Jul 28, 2008

What do they know Nuclear power? Little...

VIA - "Nuclear Bomb".
No nuclear power plants have been ordered in this country for three decades. Once touted as "too cheap to meter," nuclear power simply became "too costly to matter," as the Economist put it back in May 2001.

Yet growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel plants has created a surge of new interest in nuclear. Wired magazine just proclaimed "Go nuclear" on its cover. Environmentalists like Stewart Brand and James Lovelock have begun embracing nukes as a core climate solution. And GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who has called for building hundreds of new nuclear plants in this country, recently announced he won't bother showing up to vote on his friend Joe Lieberman's climate bill because of insufficient subsidies (read "pork") for nuclear power.

What do they know that scores of utility executives and the Economist don't? Nothing, actually. Nuclear power still has so many problems that unless the federal government shovels tens of billions of dollars more in subsidies to the industry, and then shoves it down the throat of U.S. utilities and the public with mandates, it is unlikely to see a significant renaissance in this country. Nor is nuclear power likely to make up even 10 percent of the solution to the climate problem globally.

Why? In a word, cost. Many other technologies can deliver more low-carbon power at far less cost. As a 2003 MIT study, "The Future of Nuclear Energy," concluded: "The prospects for nuclear energy as an option are limited" by many "unresolved problems," of which "high relative cost" is only one. Others include environment, safety and health issues, nuclear proliferation concerns, and the challenge of long-term waste management.

Since new nuclear power now costs more than double what the MIT report assumed -- three times what the Economist called "too costly to matter" -- let me focus solely on the unresolved problem of cost. While safety, proliferation and waste issues get most of the publicity, nuclear plants have become so expensive that cost overwhelms the other problems.

Einstein - cell phones can’t cause cancer.

By now everyone has heard the news frenzy over Ronald Herberman, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, advising faculty and staff to limit cell phone use because there is no proof that it's not a cancer risk.  Nonsense!  All cancer agents act by disrupting chemical bonds.  In a classic 2001 op-ed LBL physicist Robert Cahn explained that Einstein won the 1905 Nobel Prize in Physics for showing that cell phones can't cause cancer.  The threshold energy of the photoelectric effect, for which Einstein won the prize, lies at the extreme blue end of the visible spectrum in the near ultraviolet.  The same near-ultraviolet rays can also cause skin cancer.   Red light is too weak to cause cancer.  Cell-phone radiation is 10,000 times weaker.

Jul 25, 2008

Battle to Save Lake Michigan Has Just Begun...

At a recent news conference and bill signing on the Lake Michigan shore near Saugatuck, Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that they had just saved the state’s water resources. The sentiment is wonderful, but that’s not what the legislation does.

More than 23 years after the signing of a regional pact to protect the Great Lakes and 10 years after a Canadian company proposed to capture and ship 50 freighters per year of Lake Superior water to Asia, Michigan politicians have just signed onto weak measures that will do as much harm as good.

After 10 years of effort, the Compact just consented to by Michigan specifically allows Great Lakes water to become a productthe direct opposite of what the public wanted. While proponents of the Compact say it bars major water exports, there’s a loophole – there is no limitation on the amount of water that can be removed and exported from the Great Lakes as long as it is done in containers of under 20 liters (5.7 gallons). And Michigan law specifically exempts packaged water from the ban on diversions.

Why this happened is less important than how to fix it. Most importantly, Michigan lawmakers need to know their job is far from done. It’s hardly begun. The state needs quickly to close the water-for-sale loophole. And if the Legislature and Governor won’t do it, the people should do it through a petition drive and referendum.

    The alternative is more misleading news releases – and the slow draining of the Great Lakes for the benefit of a select few.

Read full By David Dempsey

imbroglio - Pickens's plan

While at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation conference in Ontario this past weekend, keynote speaker, the Discovery Institute's George Gilder, told what he thought of Pickens's plan, and he . . . well, was not impressed.
The word he used was "imbroglio."
I had to look it up:  Pronounced - im·bro·glio 
1: a confused mass
2 a: an intricate or complicated situation (as in a drama or novel)
b: an acutely painful or embarrassing misunderstanding
c: a violently confused or bitterly complicated altercation : embroilment
d: scandal 3a <survived the political imbroglio>
Yikes! What three syllable word did he use on Gore's plan?

A federal appeals court has upheld to regulate ballast water dumping into lakes

From David Dempsey  A federal appeals court has upheld the authority of the Clean Water Act and U.S. EPA to regulate ballast water dumping into lakes. Meanwhile, two competing bills in Congress would mandate either EPA or the Coast Guard to take action on the problem. The bills have divided conservationists, some of whom doubt the Coast Guard can ever be expected to take strong action against the powerful shipping and port lobby.

Jul 24, 2008

"Fresh Scent May Hide Toxic Secret"

"The scented fabric sheet makes your shirts and socks smell flowery fresh and clean. That plug-in air freshener fills your home with inviting fragrances of apple and cinnamon or a country garden. But those common household items are potentially exposing your family and friends to dangerous chemicals, a University of Washington study has found.
Trouble is, you have no way of knowing it. Manufacturers of detergents, laundry sheets and air fresheners aren't required to list all of their ingredients on their labels -- or anywhere else. Laws protecting people from indoor air pollution from consumer products are limited. When UW engineering professor Anne Steinemann analyzed of some of these popular items, she found 100 different volatile organic compounds measuring 300 parts per billion or more -- some of which can be cancerous or cause harm to respiratory, reproductive, neurological and other organ systems. Some of the chemicals are categorized as hazardous or toxic by federal regulatory agencies. But the labels tell a different story, naming only innocuous-sounding 'perfume' or 'biodegradable' contents."

Colbert Takes on Sierra Club and Environmentalism

On Monday, comedian Stephen Colbert had a fabulous interview with the Sierra Club's Carl Pope (h/t VIA Ecorazzi).


Jul 23, 2008

Who needs coal when you can mine Earth's deep heat?

SURROUNDED on all sides by desert, over 1000 kilometres from the nearest city, lies the tiny town of Innamincka, South Australia.

Innamincka has a permanent population of just 12, but each year up to 50,000 tourists swell their numbers, keen to experience the Australian outback, if not its lack of creature comforts. To keep these visitors cool, the tiny town runs up diesel bills of roughly $250,000 each year.

Come next January, however, the town could be powered for free, with electricity generated from heat mined from subterranean "hot rocks".

Conventional geothermal power taps hot water rising naturally to the surface from shallow beds of volcanic rock. By contrast, hot rock, or engineered geothermal systems, depend on heating water by circulating it through rock as far down as 5 kilometres, that has been shattered to make it porous.  Source: newscientist

Most sunscreens ineffective or pose a health risk, says group

Grist - Some 85 percent of 952 sunscreens tested are ineffective or contain potentially harmful chemicals, says this year's annual sunscreen review by the Environmental Working Group. Of 144 sunscreen products distributed by the top three leading brands -- Coppertone, Banana Boat, and Neutrogena -- only one meets EWG's criteria for safety and efficacy. The group raises especial alarm about common ingredient oxybenzone, which a handful of animal studies have linked to endocrine disruption. Some dermatologists accuse EWG's sun-protection rating system of lacking scientific rigor, but the group says it extensively reviewed medical literature on sunscreens and stands behind its data. If you're rushing out to buy one of the 28 sunscreens that fall under both the Effective and Low Hazard rubric, buy a hat too -- dermatologists stress that sunscreen without other sun-avoidance precautions may not have much of an effect on skin cancer.
sources: Abilene Reporter News, The New York Times
straight to the database: Sunscreen Summary

USA is the Number One Biggest Wind Energy Producer

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced today that the USA has overcome Germany as the biggest generator of wind energy electricity in the first half of 2008. This milestone, which was not expected until the end of 2009, comes as a result of the higher average wind speeds in the USA, since Germany is still the leader in installed capacity....

First U.S. Town Powered Completely By Wind

Rock Port, Mo., has an unusual crop: wind turbines.
The four turbines that supply electricity to the small town of 1,300 residents make it the first community in the United States to operate solely on wind power.
A map published by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that northwest Missouri has the state's highest concentrations of wind resources and contains a number of locations that are potentially suitable for utility-scale wind development. The four turbines that power Rock Port are part of a larger set of 75 turbines across three counties that are used to harvest the power of wind.
"We're farming the wind, which is something that we have up here," Crawford said. "The payback on a per-acre basis is generally quite good when compared to a lot of other crops, and it's as simple as getting a cup of coffee and watching the blades spin."
And the turbines have another benefit besides produces clean energy: MU Extension specialists said that the Missouri wind farms will bring in more than $1.1 million annually in county real estate taxes, to be paid by Wind Capital Group, a wind energy developer based in St. Louis.
"This is a unique situation because in rural areas it is quite uncommon to have this increase in taxation revenues,"
The turbines will also provide savings to rural electric companies and will provide electric service for at least 20 years, the anticipated lifetime of the turbines.
"Anybody who is currently using Rock Port utilities can expect no increase in rates for the next 15 to 20 years,"

Jul 22, 2008

VIDEO - conclusive proof of global warming

More conclusive proof of global warming

I find this even more compelling than “Revealing Evidence Proves Global Warming.”

Jul 21, 2008

Judge Allows Suit on Lead in Lipstick

"Class action against a top manufacturer of women's perfumes and makeup has been given the green light to proceed in the United States. The legal action is against the major luxury goods company giant LVMH and concerns lipstick produced for Dior which has been found to contain unacceptably high levels of lead. Dior's Addict Positive Red lipstick apparently contains double the safe level of lead and is at the centre of the case but is by no means the only culprit. The high lead levels were revealed following scientific investigations in October last year on behalf of the U.S. consumer group The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which tested 33 brand-name lipsticks and found two-thirds contained detectable levels of lead; of those, half were above the lead limit for lead in candy. ... A call by LVMH that the lawsuit filed against it in November be thrown out, has been rejected by a Chicago court, which now allows the case to proceed." The story appeared in Australia's News-Medical.net July 20, 2008.

Jul 20, 2008


The U.S. population clock is at 304, 633,590, but the scary number is the growth rate, 4,315,000 births in 2007, more than double the number a century ago, and topping the number born in 1957 at the height of the post-war baby boom.  ...birth rates for females ages 15 to 19 fell below rates for older women ages 35 to 39.
The biggest factor by far is immigration.  The birth rate among Hispanic immigrants far outpaces the modest 2.1 average births per women.  A decade ago, Hispanics made up 40 percent of the nation's increase in population. From 2000 to 2004, that number jumped to 49 percent.  The ethnic group has more than three times the growth of the national population ...
Asian immigration now mirrors what Hispanic growth once was, with new immigrants coming from countries like India, China and the Philippines, Mr. Passel said. The Asian growth rate is a close second to the Hispanic rate and is also more than three times the growth of the national population.
Though immigration among Hispanics peaked about five years ago, it continues at a steady pace, Mr. Passel added. But Hispanic babies born in the United States now outnumber new immigrants. One in five children under 18 is Hispanic, according to census figures.
An estimated 41.3 million residents living in the United States legally or otherwise are Hispanic. Experts say younger voters may energize the Hispanic voting bloc,  "As this population gets older, it will become a much more powerful political force," said Audrey Singer, an immigration fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

China will bring gasoline demand tsunami

Beware of 900 million Chinese driving cars
"Since 2000, coal prices are up 400 percent, uranium is up 1,000 percent, natural gas is up 300 percent, and oil is up 600 percent," according to Jigar Shah, founder and chief strategy officer for SunEdison in Beltsville, Md.
I've given considerable thought to a lecture I heard 25 years ago given by Albert Bartlett, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Bartlett's hypothesis is simple: We are using fossil fuels at an exponential rate. He said that between 1950 and 1960, the world used as much fossil fuels as it did in all the previous years of civilization. According to him, the world's use of fossil fuels has doubled every decade, or so, since.
The professor predicted production of crude oil would peak in 2004 and then drop off rapidly until it's gone. I fear we're feeling the irreversible impacts of a world running out of gas that Bartlett anticipated.
It is estimated that there are 60 million cars on the road in China today. By the end of 2010, that number is expected to grow to 130 million cars and if the Chinese ever reach the ratio of one car for every 1.3 people that now exists in the United States, they will have 900 million cars on the road, according to Martin Calkins, of University of Massachusetts-Boston.
I'm willing to bet that by the time that happens, the Chinese will be driving electric cars because the world will be out of gas.

Jul 19, 2008

GORE plan- A bar too high, set up an inevitable failure.

GRISTY ... the 10-year deadline seems a little insane. Gore's insistence on it's practicality is somewhat puzzling to me. But I certainly don't mind crazy goals. CNET wore its shock on its sleeve with Neal Dikeman's piece, "Is Al Gore Nuts?" Perhaps so -- that may not be such a bad thing -- but Dikeman does address the valid point that a goal too ambitious is likely to be forgotten:
That statement is about like challenging your 2 year old to finish college by the time she is 12. Not exactly practical, more than a little crazy, and likely to be either ignored, or if you push it, to cause lots of therapy sessions by the time she is 8.

A bar too high will set up an inevitable failure. But, is a failure of say 70 percent renewable electricity by 2020 all that bad? It's much more aggressive than the G8's half-off reduction.

California Uses More Gas Than China

California alone uses more gasoline than any country in the world (except the US as a whole, of course). That means California's 20 billion gallon gasoline and diesel habit is greater than China's! (Or Russia's. Or India's. Or Brazil's. Or Germany's.)
That's according to the California Energy Commission's State Alternative Fuels Plan, which was posted online last Christmas Eve (pdf). The whole report makes for some fascinating reading because it's a blueprint for a low-carbon and renewable transportation fuel future. The dominant takeaway: it ain't going to be easy.
One more choice statistic: gasoline usage in California has increased 50 percent, that's 10 6.7 billion gallons, since 1988. Has there been anything close to a commensurate increase in quality of life here to accompany that rise in energy use?
But China's oil thirst is growing -- to almost 20 billion gallons in 2007 -- and perhaps as early as this year, China's 1.3 billion people will overtake California's 37 million people in total gasoline and diesel usage.

Jul 18, 2008

Quote for Al Gore's "10 year" - implausible unicorn dreams...

"Yes, its impossible, therefore it will take a little longer." -  Paolo Lugari

Biogas Flows Through Germany's Grid Big Time

I hope the "hill reads this" PLEASE add "BIOgas" to Drive America on Natural Gas Act

The biggest biogas plant in the world to feed gas directly into the national gas grid is set to go into operation in eastern Germany at the beginning of 2009.

The plant at Konnern will feed 15 million cubic meters (m³) of biomethane into the national grid for use by customers anywhere in Germany. Experts say it is the start of a boom in biogas as the country's energy providers increasingly look to home-produced biogas to reduce their dependence on natural gas imported from Russia.

In 2007, there were 1280 megawatts (MW) of installed biogas capacity and about 3,750 biogas plants in Germany. As much as 20 percent of Germany's natural gas needs could be supplied from biogas by 2020, "Biogas is the market of the future because it allows energy to be produced and transported economically and in a decentralized way around the country,"

The boom in biogas comes thanks to a key technological breakthrough a year ago that allowed biogas to be injected into the natural gas grid and so transported around Germany economically, said Thomas Wilkens of WELtec BioPower, a company that manufactures biogas units. Read full via renewableenergyworld

Important reader comment: Anything that is compostable can be used as a feedstock for biogas. Therefore, the obvious answer to the feedstock problem is to use organic material diverted from our waste stream. This kills three birds with one stone: a). Less material going to landfill; b). Less methane production in landfills; c). free energy source for biogas production. Interestingly enough, manure is not an ideal feedstock (too much nitrogen); the ideal feedstock has a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1. If you want to see how different material combinations will affect methane outputs, check out the Anaerobic Digestor Calculator located here So where could one find a bunch of carbon-heavy, organic feedstock? Hmmm...how about suburban American? With our sprawling lawns and fastidious homeowners...we produce a heck of a lot of organic material (grass clippings, etc) that just goes to waste. My hometown of Madison, WI, for example, has to pay to truck this waste to 3 big composting sites outside of town...why not just use this as an energy source right in town?

Drive America on Natural Gas Act hits the Hill!

Now I know senate reps read my blog!
WASHINGTON, DC – Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today introduced the Drive America on Natural Gas Act to promote the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vehicles. 

“As Americans continue to suffer from high gas prices, we need to take advantage of our abundant domestic supply of natural gas for use as a transportation fuel,” Senator Inhofe said. “The Drive America on Natural Gas Act adds flexibility to the current Renewable Fuels Standard mandates by adding natural gas. It encourages the use of a proven alternative fuel and sends a market signal to manufacturers to consider compressed natural gas as a cost competitive alternative. Natural gas is domestic, plentiful, affordable, and clean. The promise of natural gas as a mainstream transportation fuel is achievable today -- not 15 or 20 years from now.

“Today, the largest hurdle facing the natural gas vehicle industry is the lack of refueling stations available to the public. By encouraging the production of bi-fuel natural gas vehicles, my bill overcomes this key difficulty. Coupled with a home refueling unit (the Phill), consumers will be comfortable purchasing bi-fuel natural gas vehicles knowing that their vehicle can also run on conventional gasoline for that occasional long distance trip from home. Installed in one’s garage, the Phill is connected to a home’s natural gas line. Once plugged into a CNG vehicle, the Phill slowly compresses natural gas into the car’s tank. Similar to the idea of plug-in hybrids, the Phill allows consumers to re-fuel at home. Unlike plug-in hybrids, this technology is not a few years away -- it is here today.

“Just last month I was pleased to visit Tom Sewall of Tulsa Natural Gas Technologies, Inc.  As a small business owner who installs NGV refueling stations, he is one of the most knowledgeable and vocal leaders in this growing industry.  In my hometown of Tulsa, OK, a person can refuel their CNG powered cars for just 90 cents per gallon.  Regular currently costs $3.95.  That’s a savings of more than $3 per gallon.

“The Drive America on Natural Gas Act will allow natural gas to compete on its own merits; it does not dictate that consumers, businesses, or states must use natural gas as a transportation fuel. The bill encourages auto manufacturers to produce bi-fuel vehicles, streamlines EPA’s emissions certifications, and establishes a natural gas vehicle research program. Americans can ultimately choose whether natural gas powered vehicles are right for their own individual and business needs.”

Read about About the Drive America on Natural Gas Act: Get the Facts on Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel 

FACT - Offshore drilling no effect until 2030...

Offshore drilling "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030″ 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently did a detailed study of the likely outcome of offshore drilling for their Annual Energy Outlook 2007, "Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)." The sobering conclusion:

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.

And the impact of the projected 7% (!) increase in lower-48 oil production that might result in 2030 thanks to opening the OCS is … wait for it …

any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.

Source: climateprogress

Writing for Wall Street Journal

No I am not writing or even adding "comments" to Keith Johnson's blog at the Wall  Street Journal. But, I did find the similarity in "content"  interesting.  While I have openly quoted and linked to Keith Johnson's Wall Street Journal blog, the content of the "Proliferate! Are Many Small Nuclear Plants the Energy Answer?" appeared with so many of my blog content points. My guess is that Keith Johnson's and I have similar view points and sources. But if he is now viewing my blog now alonge with Michael Hawthorne - of the Chicago Tribune that is just cool. 

Overnight 2.6 million Alaskan acres open for oil exploration

NY - Times:
The Interior Department on Wednesday made 2.6 million acres of potentially oil-rich territory in northern Alaska available for energy exploration. At the same time, it deferred for a decade any decision to open 600,000 acres of land north of Teshekpuk Lake that is the summer home of thousands of migrating caribou and millions of waterfowl.
The bureau has already leased out 965,000 acres of the petroleum reserve lands.
Stan Senner, executive director of Audubon Alaska, applauded the decision not to drill north of Teshekpuk, near Beaufort Sea, saying that it “acknowledges the international importance of the Teshekpuk wetlands, which have been protected by every federal administration since Jimmy Carter.” Ideally, he added, these areas will be permanently protected.
Aside from the prospect of expanding domestic oil supplies, the new production would help alleviate worries about the viability of the Alaska pipeline system.
The pipeline is transporting 700,000 barrels of oil daily, down from 2.1 million when the Prudhoe Bay fields were at peak production in 1988. If the amount of oil in the pipeline falls too low in the bitter Arctic climate, it is no longer able to flow south to the tankers that take it to California for processing.
Read more by Felicity Barringer New York Times

Just a good Idea that saves lives, gas, roads, tires and cost of goods

Senator Introduces Gasoline Conservation Bill; Study of 60 mph Limit
By Mike Millikin greencarcongress.com

US Senator John Warner (R-VA) introduced S. 3266, the “Immediate Steps to Conserve Gasoline Act.” This binding legislation calls on both the federal government and Congress to conserve gasoline by lowering their usage 3% for one year. The bill also asks the Energy Information Administration to study the effects of imposing a national speed limit of 60 miles per hour.

Warner recently requested that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study the imposition of the 55 mph speed limit in the US in 1974 to determine whether the administration and Congress should take similar action now. (Earlier post.)

The 3% reduction is the same amount by which federal agencies were required to reduce their energy usage in buildings and at facilities in the “Energy Independent and Security Act of 2007,” (EISA 2007).

While you may have to get to work 3 minutes later... "IF" we want to lower highway deaths? Consumption of 3% of gas? A billion in road repairs? Millions in tire wear? Lower the cost of shipping crap around?


Faith Based Nuclear Waste Storage is "technically challenging"

New Scientist has an article on nuclear waste storage - Contaminated US site faces 'catastrophic' nuclear leak - part of a special guide to the nuclear age.
ONE of "the most contaminated places on Earth" will only get dirtier if the US government doesn't get its act together - clean-up plans are already 19 years behind schedule and not due for completion until 2050.

More than 210 million litres of radioactive and chemical waste are stored in 177 underground tanks at Hanford in Washington State. Most are over 50 years old. Already 67 of the tanks have failed, leaking almost 4 million litres of waste into the ground.

There are now "serious questions about the tanks' long-term viability," says a Government Accountability Office report, which strongly criticises the US Department of Energy for delaying an $8 billion programme to empty the tanks and treat the waste. The DoE says the clean-up is "technically challenging" and argues that it is making progress in such a way as to protect human health and the environment.

