Sep 30, 2012

New Method of Turning Sewage Sludge into Biodiesel is Low-Cost, High-Yield

@TreeHugger...A team of researchers in South Korea have developed a new process for converting the lipids in sewage sludge into biodiesel, at not only a lower cost than conventional biodiesel, but with much higher yields. The team, working out of the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology, found that the sewage sludge produced 2,200 times more lipids per gram than soybeans, and at a much lower cost.

"Each liter of lipids that the researchers extracted from sludge cost $0.03, while previously published data shows each liter from soybeans costs $0.80." - C&EN

Impurities in the lipids from the sludge would have interfered with the catalytic process in the conventional production of biodiesel, so they developed a new method that could transform lipids with high amounts of free fatty acids (FFAs) or impurities using heat instead of catalysis.

"The team continuously fed methanol and the extracted sludge lipids into a reactor containing porous activated alumina and heated the reactor to 380 °C. Adding carbon dioxide to the reactor improved the reaction’s yield. The researchers’ method converted about 98% of the sludge lipids to biodiesel."

The study's authors did say that before being able to scale this up to a much larger system, wastewater treatment facilities would need to install the equipment necessary to desiccate the sewage sludge and extract the lipids, but that by selling those lipids to biodiesel producers, it could pay for itself.

The researcher's study is available here: Biodiesel Production from Sewage Sludge: New Paradigm for Mining Energy from Municipal Hazardous Material

Please read full and follow at:

California Governor Signs 19 Renewable Energy Bills Into Law

Here's the LA Times (via Grist):

Gov. Jerry Brown signed 19 bills Thursday aimed at making it easier to provide renewable energy and conserve power in California. The bills include a measure by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) that directs the state to coordinate implementation of policies advancing energy security with the Department of Defense.

“The health of the environment, job creation and indeed, the security of the nation, depend on how we end America’s dangerous addiction to foreign oil,” Brown said after signing SB 1409. “California and the U.S. military are working together to build a clean energy future and this bill helps make sure it happens.”

Brown also signed SB 1222 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which seeks to encourage the installation of rooftop solar energy systems on homes by limiting residential permit fees charged by cities and counties to the cost of providing the permits.

Please continue reading at:

Sep 29, 2012

America in ruins - On The Road with Gary Varvel in Gary, IN

... We visited Matt’s hometown of Gary, Indiana and found a city full of abandoned and condemned homes and burned out buildings.

My drawing, unfortunately, is not an exaggeration. There are so many neighborhoods that look this bad. Matt writes at length about the mood of the residents who have remained in Gary.

Please continue reading at:

The Cost of Wind-Energy Jobs...$329,000 per job?

The Cost of Wind-Energy Jobs: The “our industry creates jobs” argument is the last refuge of a subsidy seeker. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has repeatedly claimed that if the PTC isn’t extended, 37,000 wind-related jobs will be lost. Now consider the figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the non-partisan congressional entity established in 1926 that assists legislators on tax-related matters. Their number crunchers put the cost of extending the PTC at $12.18 billion from 2013 to 2022. Divide that figure by the 37,000 jobs claimed by AWEA, and you get $329,000 per job.

Sep 28, 2012

“The Next Asbestos” – False Advertising and Mislabeling Class Action Lawsuits Against the Agriculture, Food and Beverage Industry

Plaintiffs' lawyers are always looking to identify “the next asbestos.”  This is the next wave of litigation that will allow them to file multiple cases, all over the country, against defendants with deep-pockets, so they can obtain large recoveries over a long period of time – just like they did in asbestos cases (and still do, at least in some jurisdictions).  It turned out that litigation against tobacco companies also fit this description.  Litigation against lead paint/pigment companies and silica companies did not.


The new litigation candidate that the plaintiffs’ bar appears to be focused on as “the next asbestos,” targets the nation’s major food and beverage manufacturers.  The defendants in these cases are names we are all familiar with:  General Mills, Heinz, ConAgra Foods, Nabisco, among others.  The cases advance the theory that these companies have mislabeled and falsely advertised their products.  Because these products are marketed to a vast consuming public, they are filed as class actions. For example, one such lawsuit involved a claim against a manufacturer of Greek yogurt for labeling the sugar in its product "evaporated cane juice." The plaintiffs' lawyers say that "evaporated cane juice" is the same thing as ordinary sugar and, thus, the product’s label is false and misleading. 

Read on at

Congress Fails to Advance Federal Farm Bill or Disaster Assistance Bill via @MBFRenewable

Every five years, Congress takes up the Farm Bill which covers food and agriculture policy under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture.  The current 2008 Farm Bill’s financial support programs are set to expire on September 30, 2012 unless they are re-authorized by Congress.  In recent weeks, passage of a new Farm Bill received extensive attention given both the expiration date and record drought conditions that have plagued the U.S. agriculture industry. Recently, more than half the nation's counties had federal disaster designations that included most in Wisconsin largely because of the drought.  Unfortunately, neither the expiration deadline nor the severe drought conditions stopped the ongoing partisan gridlock in Washington, and Congress departed for a five-week August recess without having taken the critical votes needed to pass either a new comprehensive compromise farm support bill or a limited disaster assistance relief bill.  This article provides an overview of the legislative action that took place prior to the August recess on three key House and Senate bills including: 


•  H.R. 6083 - Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (“FARRM Bill”);;


•  H.R. 6233 - Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012 (“ADA Bill”);


•  S. 3240 - Agriculture Reform, Food & Jobs Act of 2012 (“ARFJ Bill”); and


Read on at:

OSHA's Aggressive Focus on Grain Handling Operators via @MBFRenewable

Over the last two years, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has been targeting grain storage facility operators around the country for inspection.  The enforcement effort has resulted from a spate of employee injuries and deaths in such facilities over the past several years, including several dozen employee entrapments or engulfments in grain storage facilities in 2009.  In a letter to employers in the industry in April of 2010, OSHA’s Chief, Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels, said, “OSHA has found that grain entrapments generally occur because of employer negligence, non-compliance with OSHA standards, and/or poor safety and health practices”.  “It is your responsibility,” the letter goes on, “to prevent your workers from dying in grain storage facilities.”


The primary purpose of the letter was to put employers on notice of what OSHA continues to believe to be a serious safety issue in the grain and feed industry and to inform those employers of the steps OSHA says we must take in the event any employees enter grain storage bins or other confined spaces, like boot pits or legs.  Some of those steps arguably go beyond what OSHA’s own standards require.   Be that as it may, in the event an employer who received the letter or otherwise is on notice of OSHA’s position suffers an employee engulfment or entrapment-- whether or not resulting in a fatality-- OSHA is certain to use the employer’s knowledge to support a position that the employer “wilfully” violated OSHA’s Grain Handling Facilities Standard or its Confined Spaces Standard.  Willful violations of OSHA standards include not just intentional acts, but also reckless acts; that is, acts committed with “plain indifference” to requirements of the standard in issue. 


Each willful violation of an OSHA standard can result in a penalty of up to $70,000 under current law.  Liability for OSHA’s citations – the cost of defense and the cost of any penalties ultimately imposed – are not coverable by insurance.  Additionally, an employee entrapment or engulfment event is traumatic to management and the workforce and can result in far-reaching public and employment relations impacts that are additive to the near-term direct financial costs.

Please continue reading:

Sep 27, 2012

Cat owners at higher risk for suicide because of exposure to a certain parasite that's carried in cat feces.

The parasitic infection is called toxoplasmosis, and more than 60 million men and women in the US have it, according to the CDC.


Owning a cat can increase your risk for this infection because you can get it by handling cat feces, but lots of other stuff can also increase your risk, including eating or handling undercooked meat…accidentally ingesting contaminated soil, such as from not washing your hands after gardening…eating contaminated, unwashed fruits or vegetables…drinking contaminated water…or receiving an infected organ transplant. And pregnant women can pass the infection to their unborn children.

I had to find out how an infection could be linked to a self-inflicted act such as suicide.


The vast majority of infected people have no symptoms. But the parasite can cause brain and vision problems in those with weak immune systems, and it can be dangerous in fetuses—potentially causing mental disability, blindness or even death, which is why pregnant women are routinely advised to let someone else take over litter box duty.

But now two recent studies reveal a link with suicide.

Please read on at:

Alarming that 13 people a day are dying from work related injuries... where is the concern?

With the recent release of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary results of the national census of fatal occupational injuries report showing 4,609 people died from on-the-job injuries in the U.S. in 2011, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said people should be concerned.

“It is alarming that 13 people a day are dying from work related injuries. This is a serious problem that we find unacceptable,” Pollock said following the September 20 release of the BLS report. “These incidents can be prevented.  We urge all companies and organizations to take measures now to make sure they have developed and implemented management systems of control that include effective occupational safety and health programs aimed at preventing worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses.

“Effective management systems help identify safety and health issues before they result in injury, and establish prevention strategies that can protect all workers including truck drivers, construction workers, farmers, office workers, loggers, pilots, roofers, ranchers, fishers, and more,” Pollock continued. “Remember, these are 4,609 people who left for work in the morning and never returned home to their families.  To these families we offer our condolences.”

The preliminary BLS report for 2011 showed a slight drop in fatalities from 2010, where 4,690 people died from on-the-job injuries in 2010.

Another concern of ASSE is that the top causes of on-the-job fatal injuries continue to be transportation (41 percent) related followed by workplace violence (17 percent); being struck by objects (15 percent); and, falls, slips and trips (14 percent). All areas where ASSE and the ASSE Practice Specialty groups have offered tips and best practices to address these issues all aimed at preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses.

“If there is a small silver lining in this preliminary report, it is that there has been a drop in construction worker fatalities,” Pollock said. “However, that could be the result of the reduction in construction projects due to the down economy. Another reason for the decline could be the adoption of fall prevention systems, similar to those contained in the new ‘Prevent Construction Falls’ campaign; an education alliance of which ASSE is a participant with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).”

Please read on at:

Susan Harwood grant to fund training in Hazard Communication Standard 2012

OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center has received a $120,000 Susan Harwood Training Grant from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to provide training about changes to the Hazard Communication Standard 2012.

The funding will allow TEEX to offer a 4-hour training course for workers in high-hazards industries with high-fatality rates. The training will help employers comply with the revised standard, which adopts the GHS (Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals). The new standard requires workers exposed to hazardous chemicals to be trained by Dec. 1, 2013, on “the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.”

OSHA Ed CentersThe Hazard Communication Standard revision, which went into effect earlier this year, is expected to improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. OSHA reports that 43 million U.S. workers produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than 5 million workplaces. The revised Hazard Communication Standard is expected to prevent an estimated 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and 43 deaths and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year, according to the OSHA website.

“We are honored to have received a Susan Harwood Grant that will allow us to provide awareness training regarding the mandated change to the GHS Hazard Communication,” said ITSI Program Director Bill Stansbury. “This was made possible by the diligent efforts of Quenya Evans, Phyllis Hughes and JB Gregory.”

View OSHA news release about the Susan Harwood training grants.

1 in 10 Teens Suffers from Liver Disease - direct result of the distortion and pollution of our food system

A shocking report shows that one in ten American teens are now suffering from liver disease—a direct result of the distortion and pollution of our food system that allows fructose to be treated as if it's perfectly safe.

In a shocking report that bodes ill for the future health of the generation now entering adulthood, ten percent of today's teens in the United States suffers from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was examined by Marilyn Vos of Emery University. NHANES recorded data on 10,359 teenagers aged 12-18 from 1988-2008. Vos and co-researchers found that 9.9% have NAFLD.

Even more ominously, Vos stated that NAFLD "seems to be increasing faster than the prevalence of obesity." Previously, the disease has been very closely associated with obesity. Now, though, it's clear that there's more than excess weight driving the increase in liver disease.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is known to be associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Now that we're seeing this once-rare disorder affecting one in ten teenagers, one must wonder how health agencies like the FDA can continue to ignore the devastation resulting from out-of-control Agribusiness, which is clearly profiting from the devastation of the people's health.

Instead, though, Dr. Vos is advocating the creation of community and school programs to promote healthy food, exercise, and weight loss. This is not addressing the root cause. It is, in fact, effectively blaming the victims for their poor health.

Please continue reading at:

Household electricity bills skyrocket to record levels - via @USATODAY

Households paid a record $1,419 on average for electricity in 2010, the fifth consecutive yearly increase above the inflation rate, a USA TODAY analysis of government data found. The jump has added about $300 a year to what households pay for electricity. That's the largest sustained increase since a run-up in electricity prices during the 1970s.

Electricty is consuming a greater share of Americans' after-tax income than at any time since 1996 — about $1.50 of every $100 in income at a time when income growth has stagnated, a USA TODAY analysis of Bureau of Economic Analysis data found.

Please read full and follow at:

How High Oil Prices Will Permanently Cap Economic Growth - via @Bloomberg

@Bloomberg - For most of the last century, cheap oil powered global economic growth. But in the last decade, the price of oil has quadrupled, and that shift will permanently shackle the growth potential of the world’s economies.

The countries guzzling the most oil are taking the biggest hits to potential economic growth. That’s sobering news for the U.S., which consumes almost a fifth of the oil used in the world every day. Not long ago, when oil was $20 a barrel, the U.S. was the locomotive of global economic growth; the federal government was running budget surpluses; the jobless rate at the beginning of the last decade was at a 40-year low. Now, growth is stalled, the deficit is more than $1 trillion and almost 13 million Americans are unemployed.

