Environment



Welcome to our Environment blogpage.  We all need to understanding global warming/climate change/climate disruptions and discuss good, sustainable solutions.

This is a great decade for inventors and entrepreneurs! 

This blogpage will also talk about the latest environment news happening around the world, including special reports and TV shows from news agencies from around the world.

This blogpage is updated daily Saturday-Friday with an accompanying online radio show airing monthly. Thanks for visiting and do what you can to help the environment.

Any Questions?

Any Questions or Comments about our Environment blogpage, or If You Would Like to Contribute to this page with any story ideas: Send an Email to asnycnow.environment@gmail.comor send a DM or ReTweet to @AsnycnowRadioon Twitter with the tag #environment. Last Update to this page→22 March 2012 @ 10:08h GMT-5 

HIGHLIGHT The March 10th broadcast of France 24’s Environment show, featuring a forum on water and the West Bank in Africa.

 →NEW TO THE BLOGPAGE: We have the latest episodes of France 24’s “Environment” programme. The show airs Saturdays on France 24 (check France24.com for tv listings) Newest episodes will be marked with a red symbol 

About the France 24 programme, “Environment”

A weekly look at the world around us – how we affect it, and how it affects us

The show is nine- eleven minutes long and is a weekly show

®/© 2012 France 24

EDITOR’s NOTE __________________________

France 24’s “Environment”

Saturdays 11.40am Paris Time, France 24 and France24.com

2012 Season

 March 10th 2012- Water Forum: Thirst for Change, Apartheid in the West Bank?

2011 Season

CATCH UP WITH ALL 2011 EPISODES OF “ENVIRONMENT” by CLICKING HERE

July 18th “The Age of Man?”

Geologists are saying we’re living in new times – so new that they’re thinking of changing the name of the geological phase in which we live. The notion recognises humans as the driving force behind changes to the planet which is why the new epoch has been dubbed Anthropocene, or the Age of Man.

June 28th  “Madagascar’s timber mafia”

Since a military coup in 2009 many of Madagascar’s most rare and precious resources have become primary targets in a secretive world of exploitation.


June 22nd “Insects under threat”

The warm season has arrived in France and the Asian hornet is awakening. Since its introduction in 2004, this aggressive insect has been devastating bee colonies in the southwest,just a handful can wipe out a hive within hours.

May 29th “Organic Opportunity”

Is organic food the gold standard we are led to believe? We start in China, where scientists are making human milk from genetically modified cattle and insist it is as healthy to drink as that from ordinary cows. Back in France, we assess how organic farming stacks up against conventional methods while in Ecuador, several hundred farmers have taken arms against the multinationals who are using organic produce as a selling point.

 March 28th “Water in the City”

This week : Water in the city. Thailand: Bangkok is sinking – Desalination: a saltwater solution in Singapore – Drugs in your drinking water.

 

March 8th “Palm oil: the hidden ingredient” 

Whether you know it or not, palm oil is almost certainly a part of your life.
Your shampoo, your ice cream, your margarine – and now even your biofuel – all contain this popular vegetable oil. But with palm oil increasingly associated with deforestation, there’s a huge effort to make production more sustainable in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. This week environment examines whether palm oil should be given the ‘green” light.

 

 February 9th   “Innovative Energy”

This week Environment is looking at innovative energy. To start, French researchers try to identify the sweetest of trees with a high sugar content to produce a fruitful harvest of biofuels. Meanwhile in Spain CO2 from a cement factory is sucked up by algae leading to the mass production of bio petroleum. Finally how green are the latest shiny engines to hit the road? They avoid polluting petrol but nonetheless need powerplants many still fueled by coal to run.

 

January 19th “Let the sunshine in”

With a visit to the Heliodome, a house built in line with the light in order to get the most from nature in terms of heat and energy, ENVIRONMENT looks at the power of the sun.


E.coli spreads across Europe, WHO calls strand “super-toxic”

Diseases – The E.coli bacteria that has killed 18 people and spread to at least 10 European countries is a “super-toxic” strain that has never been isolated in patients before, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.

Protests force France to backtrack on gas expansion

One year after France gave the green light to energy companies to extract natural gas through the controversial practice of “fracking”, the government was forced to backtrack after public outcry.

by France 24’s  Gaëlle LE ROUX and Sophie PILGRIM | May 11th 2011

n March 2010, the French government quietly modified France’s mining bill, giving energy companies the green light to explore shale gas fields in the south-east of France. Their mission: to find out how much natural gas lay below the ground, so that they could begin extracting it with the use of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”.

One year later, and after months of pressure from potentially affected locals and environmentalists, the government withdrew the permits, and is now considering a total ban on such methods of gas extraction.

The story emerged in October last year, when the mayor of a village in the scenic Ardeche region of southern France received a call from French energy giant GDF-Suez. “I was told about the project over the phone”, Jacques Lebrat told FRANCE 24. “A week later someone from GDF came to talk to us at a town meeting. We asked a lot of questions but he had all the answers; he seemed very confident about the project. We weren’t worried, just curious.”

Theirs was not the only village concerned; larger towns and even the city of Montpellier fell into the 10,000 kilometre squared treasure trove. They were sitting on a veritable fortune.

A French ‘Gasland’?

Hydraulic fracturing, or ”fracking”, allows the extraction of natural gas from pockets deep beneath the surface. A well is drilled and millions of gallons of water, sand and hundreds of different chemicals are sent down to create a mini-earthquake, which breaks up the rocks to release the gas. The process was only discovered a few decades ago and has not been extensively tested in Europe.

“I did have my doubts,” Lebrat said. “These extractions were no small matter. They would impact waterworks, the land, and also the way the area would look. But when we took these concerns to GDF, they told us that the ground below the surface did not belong to us. Basically, we had no say.”

Little by little, animosity towards the project began to grow. An American documentary about the disastrous environmental impacts of hydraulic drilling, “Gasland”, helped to fuel opposition. In December, some 300 people walked though the village of Villeneuve-de-Berg to voice their discontent. At the latest march in April, the number of demonstrators had grown to 20,000.

After tentative but fruitless efforts to appease the protesters, the government eventually changed tack. On 13 April it was announced that any current permits for exploration had been revoked.

On May 10, the French assembly will decide on whether to ban exploration entirely. More demonstrations are planned for the day.

Meanwhile, one of the energy giants involved (Texan giant Schuepbach Energy LLC, which is affiliated with GDF) has filed a legal complaint against the state concerning the decision to revoke their permit. The fight is not over yet.

Green candidate’s nuclear stance raises eyebrows

Breaking a long silence, Green Party presidential hopeful Nicolas Hulot adopted a resolutely anti-nuclear stance on Monday, which risks alienating potential voters in a country where 55% of the electorate sees nuclear power favourably.

By France 24’s Joseph BAMAT | April 26 2011

The nuclear disaster unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is definite proof that nuclear power is not a solution to the world’s energy needs, French environmentalist and presidential hopeful Nicolas Hulot said on Monday, ending his often-criticised tolerance of France’s civilian nuclear energy programme.

“I was one of those who had a certain trust in the arguments made by pro-nuclear engineers. Today they are losing their edge in the face of the facts,” Hulot told journalists at an anti-nuclear demonstration in the city of Strasbourg to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine.

Hulot was heckled by some protesters for his alleged inconsistency. Stéphane Lhomme, one of his rivals in the Green Party’s upcoming primaries, said Hulot’s “sudden conversion” was “due to his need to get the Green Party’s financial backing” and to rally enough supporters to “hang up his [campaign] posters”.

But while Hulot’s delay in fully adopting the anti-nuclear position is seen by some as a ploy meant to secure his nomination as the Green Party’s candidate in the 2012 presidential vote, it reflects a widely held ambivalence in France about the issue of nuclear energy.

With more than 58 reactors in operation, France is one of the world’s nuclear powerhouses and has, for decades, been resolutely in favour of atomic energy. According to government figures, more than 75% of the country’s electricity is produced in nuclear plants.

“I’m amazed that Hulot took so long to show a clear anti-nuclear stance,” said Michel Wieviorka, a sociologist and expert on the political left in France. However, he added, the anti-nuclear movement has had little room to manoeuvre in France until recently.

France’s decision to heavily invest in and develop nuclear energy was a direct result of the 1973 oil crisis, Wieviorka explained. At that time a consensus that nuclear power was critical to France’s independence emerged between the conservative Gaullist politicians and almost all of the political left, including the powerful CGT trade union.

“That consensus began to erode after Chernobyl,” Wieviorka said, adding that it remained mostly intact until very recently. Even after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, a majority of the French opposed the Green Party’s proposal to scrap the civilian nuclear network.

Fifty-five percent of French people are against quitting nuclear energy, according to a survey done by French polling agency TNS Sofres at the request of the EDF energy company. That compares to 87% of Germans and 77% of Swiss who would like to lay nuclear energy to rest.

“The conflict within the political left is ongoing,” said Wieviorka. “There is a position that favours high economic growth, and the production of energy is important for that. And then there is the idea that we can live better with less growth.

“The conflict is not between one left-wing party and another. It exists within parties and even within individuals,” he added.

As the world remembers Chernobyl and remains anguished by the plight of Fukushima, Hulot’s anti-nuclear awakening may seem a bit late in coming. But in France the debate over the wisdom of nuclear energy is hotter now than its ever been before.

Sarkozy calls for nuclear reform during Japan visit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for new global nuclear regulations Thursday as the country came under pressure to extend its evacuation zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant due to concerns about spreading radiation.

by Reuters News Agency | April 31st, 2011 French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Thursday for the creation of new global nuclear regulations by the end of 2011 during a first visit by a foreign leader to Japan since the earthquake and tsunami that triggered its atomic disaster.

FRANCE SENDS EXPERTS
On Tuesday France confirmed it was sending nuclear experts from the French nuclear company Areva and its CEA nuclear research body to the Fukushima plant at the request of Japanese authorities.

Group of 20 chairman Sarkozy said France wanted to host a meeting of the bloc’s nuclear officials in May to fix new norms in the wake of the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

“We must address this anomaly that there are no international safety norms for nuclear matters,” he said. The world’s worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986 is proving hard to contain and has forced an international rethink on the benefits and safety of nuclear power. U.N. body the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sets standards and recommendations, but they are not legally binding and safety is primarily the responsibility of member states.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan backed the French proposal for a global nuclear review. “In order to avoid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience,” Kan said at a joint news conference.

The nuclear drama at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has piled on the agony for Japan after the quake and tsunami left nearly 28,000 people dead or missing and caused damage that may top $300 billion. First data on the economic impact of the March 11 disaster showed manufacturing suffered its biggest drop on record this month as factories shut and supply chains were disrupted, especially in the car and technology sectors for which Japan is renowned.

France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, is taking a lead in assisting Japan. “Dear Japanese friends, know that in this appalling catastrophe, the world is watching and admiring you,” Sarkozy said during his visit to Tokyo.

As well as his show of solidarity by his personal presence, Paris has flown in experts from state-owned nuclear reactor maker Areva <CEPFi.PA>. “Consider me your employee,” Areva Chief Executive Anne Lauvergeon told Japanese officials.

The United States and Germany have weighed in too, offering robots to help repair the damaged nuclear plant. In an alarming development in Switzerland, a parcel bomb exploded in the offices of the national nuclear lobby, injuring two female employees.

It was not known who sent it. Switzerland has frozen he approvals process for three new nuclear stations pending a safety review after Japan’s disaster. Pressure has been growing on Japan to expand the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant where radiation hit 4,000 times the legal limit in the sea nearby and hindered the battle to contain the crisis. Both the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Japan’s own nuclear safety agency have advised Kan to consider widening the 20-km (12-mile) zone round the plant on the northeast Pacific coast.

High radiation was detected twice that distance away. Government officials are pleading for Japanese, and the world, to avoid overreacting to what they say are still low-risk levels of radiation away from the plant.

Evacuation controversy

More than 70,000 people have been evacuated from the 20-km ring. Another 136,000 who live in a 10-km (6-mile) band beyond that have been encouraged to leave or to stay indoors. The IAEA, said radiation at Iitate village, 40 km (25 miles) from the plant, exceeded a criterion for evacuation. Consistently high levels of radiation found in the sea near the complex could mean radiation is leaking out continuously, Japan’s nuclear watchdog said.

The source is still unknown, adding to the headaches for engineers on the site. Radioactive iodine in seawater near drains running from the plant was 4,385 times more than the legal limit, the highest recorded so far during the crisis.

In a sign of the extraordinary times Japan is living, one newborn baby’s first medical appointment was not with a paediatrician but a Geiger counter. “I am so scared about radiation,” Misato Nagashima said as she took her baby Rio, born four days after the earthquake and disaster, for a screening at a city in Fukushima prefecture.

Concern over radiation beyond Japan grew further after Singapore detected radiation nine times the limit in cabbages from Japan, while the United States reported “minuscule” levels of radiation in milk samples on its west coast. Several countries have banned milk and produce from areas near the damaged nuclear plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

Japan has itself stopped exports of vegetables and milk from there. Contaminated milk was one of the biggest causes of thyroid cancer after the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl because people near the plant kept drinking milk from local cows.

Lengthy battle

Experts say the battle to control Fukushima’s six reactors could take weeks, if not months, followed by a clean-up operation that may drag on for years.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co could face compensation claims of up to 11 trillion yen ($133 billion) — nearly four times its equity—if the nuclear crisis drags on for two years, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said. Experts said the continued lack of a permanent cooling system was hindering efforts to stop fuel rods overheating.

Workers have been forced to pump in seawater to cool the rods, but this in turn creates contaminated water flows. Radiation readings around the evacuation zone vary widely. Daily readings published by the government show that 30 km (19 miles) northwest of the reactors levels are climbing up to 42 microsieverts per hour, about six times the cosmic radiation experienced during a Tokyo-New York flight.

Elsewhere at that distance around the reactor it is just 1.0-1.2 microsieverts per hour. A Reuters reading in downtown Tokyo on Thursday showed a radiation level of 0.18 microsieverts per hour. This is still quite low by global standards as Japan has lower levels of natural background radiation than other places. “All the experts agree that living in Tokyo now does not represent a health risk,” Sarkozy said during a meeting with French residents at the ambassador’s residence in the capital.