The DoE's plan, however, is "faith-based", says Robert Alvarez, an authority on Hanford at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. "The risk of catastrophic tank failure will sharply increase as each year goes by," he says, "and one of the nation's largest rivers, the Columbia, will be in jeopardy."

Ethanol is an ugly baby...

"Ethanol is an ugly baby, but it's our baby. I'm not against any fuel unless it's foreign."

-- oil billionaire and energy independence evangelist  T. Boone Pickens  (oh so gristy)

Jul 17, 2008

I work for the government?

While I have always volunteered my expertise to the U.S. government on Environmental, Health and Safety issues.
I was unaware until "Cost of Government Day"  That I worked over 194 days this year for uncle sam.
How many hours did you work for our Uncle Sam?  Find out here
With 365 days in a year...
-minus weekends (104 days)
-minus holidays (20 days)
-minus vacation (15 days)
-minus my government work (194 days)
My boss gets me for 32 days?
YIKES - good thing I work long hours those days ;-)

Great (lakes) News from EPA - GLBTS Progress Report

Over the past ten years, the governments of Canada and the U.S., along with stakeholders from industry, academia, state/provincial and local governments, Tribes, First Nations, and environmental and community groups have worked together toward the achievement of the Strategy’s challenge goals. Of the Strategy’s 17 challenge goals that were established in 1997, 13 have been achieved and significant progress has been made toward the remaining four challenge goals.
Compared to 1988 levels, Canada achieved over 98 per cent reduction in sources, uses and releases for alkyl-lead; eliminated the use, generation or release of octachlorostyrene and five Level 1 pesticides; met its 90 percent reduction goal for mercury and dioxins and furans; and reduced emissions of hexachlorobenzene and benzo(a)pyrene by 73 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Furthermore, Canada destroyed 90 per cent of high-level PCBs in storage, compared to 1993 levels; and achieved a reduction of nearly 70 percent of high-level PCBs in service since 1989.
Similarly, the U.S. eliminated the use of alkyl-lead in automotive gasoline; eliminated the use, generation or release of octachlorostyrene and five Level 1 pesticides; achieved its 50 percent reduction goal for mercury and 75 percent goal for dioxins and furans, and reduced its benzo(a)pyrene emissions by 77 percent, in addition to significantly reducing its hexachlorobenzene releases and PCB equipment in service.
Looking ahead beyond the reduction of legacy contaminants, Canada and the U.S. have also created two new Groups under the Strategy to focus on substances of emerging concerns and sectors of importance in the Great Lakes Basin. These new efforts will enable the identification of management options for addressing the current and future releases of persistent toxic substances into the Great Lakes Basin.
For additional information about the GLBTS, the innovative public-private binational partnership aimed at reducing toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes, please consult the 2007 GLBTS Progress Report at: www.binational.net
Hat tip to Ed & Al  ;-)

Low cost Fission energy down the hole... but lets throw energy in a mountain.

Next week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will rule on an application from NuScale Power, an Oregon-based startup that is seeking federal clearance to move ahead with its project to build mini or portable nuclear reactors.
Because of their size, the mini plants can be built at a central factory and shipped via rail or large truck anywhere in the country, keeping construction costs down.
An Energy Department official told New Scientist magazine four years ago that such reactors wouldn't require maintenance or need to be refueled. After their useful life of about 30 years they could be returned to the factory.
And oh yes: They're virtually terrorist-proof.
While neighbourhood-friendly mini nuclear plants could displace a large number of traditional coal- and gas-fired power plants, they would be especially useful in remote areas where fossil fuels are used to run generators making it unnecessary to burn large amounts of gasoline and diesel to transport other fossil fuels to these isolated outposts.

High Oil Prices? Blame Ethanol, OPEC Says

Ethanol is on the ropes because of the food versus fuel debate, but now a new heavyweight just stepped into the ring and this one has got some really big guns.
OPEC president Chakib Khelil has a new culprit for the rising cost of oil–ethanol. Mr. Khelil says about 40% of the recent rise in oil prices can be chalked up to ethanol, which accounts for about 1% of the world’s transportation fuel. The other 60%, apparently, is due to a weak dollar and “geopolitical worries.”
The problem: OPEC’s boss doesn’t lay out the logic explaining why ethanol blended into gasoline is to blame for high oil prices.
Suddenly, ethanol producers are getting hit from all sides–food and fuel. Ethanol lobbies made their pitch to G-8 leaders earlier this month, pleading with under-fire world leaders not to scrap ethanol programs in light of rising alarm that ethanol and biofuels are to blame for high food prices. Ethanol producers got no favors Wednesday with a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based rich-country club, which said biofuels do contribute to rising food prices. The OECD urged governments to pour subsidies into energy efficiency, instead.
Those outside attacks are helping paper over internal differences between the big ethanol lobbies, most notably Brazil’s longtime desire to knock down U.S. tariffs on imports of Brazilian ethanol. Brazil (and some congressmen) figure more Brazilian ethanol means cheaper gas. U.S. ethanol producers like the $0.54 per gallon tariff just fine.
Knowing Brazilian sugarcane ethanol reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by 90%  compared with regular fossil fuels.

Haase's EASY answer - Lift tariff on Brazil and STOP subsidizing fuel from food sources (DAhhh)

Richard Branson in Virgin on carbon dioxide disaster

Richard Branson believes biofuels are the answer to guilt-free flying. But there is growing evidence that they are a downward spiral to increasing carbon emissions. Jackie Jacobsen reports It’s not enough for Richard Branson to plaster his trademark V on every industry...read more

Why cap and trade would backfire

Claims that capping greenhouse-gas emissions and creating a market for emissions trading – a policy prescription called "cap-and-trade" – would reduce carbon dioxide output and with it the risk of global warming. But it could achieve the opposite. Here's how: By turning carbon emissions into commodities that can be bought and sold, cap-and-trade policies could remove the stigma from producing such emissions. In the late 1990s, Israeli ... Link

1/3 of U.S. forests responsible for 2/3 of U.S. water supply

Mongabay: The single most important function of U.S. forests is their role in securing the country's freshwater supply at a time when water demand is surging but climate risks to forests are also increasing, say the authors of a new federal report released by the National Research Council. The report, titled Hydrologic Effects Of A Changing Forest Landscape, looks at how better management of forest resources could increase water supplies and quality. It identifies future research needs and ... Link

Great Lakes invaders wreak $200 million damage: study

Reuters: Invasive species that have hitched rides into the Great Lakes since they were connected to the sea nearly 50 years ago are causing $200 million a year in damages, according to a study published on Wednesday. The figure is conservative and does not include damage done to the Canadian economy or other parts of the United States where some of the invaders have travelled by water, said the report from the Center for Aquatic Conservation at the University of Notre Dame in ...Link

11 Billion in Biofuel Aid Called Ineffective at Cutting CO2

Bloomberg: The U.S., Canada and the European Union's combined $11 billion in annual subsidies for plant- derived fuels does little to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said. The greenhouse gas released by cars, trucks, airplanes and ships ``at best'' will decline 0.8 percent by 2015 in those regions with the help of aid programs, Stefan Tangermann, the Paris-based group's director for trade and agriculture, said today at a briefing in ..Link

FACT - "if drilling works, it'll take a decade or more for the oil to flow."

"Oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of oil leases and refuse to drill."
"Record profits by big oil companies are the reason for soaring prices."

Insane - US Unveils Plan to Bury Carbon

Reuter- WASHINGTON - The United States unveiled plans on Tuesday to bury climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions deep underground to keep the greenhouse gas from further heating up the atmosphere.

The burial process, known as carbon capture and storage or geologic sequestration, has long been part of the Bush administration's strategy to combat climate change without imposing any economy-wide limit on carbon emissions.

But this is the first time the US government has proposed requirements on how to do it. No federal rule is expected until late 2010 at the earliest, according to Benjamin Grumbles of the Environmental Protection Agency.

HAASE - Why is this insanity? This is a short term REACTIVE fix that will deplete economy and finite coal & oil reserves... It allows us to continue pushing off inevitable conservation and technology programs required for a sustainable future. 

I have listed the top five "simple inarguable problems" with the (CCS) carbon capture and storage plans 
ONE - Raises the energy consumption of a coal plant by an average of 32 percent (together, CCS will probably raise energy consumption by as much as 50 percent).
FOUR -  A carbon capture and storage infrastructure requires HUGE infrastructure consisting of pipelines that rivals the existing oil and gas network.
While I already covered this in detail (link here), crap like this will make anyone a nuclear energy advocate... it's just nuts.
EPA and "policy" experts not buying it? Better read more about it here:
...it may be easy to read, many find it hard to understand.  Energy czars persuade the persuadable to continue a future built by destroying finite resources   "the greenest energy is that which you needn't ever produce

Jul 16, 2008

0.12 kw power unlimited sustainable power

Steve Spence from  green-trust.org returned from Enviroweek. One of the most promising solutions was presented by West Indies Power (WIP), and centers on installing high voltage undersea power lines from nearby volcanic geothermal plants on Nevis and Saba. This electricity, provided to local power companies at $0.12 / kWh, is less expensive than the current $0.19 / kWh fuel component, which is expected to spike to astronomical levels, before becoming unavailable due to larger economies outbidding the islands to feed their burgeoning growth.

dehumidifier creates purified water, free of chemicals, chlorine, chalk or any other preservative agents.

From Steve Spence... green-trust.org

the Enviro Week show in St. Maarten, we met Bruno Therond and his water makers. He kept us hydrated all weekend with these awesome machines:

The Air/Water Generator (AWG) Technology condenses moisture in the air “water from the atmosphere” and purify it into a superior grade of purified, potable water. While the principle & technology is well known as a refrigerated dehumidifier the application to AWGs are fairly new and the water collected is purified and stored instead of being disposed off.

The key challenge is to keep the clean drinking water purified until consumption.

The water produced remain purified through an elaborate system using 5 stages of filtration including ultra violet light to ensure complete sterilization of all water born bacteria.

These environmentally friendly, low voltage, chemical free, 100% independent automatic water supply can provide from 24 to 5000 liters of water per day for drinking water and additional purposes & water needs, (irrigation, cisterns, animals, etc.)

There is no connection to any water supply what so ever, no bottles to be delivered, no pipes.

The purified water quality is free of chemicals, chlorine, chalk or any other preservative agents.

It is a dehumidifier.

It also recycles and cleans the air you breathe. Find out more at: green-trust.org

nuke dump to top $90 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Turns out, it's going to cost taxpayers $32 billion more than first thought to open and operate the nation's first nuclear waste dump. — made public Tuesday — is that the facility will cost over $90 billion. It's the first official estimate since 2001, when the figure was $58 billion.
Already, some 64,000 tons of radioactive spent fuel rods are stored at commercial reactor sites in 33 states, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Most of it is stored in vault-like pools while some has been moved into dry-cask storage, where Nevada lawmakers, who oppose Yucca Mountain, would like it to stay.
Commercial nuclear power plants now produce some 20 percent of U.S. electricity, but concern about waste disposal has hampered the industry's growth.
Yucca Mountain was originally supposed to open in 1998 but has been beset by lawsuits and political and scientific controversies. The best-possible opening date is now 2020,  Sproat told lawmakers at an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.
The Energy Department did succeed in submitting a required construction license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month. The commission has up to four years to decide whether to approve it — but that timeline, too, is dependent on congressionally approved budgets.
Read full By ERICA WERNER (AP)

06 Volkswagen's Polo 62 MPG of Diesel-Sipping Fun

Fast, fun, 62 mpg - NOT YOURS in the U.S.
:Edmunds.com  ...the Polo Blue Motion promises Toyota Prius -beating fuel economy at the low price of $19,990.
Its Lupo 3L, the advanced 78-mpg city car masterminded by former chairman Ferdinand PiĆ«ch, proved just what is capable if a carmaker is prepared to forgo profits. Unfortunately, the disappointing sales figures — only 28,000 units were sold in six years — meant the mileage champ was ultimately dropped from the German carmaker's lineup. That's a 8.3-mpg improvement over its standard sibling, made even more impressive by the car's 717-mile range.
What about the the Billion dollar prize at 100mpg posted by The L.A. Times? Time to pony up Dan... The VW Lupo 3l actually does close to 100 mpg not just the 78 mpg. The mathematics are really pretty simple. In the UK a gallon = 4.5 litres. The car goes 100km on 3 litres of diesel so it goes 150km on 4.5 litres or 1 gallon. 150km converts to 93 miles so the Lupo 3L does 93mpg. Even better, it can be simply converted to run on 100% rapeseed oil which is completely renewable and the only co2 emitted is that which was absorbed by the rapeseed plants when they were growing. Rapeseed oil can be bought for 50p a litre in the UK compared to diesel which is now approaching £1 per litre!
So, to conclude, we should all be buying up Lupo 3l cars and running them on rapeseed oil.  How does £9 to travel 372 miles sound? 

I as well fail to see how this is breathtaking. My parents used to drive a Toyota that got 50pmg from the 70's. Good Ol' Fashioned engineering maybe, but it is certainly not fascinating. If automotive technology had kept it's innovation at the same pace as CPU technology, we would be driving some amazing vehicles.
But US manufacturers are still using the same basic combustion engine design that was invented in the late 1800's. This is probably one of the few industries that have been manufacturing 100+ year old technology.

When they die... we die.

...clue to why the world's amphibians are disappearing faster than any class of species since the dinosaur.
American scientists are about to publish research showing that male toads on intensively farmed land are changing sex.
The researchers, from the University of Florida, studied one of the toughest and most aggressive of all amphibian species – the cane toad, Bufo marinus, whose indestructibility has caused it to become a plague over much of Australia – only to find that it is being, literally, unmanned.
As they will report in a forthcoming issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, 40 per cent of the males examined from a heavily farmed part of the state had become hermaphrodites, possessing both testes and ovaries, and taking on feminine colouring and body characteristics. Another 20 per cent, while outwardly male, had undergone some feminisation.
The results will be buttressed by a Canadian study – to be published in Aquatic Toxicology – which finds a similar link between farming and sex changes in local northern leopard frogs.
The Florida scientists conclude that the changes are likely to be "the result of multiple exposure to several chemicals at various concentrations over the lifetime of the toads". Previous, disputed, studies have suggested that some pesticides may have this effect on amphibians, while research at Yale University found that male green frogs were being feminised much more often in suburban gardens than on farmland.
Whatever the cause, the phenomenon may explain why amphibians are now the most endangered class of animal on the planet. More than 120 species are believed to have become extinct, and almost a third of those that are left are in danger.

Chicago reaching limit on fresh water supply

Planners, manufacturers look for ways to get water to 2.2 million more people from the same — or smaller — supplies
The EPA says at least 36 states are anticipating shortages by 2013 even under non-drought conditions.
With an estimated 2.2 million more people expected to live in Northeastern Illinois by 2030, the bottom-line question becomes not mortgage availability or zoning densities or commuting expenses but whether there will be enough water to go around and at what cost.
Perched on the edge of one of the world's great fresh water sources, the Chicago metro area, ironically, is reaching the upper limit of the water it can take from the lake by court order while at the same time discovering the deep water aquifers supplying outer suburbs are not replenishing as before.
"Most people don't think they waste water" but at the same time they are not eager for higher utility costs or added taxes, said Al Dietemann, acting resource conservation manager of the Seattle Public Utilities. Businesses and consumers respond when "the public is aware they can keep water bills down with more efficient water use," he said.
By 2007, the Seattle-area Saving Water Partnership, an 18-member utility consortium in Seattle and King County, reported the total billed water consumption had dropped 23 percent since 1990 and 13 percent since 2000.
The drop was the result of a public education program and through incentives to use more water-efficient (water-saving) equipment.
In addition to regional planning, Illinois eventually may have to come up with a state water plan. It is one of eight states that has approved the Great Lakes Compact, an effort to protect and restrict access to water in the five Great Lakes. Michigan, the last state bordering the Great Lakes to approve the agreement, signed on Wednesday. The Compact must be approved by Congress before it becomes law.
If the Compact goes forward, it "requires the state to pass a conservation plan with specific conservation goals and implementation steps," noted Joyce O'Keefe, deputy director of Openlands.
This planning dovetails with growing public awareness and understanding of natural resources limits, O'Keefe said. It's an awareness that is being heightened by the U.S. EPA's national WaterSense program, similar to the successful Energy Star label, to identify products that are 20 to 30 percent more water efficient, and local programs such as green roofs to promote water conservation and reduce storm-water runoff.
McHenry's underground aquifers can produce 120 million gallons of water a day, more than enough to supply the 34.6 million gallons a day drawn in 2000 and meet an anticipated need of 67.5 million gallons a day projected for 2030. Future usage, however, could reach 164 million gallons a day if all the towns in McHenry achieve their master plans, more than is now available.

Jul 15, 2008

Salvation if we want it... but we all fear change.

Word facts... Humanity stands on the threshold of a peaceful and prosperous future,
Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it.
Tell them something new and they will hate you for it
- George Monbiot
Energy czars persuade the persuadable to continue a future built by destroying finite resources 
"the greenest energy is that which you needn't ever produce."
We've seen the future ... and we may not be doomed
UN report finds life is getting better for people worldwide – but that governments are failing to grasp the opportunities offered at 'a unique time'.
Humanity stands on the threshold of a peaceful and prosperous future, with an unprecedented ability to extend lifespans and increase the power of ordinary people – but is likely to blow it through inequality, violence and environmental degradation. And governments are not equipped to ensure that the opportunities are seized and disasters averted.
So says a massive new international report, due to be published late this month, and obtained by The Independent on Sunday. Backed by organisations ranging from Unesco to the US army, the World Bank to the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2008 State of the Future report runs to 6,300 pages and draws on contributions from 2,500 experts around the globe.
Its warning is all the more stark for eschewing doom and gloom. "The future continues to get better for most of the world," it concludes, "but a series of tipping points could drastically alter global prospects."
... "This is a unique time in history.  It is increasingly clear that the world has the resources to address our common challenges. Ours is the first generation with the means for many to know the world as a whole, identify global improvement systems, and seek to improve [them]."
What is more, say the authors of the report, produced by the Millennium Project of the World Federation of the United Nations Associations, many important things are already getting better. Life expectancy and literacy rates are increasing worldwide, while infant mortality and the number of armed conflicts have been falling fast. Per capita income has been growing strongly enough to cut poverty by more than half by 2015
Even better, it says, "advances in science, technology, education, economics and management seem capable of making the world work far better than it does today". "collective intelligence for just-in-time knowledge to inform decisions".
The report reserves its greatest enthusiasm for the internet, which it says is "already the most powerful force for globalisation, democratisation, economic growth and education in history.
Just over one-third of humanity still lives in the 43 countries with authoritarian regimes, but half of these people are in China.
On the other hand, the report warns "half the world is vulnerable to social instability and violence due to rising food and energy prices, failing states, falling water tables, climate change, decreasing water-food-energy supply per person, desertification and increasing migrations due to political, environmental and economic conditions" – threaten to undo the improvements of recent years and blight the chance of a better future.
Yet nuclear power – the solution increasingly favoured by governments, which are planning to add another 350 reactors to the 438 already operating around the world – will not do the job. "For nuclear energy to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, about 2,000 nuclear power plants would have to be built, at $5-15bn per plant, over 15 years – and possibly an additional 8,000 plants beyond that to 2050."
The report says that there is not enough uranium in the world to fuel all those reactors, that another Chernobyl-type accident could halt the expansion in its tracks, and that the rapid spread of the atom around the world increases the chances of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
There are grounds for hope... But the report's authors say that governments are not up to the job: "Many of the world's decision-making processes are inefficient, slow and ill-informed, especially when given the new demands from increasing complexity [and] globalisation." They call on world leaders to do more long-term planning, and to join in global approaches to the interlocking crises. "There seems to be an interest in creating global strategies, but it needs a little push. There's more within us now to collaborate in the face of shared problems."

Contaminated US site faces 'catastrophic' nuclear leak

One of "the most contaminated places on Earth" will only get dirtier if the US government doesn't get its act together - clean-up plans are already 19 years behind schedule and not due for completion until 2050.
More than 210 million litres of radioactive and chemical waste are stored in 177 underground tanks at Hanford in Washington State. Most are over 50 years old. Already 67 of the tanks have failed, leaking almost 4 million litres of waste into the ground.
There are now "serious questions about the tanks' long-term viability," says a Government Accountability Office report, which strongly criticises the US Department of Energy for delaying an $8 billion programme to empty the tanks and treat the waste. The DoE says the clean-up is "technically challenging" and argues that it is making progress in such a way as to protect human health and the environment.
The DoE's plan, however, is "faith-based", says Robert Alvarez, an authority on Hanford at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. "The risk of catastrophic tank failure will sharply increase as each year goes by," he says, "and one of the nation's largest rivers, the Columbia, will be in jeopardy."
Read full from New Scientist

Mad cow disease prions can survive conventional sewage treatment,

Mad cow disease-causing prions can survive conventional sewage treatment, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists.
Prions — rogue misfolded proteins that cause mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease, and its human equivalent, variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease — are not degraded by standard wastewater decontamination and can end up in fertilizers, potentially contaminating crops.
Prions never have been reported in U.S. municipal sewage. But as a precaution, “we should keep prions out of wastewater treatment plants,” said Joel Pedersen, an environmental engineer at UW-Madison who led the study.
Prions are notoriously resilient to extreme heat, caustic chemicals and irradiation, but it wasn’t known how they would fare under the standard barrage of treatments applied to wastewater sludge.
However, it is unlikely the prions would be guzzled in treated tap water, expert says.
These findings cast doubt on the safety of biosolids, Pedersen said, though he noted that the water effluent was clean and prion-free.
Biosolids generally are thought to lack human pathogens and to be safe for agricultural applications. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District makes a fertilizer called Milorganite from its Jones Island treatment plant’s biosolids. Madison makes its own biosolids fertilizer, called Metrogro.
“We’re looking at this research and asking what we can do to improve our systems,” said Jeff Spence, marketing director for Milorganite. “Based on the findings, there’s little or no risk in regard to these rogue proteins as it relates to biosolids.”
Since prions were restricted to the biosolids and not the water, the study “gives better confidence that (prions) could be sequestered in matter associated with solid materials,” and potentially removed, said Fran Kremer, a senior science adviser for the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of the Environmental Protection Agency, which partially funded the study.