2007

You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you.

It's not though, only an oblique reference to a misspelling in the article.
...posted by Carly Simon

Apr 9, 2007

Indonesia seeks to increase deforestation rate, already world's highest

Already having the highest deforestation rate in the world, Indonesia's Minister of Forestry announced the country would increase its harvest quota for natural timber for 2007 by 12 percent to 9.1 million cubic meters according to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). ITTO said the target quota may actually be 12.4 million cubic meters (53 percent higher than 2006) for the year.

Top California Agriculture Hazard? Lockout/Tagout

Cal/OSHA analysis of investigations and citations issued in 2005 indicates work involving machinery and equipment is predominant cause of injuries on the farm. Cal-OSHA Reporter
Go to the Full Story...

Stores selling out of Glass baby bottles after health alarms raised about plastics

Old news on my blog... but ball is rolling on plastic in food products
Online and brick-and-mortar retailers report a run on glass baby bottles in recent weeks that they say was spurred by reports that the most common type of plastic in baby bottles may leach a toxic chemical. Read more at SF Gate
Then, in late February, Environment California, an advocacy group, released a report titled "Toxic Baby Bottles" that drew intense national media coverage.
When heated, five of the most popular brands of polycarbonate -- the clear, shatterproof plastic used in baby bottles -- leached bisphenol A at levels that have been found to cause harm in laboratory animals, Environment California found.
San Francisco approved a ban on children's products containing bisphenol A and certain phthalates, the chemicals that soften polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Animal studies also have shown that phthalates interfere with sex hormones. Even at low levels, bisphenol A has been linked to abnormalities in the mammary and prostate glands and the eggs of laboratory animals, scientists say. Animal tests also show bisphenol A can speed up puberty and add to weight gain, and may cause changes that can lead to breast and prostate cancer.
"I typically don't react to these things," she said. "There are 9 million things that are bad for you. You try to temper everything with common sense."
But "this isn't something I want to take a chance on when it comes to my child's well-being."
Online resources on possible risks and alternatives to plastics for children:
Environment California report: www.links.sfgate.com/ZCM


The Greenwasher in All of Us

With the greening of business moving swiftly into the mainstream, there's been a renewed focus on greenwashing -- "what corporations do when they try to make themselves look more environmentally friendly than they really are,"  there are plenty of examples where companies have attempted to apply a green sheen to their far-from-perfect environmental records.  And while it's generally good that we maintain high standards for companies' seeking to claim environmental leadership, I can't help but ponder the hypocrisy of it all: how much more we expect of companies than of ourselves.

As we watch and read these stories and, perhaps, proffer some inner expression of support -- "Attaboy! Nail those bastards!" -- it may well be worth committing a split second or two to self-reflection: "Am I really doing all that I can to address the environmental problems that concern me most?" "Do I profess one thing and do another?" "Do my friends think I'm greener than I really am?" "Am I holding others to a higher standard than myself?"

"perhaps we need to acknowledge that there is, indeed, a little greenwasher in all of us." Read More By joelmakower

In the early 1990s, a handful of consumer-product companies were publicly spanked for their misleading green statements by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as well as a consortium of state attorneys general led by Minnesota's then-AG Hubert Humphrey III.

But the feds, and most state and local governments, have opted out of policing green claims. With good reason: There are few agreed-upon standards for being a green business. (This is not the case for green products, for which there are numerous -- some would say too many -- certification schemes.) True, the FTC in 1992 promulgated some Green Marketing Guidelines, which say, in effect, that if you want to call something "recyclable," it's not enough that the claim be technically true; average consumers must be able to actually recycle it in their community. But again, that's about products, not companies.
More recently, we the people have assumed the role of green police, determining who's naughty and nice from a green-marketing perspective. With the help of blogs, wikis, and good old fashioned protests and press releases, activist groups and self-styled experts are exercising their constitutional right to have a point of view on the topic -- and broadcast it far and wide.