Study: Climate can cause seismic shifts

AFP News Agency- April 13 2011 09:04 GMTScientists have for the first time shown a link between intensifying climate events and tectonic plate movement in findings that could provide a valuable insight into why huge tremors occur. Understanding why plates change direction and speed is key to unlocking huge seismic events such as last month’s Japan earthquake, which shifted the Earth’s axis by several inches, or February’s New Zealand quake.

An Australian-led team of researchers from France and Germany found that the strengthening Indian monsoon had accelerated movement of the Indian plate over the past 10 million years by a factor of about 20 percent. Lead researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano said Wednesday that although scientists have long known that tectonic movements influence climate by creating new mountains and sea trenches, his study was the first to show the reverse.

“The closure or opening of new ocean basins or the build of large mountain bands like the Andes or Tibet itself, those are geological processes that affect the pattern of climate,” said Iaffaldano, an earth scientist with the Australian National University.

“We are showing for the first time that the opposite also is true, that the pattern of climate is then able to affect back in a feedback mechanism the motion of tectonic plates.” Iaffaldano stressed that his study did not mean that global warming would translate to stronger earthquakes happening more often, with the relevant patterns developing over “the order of millions of years.” “Of course earthquakes do occur at the boundaries between plates because of plate motions, but our work doesn’t imply at all that we will see an increase in these types of events,” he told AFP.

Iaffaldano collaborated with Universite de Rennes geoscientist Laurent Husson and Hans-Peter Bunge from Munich’s LMU university on the study, which was recently published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal.

The team plans to build on the study by probing whether climate events have had a similar impact in other regions. “For example I can imagine that there might be a signature of climate in the Andes for example or in the Rocky Mountains,” said Iaffaldano. “This is something that we should look at in the future.” _________________________________________________________


Oil Police struggle to protect Iraq’s ” Black Gold”

AFP News Agency- April 13 2011 08:53 GMT

As war-ravaged Iraq ramps up crude oil production to reach an ambitious goal of a nearly five-fold increase by 2017, it is scrambling to face the parallel challenge of protecting oil facilities.

The Oil Police, with the wide responsibility of guarding every aspect from fields and personnel to refineries and petrol stations, is struggling with shortages of equipment and funds, as well as the manpower specified in the goverment’s five-year plan. “We are short of about 12,000 police officers,” complained General Hamid Ibrahim, the head of the police force.

He currently commands a force of 30,000 men, 8,000 of them low-paid contracted workers without the higher wages and benefits of tenured employees. “We are forced to hire contract workers because the finance ministry has not provided the funding to hire tenured employees,” he told AFP.

Sabah Hussein puts his life on the line five days a week as a contract worker with the force, earning 255 dollars a month. He drives a cab on weekends to make ends meet. The disillusioned 21-year-old, who has been with the force for three years, said his pay is half that of a tenured employee. He said he was awaiting tenure, which would double his pay, but was not optimistic.

“I hope to get tenure, but I think they are only promises,” he said during an inspection of a pipeline passing through Nahrwan, an agricultural area 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) southeast of Baghdad, and part of a nationwide network that stretches for 7,500 kilometres (4,700 miles). “If I am hurt on the job, my contract provides no compensation,” he complained, pointing to a route overlooking the Diyala river where three of his colleagues died in an attack about three months ago.

Iraq’s declared oil reserves of 143 billion barrels are among the world’s largest, and crude generates 90 percent of revenues. The government plans to boost the current modest production of 2.6 million barrels-per-day to six million bpd in 2014 and 12 million bpd by 2017.

But an International Monetary Fund report last month expressed doubts over Iraq’s ability to reach that goal, saying production was more likely to reach about five million bpd by 2017. General Sabah al-Saidi, who is responsible for oil security in eight provinces in central Iraq, explained that the force relied on patrols to inspect facilities like pipelines because it did not have equipment such as sensors or cameras, or helicopters for air surveillance. “We do things the old-fashioned way,” he quipped. In certain remote regions, the force has to rely on the army to help carry out its protection tasks.

Without helicopters, the force also cannot quickly send reinforcements to such areas. One of the force’s responsibilities is to ensure that oil is not being secretly siphoned from pipelines.

But Saidi said that thieves sometimes used sophisticated methods of punching into the ducts and laying down underground hoses that could stretch several kilometres (miles), and were difficult to detect without modern equipment. The oil police was created in the 1950s, but disbanded after the 2003 US-led invasion together with all other security services, amid fears they were manned by men loyal to the ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Attacks against vital oil installations have declined in recent years, as Iraq struggles to recover from the aftermath of the invasion, including an al-Qaeda insurgency that targets vital installations such as oil facilities. But attacks still take place. An attack in late February halted production at the Baiji refinery, Iraq’s largest, for five days.

Early last month, another attack shut down a vital export pipeline connecting to the Turkish port of Ceyhan for six days. The oil police are recruited from communities close to the facilities, in order to involve local people in the protection of the country’s precious resource. But that did not stop the Baiji refinery attack north of Baghdad, which Ibrahim indicated took place with inside information. Oil force units are stationed in concrete shacks at regular intervals alongside pipelines. They go for patrols to ensure the pipes remain secure. “Without patrols there would be theft,” said Sabri Ghafar, a colonel with the force. “Oil is a very precious resource.” ____________________________________________________________________

World’s coral reefs face extinction

The world’s coral reefs could be extinct by 2050 if environmental stresses such as overfishing, climate change and pollution aren’t curbed, a new report said Wednesday.

AFP| February 23 2011 – The world’s coral reefs could be wiped out by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to stop threats posed to the “rainforests of the sea” by everything from overfishing to global warming, a report warned Wednesday.

Warmer seas caused by global warming; ocean acidification blamed on carbon dioxide pollution; shipping, overfishing, coastal development and agricultural runoff all pose a threat to coral reefs, which hundreds of millions of people depend on for a living, says the report.

“If left unchecked, more than 90 percent of reefs will be threatened by 2030 and nearly all reefs will be at risk by 2050,” says the “Reefs at Risk Revisited” report, which was compiled by dozens of research, conservation and educational groups led by the World Resources Institute think-tank.

“Local pressures” on reefs, including overfishing, coastal development and pollution, pose the most immediate and direct threats to the world’s reefs, threatening more than 60 percent of the colorful sea “forests” in the short term, the report says. The impacts of climate change — a “global threat” to reefs — is compounding the local pressures. “Warming seas have already caused widespread damage to reefs, with high temperatures driving a stress response called coral bleaching, where corals lose their colorful symbiotic algae, exposing their white skeletons,” the report says.

“In addition, increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are slowly causing the world’s oceans to become more acidic. Ocean acidification reduces coral growth rates and, if unchecked, could reduce their ability to maintain their physical structure.”

Losing the coral reefs would deprive millions of coastal dwellers of a key source of food and income, and would deprive shorelines of protection from storms, the report says. There would be fewer nurseries for commercial fish species, and less sand on tourist beaches if coral reefs are destroyed. “We need to improve, quickly and comprehensively, on existing efforts to protect reefs,” says the report, which is aimed at galvanizing the world into action “to save these critical ecosystems.”


California strikes out against climate change

California has struck out against climate change by approving the most sweeping US plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a “cap-and-trade” system, under which industry will be required to cut emissions or trade for credits on a new market. AFP| December 18 2010 – California has approved the most sweeping US plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, acting on its own against climate change as proposed nationwide plans flounder in Washington. The largest US state, which would be the world’s eighth largest economy if a country, will from 2012 start a “cap-and-trade” system under which industry will be required to cut emissions but can trade credits on a new market. Outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has differed sharply with much of his Republican Party on the environment, saw the decision by a state panel late Thursday as part of his legacy. “I campaigned in 2003 about that — I want to show California that we can protect both the economy and the environment,” the actor-turned-politician told the California Air Resources Board which voted 9-1 for the plan at a meeting in the state capital Sacramento. “This is not just about global climate change,” said Schwarzenegger, acknowledging that some people were skeptical about scientists’ view that temperature are rising. “Since 2006 or so green jobs have been created 10 times faster than in any other sector, so it’s also an economic plus,” he said. The European Union now has the world’s only wide-scale cap-and-trade plan, which plays a pivotal role in the bloc’s commitments to reduce the emissions blamed for climate change. Ten states on the US East Coast have also run a cap-and-trade system that started last year, but the initiative — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — is limited to the power sector. The US House of Representatives in 2009 approved plans for the first nationwide cap-and-trade system, with President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party arguing that it would spur a new green economy and fight climate change. The proposal died in the Senate, with Republicans leading charges that it would hurt an already weak economy. Prospects for approval have all but vanished after the Republicans swept congressional elections last month. But voters in Democratic-leaning California soundly defeated a referendum, supported by oil interests, that would have frozen the state’s actions on climate change. Louis Blumberg, director of climate change for The Nature Conservancy environmental group’s California branch, said that the state offered “a model” for others. “At a time of critical need for decisive action to address climate change, California’s tremendous leadership is creating renewed momentum at the federal and international levels,” Blumberg said. Initially, California will technically not restrict emissions but instead freely allocate “allowances” to businesses covering their carbon output. The state will gradually reduce allowances, forcing firms to go green. Companies can also earn credit by supporting environmental projects in forests or farms, including through preservation of woods in Mexico’s Chiapas state and Brazil’s Acre state. The provision has divided environmental activists, some of whom voiced anger that companies could reduce their own requirements to curb pollution by supporting timber firms that cut down forests but then plant new trees. “We cannot and should not try to clear-cut our way out of climate change,” said an action appeal from the Sierra Club California. California aims to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent, bringing them even with 1990 levels by 2020. The goal is less ambitious than that of the European Union, which has committed to reductions of 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

“ENVIRONMENT” Changes hands at Asnycnow

Vicki Nikolaidis has ended her relationship with Asnycnow Radio as of November 2010 and has stepped down from her final role served at Asnycnow: editor-in-chief of Our Science and Environment division which runs this blogpage. Due to a recent change of editorial staff and divisions within the Asnycnow Network, This blogpage and the division currently does not have an official editor-in-chief appointed by Asnycnow. This Blogpage will be updated continuously by Asnycnow Radio’s News staff. _______________________________________________________________ {Quote from Christopher Hedges} Hope, in the hands of a realist, spreads fear into the black heart of the corporate elite.”

******************************************************* “President Obama’s stimulus package is funding green technology around the nation – creating jobs, spurring innovation and transforming the U.S. economy. The Obama administration ensured that a portion of last year’s Recovery Act went towards fulfilling a campaign pledge: 1 million electric cars on U.S. highways by 2015. To that end, $2.4 billion was intended to jump start an entire industry geared toward the production of lighter, more energy-dense lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation of vehicles. With a $249 million share of these funds, A123 systems is building battery-production plants across Michigan, employing about 800 workers and laying the groundwork for a grand conversion of Michigan’s faltering economy towards green technology. Another $110 million is helping Johnson Controls – Saft convert a closed auto parts factory into a state-of-the-art battery-production plant in Holland, MI . In addition to more, lighter batteries with the capacity to go farther on a charge, an electric car industry requires an entirely new infrastructure to support it: charging stations. ECOtality (based in Arizona) received $114 million, which it bundled into a larger funding package to set up 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities across 6 states, including the San Diego Metro Area. With a support structure like this, sales of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf (all-electric vehicles due to roll out in late 2010 and early 2012, respectively) could get a serious boost. But stimulus investments in green technology aren’t just about electric cars. With a 1,400 percent increase in wind energy production in the U.S. since 2000, and China emerging as a formidable rival in the renewable energy business, some Stimulus funding has been targeted towards spurring innovation (and continuing to increase capacity) in the wind power industry.” read details__________________________________________________________________________

GRAND ISLE, La., Sept. 2, 2010

Mariner Energy offshore drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico explodes and burns.

This happened about 200 miles west of the Deepwater Horizon BP accident which has dumped oil into the Gulf. CBS/AP reported that oil was again on top of the water of the Gulf of Mexico leaving a sheen. Thankfully everyone was rescued. The Mariner Energy platform is in approximately 340 feet of water in contrast to the 5000 feet depth of the BP platform.   A spokesperson from Apache, the oil company arranging to buy the platform from Mariner Energy is very update in prognosis of the oil in the Gulf. We will see if they can clean up the oil quickly and easily as they say.  An excellent article with all the details so far can be found at the following link. “Coast Guard Says Mile-Long Sheen Is Spreading from Petroleum Platform that Exploded off La. Coast; All 13 Aboard Rig Rescued” from CBS http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/09/02/national/main6829893.shtml?tag=topnews

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News from Greenpeace

We’ve stopped Cairn’s Arctic drilling

Cairn StoppedA few moments ago, our activists evaded a massive security operation and scaled Cairn Energy’s controversial rig off Greenland. We’ve stopped their drilling.After dodging Danish Navy commandos in our inflatable speedboats, our activists climbed up the inside of the rig and are now hanging from tents suspended from ropes.We’ll get more news to you as soon as we have it, but for live updates go to www.gobeyondoil.orgThanks for your support,Lisa Vickers – on board the Esperanza

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Fun eco fact from @Moshiur Khandaker The most volunteers involved in collecting litter in one location in one day is 146,679 arranged by Oita City, Oita, Japan on 7 August 2005. via @GuinnessWorldRecords *****************************************************

Steff Gaulter sifts through the theories on Global Warming

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Right 2 Dry

Petition the White House to Restore the Right 2 Dry Right2Dry:Restore Your Right To LineDry

A conflict is raging in the US. Protests, political movements and murder have taken place in the name of an unlikely ideal: clotheslines. Tens of millions of individuals across Northern America are banned from outdoor line drying by the very communities they live in, forcing them to turn to the dryer. Homeowners who break the rules are fined, sued and even foreclosed on. This ban is not only infringing on civil rights, it’s contributing to the environmental and energy crisis. The dryer is responsible for 6% of the average household’s energy bill and it costs residential ratepayers in the US an estimated $5 billion annually. Corporate America has sold the dryer and the consumption of electricity as a status symbol, and now they have their eyes on a much bigger prize – the world.

Our future is hanging on the line.

http://www.dryingforfreedom.com/ http://right2dry.org/

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Bangladesh. Clean up Bangladesh.

Bangladesh. Slums behind a luxury hotel.