And the U.S. isn’t the only country getting squeezed. From Europe to Japan, governments are struggling to restore growth. But the economic remedies being used are doing more harm than good, based as they are on a fundamental belief that economic growth can return to its former strength. Central bankers and policy makers have failed to fully recognize the suffocating impact of $100-a-barrel oil.

And it will be bad...

Please continue reading at:

"I'm Lovin' It": Fast-Food Logos 'Imprinted' in Children's Brains, making youth susceptible to bad food choices

“The brains of children are ‘imprinted’ with food logos,” said Dr. Amanda Bruce, who led the study. “Without the necessary inhibitory processes to aid in decision-making, youth are particularly susceptible to making poor choices about what to eat.”

Chemical in nonstick cookware linked to child's weight - NBC

A group of compounds used in a variety of products, including nonstick cookware, may influence a baby's growth in the womb and after birth, a new study suggests.

In the study, pregnant women who were exposed to high levels of polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFCs, had babies that were smaller at birth and larger at age 20 months compared with those born to women exposed to lower levels of the compounds.

The results held even after the researchers adjusted for factors that could influence the babies' weights, including the mother's smoking habits and weight before pregnancy.

The findings agree with previous studies on the effect of PFC exposure during in-utero development. A recent study in Denmark found that girls exposed to PFCs in the womb were more likely to be overweight at age 20, said study researcher Michele Marcus, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

Please continue reading at:

Sep 26, 2012

Please join us for this Safer Chemistry Challenge Program fall series webinar on ways to Transitioning to Safer Chemicals

Please join us for this Safer Chemistry Challenge Program fall series webinar on ways to work with your supply chain to move toward safer chemistries.

Through supply chain management and product design, Staples, a leading office products provider, continues to demonstrate its commitment to moving toward products that are safer and more sustainable. As part of its commitment to help ensure a healthy environment for future generations, Staples seeks to avoid the use of hazardous substances, transition to safer product alternatives, and prefer chemicals that have been designed using green chemistry principles.

To register:

Presenter: Roger McFadden, Vice President and Senior Scientist, Staples

Opening this webinar will be Adam Siegel, Sustainability Director with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

Join NPPR's Safer Chemistry Challenge Program!

JOIN US for Green Chemistry & Economic Development in the Great Lakes Region & GreenScreen for Safer Chemistry

Please join participants from business, government, academia, and NGOs from around the Great Lakes region for one or both of the green chemistry events coming to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago on November 13 – 15.   “Catching the Wave – Green Chemistry and Economic Development in the Great Lakes Region” held on November 13 – 14, is the first green chemistry conference specifically designed for the Great Lakes region. Keynote speakers will include Paul Anastas, co-author of the book "Green Chemistry - Theory and Practice" and director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering at Yale University; Terry Collins, director  of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie-Mellon University; and David Widawsky, acting director of the Economics, Exposure and Technology Division at US EPA. The conference will be an excellent opportunity for your company/agency/department to find out about the work that is being done in the U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes region based on the principles of green chemistry, and to share your own interests, questions, and experiences.


On November 15, Clean Production Action and partners will host a one-day workshop on the GreenScreen for Safer Chemistry, a state of the art chemical hazard assessment tool. The workshop will focus on how businesses can integrate the GreenScreen into their chemicals management programs and will include a hands-on introduction to using the GreenScreen. For a high-level overview of the GreenScreen, please take a look at the CPA website
, particularly the video and the section on who is using the Green Screen.

A flyer describing both events at:

Sep 25, 2012

Free Webinar: Implementing GHS compliance & Regulatory Labeling Challenges in the New Era!

Implementing GHS compliance activities into your organization and labeling process is no easy task. Companies need to re-evaluate how their substances and mixtures are classified for each regulatory entity, country and/or region; this is causing many manufacturers to also re-think their SDS authoring and labeling processes.
Don't miss this opportunity to learn from two industry leaders on how you can plan for the impending HCS 2012 deadline, overcome the challenges of labeling and streamline your regulatory compliance processes through industry leading  integrated content and regulatory labeling solutions!
Key topics that will be covered include:
    * OSHA hazard classifications and their effect on business
    * Hazard statements, signal words, precautionary statements and pictograms
    * Small & bulk containers, international, multi-lingual and all weather exposure constraints
    * Mislabeling avoidance and meeting customer requirements

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Find out more about webinar here

@UPS electrically assisted cycle, alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) is an ecologically, viable choice for urban areas deliveries via @CainDeanna

@CainDeanna- Could there be something small with cargo space? And if I’m wishing, could it also be stylish and eco-friendly?

Well, hello Germany!cargo cruiser

Downtown Dortmund has new wheels in its neighborhood. UPS Germany is conducting a pilot test of its electrically assisted cycle, known as the Cargo Cruiser. The trial will help determine if this alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) is an ecologically and economically viable choice for deliveries to urban areas.

Dortmund’s narrow streets offer very few parking or stopping possibilities for larger motor vehicles. Not only does the Cargo Cruiser help with deliveries in this confined cityscape, it also reduces emissions, noise pollution and traffic congestion.

What else makes the Cargo Cruiser special besides being a new addition to UPS’s AFV fleet? It’s just kind of cool with its aerodynamic design.

At night, the Cargo Cruiser’s electric motor batteries are recharged via a standard 220-volt electric socket.  Fully refreshed in the morning, this AFV can travel a distance around 35 km (21.75 miles) for deployment in Dortmund. The delivery cycle has a loading volume of 2.2 m3 (77.75 cu ft) and a possible additional load of 300 kg (661.4 lbs). The vehicle’s top speed is 25 km/h (15.5 mph).

Please read on at:

Waste to energy programs could eliminate landfills and add $84.5 billion to U.S. economy

Municipal waste is big challenge for dwellers, industrials and municipalities worldwide. It is putrescent, odorous and contaminating our living space. Most of the solid wastes are biodegradable and could be recycling. However, the incumbent solid waste collection and management widely use poly package that causes the biodegradable solid waste and poly materials cross-contamination, complicate the components and devalue the waste. The main disposal of such waste is incinerate and landfill, but they are pollutant transfer. Taking landfill as an example, the leachate caused the land, surface water, ground water contamination and the landfill gas emission is a green house gas that causes global warm. Besides, the cost of such waste disposal and management are very high.

To remove the poly from the waste, get pure biodegradable waste fore recycle, lead to the solid waste automation, and reduce the cost of the waste disposal, the patented designed a technology, that introduce the method of fluidizing the solid waste with proportion water, change the waste from solid phase into flowing particles or liquid phase to satisfy pipeline evacuation that realized solid waste automatic evacuation, transportation and get the poly package free waste jam to produce renew energy methane and organic fertilizer. 

The process is: Separately putting the poly waste, paper waste and biodegradable waste into the specified containers of the waste fluidizing collector set indoor or outdoor, respectively fluidizing the wastes in the containers with proportioned water, alternately evacuating the fluidized wastes through the same connected pipeline into the regional collecting tanks, transporting the ploy waste and paper waste to the recycle plants, and biodegradable waste to the methane generating pool, the sludge is dewatered for organic fertilizer and the waste water disinfected for soilless growth liquid. The diagram following is showing the procedure:



The patented technology makes all of the wastes closed in. It is clean, facilitating and odorless. For the wastes going through the pipeline automatically without manual collection, that is largely reduce the cost of the waste management and disposal. Because the waste going through the pipeline without the poly package, the poly waste can never go into the nature and  risk the environment, we can widely use the poly without pollution.

...The Market value
Worldwide market need is huge basic of the statistics of the population in the world. There are 6,786,884,840 populations in the world according U.S. census bureau, and create 10 billion tons solid waste annually. The potential products market need will reach up to $1,000 billions, the service will value $30 billion annually. The renew methane will be 1,100 billion m3 and produce 1,500 million tons organic fertilize annually.

There are 307,560,395 population in United State of America according the U.S.A Census Bureau. They produce 300 million tons solidwast annually. The total cost of disposal is 13,388 million in 2008, therein collection 8,679 million, landfill 2,955 million, transfer 1,589 million, according WMI 2008 report.

According Canadian Statistics, in 2006, Canadians produced over 1000 kg of waste per person, up 8% from 2004. Of this total, 835 kg went to landfills or was incinerated while 237 kg was diverted from landfill. Overall, this translates into 35 million tones of waste handled by the waste management industry; 27 million tons of that waste was disposed in landfills or was incinerated and almost 8 million tons were diverted from disposal and processed through material recovery facilities or centralized composting operations. Approximately 22 million tons of waste came from non-residential sources in 2006 while the other 13 million tones were from residential sources. There are several factors that drive increases in the production of waste. Population growth, increased economic activity and rising incomes may be contributing factors. In an active economy, more goods and services are purchased by businesses and households. Goods have packaging that must be disposed or recycled or, the good itself may be discarded or recycled once it is used. Between 2004 and 2006, there was a 6% increase in GDP observed nationally. Total current expenditures by local governments in Canada increased to $2.0 billion in 2006 from $1.8 billion in 2004. At over $900 million, collection and transportation continued to make up the lion’s share of current expenditures in 2006. Operation of disposal facilities consumed the next largest share of the total amount of current expenditures at $419 million followed by tipping fees at $194 million. Current expenditures on the operation of recycling facilities increased by 47% to $171 million between 2004 and 2006. Capital expenditures totaled $312 million in 2006.

As on the analysis, the total potential market need will be value at $84.5 billion in North America, therein multiple waste fluidize collector $60 billion, automatic solid waste evacuation service 16.5 billion annually, methane product $5.5 billion annually, and fertilizer $2.5 billion annually.

Read on at:

Join Will Allen of @GrowingPower for Good Food Revolution Oct 11 at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, WI - Great Thinkers Series

Will Allen, founder and executive director, Growing Power, Milwaukee, will discuss his belief that food is the cornerstone of healthy communities and that we have a responsibility to pass our knowledge to youth and adults about sustainable food systems. Named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010, Allen was awarded the 2008 MacArthur Genius Fellowship for his efforts to promote sustainable farming methods in low-income neighborhoods. With more than 50 years of experience in farming, marketing and distributing food, today he shares his knowledge with youth, adults, community groups, immigrants, farmers and consumers. In February 2010, Allen was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama in launching “Let’s Move!” her program to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Read full at:

Japanese Ministries Urge Widespread Household Shift to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Japan's Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) both requested on June 13, 2012, further cooperation with the widespread replacement of household lighting equipment. The request is aimed at promoting the replacement of conventional lighting equipment with more energy-conscious and highly-efficient equipment, such as compact fluorescent lamps and light emitting diode (LED) lighting, at the earliest possible time after fiscal 2012. This is because conventional lighting equipment consumes the second largest amount of electricity in homes, after refrigerators.

METI released a report titled "Energy-efficient Lamp Promotion Measures" in May 2008, in which the ministry set a goal, in principle, to see the replacement of household incandescent lamps with energy-saving products including compact fluorescent lamps in 2012.

In this latest request, the ministries are expecting consumers to be receptive, and are asking for their further cooperation in replacing the E26 incandescent lightbulbs commonly used in homes with more energy-conscious and highly efficient lighting equipment, including compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs.

Read on at:

CBO: Electric Cars Will Flop, Despite $7.5 Billion in Subsidies

Despite the federal government pumping $7.5 billion into the electric vehicle industry in the United States through 2019, overall national gasoline consumption is unlikely to be significantly affected, according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Developed by the Bush administration in 2007 and initiated by the Obama administration in 2009, the program delivering the influx of cash is intended to help speed the growth of the fuel-efficient vehicle industry. The funds in question are made up largely by consumer tax credits that offer as much as $7,500 to consumers purchasing electric vehicles, followed by $2.4 billion in grants to electric battery manufacturers and $3.1 billion in loans intended to encourage automotive companies to increase production of electric vehicles. Despite the good intentions behind the funds, the CBO report makes it clear that tax credits and other initiatives will not significantly affect the overall fuel-efficiency of cars on American roads.
“The more electric and other high-fuel-economy vehicles that are sold because of the tax credits, the more low-fuel-economy vehicles that automakers can sell and still meet the standards,” says the report, adding that the funds will have “little or no impact on the total gasoline use and greenhouse gas emissions of the nation’s vehicle fleet over the next several years

Please read full and follow at:

Sep 24, 2012

Toyota Abandons Plans For All-Electric Vehicle Rollout - via @Slashdot

"Toyota has given up on plans to sell any significant number of all-electric vehicles. Citing 'many difficulties' with the project, the company says it will only sell about 100 of the battery-powered eQ cars it has been working on for several years. 'By dropping plans for a second electric vehicle in its line-up, Toyota cast more doubt on an alternative to the combustion engine that has been both lauded for its oil-saving potential and criticized for its heavy reliance on government subsidies in key markets like the United States. 'The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,' said, Uchiyamada, who spearheaded Toyota's development of the Prius hybrid in the 1990s.'"

Please read full and follow at:

Urban Farm Brings Healthy Food to North Denver Neighborhood.