CA Proposed Tax Targets Wallets Of SUV Owners

The proposed bill could unload financial burden. If California Assemblyman Ira Ruskin gets his wish, starting in 2011, drivers would have to shell out an extra $1,200 when they purchase new cars that spew higher levels of pollution.
"We have 20 million cars on the road in California. We've made a decision to fight global warming. We can't do it without getting cleaner cars on the road," says Ruskin. Buyers of cleaner burning cars would receive a rebate. Read full here

Funny Stuff - CA pushing Hydrogen Cars yet questions LNG safety

Is CA serious? "Hydrogen Fuel" safe but LNG used for 100 years in every nation and state may be "risky"??? Wow, funny (in a total non-humorous way ;-)
Even funnier... the articles is encouraging "conserve" don't "buy into" LNG?
But PLEASE buy into all the Ethanol & Hydrogen myth's.
Hey, why would CA want to use or embrace cleaner or more abundant energy sources when they have such great oil to use in their SUV's. Drink up Johnny!

EU looks at feeding biogas into the main natural gas grid

The biogas sector is undergoing a rapid transformation in Europe. Whereas green gas production used to be an activity associated with individual farms and community waste management programs, it has been scaled up to become an industry that produces quantities large enough to be fed into the main natural gas grid. More and more, dedicated biogas crops (such as specially bred biogas maize, exotic grass species such as Sudan grass and sorghum, or new hybrid grass types) are being utilized as single substrate feedstocks for large digester complexes, and biogas upgrading to natural gas standards is becoming more common.
Upgrading biogas to NG quality
A key technology for injection of biogas into the natural gas grid is upgrading of the biogas to natural gas quality after which it can be compressed to transport grid pressure. Biogas consists of around 50 to 65% of methane, small fractions of other compounds and 50 to 35% of carbon dioxide, which has to be removed before injection. (Earlier we pointed out why this large CO2 fraction makes pre-combustion carbon capture from biogas an interesting option in the context of carbon capture and storage, which results in the concept of a radical carbon negative energy system - previous post).

Viva la Nukes - How the french will rule again!

From CBS News: "With world energy demand expected to rise 50 percent over the next 25 years, he says it is the only practical option for producing huge amounts of electricity with no carbon emissions.
"No serious person can look at the challenge of greenhouse gases and climate change and not come to the conclusion that nuclear power has to play a significant and growing role in meeting that challenge worldwide," ...

French Quote - "Wind and solar are you know, temporary sources of energy. It works when you have wind, it works when you have sun. No sun, no wind, no energy. You don't want watch TV only when you have wind." - Anne Lauvergeon
What happened to U.S. energy independence?
"United States, which hasn't built a new nuclear plant since the 1970's. With energy prices and global temperatures near their reported highs, and the possibility that greenhouse gases will be regulated, the Bush administration is pushing a nuclear revival.
In many respects, the nuclear industry in the United States has disappeared. Over 100 plants were cancelled in the 1970's."

Apr 8, 2007

The chemical found in water bottles that "is among the scariest manufactured substances in use, an eerie modern version of the vaunted lead water pipes by which ancient Romans were unknowingly poisoned"

Old news from my blog....
"Bisphenol A is ingested by practically everyone in who eats canned foods or drinks from a can or hard plastic water bottles.
Now a controversy is raging over the safety of widespread public exposure to the chemical, which is known to act like a synthetic female sex hormone."

High Arsenic Levels Found In Herbal Kelp Supplements

The 60 mpg Ford Focus NON HYBRID

Fords Latest Focus Diesel Range Looks Set To Crush All Opposition.  Its amazing that the Ford Focus diesel we had sitting in front of our offices wasn't being crushed under a vast weight of expectation.
The 1.6-liter engine is primarily aimed at customers with an eye on fuel economy, and will return a very creditable 57.6mpg on the combined cycle while emitting just 129 grams of carbon dioxide for every kilometer traveled. Despite the focus on frugality, it'll still zip to 60mph in 9 seconds and run on to a top speed of 116mph. Torque is delivered from very low in the rev range and this makes the Focus TDCi 1.6 agreeably quick off the mark when you need to accelerate out of a T-junction into flowing traffic.