Bangladesh. Scooping garbage out of canal with bulldozer scoop.

Bangladesh. Woman’s hands stained with dye.

Bangladesh. Men dying clothes in river.

Bangladesh. Plumes of dye.

Bangladesh. Dumping dye.

Bangladesh. Boys clean pots in river

Bangladesh. Swimming in the thick algae growth.

Bangladesh. Swimming in the muck.

Bangladesh. Run off which is black and sudsy.

Bangladesh. Pouring black water.

Bangladesh. Narrow street flooding.

Bangladesh. Boy with bag for gathering trash.

Bangladesh. Black water.

Bangladesh. Black water.

Bangladesh. Red-brown tide.

Bangladesh. Boys use condom as a balloon.

Bangladesh. Looking straight down at boat in black waters.

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Clean up Bangladesh

An invitation from Hasibul Hassan Habib, Bangladesh Clean up Bangladesh campaign is a broad-based coalition, including Government Agencies, Autonomous bodies, Educational institutions, NGOs, Community groups, Businesses and Individuals to undertake activities to improve quality of environment, clean up local streets, parks, lakes, rivers, beaches, hills and forests and educate the public to reduce the impact of waste and make a real difference in their healthy environment will help protect Bangladesh and the environment for future generations. The Coalition is coordinated by SAFE. Start doing something for Bangladesh today. Get involved! Getting involved is simple. Groups or organizations in any city, town or village across Bangladesh can join Clean up Bangladesh. There is no fee to join the coalition. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! PLEASE HAVE YOUR FRIENDS JOIN THIS CLEANUP ACTIVITIES. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A CLEAN BANGLADESH. 1.) JOIN the group. 2.) SPREAD THE WORD: Click on the “Invite People…” button on the right to invite like-minded people. Choose at least 5 friends that you’d like to see join this group. 3.) LET’S BE FRIENDS: Add us as a Friend (we want to have more supporters of Clean up Bangladesh as friends on Facebook) 4.) GET INVOLVED! Let the group know about local cleanup activities. 5.) INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Tell us a little bit about you and your group, and what you’re doing to Clean Up Bangladesh. And what help do you need to attract more people and grow your group?   cleanup.    bangladesh@gmail.com Store/Harvesting Rain Water by Hasibul Hassan Habib, Bangladesh Harvesting Rain water for my village people. storing it by providing them motka (a clay pot containing about 300 litre of water). Friends, you, everybody must do something to decrease the pressure upon groundwater as we are passing this  time of crisis. Think!  If 1 crore of people use this motka then 300 crore underground water will be saved!  Can you believe it ? There are also many ways to harvest rain water. you must go for one which is convenient for you.The government, NGOs, all individuals must make a voice now as it is  the rainy season in Bangladesh. I am doing it in my village – what are you doing ? . . . and one thing more . . . what I am doing . . .  the output is global!I will report a  follow up to all these motka after storing rain water so that we keep the water to use. After 2 to 3 months bacteria might be produced in this water, so if you use this method remember to drink it only when still fresh. Let me know how you would like to join with us? http://habib.amarblog.com/posts/105319

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Instead of moving to alternative, sustainable energies, the oil companies still dream of looting the earth. Even the melting of the Artic causes them no pause.

British oil company’s Arctic find fuels hope of huge new reserves

By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 1:04 PM on 25th August 2010 The Arctic is set to become the world’s last dash for oil after a British energy company reported a discovery off the coast of Greenland.  Cairn Energy said it had found oil and gas bearing sands in one of its exploration wells, indicting there was an ‘active hydrocarbon system’ there.  The Edinburgh-based company is drilling in a basin the size of the North Sea, meaning the find is potentially of enormous significance. Greenland’s waters could hold 50 billion barrels of crude and gas, enough to meet the energy demands from every country in Europe for almost two years. But Cairn’s find has already attracted the attention of environmental campaigners who are furious that the untouched beauty of the Arctic is being put at risk. Greenpeace’s ship Esperanza is already in the area in protest and has clashed with a Danish warship as it approached the 500 metre exclusion zone around the rig.  Green groups say a blow out like that at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico could cause even more damage in Greenland as cold conditions would mean limited evaporation of the oil.  Greenland, which Denmark has held sovereignty over since 1721, also has limited facilities for dealing with a major spill.  Cairn said that though the gas in Baffin Bay it found was too small to be commercially exploited, it supported the view that the area could yet yield material finds. ‘I am encouraged that we have early indications of a working hydrocarbon system with our first well in Greenland, confirming our belief in the exploration potential,’ Chief Executive Sir Bill Gammell said in a statement.  Exploration director Mike Watts added that the gas was of a type that is sometimes found in association with oil.  The well in question – T8-1 – has not yet reached its target depth and Cairn has plans for at least two more in its current drilling programme.  However the company admitted if it suffered an accident similar to the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April, it would be unable to cap a blow out for months.  While analysts said the news was ‘exciting, Greenpeace demanded Cairn immediately halt its operations and make public their safety procedures.  Companies like Cairn need to leave the Arctic alone and instead work quickly to develop safe and clean alternatives that will actually help us get off fossil fuels for good,’ said Greenpeace activist Leila Deen, who is on the Esperanza.‘  Cairn might be a step closer to finding oil off Greenland, but this takes us one step back in the fight against climate change and poses a grave threat to the fragile Arctic environment.’Cairn Energy has been turned from an oil minnow to a global energy powerhouse under the stewardship of Sir Bill, a former Scottish rugby international who has long been friends with Tony Blair and George W Bush.He met the future Prime Minister at Fettes, a public school in Edinburgh where he was his classmate and debating partners.   Sir Bill’s interest in oil was sparked during university summers spent with the Bushes in Texas When George W Bush became president, his first words to Mr Blair were: ‘I believe you know my old friend Bill Gammell.  ’Greenland is self-governing but barring a severing of ties with Denmark, a major oil find will put the Danes in the unlikely position of becoming an oil-rich nation on a par with the likes of Saudi Arabia. Photos from Greenpeace. These are incredible photos including of the firemen trying to work in the oil at the Dalian, China oil spill accident. Very moving. Greenpeace International Picture Desk on Facebook.THE HIGH RISKS POSED BY ‘OIL-BEARING SANDS’

Cairn Energy said it had found oil and gas bearing sands off the coast of Greenland.

The process of extracting from ‘oil-bearing sand’, or ‘tar sands’, is costly and hugely risky, for both environmental and financial reasons.

Tar sands are a mix of thick oil, water and sand. The oil’s extraction consumes massive amounts of water and emits vast amounts of greenhouse gas, CO2, which could have dramatic consequences for the Arctic region if large natural reserves are found to exist. Shell, one of Britain’s biggest companies, is controversially pushing ahead with plans to extract oil from huge reserves of ‘tar sands’ in Alberta, Canada. It’s thought that huge reserves of oil-bearing sands here and in Venezuela could last for up to a century if exploited. The indigenous people of Alberta, however, have launched a series of legal actions decrying the ravaging of the local environment, loss of traditional areas, and the decline in wildlife populations within their territory. Greenpeace warned that Cairn’s announcement signaled ‘grave news’ and threatened the fragile Arctic environment, particularly in wake of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, which has had a catastrophic effect on the region. It is not thought that the company would attempt to extract oil from the newly-found ‘tar sands’ but the discovery demonstrates ordinary reserves are highly likely to be nearby.

TODAY’S POLL at Mail Online:  Should we drill for oil in the Arctic? Vote here and read more.

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August 12th} Ignoring the obvious by Alan Fisher

You may know I’ve just returned from Niger. There, tens of thousands of people are facing extreme hunger because of the droughts of the last two years. the rainy season is underway but the rains around the capital of Niamey have been torrential and persistent. Its not what is needed.

Dust Storm July 2010 Upper: Algeria on left, Libya in right corner. Lower: Mali on left, Niger on right

The water is not nourishing the soil. It’s washing away the crops. It’s washing away homes. It is destroying lives. The trouble there comes as Pakistan struggles to cope with the worst floods since the creation of the state. Millions of people are homeless. The UN predicts the devastation will be worse than the Asian Tsunami, which struck several countries.

Flood in Pakistan Thousands flee, many in water up to their necks in floodwater, carrying children.

Torrential rain has swept through China. The official death toll is creeping up all the time. It is going to be in the thousands. Mudslides have brought havoc to many places across the country’s northwest. In Russia’s capital, Moscow, forest fires – started in scorching hot temperatures – have left the air quality so poor, the authorities are telling people who cannot leave the city to stay indoors. In Greenland, a mass of ice has broken away from a glacier. Four times the size of Manhattan Island; it’s the biggest iceberg in more than half a century. Scientists say arctic ice is melting at record pace and 16 countries have recorded record temperatures this year. Yet despite the evidence of floods and flames, of drought and danger, there is no concerted international action towards reaching an agreement on the best way to fight climate change. Most countries of the world gathered in Denmark in December. I know because I was there. They left after ten days suggesting there had been substantial progress, that things were moving in the right direction and it takes time for an international agreement to be hammered out. There were hopes that a comprehensive, legally binding deal could be reached when the next round of talks convened in Cancun in Mexico in November 2010. That was both optimistic and unlikely. The politicians smiled and used honeyed words of good intention, but already the process leading up to Cancun is, in the words of a leading environmental journalist, in “semi-crisis”. There is a preparatory meeting scheduled for China in October. What should happen there is that a draft text is agreed so that the politicians can roll up, sign the deal and depart looking like they’ve saved the world. Sound familiar? Well, that was what was meant to happen in Barcelona last year. Instead, what we have is a forty page document which has to be negotiated line by line. And there simply isn’t the time to do that. There is an optimistic idea that with countries suggesting things to be added to the text, it means they are now fully engaged in trying to reach a balanced agreement. In Copenhagen last year, developing countries reacted angrily to the deal, which was tabled. The idea was the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding agreement on reducing carbon emissions, would be scrapped, replaced by a new agreement which would allow industrialized countries to set their own targets and timetables to make the changes needed. The countries most at risk raised their voices loud. They felt they were being told that they must reduce their minor emissions and deprive their people of developing a stronger economy while richer nations did little to minimize the impact of more than 100 years of mass industrialization. The US is the largest historical emitter and the second biggest carbon polluter in the world. China overtook it in 2007. Its plan to help remains essentially the same – cut emissions by four per cent on the 1990 figure; a suggestion widely derided in Copenhagen, and a sign the US isn’t quite ready to face the pain of significant changes to the lifestyle its people enjoy or the way it uses fuel. The poorest countries are getting angry again. More than 100 of them are now calling for any future climate change agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C – not the 2C everyone has been talking about. They are demanding more money to help with fighting the costs of climate change – saying the $100bn a year already suggested simply isn’t enough. And they want much more from richer countries that aren’t willing to give. And that’s where the basis of future disappointment in Cancun lies. If the rich don’t want to do anything – despite the howls of protests outside the halls and the demands for action from charities and non-governmental organizations – then nothing will happen.And Cancun will be remembered for failure in the same way that Copenhagen is remembered. The countries will leave, claim they’re taking important steps and push for agreement in 2011, or 2012 or 2013. And the whole process starts again.

Meanwhile, the floods and fires, the droughts and disasters will continue.

ALAN FISHER is an experienced, award-winning correspondent whose career in television stretches back more than 25 years. In his role with Al Jazeera English, he’s reported from across the world. He was a frontline correspondent during Georgia’s war with Russia in August 2008 and came under sustained fire while reporting on US army operations in Afghanistan.
Catch Up with ALAN FISHER via
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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All, is part of Change.org’s Changemakers network, comprised of leading voices for social change. Change.org asked Ms. Ellis-Lamkins to write about what motivates her work. 1. What cause or causes would you most like to promote as a Changemaker and why?

Building a clean-energy economy. The recession continues to plague working families throughout the country. And the costs of our dependence on dirty energy are getting more extreme every day, with the most heartbreaking example being BP’s disastrous, ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The only way to restore strength to our economy and protect our country from the environmental devastation of fossil fuels is to build a strong, prosperous clean-energy economy. A clean-energy economy means millions of jobs for everyday Americans in fields like construction, manufacturing, farming, and other industries where we have thrived in years past. It means strong new American businesses blazing trails in the 21st-century economy. It also means an end to the pollution and poison that oil, coal, and other dirty forms of energy pour into our air, water, and land. And with economic and environmental benefits, it means a chance to reinvest in the American Dream, in the idea that our every child, every community, gets a chance to share in our nation’s bounty. A clean-energy economy means a stronger, healthier, more prosperous America for all of us. 2.  If you could ask one million people to all do one thing to advance causes that matter to you, what would it be? The one thing I would ask is for people to do everything they can to get a strong, comprehensive climate and energy bill passed — one that creates economic opportunity for every community while protecting the environment. Obviously, Congress and President Obama bear the primary responsibility for getting this done. But everyday Americans can do a lot, too. For starters, check out Green For All’s online petition and join the thousands who have already told Washington they want a clean-energy future. But don’t stop there. Call or write your Senators directly.  Visit his or her local office in person; you can make quite an impression. Bring a group of people from your community — your family, other parents at your kids’ schools, fellow congregation members at your church, or others you have a connection to. Together, each of us doing small things can make a big change. 3.  Tell us a bit about your personal story and how you came to care so much about these causes? I grew up in Suisun, a small town in California near the San Francisco Bay Area.  Located near large refineries and factories, Suisun had a lot of pollution, and a lot of kids like me were sick with asthma and other conditions. I remember that my doctor told my mom that she should move our family to a cleaner, healthier place for our health. But we were struggling just to get by in Suisun; there was no way she could move us to a nicer, more expensive city and start from scratch. Eventually my mom got a union job, and even as a kid I saw what a big difference it made in our lives.  So when I grew up, I worked for a long time in the labor movement. I wanted to help people like my mom and our neighbors have good jobs that helped them take care of their families, jobs that treated them with the dignity they deserved as workers and people. I was applying one of the main lessons of my childhood:  parents should not have to choose between their families’ health and their economic future. When I realized that working not just for good jobs but for green jobs could create opportunities for work, and wealth, and health for kids like me, kids like my little nieces, that I really became dedicated to environmental action. That was when I came to Green For All to lead the charge for green jobs and the clean-energy economy. Now I spend my days working to build and economy that both protects the planet and moves people out of poverty. I do it for my mom, for my nieces, for the people I love and people I’ve never met, the people who raised me and people not even born yet. I do it because somewhere, right now, a mother is deciding whether the food that her paycheck puts on her table is worth the toll her job and her hometown are taking on her children, and I don’t think anyone should have to make that kind of decision. 4.  What are the greatest obstacle(s) to change on your issues? The false dilemma. For decades, we have bought into the notion that jobs are bad for the environment, and the environment is bad for jobs. In the 21st century, nothing could be further from the truth.  The most exciting and promising sectors for economic growth are the green sectors:  renewable energy, energy efficiency, green manufacturing, sustainable local food production, and more. Environmentalists are GOOD for jobs — it’s the BPs and the banks that have cost American jobs over the past several years.Even now, oil companies and others are suggesting that green investments should wait until the economy stabilizes. In reality, it’s green investment that can not only stabilize the economy but grow it as we move forward into the 21st century. That mindframe is a relic of the last century, and we as a country — from the streets of Suisun to the halls of Washington D.C. — need to leave it behind. We do not have to choose between feeding our children on the one hand, and making sure the planet will be there for them on the other. The only way to move forward is to do both.

Earth Observatory NASA Indus River flooding August 8, 2010

Earth Observatory NASA Lower Indus River flooding August 12, 2010

Earth Observatory NASA Lower Indus River flooding August 11, 2010

Dave’s Landslide Blog with updates on Pakistan and China

“Pakistan The sheer magnitude of the disaster in Pakistan is difficult to comprehend.  Unfortunately the true horror of this event is probably remaining hidden; the real impact will come when the water levels in the south subside to leave polluted water wells, destroyed homes and wrecked crops.  The legacy of this disaster will be long-lasting, and will have a profound impact on Pakistan and elsewhere. Starting in the north, heavy rain continues to wreak havoc, and the Pamir Times appears to be the only outlet from which a really good idea of the true impact can be gained.  In Gilgit-Baltistan the population is isolated by the blockage of the Hunza river to the north, preventing supplies from China, and the loss of bridges and the road to the south, leaving the population in dire need.  Electricity, water, food and medicine are in short supply.  Meanwhile, the Pamir Times is also reporting a disaster at Diamir, caused by the failure of another landslide dam.  They report at least 50 fatalities and 300 houses washed away.  Assuming that the report is correct, expect this to make the news tomorrow as word seeps out.  One hopes that the toll does not increase further, but I am fearful that this is likely. To the south, the media has cottoned onto the fact that there is a second wave heading down the Indus now, an issue that I have been highlighting since the weekend. Dawn.com quotes the meteorological service in warning of floods in the northern regions of the Pakistan plains.  This second wave is now generating a substantial flood at Chashma” See Dave’s Blogfor the inflow amount charted against the time and day.

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Alternative Energy at Home Here is a web site that offers information, advice and kits to build your own solar panels.  The web link also has information on wind turbines and geothermal energy.  I have not purchased any of their products so I can not tell you anything about the kits nor recommend them to you.  But by reading the posts and looking at the graphics you can learn a lot about the sustainable energy possibilities available to everyone.  I hope you will enjoy reviewing the information on the blog. Vicki

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Will Rooftop Solar Have Its Day in the Sun?

(Reuters) Wed, Aug 11 2010  It’s been a remarkable summer for SunRun, the San Francisco-based startup that’s trying to get solar power onto millions of residential rooftops. SunRun raised $100 million in project financing from utility PG&E. Venture capitalists invested another $55 million in the company. Home Depot agreed to distribute its rooftop solar panels, and Toll Brothers, the big home builder, is using SunRun’s solar leasing program to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on new homes in a luxury golf course community in Yorba Linda, Calif.

Today, SunRun enters Pennsylvania, its sixth state. You wouldn’t think of Pennsylvania as a solar-friendly state but, as it happens, the Keystone State has all the right ingredients — high and rising electricity prices, generous state subsidies for renewable energy, and a regulatory framework that permits homeowners to sell surplus power back to the electricity grid. Says Lynn Jurich, the president and co-founder of SunRun: “We want to go to markets where we can save customers money, and where we can make money.” I’ve written about SunRun before (See SunRun: A New Deal for Solar and Solar’s Strange Bedfellows) but the company is growing so fast, albeit off a small base, that it makes a lot of news. The PG&E, Home Depot and Toll Brothers agreements, along with its geographic expansion, all seem to further validate the company’s business model. As Jurich put it:  “The top utility, the top home improvement company, and one of the top five builders in the country are all working with SunRun … Residential solar is finally going mainstream.”     Well, not quite yet — SunRun has about 5,000 customers, just a few more than the little village where I grew up. Solar panels, while coming down in cost, remain a much more expensive way than coal or natural gas to generate electricity, so they are dependent upon a variety of government subsidies. Some homeowners don’t like the way panels on the roof look.     But SunRun has removed two big obstacles to the mainstreaming of solar — the upfront costs and the hassle factor. Purchasing a solar system outright can cost $25,000 to $45,000, but because SunRun owns and maintains its systems, homeowners frequently don’t have to pay any money down. The company works with reputable local installers, and makes technology decisions that could confound newbies to the field. “If you can remove all the hassles, we think solar can be a very mainstream product,” Jurich says. “Our biggest barrier, really, still, is education. People don’t know that they have an alternative to the utility company. You can get some of your power from your rooftop and we will manage the whole thing for you.” In essence, SunRun is a service, financing and marketing operation — it doesn’t actually make anything. The company raises the money to buy the systems, arranges the installations, takes advantage of a 30 percent federal tax credit that’s available to home owners who install solar energy, monetizes the Renewable Energy Credits or RECs available in many states, and collects monthly electricity payments from homeowners. If the business model works, those revenue streams, taken together, are sufficient to repay its lenders (like PG&E), pay its own costs and generate a profit. Jurich told me that SunRun has, so far, raised enough money to pay for about $300 million worth of solar installations. She expects that figure to climb past $1 billion in the next year or two. That’s impressive for a company that got its start less than four years ago when Jurich and Ed Fenster, SunRun’s CEO, were MBA students at Stanford. Of course, SunRun isn’t the only solar home financing company. It’s got competition from, among others, Solar City, which is backed by celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk. BYD, the Chinese electric car and battery company, last spring struck a deal with KB Home, to install solar panels in a new development of modestly priced homes in Lancaster, Calif. (See Warren Buffett’s BYD: Revving up Fast) I’m sure there are other solar financing firms out there that haven’t gotten my attention. But the competition should be good for everyone involved, not least the customers. As Jurich told me: “If residential solar works — residential electricity is a $150 billion market — there’s plenty of business to go around.” GreenBiz.com Senior Writer Marc Gunther is a longtime journalist and speaker whose focus is business and sustainability. Marc maintains a blog at MarcGunther.com. You can follow him on Twitter @marcGunther.

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EO NASA Intense Monsoon Season causing catastrophe in Asia

Earth Observatory NASA

Over deforesting and erosion has deterioted natural protections from  landslides during this summer’s intense rainfall during the monsoon season.

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SEEDS..SEEDS..SEEDS...

We need seeds to eat and feed our children.  As the corporations set the rules for keeping seeds out of farmers hands and controlling seeds we have a better chance of starving in the future.  This article from Ms Richardson gives a great eyewitness report of what she has seen happening in Mexico.  Keep in mind this is a strategy used all over the world.  Heartbreakingly outbreaks of suicides result as well as problems with soils and pesticides.  Many farmers in India have committed suicide just as farmers from the Middle West of  the USA did in the 1980’s.  If you would like to more about this subject please visit Ms Richardson’s blog and to AlterNet.com.  Vicki

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Will Rooftop Solar Have Its Day in the Sun?

The U.S. Ploy to Promote Genetically Engineered Seeds and Pesticides to Poor Mexican Farmers Is Impoverishing Their Communities

By Jill Richardson, AlterNetPosted on August 6, 2010 To view my daily diaries of this trip, visit my blog. If you wish to help the people in this area of Mexico, please donate generously to the Center for Farmworker Families. The non-profit uses all donations to give aid directly to poor Mexican families living on both sides of the border. Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. The Obama administration’s Feed the Future initiative promises a second Green Revolution that will feed a planet of nine billion people by doubling crop yields by 2050. But considering that we produce enough food to feed the planet today and a billion people still go hungry, are yields really the problem? And if they are, are providing Green Revolution technologies like hybrid and genetically engineered seeds, chemical fertilizer and pesticides to subsistence farmers the best way to achieve them? I visited subsistence farmers in Mexico to find out. The homes of campesinos, peasant farmers, in the rural areas surrounding Cuquio, Mexico (about an hour from Guadalajara) no longer have dirt floors. The Mexican government initiated a program to replace them with cement floors in 2008 and now most homes sport a plaque celebrating their new piso firmes. Electricity came about 20 years ago. For many, running water and bathroom facilities are modern conveniences they do not yet have. The government has recently distributed composting toilets to many, but not all, families. One of the tiny adobe homes is decorated by flowers growing in upside-down Coca-Cola bottles turned into flower pots. Another is located next to a fencepost sporting an empty bag of Monsanto corn seeds — seeds presumably planted in the adjoining cornfield, or milpa. This little corner of the world and the people who live here seem to be forgotten by everyone except for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and multinational agribusiness corporations like Monsanto and DuPont. The campesinos here are easy prey for savvy, first-world corporate marketers. Many have only a sixth-grade education, and they know how to grow their traditional milpas of intercropped corn, beans and squash because they learned the techniques practiced by generations before them, often first handling a horse and plow at the tender age of 6. They know their lives are hard and that some years they don’t produce enough food to eat. Moreover, they are desperate to give their children better lives through education, but subsistence farming does not come with a salary and many cannot afford the fees, supplies or uniforms required by schools. Several express regret (or even despair) that their children had to drop out of school to work at the local shoe factory for 500 pesos per week — about $1.05 per hour with current exchange rates. A new technology that could provide enough food and perhaps some income would be welcome. The tragedy is that a quick assessment of the soil reveals the causes of low corn yields and the problems are simple to fix. Mexican agronomist Juan Quesada Alba says the soils here are very acidic, with pHs as low as 4.2. Most crops prefer soil that is slightly acidic and can even tolerate a pH that isn’t quite ideal, but 4.2 is extreme. The clay soil does not allow water penetration, magnifying the impacts of both droughts and floods. He finds that amending the soil with rich compost and a small amount of chemical fertilizer can easily increase yields. High amounts of organic matter in the soil act as a buffer against suboptimal soil pH. Adding “cal” — the same slaked lime added to corn to make tortillas — to the soil would raise its pH, also improving growing conditions for the corn. Alba is a proponent of planting maiz criollo, the traditional Mexican corn seeds developed through millennia of careful seed selection, instead of the hybrid and genetically engineered seeds offered by the agribusiness giants. However, he recommends campesinos change how they select their seeds. While campesinos select for the biggest mazorcas (ears of dried corn), he says they should instead consider the qualities of the entire plant. Maiz criollo is much taller with bigger mazorcas compared to hybrid and transgenic strains, he says, and often they blow over in the wind. If campesinos knew to select seeds from plants with strong stalks that could withstand the wind, within a few years the majority of their corn would not blow over. When asked if campesinos could benefit from a new, genetically engineered drought-resistant corn (as biotech companies claim to be creating), Alba responded that there are already varieties of maiz criollo that can withstand an entire month without water. A trip into one of the many agrochemical and seed retailers in the area provides very different solutions from those advocated by Alba. Products by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, and more are all available in this remote corner of Mexico. Monsanto’s DeKalb brand advertises with an ear of corn with wings and the slogan “Un ángel en tu tierra” (“An angel in your land”), whereas DuPont’s Pioneer brand offers “El más alto rendimiento” (“The highest performance”) and “Buena calidad de grano” (“Good grain quality”). In addition to selling campesinos packages of seeds and accompanying agrochemicals, these corporations offer a chance at modernization, giving up the backward ways of the past to finally enter the 21st century of agricultural technology. At least, that is how the seeds and chemicals are sold and often perceived. One woman named Lola says the hybrid Monsanto seeds, tractor and agrochemicals make growing corn less work than it used to be. However, she adds, the frogs have all died. She blames the pesticides, which her teenage sons apply without any protective clothing. Sometimes her younger children find the pesticide containers and play with them, and without frogs, the pond in her yard is full of mosquito larvae. A man in a nearby village tried planting hybrid seeds once. He was disgusted that he had to purchase so many expensive chemicals to go with them, and he wasn’t happy with his crop. He’s returned to planting maiz criollo, which he believes is tastier and healthier for his family. Another man says he grows maiz criollo only because he is too poor to afford hybrid seeds. Each year he hopes to grow enough to feed himself, his wife and the three of his 12 children who still live at home. Last year he did not grow enough. Like so many campesinos in the area, his tiny 1.25 acre plot is surrounded by fields owned by rich men who grow corn or raise cattle for sale, not for subsistence. He inherited nearly four acres from his parents, but sold the rest to pay a debt a decade ago. His family has no fruit trees and no livestock, so they subsist entirely on a diet of corn, beans and some squash. One of his sons, Gustavo, age 23, lives a mile away with his girlfriend and three children. With no land of their own and little available work in the area, they often go hungry. Unfortunately, Gustavo’s family is unable to provide much help. Dr. Ann Lopez, author of The Farmworkers’ Journey and founder of The Center for Farmworker Families, has been traveling to this part of Mexico for 12 years. She hasn’t seen an improvement in quality of life due to Green Revolution technologies. “Once you degrade your soil with the chemicals,” she says, “you need to use more chemicals each year to get the same yields.” This phenomenon forces families who adopt the Green Revolution technologies onto a roller coaster of needing to come up with more money each year, either from selling corn or gathered wild tubers called camotes, or with money sent from relatives in the United States. (Finding a job locally is also an option but most people said there was no work. The shoe factory only employs perhaps 100 people.) Increased corn yields could provide a family a surplus of corn to sell, but corn isn’t worth very much in post-NAFTA Mexico. Before, NAFTA, farmers in this area could sell corn to the Mexican government for a fair price. Once Mexicans were forced to compete with subsidized U.S. corn farmers, the price of corn fell by about half. Lola, who uses hybrid seeds and agrochemicals, says the most she’s ever earned in a year by selling corn is 800 pesos (a little less than $70). Campesinos say they had few problems with pests prior to the adoption of agrochemicals. Today, many talk of of plagas, pest infestations, affecting their crops. In this environment of minimal education and lax regulation, the pesticides sold to defeat the pests present a severe human health and safety hazard. Ann Lopez reports that pesticides that are banned or designated as Restricted Use Pesticides in the United States are sold freely in Mexico. Paraquat, an herbicide so toxic that one teaspoonful can be fatal, is among the most widely used agrochemicals in this part of Mexico. The carcinogenic herbicide 2,4-D is also sold in Mexico, often in combination with 2,4,5-T. Together, a 50:50 mixture of the two chemicals constitutes Agent Orange. The chemicals are so toxic a woman told Lopez her daughter became sterile just by working in an agrochemical retail shop among the fumes from closed bottles of chemicals. Yet, campesinos often apply the chemicals with backpacks and handheld pumps, wearing sandals and no protective clothing whatsoever. Some believe myths like “agrochemicals are only poisonous if the farmer is smoking cigarettes or drinking while applying them” or “insecticides are harmful but herbicides are safe.” Warning labels on the bottles are of limited help as some people are in this part of Mexico are illiterate. The local doctor in Cuquio says that two of every 10 patients who visit him during the rainy season months of June through October each year are poisoned by agrochemicals. Three or four die each year. The problem with using Green Revolution technologies to fight hunger is that the technologies do not address the root causes of low yields (poor soil), nor do they address the other root causes of poverty and suffering among subsistence farmers. Birth control, education, health care, sensible economic policy to create jobs, fair trade policies, uncorrupt governments, and simple public infrastructure like paved roads and trash collection are all necessary to raise the quality of lives of campesinos in west central Mexico. Foisting industrialized agriculture on an uneducated public has instead resulted in massive soil erosion, causing the rivers and streams to run brown with silt, and harmed the most valuable asset campesinos have: their land and its ability to produce food.  © 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. ************************************************************************************************ Much research has been done and is being done with farmers around the world to renew soil and prevent erosion.  I don’t agree that the Green Revolution does offer technologies to solve the problem.  Perhaps because the most successful adaptations aren’t so much “technologies” as they are common sense.  The use of fast growing trees after fires to keep soil from eroding, the use of compost and wastes from fruit juice factories to build up soil, terracing, and other methods.  The use of genetically grown foods if used in moderation and with good sense has shown that famine in Africa could be a thing of the past.  Vicki Have you discovered YES! Magazineyet?  The magazine has a positive spin on the news which is very welcome.   Here is  an example. Ms Jarvis has written an article based on the findings of a United Nations study on the use of renewable energy right now!

2010, A TIPPING POINT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

100 days into the BP disaster, it’s time to quit claiming that an economy based on fossil fuels is our only option.  The truth is that there not only is an alternative to oildependence, it’s already being built.  The world has reached a “clear tipping point” for green power.” “In Europe and the USA, renewable energy grew faster than fossil fuel energy in 2009 – for the second year in a row.  Sixty percent of new electricty generation in Europe and more than half of new energy in the USA came from renewable sources .  China built more than 37 gigawatts of renewable power generation capacity, more than any other country.”Brooke Jarvis wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Brooke is YES! Magazine’s web editor. Visit this link at Yes Magazines web site for complete article.

The unfortunate surprise is the lack of backing from the USA Congress for renewable, sustainable energy legislation coupled with creating jobs.  The disasters having to do with oil spills are coming in batches, and the extreme weather disasters would seem to be hard to ignore.  But corporations have a strong hold on the USA Congress.  In the past I have suggested we carry on to make changes and I still observe the same obstacles to involving Washington, D.C.

TIME TO DO THE CHANGE ON OUR OWN. Vicki

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Two Tar Balls Each with a Mass of Approximately One Ton were hauled out of the Gulf of Mexico

The effort to pull the tarball into the boat must have been great. The challenges of cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico are massive, indeed.

38,000 people involved in clean-up.

On June 23, 2010 two brown pelicans were released into the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, a National Wildlife Refuge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (US-FWS). The two pelicans were part of the “release of a group of 62 brown pelicans and 1 northern gannet,” reported the US-FWS and you can view 38 of them being released in this video of the release. Wildlife that has been drenched in oil due to the tragic British Petroleum oil rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico are being rescued by many workers including volunteers, the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. The trip of the birds from the oil cover on the Gulf of Mexico to the Texas wildlife refuge took an amazing amount of coordination by all of the above mentioned groups; proving that dedication to the environment and organizational skills are at work between these government agencies. The story on the Gulf of Mexico clean up has includes the caring help of humans working to return the oil-covered wildlife to an outdoor habitat. Thinking of the workers sending cleaned up brown pelicans, turtles and other wildlife back into their natural habitat is enough to bring a smile to one’s lips and appreciate the strong bond existing between humans and wildlife. Several found sea turtles, covered in oil, were delivered to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana for rehabilitation where they can be successfully cleaned and readied for release. Floating on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico are two general types of oil which are described a reddish brown “mousse” which is an oil-water emulsion and uncharacterized tarry black oil, “by Michael Torrice in his article published In Chemical and Engineering News . . .   . . . If you found this interesting so far, please click on the title for more. Thank you, Vicki ***************************************************************************************************

Satellites and Astronauts Help in BP Oil Spill Clean Up Response

Images from Space Help the USA Environmental Response Team Tackle the BP Oil Spill.

The United States Government has been using many different tools, instruments, scientists and engineers to track the plume of the British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on April 20, 2010 and the resulting oil spill entering the Gulf of Mexico.

The BP oil spill has been described as the worst environmental disaster in the USA to date and government agencies of all types have jumped in to  action, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Photography from space has been very helpful in observing and tracking the plume of the BP oil spill.  The photographs from space also help to predict the movement of the BP oil spill when studied along  with ocean current and meteorological data.   Here are only five of the many photographs available to the public on NASA’s web page .  These five have been selected to provide some insight into the type of photography cameras and  instruments able to produce the photos with such accuracy.    Our tax money at work! Nine cameras offer a layering of nine different angles using the  MISR (Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer) from NASA’s  Jet Propulsion Laboratory‘s  Terra spacecraft creating  these two views of the wildlife habitat along the Louisiana coast.  The MISR web site explains , “No instrument like MISR has flown in space before.

Viewing the sunlit Earth simultaneously at nine widely spaced angles, MISR provides ongoing global coverage with high spatial detail.”  The cameras set at nine different angles are invaluable for studying the particles and clouds in the atmosphere contributing to the climate distortions(global warming)  the earth has been experiencing.  The sun reflects differently off different objects.  The nine angles of the cameras on the MISR record accurately measure “the brightness, contrast and color of reflected light.”  The MISR can also record important information about the earth surface such as the partitioning of energy and carbon, natural disasters, and manmade disasters allowing invaluable help in

solving some very big problems.  The first photograph, on the left, has more natural colors and depicts  the oil as silvery ribbons starting to

invade the wetland, the wildlife habitat of Louisiana.  The second photo, which resembles more an infrared image, shows the oil in shades of red to light pink while the Mississippi River delta is a turquoise color.

If you are interested in more of this article and more satellite images please, click the title. Thanks. Vicki *******************************************************************************************************

Open Your Eyes to See the Sun

(Kids Know the Earth can use the Sun’s Energy) Open your eyes. No more sleep! Look for a glowing to the east. Quick. Here He comes. Our first sight of pinkish clouds and morning’s light. Above the edge He takes a peek. Are you awake? Do you still sleep! Good morning children of the world! Come on, kids, from everywhere. The Sun is here! Let’s prepare. The earth can use Sun’s energy for solar powered batteries. We’ll have clear skies and breathe clean air. Kids  ‘round the globe will finally see just how sweet their lives can be. Poem Read by Kleo Nikolaidis and Written by Vicki Nikolaidis Associated Content © 2010.

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Americans Boycotting BP stations

(Andy Salcedo) UNITED STATES – The wind of revolt is sweeping the US. Outraged by the never-ending oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, an increasing number of Americans are boycotting BP petrol stations. ]

Nigeria: The Permanent Oil Slick no one is talking about

Nigera is Africa’s main crude oil producer. It is also the country which counts the most oil spills in the world.

The Niger Delta, once an ecological sanctuary, has become a no-fishing zone because of the slicks that permanently poison its waters.

In May, when all eyes were on the oil gushing from a ruptured BP in the Gulf of Mexico, a spill at the other end of the world went virtually unnoticed. The story of ruptured wells and pipelines is a sadly familiar one in Nigeria, where Amnesty International, estimates that over 9 million barrels of oil have poured into the Niger delta over the last 50 years. Although this figure is dwarfed by the estimated 30 million barrels of the BP spill, environmentalist groups in Niger are concerned by the media attention granted to one eco-disaster over another, longstanding one. Shell Nigeria, the country’s most important oil company, has been blamed for the permanent damage caused to the delta. But the company retorts that most of the leaks were caused by saboteurs and opposition rebels, notably the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), nicknamed the “Robin Hoods” of the Delta. Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and environmental groups have pointed to the fact that the government is the main shareholder in most local oil consortiums. Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s new president, has pledged to put a stop to the near-permanent slick in the Delta. Nmimmo Bassey is the head of the environmentalist group ERAction-Friends of the Earth in Nigeria. . His work was documented in the film “Poison Fire”.

“The leaks are mostly caused by equipment failures”

Nmimmo Bassey is the head of the environmentalist group ERAction-Friends of the Earth in Nigeria. . His work was documented in the film “Poison Fire”.

Since 1958, the history of oil companies in Nigeria has been tainted with chronic spills and pollution. There are on average 300 leaks and spills

each year, and we’ve counted 2,400 polluted sites that have not been properly decontaminated.

There have been dozens of large-scale disasters, but to name just the lastest one, a rusty Exxon-Mobile pipeline cracked open on May 1st in the state of Akwa Ibom (south of the country). In one week, the equivalent of 28,570 barrels gushed from the ruptured pipe. When locals organized a protest near the spill site, they were harassed and manhandled by members of the secret security service. It’s clear to us that the leaks are mostly caused by equipment failures and rusty pipes. Most pipelines in Nigera were built over 30 years ago and are very poorly maintained. The lines that aren’t underground aren’t protected at all. So far, the government hasn’t been enforcing existing regulations. Companies like Shell are engaged in intense lobbying campaigns to avoid tighter legislation on infrastructure security. These companies have all have close ties with the government authorities, and are seldom punished for acts of negligence that would be severely punished in Europe. The spills have caused irreversible damage to rivers and mangroves in the region. Fish stocks have been heavily depleted because of the pollution. Former fishermen now depend on imported fish to feed their families. The slicks have also caused extremely toxic waves of red algae in the mangroves. Except that here, there has been no media attention or financial compensation. With the reported poor oil spill response plans and drilling methods, it means that we are really sitting on an explosive situation. It is horrible.

The soiled marshlands of Nigeria (photo: NGO ERA)

“The West has closed its eyes for 50 years because the damage is located in Africa” Khalifa Dikwa is a political science professor in a university in north-east Nigeria. The saboteurs are groups of troubled youths, often junkies, who only understand the language of money. They’ve been driven to what they are because the oil companies and Nigera have done nothing to preserve the Niger Delta’s people and eco-system Nothing is done for jobs, education, water purification, public transport or communications. Corruption is absolutely rampant. The West has said nothing for the past 50 years because the damages caused by the spills are in Africa. Western government are prepared to close their eyes on a number of things if it’s in their financial interest. Here we say that the West is the mother of the 3 Ds: Disease, Disaster and Death.”

BP Oil Spill Causing Serious Air Quality Concerns

BP Oil Spill Blamed for Sickness

EPA air quality sampling

Vicki S. Nikolaidis. 20 June 2010. Poor air quality is a serious problem caused by the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, along with the threat to water, beaches, and marshes of the Gulf of Mexico. Many people, both when fishing and when working on clean-up, have complained of bad smells, dizziness, nausea, and a burning sensation in the nose and lungs. An odor like the one smelled when pumping gas to fill your car’s gas tank is caused by volatile organic compounds. Volatile compounds are those that evaporate from the oil spill and clean up dispersant. In other words, they vaporize into the air. “VOCs” is often used as shorthand for “volatile organic compounds.” VOCs which can be inhaled from the crude oil vapors include benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene. These are highly toxic chemical compounds, and some are carcinogens, so long exposure must be avoided, unless one is properly equipped with an appropriate breathing apparatus. Please see the rest of my article by clicking on the following link.  More information is offered in the Comments under the article.  Thank you. Vicki    Air quality problems and monitoring at the Gulf coast *****************************************************************************************************

Green Week  European Union Celebration of Biodiversity – our lifeline 2010

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FACTBOX} How US scientists calculated BP spill rate(Reuters) – A team of government and independent experts on Thursday released its “overall best initial estimate” of the oil flowing from BP Plc’s (BP.L) blown-out Gulf of Mexico well.

The Flow Rate Technical Group’s estimate is a range from 12,000 barrels per day (504,000 gallons/1.9 million litres) to 19,000 bpd (798,000 gallons/3.02 million litres), well above BP’s estimate of 5,000 bpd. The team said it used three separate techniques to arrive at the estimate. Those three measurements are: MASS BALANCE ESTIMATE: 12,000-19,000 barrels per day The mass balance team calculated the amount of oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, using a NASA imaging spectrometer previously used to discover water on the surface of the moon. The team also estimated that between 130,000 barrels and 270,000 barrels of oil were on the ocean surface on May 17, and a similar amount had been dispersed, skimmed or evaporated. PLUME MODELING ESTIMATE: 12,000-25,000 bpd The plume modeling team used video from remotely operated vehicles at the ocean floor to observe oil and natural gas escaping from the well’s riser pipe. The team used advanced imaging analysis to estimate fluid velocity and flow volume. RISER INSERTION TUBE TOOL ESTIMATE: at least 11,000 bpd This team studied oil being collected by a siphoning device called a riser insertion tube that BP has used to collect some oil directly from one of the two leak sites. On May 25, the tool logged a collection rate of 8,000 barrels per day, the team said, as measured by a meter verified by a third party. The team estimated that at least 10 percent of the flow was not collected by the siphon, and that additional oil was escaping from a second leak site. The Flow Rate Technical Group is comprised of federal scientists, independent experts, and academic experts. Included are members of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Energy Department, Coast Guard, Minerals Management Service, National Institute of Standards and Technology, University of California Berkeley, University of Washington, University of Texas, Purdue University, and several other academic institutions. BP is not involved except to supply raw data, USGS said. Source: USGS statement (Reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Eric Beech) BP Plc

422.35p -7.65 -1.78% Data as of 3:31pm UTC+0300
1D5D3M6M1Y2Y5YMAX
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The Way Ahead } European Union members work for a better environment

The final workshop of SCAPE was held in September of 2005 and has been a spring board for EU research and projects to recover and protect soil for farmers as well as understand the legal issues involved in sustainable soil projects. Firstly, may I share with you the quotes at the preface of the SCAPE final publication resulting from the 2005 workshop?  These quotes are a reminder that throughout history soil has been necessary for supporting human life and must not be taken for granted. Aristotle Called earthworms the intestines of the earth. (shared by Eisenberg, 1998)In Rothamsted Experimentl Station researchers tried to measure the surface of the particles in a single ounce of clay rich soil.  They came up with a total of six acres! (Eisenberg, 1998) Darwin’s last book was not on natural selection but on worms and earth, the regeneration of life out of soil on the journey from dust to dust. (Warshall, 1999)A single spade full of rich, garden soil contains more species of organisms than can be found above ground in the entire Amazon rain forest. (Soil Biology website) (Soil conservation and protection discussion to continue.) ********************************************************************************************

The oil spill people can’t ignore.

The deluge of oil now flowing from the damaged oil drill standing in the Gulf of Mexico will help people understand visually and tragically just how important ocean currents are to the running of the earth’s natural systems. Vicki

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is gradually finding its way toward Europe and the Arctic to damage, endangering wider ecological basins, scientists say.Briefing a congressional panel on Friday, senior US scientists warned that the bad consequences of the massive oil leak are not confined to the US coasts, and the wildlife are endangered in a far broader scope.”This is not just a regional issue for the wildlife,” Carl Safina, the president of the Blue Ocean Institute, was quoted by CNN as saying. He noted that the Gulf of Mexico is home to a variety of marine lives as many “come into the Gulf to breed.”Safina said the British Petroleum, the operator of the deepwater damaged well, was responsible for the spill.”I think asking BP for answers is the wrong place to look,” he told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”They seem to have cut corners on some critical junctures. We keep asking their permission to go down and measure the oil that’s coming out. … This mystifies me, because they are on our property now.”Thousands of barrels of crude are gushing into the sea water every day. The BP has employed a variety of techniques to stop the oil flow but it has so far failed to solve the problem. Both BP and the US government are under fire for failing to stop the oil leak.
May22,2010 from PressTV.com via @mparent77772 on Twitter.

Interesting look at the new solution to climate problems with Avi Lewis!

FAULT LINES May 20,2010 The other debt crisis: Climate debt http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/faultlines/2010/05/2010518121127315453.html The climate crisis in Bolivia is not a headline or an abstraction – it is playing out in people’s lives Melting glaciers are threatening the water supply of the country’s two biggest cities. Increasing droughts and floods are playing havoc with agriculture. So it is no surprise that in climate negotiations, Bolivia is emerging as a leader in the global south – advancing both radical solutions and analysis that make rich countries distinctly nervous. On this edition of Fault Lines, Avi Lewis travels to Bolivia to explore the country’s climate crusade from the inside. It is the story of an emerging movement, based in the global south, raising questions about who owes what to whom in confronting the climate crisis. And it is playing out in Bolivia’s epic landscape – from the tropical glaciers to the endless salt flats. A landscape that in normal times seems to mock the very idea that human beings can change the course of nature.

Iran seeks to solve dust pollution

Fri, 21 May 2010

Dust pollution in Tehran.
The Iranian government is seeking a solution to the country’s dust pollution which mostly comes from the southwestern neighbors of Iran.However, the dust issue will not be overcome unless neighboring countries participate in a joint international convention to counter desertification since 95 percent of the country’s dust comes from its neighbors, IRIB reported Thursday, quoting the governor of Khuzestan Province Jafar Hejazi. He said that a number of experts from neighboring countries have visited Iran and received training on mulch-spreading and other counter-desertification techniques. He also expressed hope that the Iraqi government would increase efforts to help cut the amount of dust through the implementation of agreements. Hejazi said that Iran will provide Iraq with the technical assistance it needs to help reduce desertification and land degradation problems in the country.The amounts of dust and particles coming from Iraqi deserts have elevated Tehran’s pollution warning to an ’emergency’ state.During the past couple of years, the dust pollution has hit Iranian cities just ahead of the summer.GHN/MTM/MSA

Staying Grounded because of the Volcano? Just look at how much C02 has been saved during this no fly period. (Spotted on Information is Beautiful via Do the Green Thing.  http://www.dothegreenthing.com/blog/volcano_versus_planes

”It is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not be impatient, but we should obey the eternal rhythm.” ~ Nikos Kazantzaki

Plant from India solves erosion problems which allows recovery of ecosystems around the world.

April 15th} The Global Phones-to-Toilets Ratio by Te-Ping Chen

Right now, India has more cell phones than toilets. That’s the headline buzzing over the wires today, thanks to the latest phones-to-toilets ratio released by the United Nations. It’s certainly a dramatic factoid. But it’s not just true of India’s 1.2 billion-strong population — this lopsided statistic is true around the globe, as well. It’s a “tragic irony” that India is wealthy enough to provide its people with so many phones, and yet so many “cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet,” says the director of the UN think tank behind the new report, Zafar Adeel. It’s an irony that applies globally, too: this year, the International Telecommunication Union reports, the number of mobile subscriptions is expected to surpass five billion. By contrast, some 2.6 billion people — or nearly 40% of the world population — live in conditions with dismal sanitation. Fully 16% of the world is still forced to defecate in public every day. As any reader who visit this page with some frequency know, we’ve often extolled the tremendous potential cell phones have for farmers, entrepreneurs and average citizens in the developing world. But why does the number of cell phones so radically outstrip the number of toilets out there, when the latter are literally necessary to keep populations alive? To begin with, there’s the question of cost. In its report detailing India’s situation, the UN estimates it costs $300 to construct a toilet, once the costs associated with labor, materials and personnel are factored in. (Though it’s also true that dollar for dollar, investments in sanitation are among the best out there, in terms of reduced poverty, improved health and productivity.) A handset, on the other hand, is sold in India by Reliance Communications for under $25, and a user can make phone calls for as low as $0.01 a minute anywhere in the nation. And though the mobile sector has seen massive private investment — thanks in many countries to telecommunications deregulation — few corporations are clamoring to provide better sanitation for the poor. Meanwhile on the aid side, the less photogenic aspects of refuse and toilets have made the push for improved sanitation a decidedly unglamorous one. Between their ability to provide credit and act as virtual soothsayers for farmers, cell phones deserve all the praise they get as a development tool. But when you measure their growth against the number of missing toilets in the world — and the millions of annual deaths caused as a result — the picture starts to look a whole lot more sober. http://globalpoverty.change.org/blog/view/the_global_phones-to-toilets_ratio

Climategate Claptrap, I

By Mark Hertsgaard April 15, 2010

Mark Twain famously said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. He could just as easily have included polls. Advocates across the political spectrum habitually cite polls to “prove” that the public holds a certain view of a given issue, even when the truth is more complicated or even contradictory. This appears to be happening with the climate issue. As the Obama administration and Congressional leaders prepare to introduce new climate legislation, mainstream media have given fresh prominence to deniers’ claims of fraud and rampant error on the part of climate scientists. Meanwhile, surveys by Gallup and other leading pollsters are being spun as evidence that the deniers are gaining ground among the public, which is supposedly divided over whether to take action against rising temperatures and the droughts, storms and sea-level rise they trigger. A closer look, however, suggests that public opinion has changed very little. What has changed is the message coming from the media, key parts of which have reverted to their longstanding posture of scientific illiteracy and de facto complicity with the deniers’ disinformation campaign.

This abuse of polling data has a long pedigree. As a young reporter in the 1980s researching the book On Bended Knee, I watched the Reagan White House use polls to make fools of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party. Reagan’s advisers were forever citing polls supposedly demonstrating that the Gipper was wildly popular and thus that anyone who criticized him was taking a political risk. The truth was rather less flattering. Yes, Reagan was personally popular–most Americans thought he was a nice guy–but that had been true of almost all presidents. Ask Americans about Reagan’s policies, however, and many were indeed unhappy with his trickle-down economics and bellicose foreign policy. Nevertheless, most news organizations and Congressional Democrats swallowed the White House spin and pulled their punches. As a result, Reagan escaped sharp and sustained criticism from the opposition party and the press for most of his presidency.Today, a similar gullibility and misreading of polls is playing into the hands of climate change deniers. The campaign to deny the science behind man-made climate change, which seemed to be losing steam a year ago, has resurged in recent months, thanks to high-profile media coverage of stolen e-mails from a British climate unit and of trivial errors in the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are no longer the only major outlets trumpeting such charges. The New York Times, whose veteran climate reporter, Andrew Revkin, retired in December, has subsequently run two front-page stories suggesting that the science behind climate change may not be settled after all. The Times‘s February 9 article “U.N. Climate Panel and Its Chief Face a Siege on Their Credibility” quoted not a single mainstream climate scientist in support of its headline, noted Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress, whose new book, Straight Up, blasts the media and deniers alike for misrepresenting climate science. Robert Brulle, a communications expert at Drexel University, accused the Times of becoming “an echo-chamber for the climate disinformation movement.” The deniers’ agenda has been further advanced by unquestioning coverage of polls by Gallup, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and other survey groups that claim to demonstrate growing public skepticism about climate change. Gallup’s poll, released on March 11 and publicized internationally by Reuters, said that 48 percent of Americans now regard fears of climate change as “generally exaggerated.” All this has led environmentalists and climate deniers to assume that getting strong climate legislation through Congress will be even harder this year than last, when the weak Waxman-Markey bill barely passed the House before languishing in the Senate. Dig deeper, though, and this assumption crumbles like day-old coffee cake. Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who has been surveying Americans’ views on climate change since 1995, says that, in fact, Americans remain overwhelmingly convinced that man-made climate change is happening and must be confronted. “The media is sensationalizing these polls to make it sound like the public is backing off its belief in climate change, but it’s not so,” argues Krosnick, who delivered a paper on the subject at an American Meteorological Association briefing in Washington a day after the Gallup poll was released. Krosnick says that Americans’ views have remained quite stable over the past ten years and that in November 2009–the very time the media were full of stories about the stolen British e-mails–a whopping 75 percent of Americans said they believed that global temperatures are going up. Krosnick, whose academic specialty is the wording of survey questions, suspects his colleagues at Gallup and elsewhere have gotten misleading results because of the way they worded their questions: their phrasing ended up testing whether Americans believed in the science of climate change rather than the phenomenon of climate change. “Most people’s opinions are based not on science but on what they experience in their daily lives,” Krosnick told me. “So our surveys ask people if they have heard about the idea that temperatures have been going up over the past 100 years and if they agree with this idea.” The 75 percent of Americans who answered yes to that question amounts to “a huge number,” says Krosnick–a far higher level of agreement than pertains on most political issues. Where climate change deniers have had an effect, he adds, is in reducing, to 31 percent, the number of Americans who think all scientists agree about climate change. “But most Americans have thought that [scientists don’t all agree on climate change] for the entire fifteen years I’ve been polling on this issue,” adds Krosnick–further tribute, it seems, to the media’s longstanding habit of giving a handful of deniers prominence equal to the vast majority of scientists who affirm climate change. Even if Krosnick is right that ordinary Americans’ opinions have not changed much, it would be a mistake to conclude that the recent polls and media coverage have had no political effect. As the Reagan example illustrates, the public can hold one opinion–that Reagan’s policies were unwelcome–but that opinion may have little practical effect if the governing elite in Washington believes something different. “It’s not just a question of the media mischaracterizing the public’s views about climate change,” says Krosnick. “It is also that, because of this perception, legislators may turn against voting for climate bills they believe would be good for the country.” An assumption of lackluster public support for strong climate action may explain recent Obama administration retreats on the forthcoming climate bill. In an apparent effort to entice a few Rust Belt Democrats and less doctrinaire Republicans to back the Senate bill being co-sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, Connecticut independent Joseph Lieberman and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, the White House has endorsed an Energy Department request for an estimated $36 billion in new loan guarantees for nuclear power plants as well as a resumption of offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts. More nuclear plants would do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while resumed drilling would actually increase them, but the administration evidently believes that such is the price of attracting the sixty Senate votes needed to overcome the predictable Republican filibuster. “I’ve worked on energy issues in Washington for seventeen years, and I’ve never seen such strong opposition from the polluters as we face now,” says Anna Aurillio, director of Environment America’s Washington office. “They’re putting unprecedented amounts of money and effort into this fight because they know that if we get a bill through Congress, this president will sign it.” At press time, the specifics of the Senate bill had not yet been released, but the battle to make the bill match rather than dodge the science of climate change will clearly be titanic. It will not be won if the deniers’ narrative–that climate science is dubious and Americans don’t really want action–is allowed to stand. Now is the time for journalists to get the story right and for ordinary citizens to speak out, loudly, to stiffen lawmakers’ spines. Says Aurillio, “We need sixty senators to be convinced by the public, not the polluters, to do what’s necessary to solve this problem.” http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100503/hertsgaard This article appeared in the May 3, 2010 edition of The Nation. Mark Hertsgaard (markhertsgaard.com), a fellow of The Open Society Institute, is The Nation‘s environment correspondent. He has covered climate change for twenty years and is the author of six books, including the forthcoming Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.

*****”Bullying, cyber-bullying, telephone bullying and face-to-face bullying are wasting a lot of important time of scientists and others working to cleanup the environment in ways to keep the average temperature of the sphere which is our earth from rising at an even faster rate. . .” Find comments by Vicki and and two important articles by James Hanson as you scroll down the page.*****

*****The human population is exponentially larger in number than during past climate changes.  Therefore the decisions made on how to deal with the disruptions in our climate are very important. One way to understand human reaction to climate change is to study the past. Vicki.  For an interesting article on how prehistoric humans dealt with climate change pleas scroll further down the page.*****

*****El Nino ~ still a child? more information to help understand this often mentioned natural phenomena.*****

Environmentalism 101} Global Warming/Climate Change – Is there any difference?

Global warming refers to “a small increment of increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere causing changes in ocean currents which lead to climate disruptions.” The phenomena is also sometimes referred to as “Climate change.”  The phrase “climate change” was contrived as a public relations ploy.  The phrase was sent to conservative and fundamental voters in the United States of America.  The recipients were urged through political mailings and talk show hosts to use the term “climate change” to discredit the scientifically coined terminology global warming.  Ironically climate change is another way to describe global warming as is “climate disruptions.” First note that the two words “global warming” used together are considered a noun.  This is important because from this information we understand that “global warming” is some ‘thing’.  A ‘something’ that is probably a phenomenon indicating an increased temperature of the earth.  Not of our hometown or region or country but the “globe” or the sphere that is our planet earth.  What can be startling to understand is that the temperatures measured due to advanced technology a very small increment of temperature can be measured and a very small increment can make a very BIG shift in our climate. Although the climate shifts may not be noticeable to city dwellers or others who are removed in their daily lives from nature.  Farmers, foresters and gardeners on the other hand are well aware of the change in the growing seasons for plants.  In the United States of America the growing seasons have been moving south.  The Department of Agriculture has issued new maps designating the area and timing of the growing areas.  In the USA as well as other parts of world the events of extreme weather such as increased number in the occurrence of  tornadoes, drought, flooding, and landslides demonstrate changes.  One of the first people to ring the alarm bell on change was a forester working in Alaska who reported the loss of forests and the melting of the tundra. Next notice the phrase “an increase in the average temperature” and think about what that might mean in general.  When your local weather forecaster says the ‘average temperature of this month’s daily winter temperatures recorded at noon,” we can understand that every daily temperature of the month which was recorded at twelve o’clock noon (1)  Has been added together and the (2) sum is divided by the number of days in the month. Let’s take the month of December, having 31 days, 31 recorded temperatures have been added together, and their sum divided by 31 to come up with one number: the average. The average temperature is not the mean average temperature.  The mean average temperature refers to the temperature taken at noon on December 16th.  The mean average temperature is important but it is not the data point described in the global warming definition.  The two numbers (average temperature and mean average temperature) may vary significantly so the difference between the two can be quite important when trying to understand atmospheric temperatures. When we come to “climate change” in the definition it is preceded by the word “cause” so we can expect that if there is a cause there is an effect.  Viola! The phenomena termed global warming is the average of temperatures recorded around the earth (in the atmosphere above both land and sea) which under the right circumstances will cause a shift in climate which is often referred to as “climate change“.

Gale E. Christianson’s book, “Greenhouse: The 200 year story of Global Warming” is a great resource for people trying to understand global warming.  Mr. Christianson offers us an enjoyably readable history of the people and circumstances of importance in understanding the first 200 years of industrial effect on our climate.

WHY Los Angeles IS PACKED WITH CAR FILLED HIGHWAYS EVEN WITH THE UNCOMFORTABLE AMOUNT OF AIR POLLUTION HELD OVER THE CITY WHEN INVERSION OCCUR

Before and after the automobile . . . “In 1929 the number of automobiles in the United States reached 26.7 million, a swarm so great that the total mileage of surfaced roads overtook that of the railroads in 1915 and continued expanding rapidly, reaching 500,000 miles in 1925, then doubling to an even million a decade later.”. . . General Motors (GM), which was bent on exploiting its advantage by eliminating as many cheap and efficient alternatives to the automobile as possible.  Starting in the 1920’s, GM formed a series of holding companies that began purchasing dozens of electric surface rail transit systems throughout the country, including those in smog-free in the land.  The most successful of these was the Pacific Electric Railway Company, popularly known to its patrons as the “Red Cars.”  At its peak, the company owned more than 1, 100 miles of track and annually logged millions of riders over a three-county area.”

General Motors became interested in 1936 and formed a holding company called National City Lines.  The plan was to displace rail transportation with GM-manufactured diesel buses, then displace the buses with automobiles.  Two of GM’s major suppliers, Standard Oil of California and Firestone Tire, joined the conspiracy.  Having already been successful in buying and scrapping electronic rail systems in Fresno, San Jose, and Stockton, National City began to acquire and dismantle part of Pacific Electric, ultimately motorizing downtown Los Angeles.  Patrons of the quiet, high-speed electrical rail service were not used to the noisy, foul-smelling buses and abandoned them by the thousands.  The sales of large, fuel-hungry automobiles skyrocketed, causing Ford and Chrysler to follow GM and its allies severed Los Angeles’ last regional rail links.  Where 3,000 trolley cars had once been in operation, not a single one remained.  The same strategy played out in another forty-five cities, where more than a hundred electric transit systems were replaced by GM buses.  Though no one was aware of it as yet, social and environmental policy of the United States had been irrevocably altered at corporate hands.”

(Excerpt from Gale E. Christianson’s book “Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming”)

Go Green!  Why not fill the earth’s atmosphere with greenhouse gasses?

Well, you get the idea.  But don’t think the history of global warming is only a few decades old . . .

More than 200 years of scientific research has been gathered to understand a warming atmosphere although outside the scientific world not many have been paying attention for nearly that long.

Greenhouse gasses . . .  Let’s start at the beginning with the French savant, Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, who set the mathematical foundation for understanding the movement of heat within bodies and along the boundaries of bodies.  When Fourier started considering how the earth stayed warm enough for plants and animals to thrive on earth he realized the upper atmosphere of the earth acts like a boundary, an invisible dome, so his theory is often referred to as “the bell jar theory.”  Now-a-days we call the phenomena “the greenhouse effect.” http://su.pr/Abeaj2 Fourier asked himself, “Why is the heat generated by the sun’s rays not lost after striking and bouncing off the great oceans and landmasses of the world?”* He hypothesized what we now know to be the physical action of heat being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere.  The sun rays strike the earth; rebound back towards space, but not all travels back into space because the upper atmosphere reabsorbs much of the heat still being generated by the rebounding sun rays.  The reabsorbed energy bounces back towards the earth bathing plants and animals once again with heat. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution black, billowing clouds from burning coal and smelting iron darkened skies.  At first the industrialists tried to alleviate the air pollution by building higher smokestacks.  But the ‘upper dome’ described by Fourier’s hypothesis in fact is much too high to alleviate the traveling of heat back into earth’s atmosphere. Unpredicted by anyone at the start of the Industrial Revolution was the continuing pouring of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere until the mass of man made greenhouse gases would reach a concentration that would alter micro climates and cause climate disruptions randomly on earth’s surface because they are trapped under the outer atmospheric boundary. The greenhouse gases include chemicals we have all smelled as air pollution:  Carbon Dioxide, CO2 (ex. from burning carbon based fuel in motor vehicles, furnaces, factories) and Methane, CH4 (ex. from the gas emitted by animals as flatulence). Others greenhouse chemicals include Chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs. which were used in air conditioners and as refrigerator coolants and Nitrous Oxide NO (laughing gas and fertilizers).  If you would like more detail to to http://su.pr/5i9ui2 at the University of Michigan website. For a series of films on the concept and building of the world’s largest greenhouse, The Eden Project in England, go to www.Babelgum.com .  The trailer for the three part series is here http://su.pr/1vOPzj. *”Greenhouse The 200-year Story of Global Warming” by Gale E. Christianson This book is an excellent resource for understanding the greenhouse effect and global warming.  Mr. Chrisianson has written a history that keeps the reader interested and wanting to know more.  This isn’t a dry and boring scientific book.

*****HOW DO WE KNOW CO2 INCREASED WITH THE START OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?  FROM THE ADVENTURES OF DEDICATED EXPLORERS AND RESEARCHERS WHO HAVE STUDIED ICE CORES. Adventure, exploration and science.  Read about the adventures and the science in THE ICE CHRONICLES The Quest to Understand Climate Change by Paul Andrew Mayewski and Frank White forward by Lynn Margulis.*****

Environmentalism 101} How to start making a difference? Start with your daily life decisions.

Overwhelming, isn’t it, trying to decide where to start to improve the environment? Maybe this Environmentalism 101 starter check list will help. Please add you ideas too! put your retirement savings into a fund that invests in environmentally sound companies and start ups use public transportation and work for clean transportation with your town or city (low emission buses, bike paths, etc.) work on national level for a national public transportation system and lowering of emissions from travel (lower speed limits, regular service stops for electric cars, etc.) coordinate system between farmers and city customers:for local farmers to sell their produce, eggs, etc. in the inner city regions that have no access to fresh foods stop building of parking lots, malls, box stores, etc. Put into place new green areas with plants and design that require lowest need for water each week take one step forward in making your home and life more sensitive to the environment such as: Start using non phosphate clothes detergent; place solar panels on your roof for water heater, write a letter to your congressional representative on environmental topic. After one year and 52 steps forward: enjoy your progress!

And when disaster strikes . . . Our actions matter.
As people concerned about climate change, it is on us to demonstrate what accountability for burning fossil fuels looks like. We should stand with people impacted by disasters because we know that tomorrow, next year, or in ten years, it could be our family trapped underneath the building, driving away from a wildfire, or looking for dry land in a flood.
1. Mitigation – Stop burning fossil fuels.
2. Adaptation – Help communities to build levees and other infrastructure to brace for inevitable disasters.
3. Compassion – Be there with volunteers, water, medical supplies, and relief whenever a catastrophic event occurs.

Environmental Impacts of Going to School!

New research indicates that educational policies can affect the environmental, health and financial impacts of school commuting. It found that the most effective school-enrollment policy for reducing traffic emissions is to send children to the school closest to where they live. School commuting emits both air pollutants and CO2. The US study explored the influence of school policy on the environmental impacts of school commuting. Traditionally, elementary school children attended the school closest to where they live, but the 2002 ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act encouraged school districts to allow parents to choose which school to send their child to, without limiting how far the school is from the child’s home. Although this school choice has received support from parents, few studies have evaluated its effect on school transportation. Using results from a survey, the study predicted the impact of five policy scenarios for one school district on travel choice and emissions of five pollutants: carbon monoxide, CO2, PM10, nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The scenarios were as follows:

  • Current scenario, where students continue to attend the same school as present;
  • Random scenario, where students are assigned to a random school;
  • Neighborhood only scenario, where students are re-assigned to the school closest to where they live;
  • Regional choice scenario, where parents can choose from several schools, but only those in the local area; and,
  • Increased walking scenario, where all children within a certain distance of school commute via walking.

The neighborhood only policy scenario eliminated school choice and predicted a four to five fold reduction in average travel distance. Walking rates were predicted to increase by three to four times. However, previous research has shown that if school commuting distances are reduced, parents may be more willing to drive their children to school instead of sending them on the bus. Thus, the use of cars was also predicted to increase but, due to shorter commutes, the total distance travelled by car was halved. The total emissions were predicted to be 3-8 times lower for this scenario than the current scenario, depending on the pollutant. In the regional choice scenario the travel distance was predicted to remain nearly unchanged, as were the rates of walking. It was predicted that car usage would increase but bus usage would fall leading to a 13 per cent net drop in nitrous oxide emissions but a 4 to 45 per cent increase in the remaining pollutants. In the increased walking scenario the 27 per cent of the students that live within a mile of the school they currently attend were assigned to walking. The walking rate and distance was predicted to at least double. Car use was predicted to fall by 8 per cent and the predicted effect on emissions was a decrease of 1 to 12 per cent. The results indicated that school-assignment policy could affect the environmental impacts of the school commute. The predicted reductions in emissions for the increased walking and regional choice scenarios were surprisingly modest. This could be because many people choose to attend to a school that is further than a mile away from their home, so are not obliged to walk. For the regional choice scenario, the researchers assigned students to a school that could in fact have been further than their previous school. Because the study focuses on environmental impacts, it does not evaluate possible advantages of school choice, such as increased racial and socioeconomic integration or parental choice. However, it does highlight potential environmental, health, and economic benefits of locating schools relatively closer to students’ homes. Although European policy does not necessarily encourage school choice, it is useful to understand the possible impacts of such a policy stance and the possible reasons for why some policies, such as the one designed to increase walking, may not fulfil their potential.

March 1st  } European Commission DG ENV News Alert Issue 188

Source: Marshall, J.D., Wilson, R.D., Meyer, K.L. et al. (2010). Vehicle Emissions during Children’s School Commuting: Impacts of Education Policy. Environmental Science & Technology. Doi: 10.1021/es902932n. Contact: julian.@umn.edu

Understand Global Warming and why it causes Climate Change with just a bit of Reading.

Books to help you discover the emergence of global warming as a recognized problem. Find out why an incremental change in temp makes a difference in climate and what the sea has to do with weather.

I offer a list of books for non-scientists that aren’t newly published but will give readers a strong foundation of understanding about the complexities and repercussions of the problem which we are facing. And readers were learn that all scientists aren’t as dry and boring as we have been led to believe!

From 1980 to 2002 the fanshaped glacier at the top of Jacabamba valley, in eastern Cordillera Blanca, Peruvian Andes melted. Photos in High Tide by Mark Lynas HIGH TIDE – The Truth About Our Climate Crisis by Mark Lynas SIX DEGREES – Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas High Tide was published in 2004 but is still very important for laypeople who don’t know what to think of the strange arguments on media air waves for these past, almost forty years in the United States. I found the best two pages to be the first two pages. Mark has on the left side a photo his father took in 1980 of a glacier in the Peruvian Andes, at the top of Jacabamba valley. On the right side a photo of the same spot in 2002 but no glacier due to changes in climate. This juxtaposition of photos does more than any lecture to make the point that weather is changing dramatically. His newer volume, Six Degrees, the updated version arrived on shelves in 2008, has an interesting and now it turns out to be particularly useful analysis of global warming. Mark sifted through thousands of scientific papers and organized the data based on predictions from temperature rise. So the first chapter is titled One Degree and so on to Six Degrees. Unfortunately analysis of recent data may indicate that a six degree rise in global atmospheric temperature may not be so farfetched.( And a video about “Peru’s tropical glaciers under Threat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF2SdPkC22c&feature=youtube_gdata 17 DEC 2009 ) GREENHOUSE – The 200 Year Story of Global Warming by Gale E. Christianson.Here is a successfully interesting history of the science of global warming starting with Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier. In 1824 he published an article titled “General Remarks on the Temperature of the Terrestrial Globe and Planetary Spaces.” Each of the books chapters starts with a theme which unexpectedly leads us to a better understanding of the development of research as well as the bricks and mortar of the Industrial Revolution. The book ends with a discussion of the Kyoto Climate treaty and the personalities involved.

waste and want A Social History of Trash “Susan Strasser . . shows that the things we take for granted are often the most important.” Jackson Lears

WASTE AND WANT – A Social History of Trash by Susan StrasserThis is one of my favorite books and helps us understand the intimate details of our ability to create waste.

The Ice ChroniclesAdventure, exploration and science.

THE ICE CHRONICLES The Quest to Understand Climate Change by Paul Andrew Mayewski and Frank White forward by Lynn Margulis.Ice cores give us a perfect record of atmospheric concentration through the history of the earth. A true life adventure in the pursuit of science.

Chaos theory is not for the faint of heart but good to at least study the tables and photos.

CHAOS Making A New Science by James Gleick Have you ever wondered outloud, “Why can’t those meteorologists on the evening news even predict the weather?” I would offer the reason being because our atmospheric systems are chaotic and difficult to predict. The more variables added into the atmosphere, the more difficult to predict. This has been one of my favorite books but not for those with a light hearted attitude towards physics. Yet it is good for the non-scientists to read the beginning, the end and take a look at the photographs to answer some general questions about why the formulation of the chaos theory is important to tracking and predicting the global warming phenomena. I hesitate to offer this last book but will suggest it to those who haven’t thought about the importance of soil in the survival of the human species. DIRT – The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery. Over and over civilizations have fallen – due to the erosion of the soils needed to grow food to support large numbers of people. The time is now to learn the lessons from these fallen civilizations and it will mean rejecting the agribusiness/corporate paradigm for farming. The most disturbing thing about this book is the ability of the author to never once mention the nation of Palestine.  Vicki EDITORIAL} Unfortunately the USA, the biggest user of the earth’s resources and polluter, doesn’t have a good understanding of how science works.  At one time newspapers and television news programs had a science reporter on staff to help the audience understand new information from the scientific community.  Now neither the USA nor the UK wants to admit that the weather is much different than it was a few years ago and much more dangerous.  This is a direct reflection on the state of education in both countries.

EDITORIAL} Focusing on War rather than Survival: Big Mistake

War not only adds to pollution problems, war also sucks away resources need to deal with the climate shift the Earth is facing.Concentrating on continuing a constant state of war anywhere in the world is a big mistake.  The moral and political reasons are innumerable. But Survival of the Species is a topic I’ve never heard addressed when the theme of war and military expansion is on the table. With war sucking all the resources for plain civil living where is even a little chance to keep the planet and her mechanisms working in a way that will sustain human beings? The imperative for survival can be addressed by focusing on worldwide goals of

  1. Clean Water.
  2. Fertile Soil.
  3. Breathable Air.

Everyone seems to be  having a hard time figuring out to find the energy or ability to make demands on leadership. Me, too.  I’m having to take a lot better care of myself in order to handle the pressure of feeling helpless and despairing about a world I had such hopes in making wonderful when I was young. Young or old there are ways tired people and shy people and sick people can start getting back into the skirmish. We can speak out with our words effectively without name calling or anger.  Op eds in newspapers, the physical kind or on the web.  Whether you address the subject locally, nationally or internationally opinion pages shift when editors are given evidence of the necessity. Send your thoughts and worries to the United Nations, the WTO or World Bank; wherever you like but start making YOUR Letters, Your Demands the subject being talked about around the water coolers of institutions controlling purse strings around the world. Elected official pay attention to hand written letters from individuals. Your city, county, state and national leaders need your input to be able to lead properly. Once you start getting your feet wet, you will gain confidence and strength. We need you and your voice! Environmental Goals for E.U. and the World When citizens of Europe were asked to come up with the environmental goals we would like to see reached through the European Union I realized, Air Pollution is my nightmare lately. I would be wearing a light white mask to protect my nose and mouth everywhere, if only my family would walk withme instead of so many meters ahead of me when I do. In Connecticut I wore the small masks when my allergies became particularly unbearable due to traffic and city pollution reaching our lovely little place of green in the valley between New York City and Boston.  My younger daughter, still small, didn’t mind when I wore the mask, she just commented, “Mom, the mask makes you look Chinese.” I’m now thinking of investing in the manufacturers of those masks whenever a windfall blows my way because they are becoming more and more popular in more and more places. Here’s my wish list for E.U. environmental goals.  They are also personal goals and may be acted upon by one person or more in a community! 1. Cleaning up the air by a great mass transit system throughout Europe.  We have our E.U. passport, now we want our E.U. transport! 2. Clean up polluting vehicles using the streets.  Lots of people can’t afford new vehicles.  Maybe help in purchasing new mufflers, catalytic converters or new vehicles is the solution. 3. Mandatory bike paths and walking paths everywhere. 4. Continual improvement of soil conditions with compost, earthworms, manure, legumes, crop rotating. 5. Continual cooperation and improvement of water management plans. 6. Initiating a program to not only prevent fires but also to put the fires out once they have started.  Spot fires faster, have enough fast reaction fire fighters, trucks, helicopters and planes ready.  Have water tanks sited in towns and villages so residents can start putting out the fire immediately.  Plus buffer zones around towns and homes to slow down and perhaps prevent fire from reaching homes. What am I missing? Please add your thoughts.

The Earth is about to catch a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years.

By James Lovelock Each nation must find the best use of its resources to sustain civilization for as long as they can. Imagine a young policewoman delighted in the fulfillment of her vocation; then imagine her having to tell a family whose child had strayed that he had been found dead, murdered in a nearby wood. Or think of a young physician newly appointed who has to tell you that the biopsy revealed invasion by an aggressive metastasizing tumor. Doctors and the police know that many accept the simple awful truth with dignity but others try in vain to deny it. Whatever the response, the bringers of such bad news rarely become hardened to their task and some dread it. We have relieved judges of the awesome responsibility of passing the death sentence, but at least they had some comfort from its frequent moral justification. Physicians and the police have no escape from their duty. This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news. The climate centers around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth’s physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth’s family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger. Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics. Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 per cent of the Earth’s surface we have depleted to feed ourselves. Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This “global dimming” is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool’s climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable. By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible – and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us. To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys. My new book The Revenge of Gaia expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognize the true nature of the Earth. I think it is because Darwin’s vision was so good and clear that it has taken until now to digest it. In his time, little was known about the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans, and there would have been little reason for him to wonder if organisms changed their environment as well as adapting to it. Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth’s skin – its forest and ocean ecosystems – as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth. So what should we do? First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realize how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilization for as long as they can. Civilization is energy-intensive and we cannot turn it off without crashing, so we need the security of a powered descent. On these British Isles, we are used to thinking of all humanity and not just ourselves; environmental change is global, but we have to deal with the consequences here in the UK. Unfortunately our nation is now so urbanized as to be like a large city and we have only a small acreage of agriculture and forestry. We are dependent on the trading world for sustenance; climate change will deny us regular supplies of food and fuel from overseas. We could grow enough to feed ourselves on the diet of the Second World War, but the notion that there is land to spare to grow biofuels, or be the site of wind farms, is ludicrous. We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions. The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate. Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe. We should be the heart and mind of the Earth, not its malady. So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone, and see that we have harmed the living Earth and need to make our peace with Gaia. We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords. Most of all, we should remember that we are a part of it, and it is indeed our home. Originally Sent By: Andrew Michael Clements To: Members in The GRAND (Green Roof Athens Now Demand) Campaign! Κάνε πράσινη ΤΩΡΑ την Αθήνα με OIKOΣΤΕΓΕΣ! http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/james-lovelock-the-earth-is-about-to-catch-a-morbid-fever-that-may-last-as-long-as-100000-years-523161.html

*Bullies

As cyber bullying against climate scientists  increases, climate change denier Marc Morano adds, “Kick them while they’re down.” “They deserve to be publicly flogged.”  Apparently, Morano’s call for cyberbulling of climate scientists is working.  Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has a 19-page document of “extremely foul, nasty, abusive” e-mails he’s received just since November.http://www.thomhartmann.com/2010/03/02/bullies/ Experienced Observation on Bullies “Bullying, cyber-bullying, telephone bullying and face-to-face bullying are wasting a lot of important time of scientists and others working to cleanup the environment in ways to keep the average temperature of the sphere which is our earth from rising at an even faster rate. Sadly, those who resort to bullying don’t want to stop and take the time to listen.  For example, whether or not you are interested in the sciences of climate studies, one should at  the least want to breathe cleaner air.  Perhaps they are so wrapped up in their fear and anger that they aren’t noticing the shift in growing seasons, the disruptions in normal climate seasons nor the greater number of tornadoes per storm. (Not to mention wildfires and landslides.) On bully was jealous because of the amount of money that scientists receive from grants.  I explained to him that was no personal money for the scientist-that money is to be used to hire students so they can pay for university and also have hands on experience learning research, the money is used for laboratory equipment and all that is needed to carry out the research as well as for travel and other essential needs of the particular research project.  That left him speechless which I took to be a good indication, perhaps he understands how grants work now. Those that support the corporations rather than their own instincts and science are hurting themselves as well as the rest of the world. Hopefully these bullies will not become murderers as bullies of doctors at woman’s health clinics have become.”  Vicki*

James Lovelock: Humans Are Too Stupid to Prevent Climate Change

In his first in-depth interview since the theft of UEA emails, the scientist blames inertia and democracy for lack of action

[Climbers trek on Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier near the city of El Calafate, in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, December 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/Files)]

“I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,” said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. “The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.”One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is “modern democracy”, he added. “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.” Lovelock, 90, believes the world’s best hope is to invest in adaptation measures, such as building sea defences [3] around the cities that are most vulnerable to sea-level rises. He thinks only a catastrophic event would now persuade humanity to take the threat of climate change seriously enough, such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica [4], such as the Pine Island glacier, which would immediately push up sea level. “That would be the sort of event that would change public opinion,” he said. “Or a return of the dust bowl in the mid-west. Another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report won’t be enough. We’ll just argue over it like now.” The IPCC’s 2007 report concluded that there was a 90% chance that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing global warming [5], but the panel has been criticised over a mistaken claim that all Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2030 [6]. Lovelock says the events of the recent months have seen him warming to the efforts of the “good” climate sceptics: “What I like about sceptics is that in good science you need critics that make you think: ‘Crumbs, have I made a mistake here?’ If you don’t have that continuously, you really are up the creek. The good sceptics have done a good service, but some of the mad ones I think have not done anyone any favours. You need sceptics, especially when the science gets very big and monolithic.” Lovelock, who 40 years ago originated the idea that the planet is a giant, self-regulating organism – the so-called Gaia theory [7]– added that he has little sympathy for the climate scientists caught up in the UEA email scandal. He said he had not read the original emails – “I felt reluctant to pry” – but that their reported content had left him feeling “utterly disgusted”. “Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science,” he said. “I’m not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It’s the one thing you do not ever do. You’ve got to have standards.” Published on Monday, March 29, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

Climategate Claptrap, II

El Niño, La Niña, and Rainfall La Niña, 1988 El Niño, La Niña, and Rainfall
Color bar for El Niño, La Niña, and Rainfall
For many people, El Niño means flood-inducing rains or crop-killing drought. El Niño and its counterpart La Niña alter weather patterns across the world. These images show the strongest El Niño and La Niña events of the past twenty years and their impact on rainfall over North and South America. Yearly images from 1985 through 2008 are posted on the Earth Observatory’s World of Change feature El Nino, La Nina, and Rainfall.

The top image pair shows the El Niño event of 1997. El Niño happens when the ocean warms, as illustrated by the streak of purple in the top left sea surface temperature anomaly image. The ocean warms when the west-blowing trade winds weaken. Warm surface water that would otherwise have been blown into the western Pacific builds in the east. The warm water evaporates easily. It also warms the atmosphere, making it easier for storms to form. The top pair of images shows the direct correlation between warm surface waters and rainfall.The 1997 El Niño was unusually strong. It brought heavy rain to northwest South America and much of the southern United States. Because the warm water that usually fuels rains in the western Pacific (Australia and Indonesia) stayed in the east, the western Pacific cooled. These cooler ocean temperatures caused drought in Australia and Indonesia, just visible as a streak of brown on the far left side of the globe in the 1997 rainfall anomaly image The lower image pair shows La Niña in 1988. La Niña occurs when the eastern Pacific off the coast of South America cools. This cooling shows up as a streak of blue in the sea surface temperature anomaly image, lower left. The unusually cold ocean cools the atmosphere above it. The cool air is dense; it doesn’t rise and form storms easily. As a result, less rain falls over the cold waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific. The brown tones in the rainfall anomaly image, top right, reveal that the drought reached Peru and Ecuador in northwest South America. The changes in the atmosphere change the flow of winds and weather systems around the world. As the image shows, drought settled over the southeastern United States, the portion of the country that is usually most impacted by El Niño and La Niña. Globally, La Niña causes unusually heavy rain in India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and southeastern Africa. The sea surface temperature anomaly images compare the average temperature observed by NOAA’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer in December, when El Niño and La Niña events are strongest, to the average ocean surface temperatures the sensor observed in all the Decembers between 1985 and 2008. The rainfall anomaly images are from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project, which blends rainfall data from a number of satellites. The images compare December rainfall with the average December rainfall observed between 1979 and 2008. References Herring, D. What is El Niño? NASA’s Earth Observatory. Accessed October 22, 2009. National Academies. (2009). El Niño and La Niña: Tracing the dance of the ocean and atmosphere. Accessed October 22, 2009. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. What is an El Niño? Accessed October 22, 2009. Pidwirny, M. (2006). El Niño, La Niña, and the Southern Oscillation. Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition. Accessed October 22, 2009. NASA Earth Observatory images by Rob Simmon and Jesse Allen, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek. Instrument:  NOAA-17 POES – AVHRR http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=40887&src=share