An urban farm aimed at providing food for an economically disadvantaged Denver neighborhood is drawing widespread interest because of its unique techniques. GrowHaus uses an aquaponic growing system comprised of a greenhouse containing tubs of well-fed fish and a water-circulation system that runs under the plants or beds of produce. Fish waste is treated within the system and converted to nutrients, which feed the plants. The plants absorb the nutrients and purify the water, which is then recirculated. GrowHaus use the water-saving method to produce leafy vegetables which are distributed within its Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. GrowHaus is joining one of the nation's newest trends: inner-city farming using state-of-the-art technology to grow crops and fish in a single symbiotic system that mimics nature's water cycle.

Please read on at: The Denver Post, September 19, 2012,

Link soure: Sustainable Practices -

Sep 23, 2012

The Magnitude of the Mess We're In - debt burden will explode when interest rates go up.

WJS - Shultz, Boskin, Cogan, Meltzer and Taylor: ...The amount of debt is one thing. The burden of interest payments is another. The Treasury now has a preponderance of its debt issued in very short-term durations, to take advantage of low short-term interest rates. It must frequently refinance this debt which, when added to the current deficit, means Treasury must raise $4 trillion this year alone. So the debt burden will explode when interest rates go up.

The government has to get the money to finance its spending by taxing or borrowing. While it might be tempting to conclude that we can just tax upper-income people, did you know that the U.S. income tax system is already very progressive? The top 1% pay 37% of all income taxes and 50% pay none.

Did you know that, during the last fiscal year, around three-quarters of the deficit was financed by the Federal Reserve? Foreign governments accounted for most of the rest, as American citizens' and institutions' purchases and sales netted to about zero. The Fed now owns one in six dollars of the national debt, the largest percentage of GDP in history, larger than even at the end of World War II.

The Fed has effectively replaced the entire interbank money market and large segments of other markets with itself. It determines the interest rate by declaring what it will pay on reserve balances at the Fed without regard for the supply and demand of money. By replacing large decentralized markets with centralized control by a few government officials, the Fed is distorting incentives and interfering with price discovery with unintended economic consequences.

Did you know that the Federal Reserve is now giving money to banks, effectively circumventing the appropriations process? To pay for quantitative easing—the purchase of government debt, mortgage-backed securities, etc.—the Fed credits banks with electronic deposits that are reserve balances at the Federal Reserve. These reserve balances have exploded to $1.5 trillion from $8 billion in September 2008.

The Fed now pays 0.25% interest on reserves it holds. So the Fed is paying the banks almost $4 billion a year. If interest rates rise to 2%, and the Federal Reserve raises the rate it pays on reserves correspondingly, the payment rises to $30 billion a year. Would Congress appropriate that kind of money to give—not lend—to banks?

The Fed's policy of keeping interest rates so low for so long means that the real rate (after accounting for inflation) is negative, thereby cutting significantly the real income of those who have saved for retirement over their lifetime.

The problem gets much, much worse at:

Wisconsin residents will be able to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs Sept. 29

Proper disposal will protect Wisconsin's communities and environment MADISON -- People with unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs will be able to properly and safely dispose of them ...

Please continue reading at:

$30m bioreactor uses gas-gobbling bacteria to make energy a world first - National - NZ Herald News

The new bioreactor facility at the Wairakei Power Station near Taupo. Photo / Jeremy Bright
The new bioreactor facility at the Wairakei Power Station near Taupo. Photo / Jeremy Bright

A one-of-a-kind new water treatment facility near Taupo is using gas-gobbling bacteria and 378km of underground pipes to clean Waikato River water.

While it may make a fabulous water feature, Wairakei Power Station's new bioreactor is a serious piece of industrial plant, and a world first.

It uses sulphur-oxidising bacteria to reduce the levels of hydrogen sulphide in the power station's cooling water.

The $30 million bioreactor was commissioned in July and formally opened yesterday at Wairakei with a blessing from Rev Sonny Garmonsway of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa (the Maori Anglican Church) and Ngati Tuwharetoa.

The bioreactor's follows years of trials and a 12-month construction project.

The power station draws water from the Waikato River and uses it to cool geothermal fluid extracted to generate electricity.

Hydrogen sulphide occurs naturally in geothermal fluid, but due to the power station's cooling process, some of it also gets into the cooling water.

The new bioreactor pumps the used cooling water through 378km of pipes under a field next to the power station at the rate of 13,000 litres per second. Inside the pipes, the bacteria gobble the hydrogen sulphide from the water, removing up to 80 per cent of the toxic compound. The cleaned water is then returned to the Waikato River.

The new bioreactor helps ensure Contact Energy, which operates the Wairakei Power Station, can meet strict new cooling water discharge resource consent conditions, which came into effect last month.

The underground pipes provide an environment where the naturally-occurring bacteria colonise and grow to form a thin whitish film to remove the hydrogen sulphide as the cooling water flows through the bioreactor. Water takes about four minutes to travel the 378km of pipes, which equates to over three million litres of treated water being returned to the river every four minutes.

Please continue reading at:

House Subcommittee Hearing Raises Issue of EPA Role in Chemical Security

House Subcommittee Hearing Raises Issue of EPA Role in Chemical Security

During a Sept. 11 hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), the Subcommittee considered whether it would be appropriate for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to employ the general duty clause of the Clean Air Act to regulate chemical facility security.

Please continue reading at:

Activists Crash #Sustainable Forestry Initiative conference - “Wisconsin Doesn’t Want SFI’s Greenwash”

“Wisconsin Doesn’t Want SFI’s Greenwash”

By Adam Gaya, Forest Ethics

Banner Drop by Forest Ethics in Wisconsin

Every September, the so-called Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) holds an annual conference. Every year for the last three years, ForestEthics and local activists have been there to confront one of the most misleading greenwashing schemes in North America. 2012 was no different.

On Monday, activists in Milwaukee crashed the phony “eco-label’s” 2012 annual conference to tell participants that Wisconsinites don’t want greenwashing in their state. Their goal: deliver a letter from “Wisconsin Coalition Against Greenwashing,” signed by organizations including The John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club, Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Center for Media and Democracy. The intended recipient: SFI Executive Director Kathy Abusow.

Immediately upon entering the downtown Hilton Hotel, the small team was spotted by SFI private security detail. Talking into their radios, several men followed the activists towards the conference rooms. Before they could reach the SFI registration tables, the team was surrounded by six burly men with no sense of humor. A stand-off ensued. The activists respectfully stated their intention of delivering the letter, but were told to leave. To accomplish their objective, the team gave the letter to the chief of security, stating, “Wisconsin Doesn’t Want SFI’s Greenwash.”

The SFI and its participant companies are no strangers to protest. Similar protests against the organization’s non-existent standards and lack of oversight disrupted their annual conferences in 2010 and 2011 respectively. And delegates to Greenbuild, North America’s largest green building conference, are used to seeing full-page ads and creative protests calling out SFI Greenwashing. But it was still surprising to see this purported transparent, non-profit “environmental” organization hire an extensive security detail to “protect” delegates from having to speak to local environmentalists.

Please continue reading at:

Reality hurts... Householders unlikely to recover solar heating installation costs for 30 years | via @guardian

Reality hurts... This guy will most likely be dead before he ever sees a financial return on his solar system.
Preparing the pipework from a solar hot water system
Preparing the pipework for a solar hot water system. Photograph: Alamy

The amount of money householders can expect to be paid for fitting "green heating" was published for the first time on Thursday, revealing most homeowners installing solar hot water systems are unlikely to recoup their initial outlay for more than 30 years.

The renewable heat incentive (RHI) will reward households for each unit of low-carbon heat generated from solar thermal panels and other renewable heating systems such as biomass boilers and ground-source heat pumps.

The scheme was due to launch this October but the government delayedit earlier this year. It will now launch in summer 2013 and the subsidy payments will be made over a period of seven years.

For oil-heated homes off the gas grid that install a £3,000 solar hot water system, owners would receive roughly £200 per year in RHI payments for seven years, in addition to an ongoing annual £80 in bill savings, meaning the upfront cost would be recovered in 20 years.

However, most homes are currently heated by cheaper gas and will struggle to recoup their investment for more than 30 years at the proposed rates, only getting back around £250 a year on bill savings and payments. Most solar thermal systems cost between £3,000-£5,000.

Please read full and follow at:

Report on chemical-asthma links a useful resource for workers at risk

Kim Krisberg - It really is a chemical world, which is bad news for people with asthma.

According to a recent report released in August, at this very moment from where I write, I’m fairly surrounded by objects and materials that contain chemicals that are known or suspected asthmagens — substances that can act as asthma triggers if inhaled. There’s formaldehyde (it’s in office furniture, wood flooring, curtains and drapes); maleic anhydride (it’s in interior paint and tile flooring); hexamethylene diisocyanate (it’s in metal storage shelving and decorative metal); and diisodecyl phthalate (it’s in horizontal blinds). In just two items found in practically all indoor environments — paints and adhesives — there are 75 substances linked to the chronic respiratory disease. It is not a stretch to say that we are all swimming in a world built with the help of chemicals about whose long-term human health effects we know too little.

The new report, compiled by the architecture and design firm Perkins+Will on behalf of the National Institutes of Health, lists nearly 400 substances typical to our built environments — the places we live, work and play — that are known or suspected asthmagens. One section of the report addresses asthmagens that are common in building design and construction, while another describes asthmagens found in a variety of environments and products (e.g., baking ingredients, agricultural inputs and personal care products). The purpose of the report is “raising awareness of the connection between health and buildings while identifying existing sources of information so that healthy buildings will result,” states a news release. However, a quick glance through the report’s long lists of hard-to-pronounce chemicals and the ubiquitous and prolific items they’re used in made me wonder: How can this list be put into action to actually make a difference?

Ken Rosenman, professor and chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Michigan State University, says it seems mostly beneficial for workers — “to me, it’s most useful for (workers) more so than for us sitting in our offices or at home.”

“For example right now, I’m sitting on a chair that contains diisocyanates,” Rosenman told me. “But there’s no real risk to me of developing asthma from it. The risk is to the guys manufacturing it.”

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, occupational asthma is the most common work-related lung disease in developed nations, with up to 15 percent of U.S. asthma cases related to a person’s job. OSHA estimates that about 11 million workers in a variety of job settings and occupations are exposed to substances known to be linked with occupational asthma. However, the real rate of occupational asthma is likely way undercounted — “you wouldn’t find anybody who’d say that’s an accurate estimate,” said Katherine Kirkland, executive director of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics. Right now, only five states officially track work-related asthma. Both Kirkland and Rosenman said the report could be a useful and educational resource for physicians, many of whom are simply unfamiliar with occupational-related asthma and its contributors.

“The average clinician never asks what people are exposed to at work,” Kirkland told me. “This would be routine at occupational health clinics…but it’s not something the average physician would even know to ask about.”

Occupational exposures to asthmagens truly run along the spectrum. The Perkins+Will report notes that an average carpenter comes in contact with at least 13 substances linked to asthma on a daily basis; agricultural workers with six substances; dentists with 14 substances; pharmaceutical or chemical industry workers with 34 substances; and health care workers with five substances. These numbers are in addition to the 75 asthma-related substances common to most indoor environments, the report states. The report’s complete list of 374 substances and the occupations most exposed ranges from ammonium persulphate (common among factory workers and hairdressers) to soy flour (common among bakers) to triplochiton scleroxylon, otherwise known as African Maple (common among carpenters).

...“We really want to drive health considerations into the decision-making process when manufacturers and builders are selecting their materials,” she said. “In the past, that’s never really been a factor — health and environmental concerns have been distance concerns for most builders unless their part of a market that positions itself as green and healthy.

To download the full Perkins+Will report, “Healthy Environments: A Compilation of Substances Linked to Asthma,” click here.

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for the last decade.

Please continue reading at:

Scientists Speak Out Against Wasting Helium In Balloons - via @Slashdot

"BBC reports that Tom Welton, a professor of sustainable chemistry at Imperial College, London, believes that a global shortage of helium means it should be used more carefully, — and since helium cools the large magnets inside MRI scanners it is wrong to use it for balloons used at children's parties. 'We're not going to run out of helium tomorrow — but on the 30 to 50 year timescale we will have serious problems of having to shut things down if we don't do something in the meantime,' says Welton. 'When you see that we're literally just letting it float into the air, and then out into space inside those helium balloons, it's just hugely frustrating. It is absolutely the wrong use of helium.' Two years ago, the shortage of helium prompted American Nobel Prize winner Robert Richardson to speak out about the huge amounts of helium wasted every day because the gas is kept artificially cheap by the U.S. government and to call for a dramatic increase in helium's price. But John Lee, chairman of the UK's Balloon Association, insists that the helium its members put into balloons is not depriving the medical profession of the gas. 'The helium we use is not pure,' says Lee. 'It's recycled from the gas which is used in the medical industry, and mixed with air. We call it balloon gas rather than helium for that reason.'"

Please read full and follow at:

Very good reddit thread on What kind of equipment & how much is it going to cost to produce 1500kwh per month? (1500kwh is my family's average)

I am wondering if this is even possible? Perhaps a combination of a solar pv array and small windmill like the residential honeywell one?