"The Focus TDCi is a car that's difficult to fault"
Read more of full Yahoo Review

Top ten sites for free books

bookapple.png FROM lifehacker.com, a great list of the best sites from which to score free books.

All the really good ones are here: Project Gutenberg, BookMooch, Google Book Search, etc., along with quite a few I haven't seen before. Lifehacker has posted about free books before, so this is definitely a welcome addition to that - plus, I just can't get over how cool it is to find free books.

Latest from theoildrum.com

Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil

There is, as the ads say, no Plan B. The age of cheap oil is drawing to a close, climate change already threatens, and politicians dither. But the people of Lampeter, a small community in the middle of rural Wales, gathered together earlier this week to mobilize for a new war effort. They decided to plan their "energy descent".

Energy Crossroads: A burning need to change course - a documentary about peak oil and climate change

Peak Moment Television presents five new online videos

Moment Television has produced five new online videos focusing on community localization topics from local currency to electric cars, plus a conversation with Richard Heinberg.

China and Japan struggle to narrow energy divide

China and Japan have bathed their bruised ties with soothing rhetoric ahead of a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, but they remain far apart in settling energy disputes that dog the relationship.

Australia already on the 'downside' of Peak Oil

Australia has already peaked as an oil producer, MGSM Professor John Mathews said today. But the continued emphasis on fossil fuels – attempts at discovery and further infrastructure investment – mean that Australian companies are missing out on important business opportunities in renewable energies and biofuels.

Ottawa set to announce 'mandatory' pollution cuts

Ottawa is set to announce stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions following the release of a UN report that warned climate change will have a grim impact this century, the environment minister said Friday.

Forecaster blasts Gore on global warming

A top hurricane forecaster called Al Gore "a gross alarmist" Friday for making an Oscar-winning documentary about global warming.

"He's one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he's doing a great disservice and he doesn't know what he's talking about," Dr. William Gray said in an interview with The Associated Press at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, where he delivered the closing speech.

John Edwards embraces enviro politics, a little too warmly

Sure everyone loves to drive, and it would be political suicide to say what really needs to be done -- bring an end to the automobile's dominance of transportation. But at least Edwards could avoid singing the praises of the SUV, if not the car itself. Why can't someone call for a resurrection of passenger rail in this country. James Kunstler suggests that restoring America's once glorious rail era ("we used to have a passenger rail network that was the envy of the world, now it would shame Bulgaria") would go a long way toward boosting the nation's confidence in our ability to reshape the country along environmental lines. And he's right. "A Better Amtrak" isn't exactly a winner of a campaign slogan, but I'm sure Edwards' people could come up with something.

Refiners boosting diesel fuel output in chase of profits - Usage growth rate outpacing gasoline

Rising global demand for diesel is reshaping the U.S. oil refining industry.

While most U.S. motorists pay scant attention to the high price of the trucking fuel when filling up their cars with gasoline, refiners have taken note and are moving to boost capacity for the production of diesel. With long-distance freight hauling increasing steadily in the U.S., and diesel consumption in Europe and Asia growing even faster, fuel producers are looking to diesel for profit growth as the race to supply the U.S. gasoline market gets more competitive.

As population grows, so does responsibility

That's why we're looking at coal, a readily available, relatively inexpensive fuel source that can be used cleanly and safely to generate electricity with new technology that is transforming the industry. The proposed FPL Glades Power Park will be one of the cleanest coal plants in the world.

Fixing Iraq

The amount of money spent on reconstruction is not at all trifling. It is equal or greater than the money in inflation-adjusted dollars spent by the United States on restoring post-Nazi Europe under the Marshall Plan. There are, of course, clear differences between the Iraqi and German experience, as there was less violence and the Europeans were allowed to plan their own reconstruction. The grant money was spent on local companies, not U.S. companies. Most of the money went to fertilizer, food, fuel, raw materials, and semi-manufactured products, not for gigantic building projects.

No Time to Lose

According to our best, most realistic estimates, here's how things stand globally: