Aug 31, 2010

1 in 6 Americans in Government Anti-Poverty Programs

HTML clipboardGovernment anti-poverty programs that have grown to meet the needs of recession victims now serve a record one in six Americans and are continuing to expand. More than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, the federal-state program aimed principally at the poor, a survey of state data by USA today shows

The program has grown even before the new health care law adds about 16 million people, beginning in 2014. That has strained doctors. "Private physicians are already indicating that they're at their limit," says Dan Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers.

More than 40 million people get food stamps, an increase of nearly 50% during the economic downturn, according to government data through May. The program has grown steadily for three years.

Read more at USA today

Aug 30, 2010

Bio Degradable Consumer Products 'so 1950's

1953 DJ De Pree - 'We will be good stewards of the environment.'  a remarkably progressive businessman for his era.

He was very conscious of his company's responsibility to society and to its employees. He introduced a universal bonus system in 1949 and eventually stock ownership, once the company went public in 1970.  The beakers are an illustration of the Kira fabric's life cycle—the first textile to be created from corn. HTML clipboard

The first beaker (left) shows corn kernels, then corn starch, then liquified, then purified, then synthesized into a corn-based polymer, then woven to a textile, and then the last beaker shows that when composted the fabric simply returns to the soil.

Aaron Britt at Dwell: The scion of the Dow Chemical family Alden B. Dow. He did over a hundred buildings in a town of about 40,000 from the 1930s to the 1970s, and never had I seen a town whose aesthetic and feel owed such a debt to just one architect. I got a great tour of the Alden B. Dow home and studio (go if you can!) as well as a tour of town from the home and studio's director Craig McDonald. Have a look at this slideshow to see what I did.

DOE Biomass Program FREE Webinar Series

The biofuels life-cycle: At each stage  of the life-cycle, energy is spent to harvest, transport, refine,  distribute, and use the biofuels.

DOE Progress Alert The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Biomass Program is hosting a Webinar on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, from 2:00–4:30 p.m. EDT entitled "The Promise and Challenge of Algae as a Renewable Source of Biofuels." This Web conference marks the first in the Biomass Program's Webinar series, which will cover many of the program's activities and feature "Hot Topics" discussions relevant to the development of renewable fuels, power, and products from biomass resources. 

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This Webinar will focus on the program's approach to algal biofuels research and development and will include presentations from four of its recently funded consortia, comprised of more than 65 partners across the United States. This session will also discuss highlights from the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap, which was released by DOE in June 2010.

The Biomass Program welcomes interested stakeholders from industry, academia, research institutions, government, non-profits, other organizations, and the general public. Presenters include Joanne Morello of DOE's Biomass Program and representatives from the National Alliance For Advanced Biofuels and Bio-Products (NAABB), the Center for Algae Biotechnology Commercialization (CAB-Comm), the Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium (SABC), and Cellana, LLC.

This Webinar is free to all participants, but be sure to register in advance to secure your spot. 

GLAS webinar to learn more and ask questions

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Accountability System (GLAS) is the primary mechanism for collecting information to monitor and report on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) progress. GLAS is a Web-based project tracking system that will be available to the public to provide transparency and accountability for how GLRI funds are being
used.

Webinar links below
Watch the GLAS demonstration video which shows the key information and capabilities of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Accountability System (GLAS).

Draft Clean Water Strategy is released

EPA - 
 "The Coming Together for Clean Water event and online discussion gave us a lot to think about regarding how EPA can most effectively pursue our nation's clean water goals. After a lot of consideration, we've developed this draft strategy to outline how we hope to accomplish those goals."
We're pleased to share this draft with you and welcome your comments.  The draft strategy will be available for comment until September 17.

After that, we'll start developing the final strategy, which we hope to have ready by late 2010. Coming Together for Clean Water Disc Draft Aug 2010 FINAL

German Secret to saving economy

American jobs, recently even white-collar jobs, have been, and are now being, transferred to low-wage workers in other countries.
Since 2000, the U.S. has lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs, with 2.1 million of those jobs being lost in the last two years alone. Since 2001, over 42,400 factories have closed in the U.S., and another 90,000 are considered to be at severe risk of closing. The last time so few people were employed in manufacturing was in 1941, before World War II spending pulled that sector out of its Great Depression slump.

As a result of the loss of all these outsourced jobs, poverty in America is going to keep getting worse if they cannot be brought back, and ever more American children are as a result going to be raised in poverty and violence, with ever more hellish societal and personal consequences.

But Germans don't
The Germans still slap import taxes on stuff that their companies might be tempted to manufacture abroad, and by this means and others, the German government protects German jobs and incomes. As a result, last quarter saw more German GDP growth than at anytime since the reunification of the country. Plus, their unemployment rate during the recent recession was never anywhere near as high as ours in America.

The German government subsidized worker salaries after it asked employers to cut their hours down to 30 or even 20 a week (rather than terminate any of them) if there wasn't enough work to keep all of them busy full time. This enabled all workers to keep on spending just as they had been, and so a German recession was for the most part, by this two means, avoided. In short, high-wage countries like Germany figured out a way to compete with China and Mexico. 

The proof of this: In 2008, Germany ran a $267-billion trade surplus, while the United States ran a $568-billion trade deficit.

Will the 2013 solar flare return us to the Stone Age?

Fox Business News Channel brought the "top physicist" (right after Al Gore, Lee Smolin, and Joe Romm) Michio Kaku who explained that we're doomed in 3 years:
Every 11 years the [Sun's] north pole and the south pole flip, releasing a burst of radiation. But, every 100 years or so, a monster Tsunami from the Sun emerges which could literally cause trillions in property damage. […]

It could paralyze the economy of the planet Earth. In 1859 we had a gigantic solar storm which knocked out telegraph wires back then, 150 years ago. If that had happened today it would knock out almost all our satellites, knock out power stations, there would be food riots around the country because refrigeration would stop, airplanes would probably crash without radar. […]

And again, this is a once in a century, once in two centuries storm…

We do have them and we have to worry about them. […]

We'd be thrown back 100 years.
Every 100 years, we're thrown back 100 years just by the solar storms, we're told. Because there are dozens of types of similar catastrophes, it is clear that every 100 years, we're thrown back several millennia. ;-)

Why 2013?
Well, it's simple. The Solar Cycle 24 is predicted to reach its maximum in May 2013. And this maximum has to be spectacular, some people said.

In reality, such a maximum occurs every 11 years and just very recently, we thought that the ongoing solar cycle would be one of the least active ones: the sunspot number at the maximum was predicted to be e.g. 90, the lowest peak in 1928, and many people used it to argue that the reduced activity will induce a substantial cooling on Earth. A low activity would also seem to imply a low intensity and frequency of the solar storms and flares.

Nevertheless, two months ago, "NASA" warned of the 2013 apocalypse:
Telegraph, Telegraph video, WUWT, Google News

Read more at The Reference Frame

Aug 29, 2010

Wind Power Won't Cool Planet...Often leads to higher emissions.

Wall Street Journal The wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the claim that it will provide major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

There's just one problem: It's not true.

A slew of recent studies show that wind-generated electricity likely won't result in any reduction in carbon emissions—or that they'll be so small as to be almost meaningless.

 This issue is especially important now that states are mandating that utilities produce arbitrary amounts of their electricity from renewable sources. By 2020, for example, California will require utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewables.

About 30 states, including Connecticut, Minnesota and Hawaii, are requiring major increases in the production of renewable electricity over the coming years.
Wind—not solar or geothermal sources—must provide most of this electricity. It's the only renewable source that can rapidly scale up to meet the requirements of the mandates. This means billions more in taxpayer subsidies for the wind industry and higher electricity costs for consumers.

None of it will lead to major cuts in carbon emissions, for two reasons. First, wind blows only intermittently and variably. Second, wind-generated electricity largely displaces power produced by natural gas-fired generators, rather than that from plants burning more carbon-intensive coal.

Read on at Wall Street Journal

Aug 28, 2010

Solar storm to hit Earth in 2012 with 'force of 100m bombs'

Ynews  Astronomers are predicting that a massive solar storm, much bigger in potential than the one that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier this month, is to strike our planet in 2012 with a force of 100 million hydrogen bombs.

Several US media outlets have reported that NASA was warning the massive flare this month was just a precursor to a massive solar storm building that had the potential to wipe out the entire planet's power grid.

Similar storms back in 1859 and 1921 caused worldwide chaos, wiping out telegraph wires on a massive scale. The 2012 storm has the potential to be even more disruptive.

"They can even trip circuit breakers and knock out orbiting satellites, as has already been done this year," added Reneke.No one really knows what effect the 2012-2013 Solar Max will have on today's digital-reliant society.

Read more at Yahoo news

Aug 27, 2010

Russian & China Race - Nuclear energy at 70% lower cost.

“SmartGen hybrid gas-wind turbine”


smartgen hybrid gas wind turbine

Eco Factor: Hybrid gas-wind turbine can increase their performance of existing facilities.

Wouldn't it be great if one could harness energy even when wind isn't blowing? This is exactly what Hybrid Turbines Inc., a Colorado-based company promises. Its latest product called the "SmartGen hybrid gas-wind turbine" uses biogas or natural gas to spin wind turbine generators when the wind is not blowing.

The SmartGen system that can be retrofitted into existing wind turbines enables wind turbines to produce energy at periods of low wind, by turning the turbine with compressed air generated at the base of the tower from a turbo-compressor that is run on natural gas or biogas. The company claims that their innovation turbine is capable of increase their performance of existing facilities. The SmartGen solution is currently applicable to units with up to 4 MW of capacity, onshore or offshore

Image Credit

Via: Ecogeek

Sit Longer, Die Sooner

Those who sat a lot and moved less than three and a half hours per day are the most likely to die early: researchers found a 94 percent increased risk for women and 48 percent increase for men, they announced recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology.'"

Bad news for most of us here — The Chicago Tribune is reporting that even if you get plenty of exercise, sitting down all day reduces your lifespan. From the article: 'Even after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and smoking, the researchers found that women who sit more than 6 hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die than those who sit less than 3 hours; for men, long-sitters were 17 percent more likely to die. People who exercise regularly had a lower risk, but still significant, risk of dying.

Aug 25, 2010

20% of the cost of diesel and it’s domestic; it’s American.

RE: T Boone's Hey may not be 100% right, but how much of his plan is wrong? And a least he offers a plan b... there has to be a plan that bridges us off oil gently over the next decade... see more of T Boone on CNBC

CNBC "Squawkbox"  "the NAT GAS Act" in the House and Senate would cut our imports from OPEC in half. That can be done in seven years."

Boone described the tax credit on how to achieve it. "We have a model for this," he said. "In California the state provided a $50,000 per truck tax credit for trash and recycling trucks to move from diesel to natural gas."

"In 20 years," he said, "we'll be on batteries, but natural gas is the transition fuel to get us off OPEC oil. A battery won't move an 18-wheeler today."

First round of grants is open for Brownfield Site Assessment's

Brownfield Site Assessment Grant (SAG) for Local Governments

MADISON – Wisconsin communities with properties that have known or suspected environmental contamination can apply for state grants to help jump start cleaning up the properties.
The Department of Natural Resources Brownfield Site Assessment Grants (SAG) are available to help municipalities start investigation activities at brownfields, which are abandoned, idle or underused industrial or commercial properties where redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived contamination.
Please see Site Assessment Grants page of the DNR for Applications and instructions for the grants.

EPA's Draft Strategy for Clean Water

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting the public to comment on the agency's draft strategy to protect and restore our nation's lakes, streams and coastal waters. The strategy, "Coming Together for Clean Water: EPA's Strategy for Achieving Clean Water," is designed to chart EPA's path in furthering EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's key priority of protecting America's waters.

The strategy was developed by considering the input and ideas generated at the April "Coming Together for Clean Water" forum as well as comments received through the online discussion forum. Participants shared their perspectives on how to advance the EPA's clean water agenda focusing on the agency's two priority areas: healthy watersheds and sustainable communities. EPA is now inviting the public to consider and provide their comments on the approaches outlined in the strategy.

Public comments on the draft strategy should be submitted by September 17. EPA will review all comments and post a final strategy later in the year.

More information on the draft strategy and to comment:

Geothermal energy production from $0.10 kWh to $0.06 kWh.

DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program announced on August 20 a $15 million funding opportunity to research and develop innovative methods of extracting heat from geothermal resources. DOE is promoting the advancement and commercialization of technologies for heat recovery with environmental, technical, and financial risks that are potentially lower than currently available methods are. The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) seeks applicants to expand geothermal power generation into geologically diverse environments, such as permeable sedimentary formations that minimize the risk of rapid drawdown of a reservoir's heat. The FOA also calls for the reduction of the levelized cost of electricity for new methods of geothermal energy production from $0.10 kWh to $0.06 kWh.

Aug 24, 2010

Peak oil alarm revealed 'secret' official talks

Via the BigGav
ObserverExperts say they have received a letter from David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the DECC, asking for information and advice on peak oil amid a growing campaign from industrialists such as Sir Richard Branson for the government to put contingency plans in place to deal with any future crisis.

.. documents obtained under the FoI Act seen by the Observer show that a "peak oil workshop" brought together staff from the DECC, the Bank of England and Ministry of Defence among others to discuss the issue.

A ministry note of that summit warned that "[Government] public lines on peak oil are 'not quite right'. They need to take account of climate change and put more emphasis on reducing demand and also the fact that peak oil may increase volatility in the market."

Those comments were written 12 months ago, but a letter in response to the FoI request written by DECC officials and dated 31 July 2010 says it can only release some information on what is currently under policy discussion because they are "ongoing" and "high profile" in nature.

Read more at PeakEnergy

Aug 22, 2010

Food Related Energy Use Increased - Fuel for Food?

DocUticker Energy Use in the U.S. Food System... Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages To Curb Obesity; World Sugar Price Volatility Intensified by Market and Policy Factors;

U.S. Farm Structure: Declining—But Persistent—Small Commercial Farms; and Accelerated Productivity Growth Offsets Decline in Resource Expansion in Global Agriculture. The September issue also includes selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America. Please read at USDA

Exploding Lake' Provides Electricity For Rwanda

Folks, this is REALLY how we fix energy, safety and environmental problems together
Slashdot - "There are three known 'exploding lakes' in the world, where volcanic gases build up near the lake bottom until they suddenly fizz over, suffocating people with huge amounts of carbon dioxide. But the lakes also hold methane and one of them, Rwanda's Lake Kivu, is being actively tapped as a source of natural gas to fuel a power plant on the lake's shore. The government hopes that within two years, the plant will be covering a third of the country's needs. By siphoning off the gas, engineers simultaneously defuse a ticking time bomb in the lake and provide power to local communities."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Atlantic Ocean - Plastic death on the seas

Independent - The discovery of another huge concentration of rubbish, this one in the Atlantic and comparable in size to the now notorious "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", is a stark reminder of how, despite the warnings of ecologists that have been ringing in our ears for decades, we continue to throw away more and more plastic, regardless of the consequences.

As the new study revealing the existence of this concentration points out, between 1976 and 2008 the amount of plastic thrown out worldwide increased by 500 per cent.

That is a little abstract, so let us bring it down to the level of personal behaviour. In 1976 milk was still delivered in recyclable glass bottles; we washed ourselves with bars of soap, and if we went to a café for coffee or tea, we drank it out of ceramic cups. People went to the shops with what were called shopping bags, sometimes very practically equipped with wheels.

Very few of us probably sang hallelujah on the day when the last dairy float was retired or shower gel gave soap the elbow, and the movement to limit the use of plastic bags in supermarkets has gained some ground in recent years. But year after year it has served the interests of our commercial masters to get us to use and then throw away more and more plastic, and the resistance we have collectively put up has been pathetic. The great Atlantic garbage patch is a floating rebuke to our consciences.
...the message from the Atlantic is simple: the war against plastic is being lost. The waste remains, and kills.

Please read full at Independent

Aug 21, 2010

Gulf oil plume at least 22 miles long and 1.2 miles wide

PopSci - The report comes two weeks after a government study that most researchers said was widely misinterpreted...

We have made a conscious choice since the 'peak oil'

"The estimate that chemical dispersants were successful at dispersing 8 percent of the leaked oil [as stated in the NIC report] is, quite frankly, ludicrous," he said in an e-mail message.

Many others agree, and at least two studies emerged this week that appear to directly contradict the government's findings. But none of them proves anything conclusively. Reddy said government scientists, along with those at universities and private institutions, are trying to account for all the oil like balancing a checkbook. But a checkbook is difficult to balance when none of the numbers being used are firmly accurate.

"In truth, no one really has any idea whatsoever of how much oil has gone where," Steiner said.

Some estimates suggested 80 percent of it went to the surface, and if that's so, then it's reasonable to assume much of it is gone, according to Louisiana State University emeritus professor Ed Overton. Oil at the surface would quickly evaporate and be consumed by naturally present bacteria, he said.

He thinks dispersants probably contributed to the plume's presence. If the oil had not been dissipated into microdroplets as it was spewing from the well, more of it would have floated to the surface, he said.

"A lot of that oil, and the toxic constituents in that oil, has probably been dispersed into the water column, and that is what these scientific discoveries are finding out - there appear to be these plumes," he said.

There's at least one area in which scientists can agree: The impact on Gulf ecosystems will not be clear for years to come.

Congress could make party balloons $100

Clowns will be sad... I know I mentioned this before but, the world is running our of helium. The stuff of birthday balloons, superconducting magnets and Mickey Mouse voices could get a lot more expensive in the near future, according to a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

New Scientist has an interview today with Cornell scientist Robert Richardson, who has worked on the superfluid properties of helium. He believes the world will run out of the gas in short order.

The U.S. government has been selling helium disgracefully cheaply, Richardson says; we apparently supply 80 percent of the world's helium, and in 1996, Congress passed an act dictating that we get rid of our stockpile by 2015. He wants the government to get out of the helium business and let the market dictate prices.

"Unfortunately, party balloons will be $100 each rather than $3, but we'll have to live with that," he says.

No other substance has a lower boiling point than helium, which makes it a great cooling source. Liquid helium chills superconducting magnets for MRI scanners, for instance. It's used in fiber optics, liquid crystal displays, neutron detectors, quantum computing and more.

The only way to obtain more helium -- actually a specific isotope used in science experiments and security equipment, called helium-3 -- would be to capture it from the decay of tritium, which is a radioactive hydrogen isotope. But the U.S. stopped making tritium in 1988.

Our current supplies come from radioactive alpha decay in rocks, according to Richardson. If we run out completely, we will have to recover helium from the air, making it cost 10,000 times what it does today. New Scientist via    (PopSci)

With all the gov, eud and lawyers reading this blog... you would hope 'someone' would make a few calls to the right people on this. It would be like OPEC selling oil for $1 a gallon.

Older posts on this:

Aug 20, 2010

Can I Use My U.S. MSDS in Europe or Canada?

Can I Use My U.S. MSDS in Europe or Canada?
Nexreg launched a free video series titled  'Nexreg on Compliance' which addresses hazard communication (HazCom)   issues for jurisdictions such as Canada, the United States and the   European Union.  The videos can be found on Nexreg's YouTube channel at

This video answers the question "Can I use my U.S. MSDS in Europe, Canada or other jurisdictions?"
The video highlights when MSDSs can be ported over to other jurisdictions and when they cannot.
As well, there is a brief discussion of GHS.

Energy and how China is leapfrogging U.S. by decades

NextBigFuture The Unites States has various nuclear fission and nuclear fusion research projects like the National Ignition Facilities work towards laser fusion with the proposed Laser Inertial Fusion Engine (LIFE). The economic goal would be to get LIFE to about half of the current cost of nuclear power when the first commercial unit is delivered around 2025-2030. The cost is compared to the current nuclear reactor capital costs of $4000-10000 per Kilowatt for new build in the United States.

China is already at $1500-2000 per kilowatt capital cost and the latest OECD estimate was for $1748/KW for overnight costs for a new CPR1000 reactor. China has announced plans to get the cost of CPR1000 reactors down by one third to about $1225/KW by the time they have built 50 of them. China will be building reactors for export after they get ahead of their domestic demand needs. Nuclear overnight capital costs from OECD estimates for the South Korea APR-1400 is US$ 1556/kW. China will be making its own version of the AP1000 and could get down to the $1100/kW range when they have built 50 of those. China could go from 3 cents per KWh to 2 cents per KWh. China's reactors will be cheaper than what the US has planned and China will have small modular units that are easily built in massive factories and exported. Detailed 8 page projected cost analysis for LIFE

China is planning to 50 and 100 or more units. The reactor build times are now at 5 years and are being reduced to 4 years and even 3 years. Even 1-2 year buils times could be possible for the pebble bed reactors. There is also research to extend nuclear plants to 80 or more years of operation by designing all parts to be replaceable.

China has discussed plans to build 60 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020, 200 gigawatts by 2030 and 400 gigawatts by 2050. In 2050, China is estimated to need 1500 Gigawatts of electricity. 400 Gigawatts would be about 27% of total China electricity demand. China is raising its 2020 nuclear energy build target to 80-85 gigawatts. It is likely the 2030 and 2050 nuclear build targets will be raised as well especially if the construction prices improve as expected.

China is planning to build better and better breeder and high temperature reactors and better and better reprocessing facilities to close the fuel cycle.

The United States needs to get back to building things, get good at building what is possible today and having parallel efforts to develop better technology which can be integrated into future models. Trying to lob 20 year hail Mary technology passes is too prone to failures in funding and failures in execution and failures in research.

China is also not ignoring fusion or advanced nuclear fission and has active programs. The difference is that China plans to have things built within 5-10 years and then to iteratively make the next improved or more ambitious version.

Please read full at

85% of Big Pharma's new drugs are "lemons" and pose health risks to users

NaturalNews  "The result is that drugs get approved without anyone being able to know how effective they really are or how much serious harm they will cause," he said. "The companies control the making of scientific knowledge and then control which findings will go to the FDA or be published."

Independent reviewers found that about 85 percent of new drugs offer few if any new benefits -- but they carry the risk of causing serious harm to users.

HTML clipboard"Risk Proliferation Syndrome", which refers to the way Big Pharma has grossly maximized the number of people exposed to new drugs with relatively low effectiveness but a heightened risk of adverse and often severe side effects. The pharmaceutical giants have accomplished this by failing to put each new medication on the market using a controlled, limited launch which would allow evidence to be gathered about the drug's effects, positive and negative. Instead, Big Pharma builds hugely hyped drug launches based on clinical trials  that were designed in the first place to minimize evidence of harm and are published in the medical literature to only emphasize a drug's advantages.

Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars on massive campaigns to sell a new prescription med, recruiting leading doctors to use the drug for conditions other than those for which it is approved, Dr. Light revealed. By promoting such off-label or unapproved uses, Big Pharma goes after even more sales and physicians inadvertently become what Dr. Light calls "double agents" -- they work to push sales of the new drug while they are supposed to be stewards of their patients' well-being.

And what happens when patients complain that the drug is making them sicker and/or producing side effects? Studies show their doctors usually just discount or dismiss these complaints, Dr. Light said. See full at NaturalNews

Collapsing Marsh Dwarfs BP Oil Blowout as Ecological Disaster

Long before BP's blowout menaced the Gulf of Mexico, an oil industry-related coastal crisis of another kind began unfolding all over the Mississippi River coastal delta. Dredging for navigation, oil and gas drilling and pipeline construction has ripped apart the estuary's fragile system of fresh and saltwater marshes.

Between 1901, when drilling began in Louisiana, and the 1980s, the oil and gas industry laid tens of thousands of miles of pipelines and dredged 9,300 miles of canals in an industrial invasion of a wetland that once covered 3.2 million acres. Since the 1930s, more than a third of it has vanished, an area the size of Delaware. Each year, 15,300 acres more disappear, according to Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.  Read on at Bloomberg

Aug 19, 2010

How Much Power Does It Take to Run a Wind Turbine?

Jerry Graf is a concerned citizen who happens to have a Master's degree in mechanical engineering. [Wind+Turbine+Failure.jpg]He recently read an item in his local paper about a school district that contemplated investing over a quarter million dollars in roof-top wind turbines. "There was a quote from someone in charge of school facilities that indicated they had no idea how much electricity the turbines would actually generate. As I got further into the details myself, I realized the turbines would actually produce next to nothing," he says.

The incident got Graf interested in analyzing other wind installations. He uses the turbine maker's published power curve to figure out what the electrical output is likely to be. The power curve is just the turbine's electrical output plotted against wind speed. But these curves are just estimates. They don't account for one factor that can be important, particularly for megawatt-scale turbines: the amount of electrical power the turbine itself consumes.
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Big turbines often incorporate rechargeable batteries or ultracapacitors to power their own electrical systems. When those get depleted, the power must come from the grid. This power goes into running equipment such as yaw mechanisms that keep the blades turned into the wind; blade-pitch controls that meter the spinning rotor; aircraft lights and data-collection electronics; oil heaters, pumps, and coolers for the multi-ton gearbox; and hydraulic brakes for locking blades down in high winds.

Turbines in northern climes also need blade heaters to prevent icing. Reports I've seen say these heaters can consume up to 20% of a turbine's rated power output. Many big turbines also need dehumidifiers and heaters in their nacelles. And until recently, large turbines employed doubly-fed induction generators that bleed power from the grid to create their magnetic fields. (It should be said, though, that designs now on the drawing boards use permanent magnets instead.)

Instances of low or no wind pose another problem. Large turbines may need to use their generators as motors to help get the blades turning. And some wind skeptics have posed a question about the direct-drive turbines now emerging from the labs: Large ships frequently must expend energy to slowly turn their heavy driveshafts when at port to prevent them from sagging. Could the same be said of these superlarge wind turbines?

Wind-farm operators don't say much about turbine-power demands. Typically, turbine-power consumption is one of the factors that gets lumped into a wind-farm's operation and maintenance costs. I've never found either a wind-farm operator or a wind-turbine maker willing to discuss these costs.

Please read more by Leland Teschler at MachineDesign

Aug 16, 2010

Nuclear Power Rich France still fails to curb CO2

The nuclear energy fallacy
Independent - the fact that 85 percent of its electricity production is generated by nuclear power... France's carbon dioxide emissions have remained constant over the last two decades despite efforts to curb the potent greenhouse gas, a government agency reported Thursday.

Between 1990 and 2007 - the most recent year for which figures are available - total CO2 emissions increased slightly from 438 million to 439 million tonnes,  Read on at Independent

Aug 15, 2010

Help ramp up the U.S. climate numbers by "400%"

"I have read your article and believe it is a very valid observation of the data as reported. At best the entire incident indicates gross incompetence, at worst it indicates a deliberate attempt to create a temperature record that suits the political message of the day."  Dr. Timothy Ball

Moreover, I have written to NOAA but am still awaiting their reply. I specifically asked whether this extravagantly false data was fed into climate models to help ramp up the  U.S. climate numbers by "400%" as commented on by analyst...

Aug 13, 2010

New standards for eco products.

IndependentThe development and global implementation of a new environmental ratings system could make product comparisons easier for consumers across the world.

The US-based Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) announced on August 10 that it had partnered with Canadian Standards Association and international US-based group UL Environment, two leading standards organizations. The three groups intend to develop a series of new standards which can be used by governments, retailers and consumers worldwide to identify and promote environmentally responsible products.

The new standards of environmental efficiency will take into account not just the energy consumption of the product, but also its ecological impact across its lifetime. In a press release, the American and Canadian companies stated that they intended to develop a "metric that will instill consumer confidence."

Read more at Independent

No money for basic food & education... plenty for satellites

Priorities FAIL - We took money from the starving to keep teachers?  Yet have plenty for tech?
Did I mention that $12 billion will be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps

Anyone else see on the chart below somewhere else this money to provide basic food needs could have come from?

Yet we always have enough for the 'next generation of technology' PopSci hi-res satellite imaging technology is on the way, at least if the United States government has anything to say about it. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency has awarded satellite imaging firms GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, which provide images for Google and Microsoft among others, contracts upwards of $3.5 billion each to help them get the next wave of imaging technology into the sky.

GOOD - Driving your fat

GOOD simple equation: Exercise more and lose weight. Still, many people spend most of their time either behind a desk or driving to or from where that desk is located. A few states buck that trend with large cities that allow for more walking, biking, and commuting via public transportation, but are their citizens any more fit? This is a look at how people get to work in various states, alongside those states' obesity rates.
SOURCE Trust for America's Health; U.S. Census. Via Streetsblog.

Wanna fix our health? Fix our Sugar and salt intake...

Sure we can control what we eat... but when to two largest contributes to poor health are in everything your children consume.

Facts about Sugar (infographic)

Aug 12, 2010

Senate Proposing More Than $140 Billion in Subsidies for Nuclear Industry, New Analysis Finds

Massive government subsidies proposed in two pending Senate climate and energy bills would shift the risk of financing and constructing new nuclear reactors from the industry to U.S. taxpayers, according to an analysis released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Such subsidies would disadvantage more cost-effective, less risky approaches to curbing the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming, including energy efficiency programs and renewable energy technologies, the group said...UCS found that total proposed subsidies could be worth from $65 billion to as much as $147 billion.

Read more:$140 Billion tax payer risk in Subsidies for Nuclear

EPA Proposal Addresses Abuse of Chemical Trade Secret Claims

After the Environmental Working Group exposed a study claiming that chemical manufacturers overuse the trade secret protections provided in current law, the EPA is taking action. Proposed changes to the Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) rules will require manufacturers to substantiate their trade secret claims up front, with their update report. EPA touts the proposed changes as part of their "Actions to help keep children, families safer".

The proposed rule returns the reporting requirement to once every four years, and reduces the threshold requiring use reporting to 25,000 pounds from 300,000 pounds. "Enhanced reporting on the production and use of chemicals will help give the American people greater access to information on the chemicals to which their children and families are exposed every day," said Steve Owens, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "The proposal being announced today will allow the agency to more effectively and expeditiously identify and address potential chemical risks and improve the information available to the public on chemicals most commonly used in commerce."

Most importantly, the proposal tightens up the controls on trade secret claims. Currently, manufacturers can claim anything trade secret, at will. In case of an audit, the manufacturer must prove that their business interests would be harmed by disclosure of the information, and show that they have taken measures in other areas of their business to protect the information. But it is a not-so-well-kept secret that the USA has the loosest trade secrecy laws of any country that has serious chemical control legislation.

Read the full story from a hugger

Food Stamps cut to pay for Teachers...

Billions to banks, car manufacturers, defense contracts and fossil fuel subsides...

Fox News - House members convened Tuesday and passed the multi-billion-dollar bailout bill for cash-strapped states that provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won't be let go before the new school year begins. .

But the bill also requires that $12 billion be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to help fund the new bill, prompting some Democrats to cringe at the notion of cutting back on one necessity to pay for another. The federal assistance program currently helps 41 million Americans.

Mark this day as "the day we chose to take from the poor"
"The consequences of poverty build on themselves," Palfrey says, "so that the outcomes can be felt for years to come USA Today
Where is robin hood?

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  • 49 percent of all participants are children (18 or younger), and 61 percent of them live in single-parent households.
  • 76 percent of all benefits go to households with children, 16 percent go to households with disabled persons, and 9 percent go to households with elderly persons.
  • 33 percent of households with children were headed by a single parent, the overwhelming majority of which were headed by women.
  • The average gross monthly income per SNAP household is $673.



Guardian - International travel and medical tourism have led to the rapid, global spread of drug-resistant bacteria that may presage the end of antibiotics and leave doctors struggling to treat infected patients, scientists warn today.

A new gene conferring high levels of resistance to almost all antibiotics has been found to be widespread in forms of gut bacteria that can cause potentially life-threatening pneumonia and urinary tract infections.  Read full at Guardian

Aug 10, 2010

Matt Simmons, global energy expert, dies at 67

ASPO — Matt Simmons, Chairman of ASPO-USA's Advisory Board, died Sunday night at his home in North Haven Island, near Rockland, Maine.HTML clipboard
The founder of Houston-based Simmons & Co. International, Matt wrote the 2005 book "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy," addressing  concerns about Saudi Arabia's oil reserves and the impending peak of worldwide crude oil production.
Simmons also founded The Ocean Energy Institute, a think tank and venture capital fund in Rockland to promote offshore wind energy research and development.
The institute is a part of the consortium led by the University of Maine, which aims to design and test floating deep-water wind turbine platforms.
"Matt Simmons was an innovative thinker who pushed ideas that have the potential to yield a more environmentally and economically sustainable future for Maine and the world," said Maine Gov. John Baldacci, who attended the opening of the institute's headquarters last month.
Matt was an unstinting supporter of ASPO-USA and an outspoken energy reform advocate. He wrote and spoke fearlessly to warn us about the dangers of status-quo energy policy.
It is impossible to define Matt by any single aspect of his wide ranging interests or any one period of his life and work.  He was a husband and father, an investment banker, an author, and a friend and visionary who lent his name and energy to the organization and evolution of ASPO-USA. 
He will be missed by us all.

FAIL - Only 1 of 16 Hybrids Pays Back In Gas Savings

SlashDot "One of the criticisms of hybrid cars has historically been that there's no payback...but,  people don't buy hybrids for payback — they buy them to make a statement . Nevertheless, a study has now looked at the question of hybrid payback ...with surprising results. The fuel costs of 16 hybrids over five years against their purchase price and financing fees. In a study released in late July, only a single one of the 16 hybrids cost less to buy and run than its gasoline counterpart."

EPIC FAIL - "The one car that would save you money will only cost you $105,000."

Aug 9, 2010

Details About The GHS Impact On WHMIS

NextReg: The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) - WHMIS After GHS
    When the GHS regulations are applied to WHMIS there will be new rules for classification and labeling of chemical products, and the preparation of safety data sheets (SDS). WHMIS will not be replaced by GHS, however, WHMIS will incorporate GHS elements.

There will be new guidelines for the following:
  1. Classification rules
  2. Label requirements
  3. Safety Data Sheets formerly known as material safety data sheet (MSDS) will have a format change (16 sections instead of 9)and additional content will be required.
  4. Some hazard classes will have more specific names
  5. Some new classes may be added to WHMIS (i.e. explosives – currently covered by other legislation)
  6. Hazard pictograms to be used instead of symbols
For more information visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Website.

High fructose corn syrup does not cause pancreatic cancer???

Boing2  headlines on Reuters, touting recent research published in the journal Cancer Research by scientists at the University of California Los Angeles. The implication—pushed by Reuters, other news agencies and even the head of the research team, Dr. Anthony Heaney—is that this study proves a potentially deadly link between diets high in high fructose corn syrup and pancreatic cancer.

*I underline that because some people have apparently gotten the idea that the study shows fructose causes pancreatic cancer. The study absolutely did NOT show anything of the sort...

Cancer cells eat sugars of all kinds, Dr. Brawley told me. And this study confirmed that. The pancreatic cancer cells slurped up not only the fructose, but also the glucose. And they grew quite well on both. The difference lay in how efficiently the cells were able use the sugary fuel.

The study does provide an interesting jumping-off point for further research, Brawley told me. But, on it's own, it doesn't say anything about high fructose corn syrup (which isn't pure fructose, but rather little-more-than-50/50 mixture of glucose and fructose). In fact, it doesn't even mean that pancreatic cancer cells in a human body would use pure fructose more efficiently than pure glucose.

That's because pancreatic cancer cells behave differently in a body than they do in a test tube, Brawley told me.

"I have treatments that can cure pancreatic cancer in the petri dish," he said. "We've had that for more than 50 years. But they don't work on pancreatic cancer in humans. That tells me there's a difference, biologically, between cancer cells in a petri dish and cancer cells in a person and we have to respect that."

I asked Brawley whether there had been any studies done that correlate diets high in high fructose corn syrup to prevalence of pancreatic cancer in humans. There are two, he said. But both show only a very weak statistical relationship.

Read full at Boing2

But let's not lie to ourselves, why would you drink more soda?

Aug 8, 2010

Easy way to reduce energy use 30% in U.S.

End landfilling...  return 30% of our consumption energy wasted.
Landfills are one of the largest (stoppable) contributors to greenhouse gases, emissions, water and land contamination
(no one will or can argue this point).

Although we might be diligent about separating our recyclables, once the garbage truck comes along, to us, our waste is out of sight and out of mind. 

America generates more waste every year, growing from a 247 million tons of non-hazardous waste in 1990, to 409 million tons in 2001... (

FACT: The U.S. has no effective federal laws or infrastructure in place to maximize recycling, minimize waste, or protect the environment and public health.

Although 32% of municipal waste is reported to be recycled, there are two problems with this picture. One is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that municipal waste was only 2% of all waste generated, and secondly, the total amount of waste generated, recycled, or disposed is not truly known because the EPA has not collected or confirmed that data. Failure to so is in violation of federal requirements.

Every year in the United States we dispose of... 
  • 1 billion foil-lined fruit juice boxes
  • 2 billion used batteries
  • 25 billion styrofoam cups
  • 700,000 old TVs
  • 700,000 junked cars
  • 15 million tons of food
  • 16 billion disposable diapers
  • Americans buy about 29.8 billion plastic water bottles every year. Nearly eight out of every 10 bottles will end up in a landfill.
While E-Waste makes up only 2% of landfills, it equals 70% of toxic landfill waste and is growing at a rate 5 times faster that population...

Oil irrelevant... water trumps all

If you think that the upcoming energy shortage is going to be bad, it will pale in comparison to the next water crisis... One theory about the endless wars in the Middle East since 1918 is that they have really been over water rights. Although Earth is often referred to as the water planet, only 2.5% is fresh, and three quarters of that is locked up in ice at the North and South poles.

In places like China, with a quarter of the world's population, up to 90% of the fresh water is already polluted, some irretrievably so.

Some 18% of the world population lacks access to potable water, and demand is expected to rise by 40% in the next 20 years.

Aquifers in the US, which took nature millennia to create, are approaching exhaustion. While membrane osmosis technologies exist to convert sea water into fresh, they use ten times more energy than current treatment processes, a real problem if you don't have any, and will easily double the end cost to consumers.

While it may take 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, it takes a staggering 2,416 gallons of water to do the same.