Please read full and follow at:

In summer, blue-green algae blooms plague freshwater can be toxic People and dogs

Center for Investigative Reporting...cyanobacteria can produce toxins that cause asthmalike, severe vomiting or diarrhea, or irritated skin or eyes. As in the Jenkins case, some of the toxins also act on the liver; this might also lead to cancer, if people are exposed over long periods of time. People and animals encounter the toxins when they swallow or swim in contaminated water or inhale water droplets suspended in air, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Danny Jenkins’ experience is among the most serious to have been reported, though experts agree that many cases go unreported or are misidentified. The same year Jenkins fell ill, a YMCA camp on another Ohio lake closed its beach after 19 campers and staff became sick with stomach problems. Last summer, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., reported stomach illness after swimming in Grand Lake, Okla., during a bloom. In Wisconsin alone, 98 people have reported illness from blue-green algae exposure over the past three years.

Dog deaths are all too common. Five dogs died after exposure to blue-green algae in a Kansas lake last year, and five died in Ohio in 2010. Dogs are particularly susceptible because they gulp water and often lick algae off their fur after a swim. Earlier this summer in Marion County, Kan., a rancher lost 22 cattle: They drank from a farm pond laden with a type of cyanobacteria that produces neurotoxins, according to a veterinarian involved in the case.

The blooms also repel tourists, harming summer vacation businesses around affected lakes. On Lake Petenwell, a large manmade lake in central Wisconsin, Tom Koren, owner of a marina, restaurant and bar called The Lure Bar & Grill, has seen the number of boat slips he rents fall by half.

“Typically, a bay like the marina will be caked from one shore to the other, solid green with iridescent blue, up to 6 inches thick,” said Koren, who co-founded a group called the Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards, which aims to improve water quality on local lakes. “You’ll see squirrels walking on it.”

“People will come in and request their money back and take their boat elsewhere,” he added.

When cyanobacteria bloom in reservoirs that supply drinking water, they can clog pipes or poison the water. Utilities might have to truck in water or add extra treatment. When Lake Erie experienced its record-setting blooms last year, the city of Toledo was forced to spend an extra $3,000 to $4,000 a day treating the drinking water it drew from the lake. Even when large blooms aren’t present, nontoxic “taste and odor” compounds produced by the algae can give water a dirty taste. Wichita, Kan., spent several million dollars to add ozone treatment for the water it uses from Cheney Reservoir, where elevated levels of cyanobacteria are a regular occurrence.

Studies show that mixing fertilizer into the soil can reduce runoff by 50 percent and that no-till farming, in which plowing is minimized, can reduce sediment runoff by a third, Reutter said. Drainage from tiled fields also must be managed so that it doesn’t pollute waterways, he said.

“There isn’t any one particular strategy that is going to solve this problem for every farm,” said Tom Quinn, executive director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. “But each farm has a set of things that they should be doing to protect the water around them and to protect their own soil.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Dunn County, which includes Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake, both notorious for their blooms, just passed a controversial ordinance requiring all waterfront property, including agricultural lands, to maintain an unmowed 35-foot-deep buffer strip along the water’s edge – a key strategy, experts agree, to soak up the runoff before it reaches the water. In addition, Wisconsin recently passed legislation to control phosphorus.

“We know what it takes to fix this stuff,” said Patrick “Buzz” Sorge of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We just have to find the social and political will to get this done.”

Please continue reading at:

26 killed in Mexico pipeline fire near US border.

A big fire erupted at a natural gas pipeline distribution center near Mexico’s border with the United States on Tuesday, killing 26 maintenance workers and forcing evacuations of people in nearby ranches and homes.

Mexico's state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, initially reported 10 deaths at the facility near the city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas.

Later, the death toll was raised to 26, including a man who was run over when he rushed onto a road running away from the facility.

Please continue reading at:

Commercializable Thermoelectric material could convert 20% of waste heat into Electricity

Phys Org - Northwestern University scientists have developed a thermoelectric material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to electricity. This is very good news once you realize nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. This is a very environmentally stable material that is expected to convert 15 to 20 percent of waste heat to useful electricity, thermoelectrics could see more widespread adoption by industry.

Possible areas of application include the automobile industry (much of gasoline's potential energy goes out a vehicle's tailpipe), heavy manufacturing industries (such as glass and brick making, refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants) and places were large combustion engines operate continuously (such as in large ships and tankers).

Even before the Northwestern record-setting material, thermoelectric materials were starting to get better and being tested in more applications. The Mars rover Curiosity is powered by lead telluride thermoelectrics (although it's system has a ZT of only 1, making it half as efficient as Northwestern's system), and BMW is testing thermoelectrics in its cars by harvesting heat from the exhaust system. 

"Now, having a material with a ZT greater than two, we are allowed to really think big, to think outside the box," Dravid said. "This is an intellectual breakthrough." "Improving the ZT never stops—the higher the ZT, the better," Kanatzidis said. "We would like to design even better materials and reach 2.5 or 3. We continue to have new ideas and are working to better understand the material we have."

The researchers improved the long-wavelength scattering of phonons by controlling and tailoring the mesoscale architecture of the nanostructured thermoelectric materials. This resulted in the world record of a ZT of 2.2.

ZT of 2.2 means it is very good for working with 30-40% efficient car engines as a hybrid to make them more efficient

ZT 3.0 means that the material can replace some engines entirely in cars and replace cooling devices in refrigerators.

Technology Review indicates that the new material could make thermoelectric power practical.

Typical conversion systems become less efficient as they are scaled down to smaller sizes. This means there is a crossover point: below some power level thermoelectric technology will tend to be more efficient. Increasing ZT will move the crossover point to higher power levels, increasing the range of applications where thermoelectrics compete. Thus the ZT of 3 to compete with current best car size and refridgerator mechanical systems.

Heat engines typically operate at 30-40 percent efficiency, such that ~ 15 TW of heat is lost to the environment. To be competitive compared to current engines and refrigerators (efficiency 30-40 percent of Carnot limit), one must develop materials with ZT > 3. For the last 50 years, the ZT of materials has increased only marginally, from about 0.6 to 1, resulting in performance less than 10 percent of Carnot limit. There is no fundamental upper limit to ZT.

Read more at NBF

Toxic green slime has taken over the lakes of America. Again.

Algae bloom on Wisconsin’s Lake Tainter. (Photo by Peg McAloon.)

It’s a haunting remake of a 50-year-old tale: The Green Slime that Coated the Midwest. And this rehashed horror story is no work of fiction.

Like the classic film they may have inspired, the toxic blooms of blue-green algae that coated and stunk up the Great Lakes from the 1950s to the 1970s have returned to the region with a vengeance.

The blooms of decades past were fueled largely by decrepit sewage systems that spewed nutrient-rich human waste into the world’s largest body of fresh surface water. The modern remake, by contrast, is the handiwork of corporate agriculture.

Heavy rainfall in the farming region last spring and summer washed vast volumes of agricultural pollution into rivers and lakes, where it fueled poisonous blooms that sickened and disgusted residents and tourists and killed family pets.

Midwesterners describe some of last year’s blooms, particularly those in Lake Erie, as the worst in recent memory. And this year — despite much less rainfall washing into the lakes — is shaping up to be nearly as bad.

“It looked like green mud covering the entire lake,” said Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and one of 800 charter captains who makes a living from the lake, where shallow waters foster abundant fish and other wildlife. “It makes me sick thinking about it, and I’m sure my customers don’t want to come back.”

As the single-celled creatures that form the algae blooms grow, rot, and die, they poison the water, prevent needed light from reaching aquatic plants, and consume much of a lake’s oxygen.

Unger said the Lake Erie bloom was so “dense and thick” that it slowed down his motor, which spins two feet beneath the water’s surface. It was also so big it seemed to go on forever.

“I went 14 miles straight north out of Cleveland and never got out of it,” Unger added.

Large corn and soy farms are mostly to blame, scientists and activists say, because they rely heavily on large quantities of phosphorous- and nitrogen-rich fertilizer that leach into the lakes, where they feed toxic blooms of cladophora and other nasty algae species. Manure from factory farms only adds to the nutrient load.

Farmers retort by pointing out that many households are also wasteful when it comes to the use of lawn fertilizers, which enter the lakes through storm-water drains.

This year, parts of Lake Michigan have been home to foul thickets of blue-green algae throughout the summer, and a bloom was confirmed last month near the western shorelines of the normally pristine Lake Superior following heavy rainfall.

Health warnings have been issued in 20 states, with residents and visitors cautioned that potent toxins are lurking in the fetid waters.

Please read full and follow at:

#Milwaukee @growingpower, scores $5 million to feed our nation’s hungriest cities

Food-justice organization Growing Power — with its now-iconic greenhouses, composting worms, fishponds, and multiple generations of graduates — is well-known as a model worth replicating. Now, Growing Power has announced a bountiful $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to fund “community food centers” aimed at relieving hunger in five of the nation’s poorest areas.

Modeled on Growing Power’s Milwaukee farm-headquarters, the centers will be located in Detroit; New Orleans; Forest City, Ark.; Shelby, Miss.; and Taos, N.M.

“It’s all wrapped around providing healthy, sustainable, local food to folks, especially our youth,” explains Will Allen, founder and director of Growing Power. “Many of the young people in those communities go to bed hungry every night.”

The grant was actually awarded in January 2011, but wasn’t formally announced till Growing Power’s annual conference last week. Hence the project is already well under way. In fact, 40 people from the Detroit site attended the conference to learn the ins and outs of methods like closed-loop aquaponics and large-scale composting.

Like Growing Power, the partner organizations that will host the centers have long-standing records of connecting food issues with racial and social justice. With support and training, they will scale up their own trainings, production, and food distribution.

“Our partnership with Growing Power has helped us to start our large-scale composting operation and with the construction and maintenance of hoop houses,” says Malik Yakini, chair of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. “It’s a tremendous way for us to develop those opportunities, and to share them with others in Detroit.”

In New Mexico, the Taos County Economic Development Corporation will host the community food center. In Forest City and Shelby — both in the Mississippi Delta – Seven Harvest and Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture will take the lead.

“The project will build the capacity of these organizations,” says Linda Jo Doctor, national food program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

When describing the grant, people often used that word: “capacity.”

“The grant gives us more capacity,” echoed Nat Turner, director of Our School at Blair Grocery, home to the community food center in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward. For his organization, more “capacity” means more staff. “We’ll bring on six or seven ex-offenders from the neighborhood and give them training around urban agriculture.”

Turner also plans to hire three youth from Our School’s summer program. “We’re talking about an underclass here,” Turner says. “There aren’t any other jobs for people in the neighborhood, especially without a high school diploma.” These new employees will help the organization expand its farms and programs.

By the time the money runs out in 2015, each community food center is expected to be running a robust training program without any outside help. In turn, the trainings will hopefully lead more people to go into farming. Doctor says, “We will probably see an increased number of urban farms in those locations.”

“The potential for workforce pipeline is phenomenal,” she adds. “Food access, improved health, and job opportunities are all interconnected, and they’re all part of this project.”

Growing Power’s founder, Will Allen. 

Please read full and follow at:

Is clean coal credits (U.N’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) now increasing emissions? Yep

Late last week Point Carbon reported that the Executive Board of the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism has (re)agreed to allow energy efficient coal fired power plants to be included under the mechanism. Point Carbon said:

The governing body of the U.N’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has agreed to allow the most energy efficient coal-fired power plants to earn carbon credits under the scheme, causing outcry from green groups who claim the carbon market could be overrun by millions of low-quality offsets. The CDM Executive Board’s decision to lift its ban that prevented coal plants from seeking credits could allow some 40 projects, mostly based in China and India, to earn Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

The credits are awarded to projects that cut emissions of greenhouse gases and can be used by companies and governments to meet carbon reduction targets.

. . . . .

. . . . .

The Board approved six coal plants for CDM registration before agreeing in November 2011 to suspend and review the methodology that outlines how many credits the schemes could earn, effectively stopping new projects from earning credits.

While it is always good to use a resource more efficiently, this move has potentially negative consequences for the very issue it is setting out to address, a reduction in the total emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere.

In this instance the CDM is not acting as a carbon pricing mechanism, rather it is simply incentivizing energy efficiency. In a recent paper written by a colleague (featured in a July posting), the secondary impacts of energy efficiency policy as a climate change response are explored. This particular action by the CDM Executive Board falls right into one of the problem areas.

The paper presented the argument that energy efficiency action on its own could actually result in an increase in CO2 emissions. 

Please continue reading at:

China: Chinese urged to widely adopt Responsible Care

This article is brought to us by Plastics News China about the Chinese chemical industry and regulation

TIANJIN, CHINA (Sept. 18, 2012) — China’s chemical industry needs to do more to address challenges it faces building public trust over pollution and chemical health concerns, several senior industry officials said at a recent conference.

The suggestions delivered at the 2012 China Petroleum and Chemical International Conference in Tianjin included having more companies in China adopt the global “Responsible Care” standards governing environmental, health and safety operations, along with stepping up communication with the public.

Zhao Jungui, vice chairman of the Beijing-based China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation, told the panel that China’s industry is serious about making improvements, and as an example pointed to the CPCIF last year working with the Chinese government to adopt the global Responsible Care program in China.

“The challenge is that Chinese chemical companies vary a lot in size and capability,” Zhao said, adding that CPCIF is urging more participation from industry. Companies should “please walk the talk,” he said.

Please continue reading at: