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DocWatch
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News stories about "smart policy," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?smart+policy
Related Scary Tags:
climate impacts  ~ carbon emissions  ~ sustainability  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ global warming  ~ efficiency increase  ~ airborne pollutants  ~ alternative energy  ~ health impacts  ~ contamination  ~ coal issues  



Sun, Mar 6, 2016
from The Conversation:
The best way to protect us from climate change? Save our ecosystems
... Data have now confirmed that salt marshes would have significantly reduced the impact of those surges, and stabilised the shoreline against further insult, at far less cost than engineered coastal defences. With this data in hand, discussions are now beginning around how to restore the Louisiana salt marshes to insulate against future extreme weather events. ... ...


Like we need protection from Climate Chaos.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 27, 2016
from IEEE Spectrum:
NOAA Model Finds Renewable Energy Could be Deployed in the U.S. Without Storage
The majority of the United States's electricity needs could be met with renewable energy by 2030--without new advances in energy storage or cost increases. That's the finding of a new study conducted by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The key will be having sufficient transmission lines spanning the contiguous U.S., so that energy can be deployed from where it's generated to the places where its needed. Reporting their results today in Nature Climate Change, the researchers found that a combination of solar and wind energy, plus high-voltage direct current transmission lines that travel across the country, would reduce the electric sector's carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent compared to 1990 levels. ...


Alas, only rational humans will listen to the fruitless bleatings of scientists and engineers.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 10, 2016
from InsideClimate News:
Vermont Governor Urges State to Divest from Coal, Exxon
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said on Thursday his state should take action against climate change this year by divesting public pension funds from coal and from oil giant ExxonMobil, because of its history of sowing doubt about climate change despite the company's own scientists having studied it. Speaking at his annual State of the State address, Shumlin said, "The urgency for us to take every sensible action against climate change has never been greater." He asked his legislature to send him a bill that would divest the state's public pension funds from all coal stocks, as well as from stock in Exxon. ...


Now that's what I call leadership.

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Tue, Jan 5, 2016
from The Guardian:
French MPs vote to force supermarkets to give away unsold food
French MPs have voted unanimously to force supermarkets to give away unsold food that has reached its sell-by date. Shops will also be banned from destroying food products, as they have in the past - sometimes by soaking them in bleach - to prevent them being distributed. ...


Let them eat (bleached) cake.

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Wed, Jun 10, 2015
from InsideClimate News:
Coal Industry Fighting for Survival on 7 Fronts
...Perhaps no industry has inflicted such widespread costs on society as coal. From debilitating black lung disease to the devastating removal of whole mountaintops, from decades of lung-scarring smog to unrestrained emissions of greenhouse gases, coal has imposed its own deadly taxation--hiding the charges under the smoky cloak of cheap and abundant power. ...


War on coal? I'd say coal was waging war on us.

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Thu, Apr 2, 2015
from Guardian:
Syracuse University to divest $1.18bn endowment from fossil fuels
Syracuse University will remove its $1.18bn endowment from direct investments in fossil fuel companies, it announced on Tuesday. Syracuse is the biggest university in the world to have committed to remove its endowment from direct investments in coal, oil and gas companies. It aims to make additional investments in clean energy technologies such as solar, biofuels and advanced recycling. In a statement, the university said it will "not directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels and will direct its external investment managers to take every step possible to prohibit investments in these public companies as well". ...


Orange is the new green!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 29, 2014
from Wisconsin State Journal:
Technique for turning manure into drinkable water could help lakes
Dane County is setting aside about $1.3 million for new technology officials say could turn lake-fouling dairy cow manure into crystal clear water. The process would be installed at a county-sponsored biodigester just outside of Middleton that this year began collecting natural gas from manure and other waste, and extracting about half of the phosphorus before the manure-waste mixture is spread on farm fields as fertilizer. ...


Not quite straw-into-gold or water-into-wine but close!

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Fri, Dec 12, 2014
from Midwest Energy News:
Minnesota will 'get the ball rolling' on community solar today
Expectations are high today as Minnesota's largest utility begins accepting applications for community solar projects at 9 a.m. today. It's anyone guess show many solar garden developers will submit on the first day of business for Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community program. Some developers have already marketed and sold out projects that have been not formally approved... Community gardens allow customers to buy panels or subscriptions from developers who manage and operate the systems. Customers can buy up to 120 percent of their energy needs, or as little as one panel. They receive a credit on their utility bills based on the output of their panels. ...


We're harvesting the sun in these gardens.

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Thu, Dec 11, 2014
from BBC:
Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels
Catholic bishops from around the world are calling for an end to fossil fuel use and increased efforts to secure a global climate treaty. Catholics, they say, should engage with the process leading to a proposed new deal to be signed in Paris next year. The statement is the first time that senior church figures from every continent have issued such a call. ...


A global mea culpa.

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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from London Independent:
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Organic farming is much more productive than previously thought, according to a new analysis of agricultural studies that challenges the conventional "biased" view that pesticide-free agriculture cannot feed the world. The study says that organic yields were only 19.2 per cent lower, on average, than those from conventional crops and that this gap could be reduced to just eight per cent if the pesticide-free crops were rotated more frequently. Furthermore, in some crops - especially leguminous plants such as beans, peas and lentils - there were no significant differences in yields, the researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found. ...


I don't need any Berkeley eggheads stating the obvious.

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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from Reuters:
Big U.S. school districts plan switch to antibiotic-free chicken
Six of the largest U.S. school districts are switching to antibiotic-free chicken, officials said on Tuesday, pressuring the world's top meat companies to adjust production practices in the latest push against drugs used on farms. The move by districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County and Orlando County is intended to protect children's health amid concerns about the rise of so-called "superbugs," bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines, school officials said. However, the change may raise costs for schools because bird mortality rates are typically higher in flocks raised without antibiotics. The six districts, which served at least 2.6 million meals last year, hope to limit costs by combining their purchasing power, officials said. ...


This is your brain ... and this is your brain on superbugs.

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Mon, Dec 1, 2014
from Globe and Mail:
China at forefront of clean-energy market
China has emerged as the leader in the race to dominate the fast-growing, global clean-energy market, an economic strategy that promises to deliver huge dividends as world governments work toward an agreement to rein in greenhouse gases in the battle against climate change. China is leaving its competitors in its wake as all countries look to gain advantage in the emerging low-carbon economy, according to new analysis by Ottawa consultant Céline Bak.... In each case, China saw stunning growth. Its sales of renewable energy technology grew to nearly $120-billion (U.S.) last year from just $20-billion in 2003. American exports in that renewable energy category grew to $45-billion from $25-billion. ...


See what happens when you don't have to waste energy arguing with deniers?

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Mon, Oct 13, 2014
from London Independent:
Campaign to put ecocide on a par with genocide in attempt to curb environmental destruction
A global campaign to make "ecocide" a crime under international law is to be launched tomorrow in an attempt to outlaw the worst kinds of environmental destruction. A grassroots movement called End Ecocide on Earth is seeking to have the wholesale destruction of ecosystems ranked alongside offences such as genocide and war crimes. The International Criminal Court (ICC) would then be able to prosecute companies over major pollution incidents, such as the oil spills that have contaminated large areas of the Niger Delta region for half a century. ...


We need an intervention.

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Try reading our book FREE online:
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Fri, Oct 3, 2014
from George Monbiot, in The Guardian:
It's time to shout 'stop' on this war on the living world
... We care ever less for the possessions we buy, and dispose of them ever more quickly. Yet the extraction of the raw materials required to produce them, the pollution commissioned in their manufacturing, the infrastructure and noise and burning of fuel needed to transport them are trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce. The loss of wildlife is a loss of wonder and enchantment, of the magic with which the living world infects our lives.... A system that makes us less happy, less secure, that narrows and impoverishes our lives, is presented as the only possible answer to our problems. There is no alternative - we must keep marching over the cliff. Anyone who challenges it is either ignored or excoriated. And the beneficiaries? Well they are also the biggest consumers, using their spectacular wealth to exert impacts thousands of times greater than most people achieve. Much of the natural world is destroyed so that the very rich can fit their yachts with mahogany, eat bluefin tuna sushi, scatter ground rhino horn over their food, land their private jets on airfields carved from rare grasslands, burn in one day as much fossil fuel as the average global citizen uses in a year.... Is this not the point at which we shout stop? At which we use the extraordinary learning and expertise we have developed to change the way we organise ourselves, to contest and reverse the trends that have governed our relationship with the living planet for the past 2m years, and that are now destroying its remaining features at astonishing speed? Is this not the point at which we challenge the inevitability of endless growth on a finite planet? If not now, when? ...


But what if you shouted "STOP" in a crowded theatre, and everybody came?

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Tue, Sep 30, 2014
from ABC :
Obama Creates Largest Marine Reserve In the World
President Obama today will sign a proclamation creating the largest marine reserve in the world - three times the size of California, totaling 490,000 square miles... The designation bans commercial fishing, dumping and mining in the national monument's waters, home to "deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change," according to the White House. Environmental groups are calling this a "historic" move to protect precious wildlife....He has used his authority to designate more acres of federal land and sea environmentally-protected areas than any other president in the last five decades. ...


A new Eden.

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Tue, Sep 30, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
Big Business Climate Change Movement Grows in Size and Heft
...Signatories representing $26 trillion in investment funds called on world leaders to enact strong policies, cut fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay for the effects of their emissions. There were commitments and pledges from the likes of General Motors, food makers Mars Inc. and Nestle, and consumer products giant Unilever. And a string of corporate CEOs joined early-adopters like Ikea Group in supporting renewable energy and citing proof that companies and countries can tackle climate change and prosper at the same time. ...


There will be no profits if customers are all dead.

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Wed, Sep 24, 2014
from New York Times:
Companies Are Taking the Baton in Climate Change Efforts
With political efforts to slow global warming moving at a tortuous pace, some of the world's largest companies are stepping into the void, pledging more support for renewable energy, greener supply chains and fresh efforts to stop the destruction of the world's tropical forests. Forty companies, among them Kellogg, L'Oréal and Nestlé, signed a declaration on Tuesday pledging to help cut tropical deforestation in half by 2020 and stop it entirely by 2030. They included several of the largest companies handling palm oil, the production of which has resulted in rampant destruction of old-growth forests, especially in Indonesia... Several environmental groups said they were optimistic that at least some of these would be kept, but they warned that corporate action was not enough, and that climate change could not be solved without stronger steps by governments. ...


I thought government and corporations were the same thing.

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Mon, Sep 22, 2014
from BBC:
Rockefellers to switch investments to 'clean energy'
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 bn (?31 bn) in fossil fuel assets. The announcement will be made on Monday, a day before the UN climate change summit opens on Tuesday. Some 650 individuals and 180 institutions have joined the coalition. It is part of a growing global initiative called Global Divest-Invest, which began on university campuses several years ago, the New York Times reports. Pledges from pension funds, religious groups and big universities have reportedly doubled since the start of 2014. ...


At this point they'll have to remove "coal" from the word "coalition."

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Fri, Sep 19, 2014
from The Hill:
Proposed air conditioner rules could yield biggest savings
The Department of Energy (DOE) said Thursday it will propose efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners that could yield the most energy savings of any appliance standard. The agency said the standards for commercial unitary air conditioners, which are usually housed on the roofs of large buildings, will save 11.7 quads of energy over the lifetimes of units sold for 30 years.... "If finalized, it would also help cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons, and could save consumers nearly $10 billion on their energy bills through 2030," the White House said. ...


Something tells me we're going to need air conditioning in the future.

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Tue, Sep 9, 2014
from Common Dreams:
Are You Ready to 'Disrupt'? Climate Movement Readies Global Mobilization
On Sunday night, a new documentary film highlighting the intertwined story of the climate crisis and the growing social movement which has grown in response to it was released online for national screenings that took place in people's home and public meeting spaces. At just under an hour long, the film--titled 'Disruption'--was produced with a stated goal to "galvanize a new wave of climate action and climate leadership" across the globe and comes just weeks before the 'People's Climate March' being organized for New York City that will take place on Sunday, September 21. ... "This is the history we'll tell the next generation -- about the end of fossil fuels, about how the world was in crisis, about how we started to turn it around together." ...


Y'know, if civilization was saved, but updated? That might not be such a bad thing.

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Sun, Aug 24, 2014
from The Independent (UK):
Government facing four challenges in bid to tackle climate change, think-tank claims
The IPPR says the Government needs to address four challenges to tackle climate change: the consumer challenge, in overcoming soaring fuel bills and tackling fuel poverty; the capacity challenge, in investing in more decentralised energy generation; the regional challenge, where the economy is recovering at a national level but less so in the regions; and the international challenge, where the EU has "lost its leadership position on climate change" while the US and China have taken steps to clean up their economies. It states: "To date, there has been a large degree of political consensus on the necessity of tackling climate change. Both the Climate Change Act (2008), which set binding targets to cut emissions by 80 per cent against a 1990 baseline by 2050, and the Energy Act (2013), which put in place government policies to encourage investment in low-carbon technologies, received royal assent with cross-party support. "However, these Acts have also had the effect of allowing politicians to avoid confronting the public with some of the trade-offs associated with taking stronger action now to avoid greater costs in the future. ...


Thank Mammon they managed to avoid mentioning "the steady-state economy" challenge, or the "corporate pressure to maintain profitable status quo" challenge.

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Mon, Aug 4, 2014
from London Guardian:
World's top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers
Some of the world's top PR companies have for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar industry that has grown up around the issue of global warming. Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions - as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives. Now a number of the top 25 global PR firms have told the Guardian they will not represent clients who deny man-made climate change, or take campaigns seeking to block regulations limiting carbon pollution. ...


Good PR for them!

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Wed, Jul 30, 2014
from Planet Ark:
California and Mexico sign pact to fight climate change
California Governor Jerry Brown and Mexican environmental officials signed a pact on Monday aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement that could eventually expand the market for carbon credits. The six-page memorandum of understanding calls for cooperation in developing carbon pricing systems and calls on the partners to explore ways to align those systems in the future. "California can't do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico, we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases," said Governor Brown. ...


We are all in this together.

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Mon, Jul 28, 2014
from Minnesota Public Radio:
Dayton calls for eliminating coal from Minnesota's energy production
Gov. Mark Dayton today challenged a group of energy policy and business leaders to figure out a way for Minnesota to eliminate coal from the state's energy production. Dayton, who has spoken of his aim to eliminate coal before, said it's time to start talking details so that Minnesota could lead the nation. "Tell us what a timeline would look like, what has to happen for that timeline to be met and what kind of incentives or inducements do we need to provide to make that happen," he said. ...


Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

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Mon, Jul 28, 2014
from Climate Central:
Court Ruling May Reverberate on 'Social Cost' of Carbon
Greenhouse gas emissions from burning and extracting coal, oil and natural gas drive climate change, and as communities feel the effects of a warming world -- rising seas, burning forests and withering crops -- communities' pocketbooks take a hit, too. That's called the social cost of carbon. And if a recent federal court decision stands, the U.S. government may have to calculate those climate-related costs from any new fossil fuels development on public lands before a new project can be approved. ...


Get out your Al-Gore-rhythm to measure that one.

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Fri, Jun 27, 2014
from MSNBC:
EPA's Gina McCarthy calls for all hands on deck in climate fight
In a speech to George Mason University's Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, she argued for a society-wide mobilization to soften the blow of climate change. "It's going to need everybody at the table," she said, addressing an audience of 250 high school students from around the country. "We're going to have to roll up our sleeves."... Yet McCarthy's remarks on Thursday sounded an awful lot like incitement to further grassroots activism, particularly when she discussed the rapid change in federal environmental policy which took place in the '60s and '70s. "It changed as a result of Congress stepping up and saying we can't do this anymore," said McCarthy. "They only stepped up because the people that they served demanded it. Because everybody could see the problems we were facing." ...


Ecoterrorists.

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Tue, Jun 3, 2014
from Reuters:
China plan to cap CO2 emissions seen turning point in climate talks
BEIJING, June 3 (Reuters) - China will set an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions from 2016, a senior government adviser said on Monday, a day after the United States announced new targets for its power sector, signalling a potential breakthrough in tough U.N. climate talks. Progress in global climate negotiations has often been held back by a deep split between rich and poor nations, led by the United States and China, respectively, over who should step up their game to reduce emissions. But the adviser's statement, coupled with the U.S. announcement, sparked optimism among observers hoping to see the decades-old deadlock broken. The steps come ahead of a global meet on climate change starting on Wednesday in Germany. ...


What's the carbon footprint of "sparked optimism"?

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Mon, Jun 2, 2014
from Washington Post:
EPA to propose cutting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants 30 percent by 2030
The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan.... Ever since a climate bill stalled in the Senate four years ago, environmental and public health activists have been pressing Obama to use his executive authority to impose carbon limits on the power sector, which accounts for 38 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.... The American Wind Energy Association, which also supports a federal carbon cap on existing plants, recently published a study that found that consumer rates declined over the past five years in the 11 states that use the most wind, while rates increased collectively in all the other states during that same time period. ...


Let the wild rumpus start!

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Tue, Apr 29, 2014
from Fast Company:
Ikea Is Making Meatless Meatballs As Part Of A Massive Push For Sustainability
Last year, Ikea sold 97.4 million meatballs to hungry shoppers. The snack is a Swedish icon. But because the traditional recipe calls for beef and pork--both major contributors to climate change--the company is now working on vegetarian and chicken options to help trim down its carbon footprint. In all, the food served and sold in Ikea stores is responsible for a hefty 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. Still, that's only about 2 percent of the company's entire footprint. So Ikea has decided to aggressively improve everything it makes... ...


Don't tell me my tenderloins will be loins-less!

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Tue, Apr 29, 2014
from USA Today:
Justices: 28 states must slash wind-blown pollution
The question was who should pay for air pollution that crosses state lines. The answer, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, is blowing in the wind. States in the Midwest and South whose polluted air flows north and east must comply with a federally imposed solution, a 6-2 majority of justices ruled. The decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was a boon for the Obama administration and its environmental regulators, who have proposed a rule requiring some 28 upwind states to slash ozone and fine particle emissions by varying amounts because of their downwind effects. Most of those states have rebelled against the one-size-fits-all solution. ...


But I don't want to clean up my toys when I'm doing playing with them!

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Mon, Apr 14, 2014
from Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio acknowledges connection between hydraulic fracturing and Youngstown quakes, will require seismic testing near known fault lines
...The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday said that it will require companies seeking horizontal well drilling permits within 3 miles of known fault lines or where quakes have already been recorded will first have install a network of seismic monitors. If the monitors detect a "seismic event" larger than a magnitude of 1.0, the fracturing would have to pause. State seismologists would then try to pinpoint exactly where the quake had occurred, and at what depth. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday said that it will require companies seeking horizontal well drilling permits within 3 miles of known fault lines or where quakes have already been recorded will first have install a network of seismic monitors. If the monitors detect a "seismic event" larger than a magnitude of 1.0, the fracturing would have to pause. State seismologists would then try to pinpoint exactly where the quake had occurred, and at what depth. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday said that it will require companies seeking horizontal well drilling permits within 3 miles of known fault lines or where quakes have already been recorded will first have install a network of seismic monitors. If the monitors detect a "seismic event" larger than a magnitude of 1.0, the fracturing would have to pause. State seismologists would then try to pinpoint exactly where the quake had occurred, and at what depth. ...


Nobody sneeze!

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Fri, Apr 4, 2014
from Des Moines Register:
Iowa View: From wind to solar, clean power is good for Iowa
Saving money on bills, creating jobs and boosting the economy: That's what's been happening across Iowa as our state has embraced wind power to become a national leader in a fast-growing slice of the energy sector. Now we have a chance to do it again, this time with solar power. Clean local power is something all kinds of Iowans can agree on -- families, farmers and businesspeople; rural residents and city dwellers; even Republicans and Democrats. ...


Break out the Kumbaya champagne!

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Wed, Mar 19, 2014
from New York Times:
White House to Introduce Climate Data Website
President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change will remake their own backyards -- and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app. As part of its effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible, immediate and urgent problem, the White House on Wednesday will inaugurate a website aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using an app. ...


If you build it, they will run.

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Thu, Mar 6, 2014
from The Hill:
House passes bill on energy efficiency
The House passed a bipartisan package on Wednesday intended to up energy efficiency in homes and federal agencies. The legislation, authored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.), aims to boost energy conservation with a program called Tenant Star, which provides incentives to landlords and tenants who up their energy savings. The package, which passed 375 to 36, also promotes energy efficiency in federal agencies under a provision added by Rep. Anna Eschoo (D-Calif.) ...


This news comes from a parallel universe where politicians do the right thing.

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Sat, Mar 1, 2014
from Climate Central:
NY State Expects All Utilities to Prep for Climate Change
In a major settlement that could have far-reaching implications nationwide, New York's largest utility is now responsible for preparing for a future of extreme weather, including the impacts of climate change. The state now expects all of the utilities it regulates to consider how sea level rise, extreme weather and other possible effects related to climate change will affect their operations and reliability as they make future construction plans and budgets. It's a model that experts say other states could use to address the ravages of climate change... Partly as a result of the damage the New York region and ConEd's infrastructure sustained during Hurricane Sandy, the settlement requires ConEd, one of the nation's largest utilities, to study how climate change will affect its infrastructure and how to adjust its operations to mitigate those effects. ...


To the victors belong the spoils.

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Tue, Feb 25, 2014
from Bloomberg:
Colorado First State to Clamp Down on Fracking Methane Pollution
Colorado regulators approved groundbreaking controls on emissions from oil and natural gas operations after an unusual coalition of energy companies and environmentalists agreed on measures to counter worsening smog... "This is a model for the country," said Dan Grossman, the defense fund's Rocky Mountain regional director. "We've got this simmering battle between the oil and gas industry and neighborhoods throughout the state that are being faced with development. That degree of acrimony is pushing the industry and policy makers to look for ways to get some wins." ...


Well I'll be fracked!

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Mon, Feb 17, 2014
from CNN:
Chick-fil-A to serve antibiotic-free chicken
...Chick-fil-A Inc. announced plans Tuesday to use chicken raised without antibiotics in all of its restaurants within five years. National and regional poultry suppliers are partnering with the company to stock up. Chik-fil-A wants these suppliers to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure the chickens do not receive any antibiotics.... Chick-fil-A's announcement comes amid a growing awareness about the problem of antibiotic resistance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that antibiotics in livestock are contributing to the rise of dangerous bacteria. Many antibiotics that farmers give food-producing animals are also used to treat sick humans. ...


Wonder what the cows have to say about this.

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Tue, Feb 11, 2014
from BBC:
Hollande and Obama make joint call for climate accord
French President Francois Hollande and US President Barack Obama have issued a joint call for an "ambitious" global climate change agreement. The call comes in an article published jointly in the Washington Post and Le Monde. The presidents requested support for a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions "through concrete actions", at a climate conference in Paris in 2015. ...


Sacre bleu or do I mean sacre green?

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Thu, Feb 6, 2014
from USDA, via DailyKos:
USDA announces establishment of regional agriculture hubs for climate change adaptation
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday, the USDA is forming seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change to assist farmers to adapt by providing them science-based data and how to apply it... While the generally right-wing American Farm Bureau Federation has taken no stance on the regional hubs, its overall view of Obama's proposed climate change policies is a negative one: "Farm Bureau does not support any actions or policy that federal agencies could adopt, or the utilization of any existing authority, to regulate emissions of GHGs. Farm Bureau does not support the current actions of EPA to regulate GHGs from new or existing power plants as it causes increased costs to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber without measurably addressing the issue of climate. Farm Bureau would especially oppose any regulation of GHGs from agricultural sources." ...


To adapt, or to deny that adaptation is necessary, that is the question.

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Thu, Jan 9, 2014
from The Hill:
EPA publishes emissions rule to GOP's dismay
The Environmental Protection Agency published its rule limiting carbon emissions from new power plants on Wednesday to the dismay of coal advocates and the GOP. The proposed rule, published nearly four months after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced it, is a core element of President Obama's climate change agenda. Included in the new performance standards, the EPA pushes for new coal-fired power plants to be built with carbon capture technology, which Republicans argue is impossible since the technology isn't ready... Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) blasted the EPA for publishing the regulation on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. "The EPA just announced another regulation that will increase poverty in coal country," Barrasso said in a statement on Wednesday. ...


The war against mother earth, however, continues, unabated.

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Mon, Dec 23, 2013
from Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education:
New York City Bans Styrofoam Food Containers
The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education (COARE), applauds the New York City Council for its decision yesterday to ban food service expanded polystyrene (EPS) within city limits. EPS is commonly referred to as "styrofoam." ... With an overwhelming 51-0 unanimous vote, the City Council of New York made a clear statement making NYC the largest in the world to ban foam foodware. Comprising more than 8.3 million people, New York is the most populous city in the U.S., and an estimated 23,000 tons of foam is thrown away in New York City each year. ...


RIP EPS

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Thu, Dec 5, 2013
from New York Times:
Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon
More than two dozen of the nation's biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are planning their future growth on the expectation that the government will force them to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control global warming. ...


Watch me control global warming.

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Thu, Dec 5, 2013
from BBC:
Meet the US Army's hybrid hellion
A fuel-efficient, lightweight hybrid vehicle that could keep soldiers safe? It might sound like mission impossible, but such a machine is already roaming the earth -- albeit on a tight leash....it's a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle, its rear-mounted lithium-iron phosphate battery charged by a 175-horsepower Subaru turbodiesel boxer engine. And although it is smaller and lighter than other similar Army vehicles, such as the long-serving Humvee, it still offers vanguard blast-mitigation and survivability features. ...


Next thing you know, soldiers will be drinking iced lattes.

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Thu, Dec 5, 2013
from The Nation:
The Pope Versus Unfettered Capitalism
Condemning the "new tyranny" of unfettered capitalism and the "idolatry of money," Pope Francis argues in a newly circulated apostolic exhortation that "as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."... "Such an economy kills," he explains. "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." ...


What is he, some kind of religious zealot?

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Mon, Dec 2, 2013
from Springfield News-Leader:
New Springfield school to use less energy
The new Sherwood Elementary will be built to use as little energy as possible. The Springfield school board recently gave the go-ahead for architects and engineers to design a 450-student building at 2524 S. Golden Ave. that dramatically reduces energy usage. That decision also leaves open the possibility of eventually adding a renewable energy source to transform Sherwood into the state's first school capable of achieving a "net zero" rating, meaning it generates as much energy as it consumes. ...


Stinkin' little Robin Hoods.

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Mon, Dec 2, 2013
from New York Times:
Urban Schools Aim for Environmental Revolution
... With any uneaten food, the plates, made from sugar cane, can be thrown away and turned into a product prized by gardeners and farmers everywhere: compost. If all goes as planned, compostable plates will replace plastic foam lunch trays by September not just for the 345,000 students in the Miami-Dade County school system, but also for more than 2.6 million others nationwide. That would be some 271 million plates a year, replacing enough foam trays to create a stack of plastic several hundred miles tall. ...


Let them eat plates.

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Mon, Nov 25, 2013
from Financial Post:
Ontario Premier Wynne vows to ban coal-powered electricity
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Canada's most populous province plans to prevent the construction of new coal plants and ban the burning of coal. "Our work on eliminating coal and investing in renewables is the strongest action being taken in North America,” Wynne told reporters in Toronto, with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at her side. A coal bill will be introduced in the provincial legislature, where Wynne's Liberal Party holds a minority position, next week. ...


Wynne-win!

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Sat, Nov 23, 2013
from New York Times:
Bloomberg Wants Restaurants to Compost
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is slowly bringing New Yorkers around to the idea of recycling their food scraps, is trying to expand his composting campaign by bringing it to large restaurants. The mayor said on Friday that he was proposing a bill to require restaurants that generate more than a ton of food waste a week -- about 1,200 establishments -- to separate their food waste from the rest of their garbage so it could be sent to a composting plant. There, the food scraps would be converted to fertilizer or energy, part of the mayor's long effort to divert more of the city's trash from landfills... The city already collects food scraps in a pilot program from roughly 31,000 homes in about a dozen neighborhoods in the Bronx, in Brooklyn and on Staten Island. By 2015, the city plans to expand the program to 100,000 single-family homes and 70 high-rise buildings across the city. ...


Dispose of that Big Apple core responsibly.

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Thu, Nov 21, 2013
from The Daily Caller:
Norwegian army goes vegetarian to fight global warming
Norway's military is taking drastic steps to ramp up its war against global warming. The Scandinavian country announced its soldiers would be put on a vegetarian diet once a week to reduce the military's carbon footprint. "Meatless Monday's" has already been introduced at one of Norway's main military bases and will soon be rolled out to others, including overseas bases. It is estimated that the new vegetarian diet will cut meat consumption by 150 tons per year. "It's a step to protect our climate," military spokesman Eystein Kvarving told AFP. "The idea is to serve food that's respectful of the environment." ...


If you're planning on attacking this army don't do it on a Monday night.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from GreenTech Media:
More Evidence That America May Have Reached "Peak Car"
...According to research from the Public Interest Research Group, young Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving 23 percent less than they did in 2001. All Americans are driving less, but the decline is even steeper for Millennials. In study after study, the trend is stark. But researchers are still trying to figure out whether the decline in driving is due to a post-recession hangover, or caused by structural long-term changes that mean "peak car" has arrived.... "The findings of the present study indicate that the corresponding rates for fuel consumed also reached their maxima during [2003-2004]. Thus, the combined evidence from these three studies indicates that -- per person, per driver, and per household -- we now have fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel than in the past," concluded Sivak. ...


This is bad news for the proposed car, the "Toyota Peak."

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Tue, Nov 12, 2013
from CommonDreams:
Philippine Rep Makes Plea for 'Global Solidarity' to Fight 'Climate Madness'
"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness," Sańo told the assembly, describing the massive devastation and thousands feared dead following Typhoon Haiyan, the "strongest in modern recorded history." "We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw," he added, appealing to the representatives of nearly 200 countries who assembled in a bid to reach a new agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol that expired last year. Many anticipate the talks will only amount to a 2015 agreement for new limits on greenhouse gas emissions.... To climate change deniers, or those countries who are less impacted by the effects of global warming and therefore are less motivated to enact meaningful change, Sańo challenged them before the Warsaw assembly, saying, "I dare them, I dare them to get off their ivory towers and away from the comfort of their armchairs." ...


(Sigh). Another enviro-nazi with facts on his side.

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Wed, Oct 23, 2013
from NPR:
15 Years Of Wrangling Over Yellowstone Snowmobiles Ends
The U.S. government Tuesday announced new rules for snowmobiles in Yellowstone that should make the country's oldest national park cleaner and quieter. The rules were 15 years in the making because of intense wrangling between snowmobile operators and environmentalists. But both groups support the plan and give credit to snowmobile makers for designing cleaner machines. Under the new plan, fewer than 51 groups of snowmobiles -- each with up to 10 vehicles -- will be allowed into the park per day, beginning in December 2014. The rule also sets new limits on snow coaches, larger vehicles that bring tourists into Yellowstone. And as of December 2015, snowmobiles will have to pass stringent tests for noise and air pollution before they'll be admitted inside the park. Experts say few existing snowmobiles can pass these tests. ...


They better let me keep bringing my leaf blower to the park.

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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Columbus Business First:
Southeast Ohio school districts bracing for AEP plant closing, with millions in tax revenue going away
Electric utilities giveth and they taketh away when it comes to providing tax revenue to Ohio school districts.... The Muskingum River plant sits in two school districts, Fort Frye and Wolf Creek, that rely heavily on revenue from the property taxes paid by AEP. School officials tell me their districts stand to lose around 10 percent of their general fund revenue once AEP closes and demolishes the plant. But it looks like Wolf Creek will be hit harder than Fort Frye because of nuances in how Ohio taxes electric utilities ...


Perhaps we should continue killing our children with fossil fuels after all.

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Tue, Oct 1, 2013
from The Atlantic, on IPCC5:
We Are Terrifyingly Close to the Climate's 'Point of No Return'
What makes the IPCC so important is simple: They are required to agree. Last night, the group pulled an all-nighter to ensure that representatives from all 195 member countries agreed on every single word of the 36-page "summary for policymakers" (pdf). That instantly makes the report the world's scientific and political authority on what is happening to the climate, what will happen in the future, and what needs to be done to avoid the worst impacts.... According to the report, the world can emit about 300 gigatons more carbon (total, ever) before there is a 50 percent confidence the world will reach warming of 2 degrees Celsius, which is the previously agreed upon "point of no return" for the climate system. For reference, 531 gigatons was emitted from 1870 to 2011. On a continued "business as usual" trajectory, the world will burn through about 5 times that safety limit by 2100, putting the world on a path for warming of more than 4.5 degrees Celsius and about a meter of additional sea level rise. This idea of a 'global carbon budget' -- a precursor to a possible global price on carbon emissions -- was endorsed by the group for the first time. Without jumping up and down on the desks of their computer terminals, this forum of scientists has done about as much as they can do. With this report, they have proven humankind's impact on the climate, and confidently projected dire consequences should world governments fail to act immediately. ...


Luckily, everyone listens to egghead scientists when they all agree!

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Tue, Sep 10, 2013
from CleanTechnica:
Army Adds Wind Power To $7 Billion Renewable Energy Buy
The US Army Corps of Engineers has just announced that it has awarded contracts to 17 private companies to build wind turbines on Department of Defense facilities around the country. It's the third in a series of four groups of renewable energy contracts for DoD that will eventually total $7 billion. Given the military's avid pursuit of a more diversified fuel mix, it looks like certain members of Congress better get off the "drill, baby, drill" train once and for all if they really do support our troops. ...


Turn, baby, turn!

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Mon, Sep 2, 2013
from Washington Post:
Ohio State calls a new play for football: the compost route
With thousands of fans roaring above them, the Ohio State University Buckeyes burst into Ohio Stadium on Saturday to start their latest quest for a No. 1 college football ranking and a national championship. But high in the scarlet and gray bleachers that hold up to 105,000 people, Buckeye fans were asked to play a role in another goal this season: eliminating garbage. High school students manned Zero Waste stations, showing fans where to stick trash that can be composted and recycled, and where to put the rest. ...


I've got some ideas on where to stick it.

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Tue, Aug 27, 2013
from Mongabay:
Activists propose naming hurricanes after politicians who deny climate change
Environmental activists are petitioning the World Meteorological Organization (WHO) to start naming storms after policy makers who deny human's role in driving climate change. Campaigners with 350.org, an advocacy organization that is pushing to reduce carbon dioxide levels from the current 400 ppm to 350 ppm, have launched ClimateNameChange.org to rally support for their proposal to revise the WHO's naming system for tropical storms. Currently hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons receive randomly selected names in alphabetical order. Instead 350.org wants storms to be named after politicians who refuse to accept that greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to rising global temperatures. It cites Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) as examples of prominent climate change deniers. ...


"Hurricane Inhofe" does have a nice ring to it.

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Sun, Aug 11, 2013
from Peruvian Times:
Ten Year Ban on Genetically Modified Seeds and Foods Takes Force Thursday
A 10-year ban on genetically modified foods in Peru came into effect this week, state news agency Andina reported. Peru's executive has approved the regulations for the law that prohibits the importation, production and use of GMO foods in the country. Violating the law can result in a maximum fine of 10,000 UIT tax units, which is about 36.5 million soles ($14 million). The goods can also be seized and destroyed, according to the norms. The law, which was approved by President Ollanta Humala last year, is aimed at preserving Peru's biodiversity and supporting local farmers, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal said. ...


Where's the agribusiness in that?

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Sat, Aug 3, 2013
from William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, WiIliam Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman, in NYT:
A Republican Case for Climate Action
Each of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth's atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected. The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes "locked in." ...


Who listens to old politicos, anyway?

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Thu, Aug 1, 2013
from Bloomberg:
Harvard Endowment Hires Environment Head Amid Divestment Demands
Harvard University hired Jameela Pedicini as vice president for sustainable investing, a position created in the wake of student activist calls for the world's richest school to purge its holdings of fossil-fuel companies. Pedicini, who most recently was the investment officer for global governance at the California Public Employees' Retirement System, will work for Harvard Management Co., the university-controlled investment arm that oversees more than $30 billion of assets. ... In the last year, students at hundreds of campuses, including the eight Ivy League schools, have joined a fossil-fuel divestment movement led by activist group 350.org. They are demanding that schools purge their endowments of investments in 200 publicly traded companies with the largest reserves of oil, gas and coal in recognition of their contribution to climate change. ...


Boy, those college kids are smart!

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Mon, May 20, 2013
from GreenTech Media:
How Low Can Utility Emissions Go?
When it comes to emissions, carbon dioxide tends to get the lion's share of the headlines. But there have been large gains in some of the other major emissions of the largest power producers in the U.S., according to a new report from NRDC and major energy companies, Benchmarking Air Emissions. The ninth annual report found that sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) are 70 percent and 72 percent lower, respectively, than they were in 1990. Mercury is down 40 percent since 2000, the first year that it was tracked. ...


In the post-Apocalypse we can (gingerly) pat ourselves on our leprosy-infested backs.

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Tue, Apr 30, 2013
from Reuters:
EU to ban pesticides blamed for harming bees
The European Union will ban three of the world's most widely-used pesticides for two years because of fears they are linked to a plunge in the population of bees critical to the production of crops. The executive European Commission said on Monday it would press ahead with the ban on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, produced mainly by Germany's Bayer and Switzerland's Syngenta, despite the EU's 27-member states failing to reach an agreement on the matter. ...


In Europe bees are more important than bucks.

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Thu, Apr 25, 2013
from PhysOrg:
EU set to ban pesticides blamed for decline of bees
The EU appears set to impose a two-year ban on the use of insecticides blamed for a sharp and worrying decline in bee populations, an EU source said Thursday.... Under EU procedure, if Monday's vote is the same, the Commission has the authority to proceed on its own with the ban. "The most likely outcome will be the same as last time ... and in that case, the Commission will decide to put the ban into operation," the source said. The Commission wants the insecticides banned for use on four major crops--maize (corn), rape seed, sunflowers and cotton--in a bid to protect the bee population.... Experts have isolated three compounds causing concern--clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, known as neonicotinoids--which are present in insecticides produced by pharmaceutical giants Bayer of Germany and Switzerland's Syngenta. ...


Bee happy.

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
EPA settles with Wisconsin utilities on coal plant air pollution
Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and three other utilities will spend $1.2 billion to clean up coal-fired power plants and shut down older plants under a settlement announced Monday with federal regulators. Under a settlement filed in federal court in Madison on Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department will assess a civil penalty of $2.45 million for alleged violations of air pollution laws over the years.... Utility ratepayers won't have to pay for the civil penalties... But it's possible they could pay for the environmental mitigation costs. And over time they will be on the hook for paying for the construction of environmental controls at the coal boilers that will remain open. ...


Even though it's chump change for a utility, still we hope the chumps might change.

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Sun, Apr 7, 2013
from George Mason University, via CleanTechnica:
Majority Of Republicans Feel America Should Address Climate Change
So it was a bit of a surprise the other day when a recent survey conducted by the Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) at George Mason University of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents found that a majority of respondents -- 62 percent -- said they felt America should be taking steps to address climate change.... In fact, more than three out of four survey respondents said that the United States should be using more renewable energy sources, and that those renewable sources should be implemented immediately. "Over the past few years, our surveys have shown that a growing number of Republicans want to see Congress do more to address climate change," said Mason professor Edward Maibach, director of 4C. "In this survey, we asked a broader set of questions to see if we could better understand how Republicans, and Independents who have a tendency to vote Republican, think about America's energy and climate change situation." ...


This could be the start of something big!

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Sun, Mar 24, 2013
from Guardian:
Real market forces now drive action on climate change
Fifteen years after the Kyoto protocol was signed and just months after being extended, a true global carbon trading marketplace may finally be within the world's grasp. It is as though a line of dominos has suddenly appeared, awaiting the slightest push to set off a chain reaction. When the dominos begin to fall, the world will suddenly have a powerful and effective tool to reduce carbon emissions, one of the most environmentally destructive aspects of modern human activity.... Oil is losing its place as a preferred fuel. The discovery of vast reserves of natural gas in the US is sparking a shift in the power generation industry. As more power plants convert from coal and oil to cleaner burning gas, emissions trading is losing its downside. With affordable alternatives in the wings, the reluctance among regulators and governments to impose emissions limits is easing. A signal moment in the cap and trade debate has arrived in the US. In winning a supreme court decision as to its right to impose emissions standards, the current administration has the power - and many think the inclination - to flip a major domino by setting standards for existing power plants (so far it has limited itself to new facilities). Such a move would make Kyoto ratification much less important. ...


"Falling dominos," alas, sit right beside "tipping points."

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Tue, Mar 5, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Climate Change Science Poised to Enter Nation's Classrooms
New national science standards that make the teaching of global warming part of the public school curriculum are slated to be released this month, potentially ending an era in which climate skepticism has been allowed to seep into the nation's classrooms.... They recommend that educators teach the evidence for man-made climate change starting as early as elementary school and incorporate it into all science classes, ranging from earth science to chemistry. By eighth grade, students should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth's mean surface temperature (global warming)," the standards say. ...


Hey, kids! It's important you know all about the shitstorm we're handing off to you.

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Sun, Feb 3, 2013
from CNN:
Historic cod fishing cuts threaten centuries-old industry in New England
... An advisory council voted Wednesday to slash cod catch rates by 77 percent in the Gulf of Maine, a region roughly the size of Indiana that extends from Cape Cod up through Nova Scotia. That move, analysts predict, is expected to decimate fishing communities across the region and have a domino effect on seafood processors, wholesalers, distributors and retailers who all make a living off the water. "The impact will be severe," said John Bullard, the regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who voted in favor of the cuts. "It wasn't easy, but it was necessary." ...


I suppose next you'll be saying that we need that same attitude elsewhere!

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Mon, Jan 28, 2013
from Columbus Dispatch:
OSU to save $1 million a year by buying wind power
Ohio State University expects to save nearly $1 million on its energy bill this year with the help of more than 100 spinning wind turbines in northwestern Ohio. Ohio State signed a 20-year agreement in October to buy 50 megawatts of energy annually from Blue Creek Wind Farm, Ohio's largest commercial wind farm, which has 152 turbines in Van Wert and Paulding counties. ...


It's as if this academic institution has smart people.

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Tue, Jan 15, 2013
from ClimateWire:
Ontario Phases Out Coal-Fired Power
By the end of the year, Ontario will become the first jurisdiction in North America to shut down almost its entire coal fleet. Yesterday, the province announced that its last two large coal units will close before 2014, making more than 99 percent of the province's electricity generated from non-coal sources. It is a major shift for Ontario, which fired 25 percent of its grid from coal a decade ago. ...


Ontario, u da man!

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Mon, Dec 31, 2012
from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
NOAA Lists Ringed and Bearded Ice Seal Populations Under the Endangered Species Act
NOAA Fisheries announced on December 21, in compliance with a court ordered deadline, its final listing decision for four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments (DPSs) of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, in line with the proposal, NOAA will list as threatened the Beringia and Okhotsk DPSs of bearded seals and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals. The Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals will be listed as endangered. ...


Ringed and bearded? How goth.

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Wed, Dec 26, 2012
from China Daily:
Beijing continues to scrap polluting cars
The capital's initiative to rid the city of polluting vehicles has taken 458,000 old cars off the road, and the government is providing more benefits to local motorists to encourage them to scrap aging vehicles. "The campaign has not only boosted the local car market to some extent, which had been stagnant, but has also substantially improved the capital's air quality," Li Kunsheng, director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau's department of motor vehicles, said at a news conference on Tuesday. ...


Sometimes, a dictatorship is a good thing.

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Thu, Dec 20, 2012
from The Hill:
Obama: Climate change among top three priorities for second term
President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign. The president, in an interview for TIME's Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years. The interview took place before the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, an incident that had pushed gun control to a top spot on Obama's agenda. Obama said his daughters have influenced his thinking about the need to tackle climate change. ...


Wait. Ain't that four things???

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Tue, Dec 18, 2012
from National Journal:
A Secretary John Kerry Would Elevate Climate Issues
President Obama will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be secretary of State, sources tell ABC News and CNN. Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been viewed as a likely candidate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ... If Kerry becomes the next secretary of State, he will likely raise climate change to a top-tier priority. ...


Well, he is tall.

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Wed, Dec 5, 2012
from The New Yorker:
Paying for It
...One way to think about global warming is as a vast, planet-wide Pigovian problem. In this case, the man pulls up to a gas pump. He sticks his BP or Sunoco card into the slot, fills up, and drives off. He's got a full tank; the gas station and the oil company share in the profits. Meanwhile, the carbon that spills out of his tailpipe lingers in the atmosphere, trapping heat and contributing to higher sea levels. As the oceans rise, coastal roads erode, beachfront homes wash away, and, finally, major cities flood. Once again, it's the public at large that gets left with the bill. The logical, which is to say the fair, way to address this situation would be to make the driver absorb the cost for his slice of the damage. ...


Logical? Fair? Not in my America!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from Bloomberg Business Week:
Obama Plans for Climate Deal as Fiscal Cliff Talks Rage
As leaders in Washington obsess about the fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama is putting in place the building blocks for a climate treaty requiring the first fossil- fuel emissions cuts from both the U.S. and China. State Department envoy Todd Stern is in Doha this week working to clear the path for an international agreement by 2015. While Obama failed to deliver on his promise to start a cap-and-trade program in his first term, he's working on policies that may help cut greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020 in the U.S., historically the world's biggest polluter. ...


Fiscal cliff vs. existence cliff

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Thu, Nov 29, 2012
from Reuters:
Judge orders tobacco companies to admit deception
Major tobacco companies that spent decades denying they lied to the U.S. public about the dangers of cigarettes must spend their own money on a public advertising campaign saying they did lie, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. ...


The same will someday happen to climate change deniers.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 13, 2012
from The Telegraph:
'Old bangers' and classic cars to be banned from Paris
Under proposals presented to the city council on Monday, Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoa intends to outlaw by September 2014 the use of cars and utility vehicles more than 17 years old and lorries or buses more than 18 years old... Philippe Goujon, head of the Right-wing opposition UMP federation in the Paris council criticised the move as "anti-social, anti-surbuban and anti-motorist." ...


I'm good with two out of three.

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Tue, Nov 6, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
California's first auction of greenhouse-gas credits nears
After six years of preparation, California is poised to become the first state to combat global warming by capping greenhouse gas emissions and making major polluters pay to release more of these gases into the atmosphere. It's part of a landmark law approved in 2006 that seeks to cut the state's production of carbon dioxide, methane and related gases to 1990 levels -- about 17 percent lower than current amounts -- by 2020. Starting next week, big polluters will be required to buy pollution credits if they plan to emit greenhouse gases above their allotted levels. ...


Let's all live on Planet California.

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Reuters:
More US coal plants to retire due to green rules: study
More U.S. coal-fired power plants could retire due to environmental regulations and weaker-than-expected electric demand, costing the industry up to $144 billion, economists at consultancy Brattle Group said. In a new study, Brattle's economists forecast 59,000 to 77,000 megawatts (MW) of coal plant capacity would likely retire over the next five years. That was about 25,000 MW more than the firm had estimated in 2010, Brattle said in a release. There is about 317,000 MW of coal-fired capacity now in the United States. ...


The golf courses are going to be full!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from Federal Trade Commission:
FTC Issues Revised "Green Guides"
The Federal Trade Commission issued revised "Green Guides"ť that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive... Revisions to Previous Guidance. Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is "environmentally friendly" or "eco-friendly" because the FTC's consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate. ...


My gratitude is non-toxic, was generated by renewable energy and shall biodegrade within one week.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Sep 5, 2012
from New York Times:
A Chinese City Moves to Limit New Cars
It is as startling as if Detroit or Los Angeles restricted car ownership. The municipal government of Guangzhou, a sprawling metropolis that is one of China's biggest auto manufacturing centers, introduced license plate auctions and lotteries last week that will roughly halve the number of new cars on the streets. The crackdown by China's third-largest city is the most restrictive in a series of moves by big Chinese cities that are putting quality-of-life issues ahead of short-term economic growth, something the central government has struggled to do on a national scale. ...


Don't you ever guangzhou my car!

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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from Reuters:
Wal-Mart joins agriculture sustainability group
The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc has joined an alliance of other Fortune 500 companies, including Cargill and Kellogg Co, seeking to make agriculture more sustainable. The Field to Market alliance was started three years ago by the non-profit Keystone Center to improve agricultural productivity and reduce the use of natural resources. It includes farm groups, grain handlers and food makers but Wal-Mart is the first retailer in the group and now its largest member ... Wal-Mart is seeking to eliminate 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. ...


Every little bit helps!

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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from Shanghai Daily:
City plans to phase out dirty old clunkers
SHANGHAI will gradually limit and finally eliminate use of heavily polluting vehicles starting next month to reduce air contaminants. The owners will get subsidies from the government... The vehicles, mostly older models that do not meet national emission requirements, are easily identifiable by a yellow sticker on the window. There are 230,000 such vehicles registered in Shanghai, about 12 percent of total vehicles with local plates, according to environmental protection authorities. But they contribute more than half of all vehicle emissions, said officials. The vehicles usually emit five to 10 times more than others.... The city is expected to get rid of 200,000 high-pollution vehicles by the end of 2015. ...


You might say these clunkers are about to be Shanghaied.

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Fri, Aug 24, 2012
from League of Conservation Voters, via DesdemonaDespair:
Sign League of Conservation Voters petition: ask candidates "what's your plan to address climate crisis"
Sign our petition to ask Obama and Romney this question in the first debate! Help us put the climate crisis in the national spotlight by calling on Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the first presidential debate, to ask about global warming in the first presidential debate. ...


I can't believe we even have to ask.

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Mon, Jul 23, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
U.S. issues fines, orders upgrades at coal-fired power plants
In the latest settlement targeting toxic emissions from power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department have issued a $950,000 fine and ordered millions in pollution control technology at three coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin. Plant operator Dairyland Power Cooperative will pay the civil penalty, invest $150 million in pollution control technology and spend $5 million on environmental mitigation projects, the EPA said in a Clean Air Act pact announced June 29. "This settlement will improve air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas by significantly reducing releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants,” Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement. ...


On behalf of The Downwind Coalition, I thank you.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 17, 2012
from Associated Press:
FDA says controversial plastic chemical BPA no longer allowed in baby bottles and sippy cups
The federal government announced Tuesday that baby bottles and sippy cups can no longer contain the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA. The U.S. chemical industry's chief association, the American Chemistry Council, had asked the Food and Drug Administration to phase out rules allowing BPA in those products in October, after determining that all manufacturers of bottles and sippy cups had already abandoned the chemical due to safety concerns.... BPA is found in hundreds of plastic items from water bottles to CDs to dental sealants. Some researchers say ingesting the chemical can interfere with development of the reproductive and nervous systems in babies and young children. ...


Waaaahhh!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 27, 2012
from Associated Press:
Burger King makes cage-free eggs, pork promise
In a boost to animal welfare activists looking to get livestock out of cramped cages, Burger King will be the first major U.S. fast-food chain to give all of its chickens and pigs some room to roam. On Wednesday, the world's second-biggest burger chain pledged that all of its eggs and pork will come from cage-free chickens and pigs by 2017, hoping to satisfy rising consumer demand for humanely produced fare and increase its sales in the process. ...


Fast food is getting to be downright enlightened.

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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
from New York Times:
U.S. Tightens Rules on Antibiotics Use for Livestock
Farmers and ranchers will for the first time be required to get a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals, federal food regulators announced on Wednesday. Officials hope the move will slow the indiscriminate use of the drugs, which has made them increasingly ineffective in humans.... The Food and Drug Administration has been taking small steps to try to curb the use of antibiotics on farms, but federal officials said that requiring prescriptions would lead to meaningful reductions in the agricultural use of antibiotics, which are given to promote animal growth. The drug resistance that has developed from that practice has been a growing problem for years and has rendered a number of antibiotics used in humans less and less effective, with deadly consequences. ...


I've got my vet on retainer.

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Mon, Apr 9, 2012
from New York Times:
New Rules Seek to Prevent Invasive Ballastwater Stowaways
Nearly a quarter-century has passed since an oceangoing ship from Europe docked somewhere in the Great Lakes and discharged ballast water carrying tiny but tenacious zebra mussel larvae from Europe.... "They didn't just spread -- they completely colonized the Great Lakes," said Andrew Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office. Yet it was not until last month that the Coast Guard issued a federal rule requiring oceangoing freighters entering American waters to install onboard treatment systems to filter and disinfect their ballast water. The regulation, which largely parallels a pending international standard and another planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets an upper limit on the concentration of organisms in the ballast water. ...


Can we make this regulation retroactive?

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Mon, Apr 2, 2012
from Living on Earth:
Africa's Great Green Wall of Trees
Africa is turning to desert. Studies show that as much as two thirds of the continent's arable land could become desert by 2025 if current trends continue. But a bold initiative to plant a wall of trees 4,300 miles long across the African continent could keep back the sands of the Sahara, improve degraded lands, and help alleviate poverty... It's known as the Great Green Wall. ...


And we should all be green with envy!

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Mon, Apr 2, 2012
from Mongabay:
Brazilian judge suspends dam that would flood sacred waterfalls
A federal judge has suspended the construction of a 1,820 megawatt dam on the Teles Pires River in the Amazon. The judge found that indigenous communities were not properly consulted about the dam, which would flood a sacred site, known as the Seven Waterfalls, as well as imperil the livelihoods of indigenous fishermen. "The compensation [the government is] offering will never substitute places that are sacred to us, such as Sete Queda [Seven Waterfalls], that hold the cemeteries of our ancestors and that should be preserved. Sete Quedas is also the spawning grounds of fish that are an important source of food. They talk about fish ladders, but where have these ever worked?" Taravy Kayabi, a leader of the indigenous Kayabi people, said in a press release, adding that, "The government needs to look for alternative ways to generate energy that don't harm indigenous peoples and their territories." The judge ordered that the indigenous tribes of the Kayabi, Manduruku, and Apiaká must be consulted before any further construction can occur on the Teles Pires Dam, named after the river. Breaking the suspension will result in a fine of $100,000 per day. Still, NGOs warn that this is not the end of the Teles Pires Dam. ...


Dammit, the short-term economy demands short-term solutions!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 2, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Military sees threats, worry in climate change
...Making the SEALs into a leaner, greener tactical force is one of many such steps being taken by all branches as the U.S. military reduces its environmental footprint. The Army is targeting net-zero energy use at several bases, and the Navy and Air Force are experimenting with running jets on biofuels that use wood waste and algae and less petroleum. In Afghanistan, patrols now carry eco-friendly solar blankets and LED lamps. Connecting the military's fossil-fuel and overall energy use with risks to our national security hasn't been easy in this political environment, especially with the presidential election looming. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly questioned and criticized the Armed Forces' new-energy strategies, portraying initiatives as political favors to clean-energy businesses. But current and retired military leaders insist the policies are essential. The efforts protect soldiers and help them carry out missions. They also help curb climate change and its potential to intensify military conflicts. ...


I have an idea. Let's stop fighting other countries and start fighting Republicans.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
from Washington Post:
EPA imposes first greenhouse gas limits on new power plants
The Environmental Protection Agency issued the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants Tuesday, but stopped short of imposing any restrictions on the nation's existing coal-fired fleet.... The rule, which comes on the heels of tough new requirements that the Obama administration imposed on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution from utilities within the past year, dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls. ...


Po' widdle coal plants.

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Sat, Mar 24, 2012
from Greenpeace, via Mongabay:
Greenpeace calls for zero deforestation in Brazil by 2015, globally by 2020
Greenpeace reiterated its call for an end to deforestation in Brazil by 2015 and globally by 2020 during its launch of an awareness-raising expedition down the Amazon River aboard the Rainbow Warrior. "Brazil is now the sixth largest economy in the world, the largest meat exporter and second largest grain exporter. Brazil's rise to become the world's sixth largest economy coincided with consecutive years of decline in deforestation in the Amazon,” said Kumi Naidoo Greenpeace International Executive Director. "Brazil must lead as an example of sustainable development without forest destruction for other forest countries like Indonesia and the Congo.” ...


Protecting the future means never having to say you're sorry.

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Tue, Mar 20, 2012
from Bloomberg:
Solar's 15 Percent Returns Lure Investments From Google to Buffett
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) together with the biggest Internet search company, the private equity company and insurers MetLife Inc. (MET) and John Hancock Life Insurance Co. poured more than $500 million into renewable energy in the last year. That's the most ever for companies outside the club of banks and specialist lenders that traditionally back solar energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.... Once so risky that only government backing could draw private capital, solar projects now are making returns of about 15 percent, according to Stanford University's center for energy policy and finance. That has attracted a wider community of investors eager to cash in on earnings stronger than those for infrastructure projects from toll roads to pipelines. "A solar power project with a long-term sales agreement could be viewed as a machine that generates revenue," said Marty Klepper, an attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, which helped arrange a solar deal for Buffett. "It's an attractive investment for any firm, not just those in energy." ...


Don't be evil (and build money machines).

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Mon, Mar 19, 2012
from The Oregonian:
It's a comeback story: Bald eagles rebound from near extinction
...Bald eagles are back, baby. They're out on Sauvie Island, around Bend, up at Wallowa Lake and throughout the lower Columbia River. Drive down Interstate 5 in late winter and you may see them in bright green fields along the freeway. Ride your bike along Portland's Springwater Trail and it's common to see a baldie giving a baleful stare from tree or transmission tower. The state wildlife commission took bald eagles off the state endangered species list this month; it was removed from the federal list in 2007. ...


Back just in time to watch the rest of us go.

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Mon, Mar 19, 2012
from ClimateProgress:
James Hansen's Must-See TED Talk: Starting To Reduce CO2 In 10 Years Is Too Late
Favorite denier myths such as "it's the Sun" and "CO2 lags temperature" were addressed by Dr. Hansen and shown to be wrong or irrelevant. He also discussed how amplifying feedbacks in the past took small changes in temperature due to slight changes in the Earth's orbit and either initiated or ended ice ages. He then said these same amplifying feedbacks will occur today if we do not stop the warming. "The physics does not change." Besides the impacts that are already occurring, Dr. Hansen said that if we do not stop the warming, we should expect sea levels to rise this century by 1 to 5 meters (3 to 18 feet), extinction of 20 to 50 percent of species, and massive droughts later this century. He said that the recent Texas heat wave, Moscow's heat wave the year before, and the 2003 heat wave in Europe we "exceptional" events that now occur 25 to 50 times more often than just 50 years ago. Therefore, he concluded, we can say with high confidence that these heat waves were "caused" by global warming. A key solution to climate change, Dr. Hansen said, is to out a simple, honest price on carbon. He proposed a "Fee and Dividend" approach where an increasing fee on CO2 is paid by fossil fuel companies and 100 percent of the proceeds are distributed to every legal resident. Besides lowering carbon emissions, this will also stimulate innovation and create millions of jobs. ...


Benefiting everyone equally? That's not fair!

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Thu, Mar 1, 2012
from New Scientist:
No-waste circular economy is good business - ask China
For centuries the global economy has been linear. Companies extract resources from the environment, turn them into products and sell them to consumers - who eventually throw them out. As a result we are burning through Earth's natural resources and wasting useful materials. But it doesn't have to be that way, says Felix Preston of think tank Chatham House in London. Instead, we could have a circular economy in which waste from one product is used in another. ...


Next you'll be saying we should take pointers from Nature!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 28, 2012
from Forbes:
Economist: Clean Air Regs Cost U.S. $21 Billion A Year But Produce $100 Billion In Benefits
Clean air regulations cost the United States about $21 billion per year in lost productivity, a University of Chicago economist said this afternoon. But the benefits of environmental regulation --improved health, reduced infant mortality, increased property values--are typically estimated at more than $100 billion, said Chad Syverson, professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "It looks like -- you've got $21 billion on this side, $100-something billion over here --the scale is actually suggesting that the marginal benefit of regulation is quite a bit bigger than the marginal cost, at least over the sample," Syverson told about 40 people gathered in a campus lecture hall. ...


Who's gonna believe that liberal rag, Forbes?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 22, 2012
from Reuters:
New York judge upholds fracking ban in towns
In a blow to the oil and gas industry, a judge has ruled small towns in New York have the authority to ban drilling -- including the controversial method known as fracking -- within their borders. In a ruling released late Tuesday, state Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rumsey of Tompkins County held that the Ithaca suburb of Dryden's recent ban on gas drilling falls within the authority of local governments to regulate local land use. ...


Dang fractivist judge!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 2, 2012
from Reuters:
University of Vermont joins move to end bottled water sales
The University of Vermont is banning the sale of bottled water on campus, part of a growing effort at schools to reduce plastic waste and save students' money by promoting tap water. A dozen U.S. universities have ended sales of bottled water in the past three years, but UVM is the largest to do so. Other schools include the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, University of Portland and Washington University in St. Louis. ...


The awesome power of the tap water lobby is something to behold.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 18, 2012
from Washington Post:
Obama administration rejects Keystone pipeline
President Obama, declaring that he would not bow to congressional pressure, announced Wednesday that he was rejecting a Canadian firm's application for a permit to build and operate the Keystone XL pipeline, a massive project that would have stretched from Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas. Obama said that a Feb. 21 deadline set by Congress as part of the two-month payroll tax cut extension had made it impossible to do an adequate review of the pipeline project proposed by TransCanada. ...


Pipeline procrastinator.

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
from London Guardian:
NGOs upbeat over China's environmental transparency progress
Green activists applauded steady progress on environmental transparency in China after public campaigns forced major players, including Apple and the Beijing government, to release sensitive information on pollution and its origins. A survey on openness and accountability released Monday showed that, while the overall situation remains poor, an increasingly informed public is putting greater pressure on companies and local authorities to clean up. The upbeat assessment was made in the third annual report on Pollution Information Transparency by Chinese NGOs and the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council, just days after two major steps in the campaign to improve environmental transparency in China. ...


You know you're in trouble when you can be "upbeat" about a situation that "remains poor."

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 28, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Forget the Prius. The Future Of Electric Is the School Bus
As long as Americans love to drive far and fast, electric cars may never be the perfect answer to the country's green transportation needs. But the routine runs of electric school buses are another thing altogether. Bus maker Trans Tech Bus this year said it would start making an electric school bus in a partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles. The eTrans bus is one of a new generation of zero-emission electric and hybrid-electric models that are slowly making their way to school districts around the county. ...


If only the children were electric, too.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Dec 23, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
The Coal Age Is Nearer to Its End
After burning coal to light up Cincinnati for six decades, the Walter C. Beckjord Generating Station will go dark soon -- a fate that will be shared by dozens of aging coal-fired power plants across the U.S. in coming years. Their owners cite a raft of new air-pollution regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, including a rule released Wednesday that limits mercury and other emissions, for the shut-downs. But energy experts say there is an even bigger reason coal plants are losing out: cheap and abundant natural gas, which is booming thanks to a surge in production from shale-rock formations... ...


RIP: Rest In Particulates

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Fri, Dec 23, 2011
from ClimateWire:
The 'Wild West' of waste treatment makes energy and profits from sewage plants
Most Americans flush the toilet without thinking twice about where the contents end up, but a handful of companies are paying close attention to what goes down the drain. They argue it should be seen as a resource rather than waste... That's where sewage-to-energy comes in. Industry estimates show that if all biosolids in the United States were converted into biomass energy, they would produce 7 million to 7.6 million megawatts of power. By way of comparison, the current installed capacity of wind power in the United States is around 43,000 MW. ...


You can take my biosolids when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 21, 2011
from National Journal:
EPA Unveils Long-Awaited Mercury Rule
Appearing at Washington's Children's Hospital with public health leaders at her side, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday unveiled the nation's first-ever national standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. The sweeping regulations -- mandated by Congress in 1990 and delayed by prolonged litigation, lobbying, and legislative battles --will require utilities to cut at least 90 percent of their emissions of mercury, a neurotoxin known to cause brain damage and other health problems, particularly in developing fetuses and young children...EPA says the rule will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and prevent thousands of respiratory illnesses, which could translate into $90 billion in health and economic benefits a year. ...


What will we do with all this extra health and money!? Squander it, mindlessly, I suppose...

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 23, 2011
from Yale360:
Majority in U.S. Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax, Survey Says
A majority of Americans across the political spectrum support policies that reduce carbon emissions, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax, according to a new survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. In a survey conducted between Oct. 20 and Nov. 6, 65 percent of respondents said they would support a revenue-neutral carbon tax to help "create jobs and decrease pollution" -- including 51 percent of those identifying themselves as Republicans, 69 percent of independents, and 77 percent of Democrats. Sixty percent said they would support a $10-per-ton carbon tax if the money was spent reducing federal income taxes. That support continued even when respondents were told the carbon tax would "slightly increase the cost of many things you buy, including food, clothing, and electricity." Support for the tax dipped to 49 percent if the revenue was instead returned to each family as an annual check, and to just 44 percent if it was spent paying down the national debt. Sixty-nine percent said they oppose federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, while 54 percent opposed ethanol subsidies. Since May, there has been a 9 percent decline among those expressing "strong support" for renewable energy research. ...


If that was true, surely the politicians would be responding.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 2, 2011
from New York Times:
Stone-Washed Blue Jeans (Minus the Washed)
From the cotton field in rural India to the local rag bin, a typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, Levi Strauss & Company says, or enough to fill about 15 spa-size bathtubs. That includes the water that goes into irrigating the cotton crop, stitching the jeans together and washing them scores of times at home. The company wants to reduce that number any way it can, and not just to project environmental responsibility. It fears that water shortages caused by climate change may jeopardize the company's very existence in the coming decades by making cotton too expensive or scarce. ...


These numbers are enough to make me wet my pants.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 27, 2011
from Christian Science Monitor:
'Unearthly' beauty tops jobs? Obama freezes mining near Grand Canyon.
Teddy Roosevelt can rest easy. The Obama administration on Wednesday formally unveiled a plan to ban new uranium and other mining claims on 1 million acres of federal lands bordering the Grand Canyon for 20 years -- a move that follows in the footsteps of the 26th president's efforts in the early part of last century. ...


Yes we canyon!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from New York Times:
China Takes a Loss to Get Ahead in the Business of Fresh Water
Towering over the Bohai Sea shoreline on this city's outskirts, the Beijiang Power and Desalination Plant is a 26-billion-renminbi technical marvel: an ultrahigh-temperature, coal-fired generator with state-of-the-art pollution controls, mated to advanced Israeli equipment that uses its leftover heat to distill seawater into fresh water. There is but one wrinkle in the $4 billion plant: The desalted water costs twice as much to produce as it sells for. Nevertheless, the owner of the complex, a government-run conglomerate called S.D.I.C., is moving to quadruple the plant's desalinating capacity, making it China's largest. "Someone has to lose money," Guo Qigang, the plant's general manager, said in a recent interview. "We're a state-owned corporation, and it's our social responsibility." ...


Somebody give this guy a prestigious position.

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Iceland to help France save trees from global warming
Iceland and France are looking into the possibility of taking French trees endangered by global warming and planting them in Iceland to safeguard them for the future, officials said. "The main emphasis (in the collaboration) is on research and finding ways to ensure the protection and preservation of the DNA... of the trees in Iceland," Adalsteinn Sigurgeirsson of the Icelandic Forestry Service told AFP. The service is working with France's Office National des Forets, and their collaboration is focusing on trees from the French Alps and Pyrenees, such as beech. ...


It takes a planet to save a village!

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Mon, Oct 10, 2011
from BBC:
Car-free Sunday for smog-struck Milan
The northern Italian city of Milan banned all traffic from its streets for 10 hours on Sunday in an attempt to reduce smog. The measure, first imposed on a trial basis in 2007, is triggered whenever pollution exceeds the statutory limit for 12 consecutive days. Satellite imagery shows Milan to be one of the most polluted cities in Europe. An estimated 120,000 vehicles will be affected by the move, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper. The most polluting vehicles have been banned from driving through the city centre since Thursday. But on Sunday, there was no traffic between 0800 and 1800 local time (06:00-16:00 GMT). ...


Sounds like a slice of heaven to me.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 2, 2011
from Mongabay:
EcoCommerce 101: adding an ecological dimension to the economy
EcoCommerce 101: Adding an Ecological Dimension to the Economy provides a foundation for an analysis of environmental economics from the perspective of a theorist and a practitioner. The author, a fifth-generation farmer living in the USA with a background in economics, separates his book into three easy-to-read sections. Each section is filled with examples through which the reader can understand both the theory and the application of ecocommerce. By defining ecocommerce, as envisioned by the author, as a set of catalytic theories and activities unifying the worlds of economics and ecology, EcoCommerce 101: Adding an Ecological Dimension to the Economy makes a compelling yet simple argument that 21st Century wealth creation must be grounded in the reality of an ecologically sound natural resource management system proven through sound supply and demand modeling. ...


That's perilously close to treating the ecosystem as if it had economic value.

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Sun, Aug 28, 2011
from ACS, via EurekAlert:
150 reports on sustainability and green chemistry at American Chemical Society Meeting
Here are the National Meeting's sustainability-related symposia, with the program area in parentheses for use in searching the online Technical Program for times and locations of individual presentations: * Future Agricultural Consumer Safety Demands for the Global Market (AGFD) * Advances in Protection of Agricultural Productivity, Public Health, and the Environment (AGRO) * Endangered Species Act and Pesticide Regulation: Scientific and Process Improvements (AGRO) * Managed Ecosystems, Pesticides, and Biodiversity (AGRO) * Modern Agriculture and Biotechnology: Tools for Sustainability (AGRO) * * Sustainability and Innovation for a Cleaner Environment (BMGT) * * Nitrogen and the Human Endeavor: Chemistry, Effects, and Solutions (CASW) * * Green and Advanced Technologies: Protection and Regulation (CHAL) * * Creating Innovation by Collaboration in Green Chemistry Between Industry University Centers and Students (CHED) * * Greening Undergraduate Education: Lecture and Laboratory Innovations (CHED) * * A Sustainable Future: Interface of Energy, Food, Water, and Climate Sustainability (COMSCI) * * Effects of Wildfire on Watersheds and Water Supply (ENVR) * Emerging Issues and Solutions for Sustainable Water and Wastewater Systems (ENVR) * Heterogeneous Catalysis for Sustainable Energy Applications (ENVR) * Novel Solutions to Water Pollution (ENVR) * Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Climate Change, and Mitigating Impacts (ENVR) * Advances in Membranes and Separation Science and Technology for Fuels and Energy Production (FUEL) * Emerging Energy and Fuel Technologies: Batteries, Solar Cells, and Alternative Fuels (FUEL) * * Emerging Energy and Fuel Technologies: Solar Hydrogen Production (FUEL) *.... ...


The theory of "chemistry" has not been fully proven, y'know.

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Wed, Aug 24, 2011
from National Research Council:
Report Offers Framework To Guide EPA On Incorporating Sustainability In Its Decision Making
A new report from the National Research Council presents a framework for incorporating sustainability into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's principles and decision making. The framework, which was requested by EPA, is intended to help the agency better assess the social, environmental, and economic impacts of various options as it makes decisions. The committee that developed the framework used the definition of sustainability based on a declaration of federal policy in the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act and included in a 2009 Executive Order: "to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations."... The report recommends that EPA formally adopt as its sustainability paradigm the widely used "three pillars" approach, which means considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of an action or decision. Health should be expressly included in the "social" pillar. EPA should also articulate its vision for sustainability and develop a set of sustainability principles that would underlie all agency policies and programs. ...


Where's the money in that?

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Sat, Aug 20, 2011
from Guardian:
China to cap energy use in national low-carbon plan
A cap on energy consumption is expected to be at the heart of a Chinese low-carbon plan to be issued this year, experts believe, amid reports that officials have now agreed its level. China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, making up a quarter of the global total. Experts say setting an energy limit would add certainty to the country's attempts to rein in emissions and should make it easier for emissions trading schemes to get off the ground. The cap has been anticipated for some time but is now thought likely to emerge in the low-carbon plan understood to have been broadly approved by a panel set up by the state council, China's cabinet, and chaired by the premier, Wen Jiabao. It should be formally passed later this year. Reuters reported that officials have settled on a total energy cap of 4.1bn tonnes of coal equivalent (TCE) by 2015 - a level more than 25 percent higher than last year. Analysts warn that the plan has yet to be nailed down and that a cap could still be delayed by disagreements, to re-emerge in a later policy document. ...


My cap is saying "Andale!"

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Tue, Aug 16, 2011
from New York Times:
With Post-Its and Checklists, Schools Cut Their Energy Bills
Simple yellow Post-it notes with the message "When not in use, turn off the juice," pointedly left on classroom computers, printers and air-conditioners, have helped the Mount Sinai School District on Long Island save $350,000 annually on utility bills. Energy consumption in New York City's 1,245 school buildings is down roughly 11 percent since 2008, as motion detectors have been installed on classroom lights and unused refrigerators and freezers have been unplugged for the summer.... As part of the Bloomberg administration's campaign to reduce the municipal government's energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2017, the city awarded $100,000 in May to schools that voluntarily decreased their energy use in a monthlong competition. Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus in Manhattan won top honors with a 35 percent reduction. And this fall, rooftop solar panels are being installed on three school buildings.... In New Jersey, the schools in Holmdel Township have lowered their electric and gas bills by about half since 2009, to $1 million annually. In environmental terms, that breaks down to 3.5 million fewer kilowatts of power and 240,000 fewer therms of heat a year. "We're focused on energy reduction like crazy," said Dennis M. Walcott, the city's schools chancellor, who regularly checks on schools that he sees lighted up at night. ...


When school administrators become as bright as their students, who needs electricity?

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Fri, Jul 8, 2011
from New York Times:
E.P.A. Issues Tougher Rules for Power Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued new standards for power plants in 28 states that would sharply cut emissions of chemicals that have polluted forests, farms, lakes and streams across the Eastern United States for decades. The agency said the regulations, which will take effect in 2012, would reduce emissions of compounds that cause soot, smog and acid rain from hundreds of power plants by millions of tons at an additional cost to utilities of less than $1 billion a year. The E.P.A. said the cleaner air would prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments every year. ...


But... the healthier people are, the longer they live and the more electricity they'll need.

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Fri, Jun 24, 2011
from BBC:
Serengeti road scrapped over wildlife concerns
Controversial plans to build a tarmac road across the Serengeti National Park have been scrapped after warnings that it could devastate wildlife. The Tanzanian government planned a two-lane highway across the park to connect Lake Victoria with coastal ports. But studies showed it could seriously affect animals such as wildebeest and zebra, whose migration is regarded as among the wonders of the natural world. The government confirmed the road across the park will remain gravel. ...


Wildebeest party!!!!!

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Mon, Jun 6, 2011
from Christian Science Monitor:
US: Canadian oil pipeline hazardous to the environment
A controversial oil-sands pipeline operated by a Canadian oil company was ordered shut down Friday by the US Department of Transportation on charges that its continued operation "would be hazardous to lives, property, and the environment." TransCanada, a leading North American pipeline operator, started operation of Keystone I, a 36-inch pipeline system, in June 2010, making it possible to deliver Canadian oil to markets across Midwest farmland in several states, from the Dakotas through Illinois. ...


I hope this squirmish doesn't turn into a war!

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Thu, May 26, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
First Legal Roadmap to Tackle Local Ocean Acidification Hotspots
Coastal communities hard hit by ocean acidification hotspots have more options than they may realize, says an interdisciplinary team of science and legal experts. In a paper published in the journal Science, experts from Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions and colleagues make the case that communities don't need to wait for a global solution to ocean acidification to fix a local problem that is compromising their marine environment. Many localized acidification hotspots can be traced to local contributors of acidity that can be addressed using existing laws, they wrote.... "We identified practical steps communities can take today to counter local sources of acidity." The paper, entitled "Mitigating Local Causes of Ocean Acidification with Existing Laws," is the first to lay out how acidification hotspots can be reduced by applying federal and state laws and policies at a local level.... ...


That roadmap doesn't show too many rest areas ahead.

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Wed, May 25, 2011
from Yale Environment 300:
By Barcoding Trees, Liberia Looks to Save its Rainforests
Nearly two-thirds of West Africa's remaining rainforests are in the small but troubled nation of Liberia. That is a small miracle. A decade ago, Liberia's forests were being stripped bare by warlords to fund a vicious 14-year civil war that left 150,000 dead. In 2003, the United Nations belatedly imposed an embargo on Liberian "logs of war." Revenues crashed and, coincidentally or not, the war swiftly came to an end. Now the elected government of Harvard-trained President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has signed a deal with the European Union to place timber sales on a permanently legal footing. The deal, agreed to this month, makes use of a unique national timber-tracking system that requires every legally harvestable tree and every cut log to carry a barcode that will enable it to be tracked from its origin to its final destination. ...


It's gonna take someone named Sirleaf to save the trees.

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Thu, May 19, 2011
from Associated Press:
Feds unveil plan to combat bat-killing fungus
The Interior Department launched a national plan Tuesday to combat a mysterious disease that has killed more than a million bats in the Eastern and Southern United States and is spreading west. The disease, called white-nose syndrome, is caused by a fungus. The disease has spread to 16 states, including West Virginia, and three Canadian provinces. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the new plan provides a road map for more than 100 federal, state and tribal agencies and scientific researchers tracking the disease and attempting to combat it. ...


As if the "road map" worked out with Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Fri, May 13, 2011
from National Research Council, via New York Times:
Scientists' Report Stresses Urgency of Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The nation's scientific establishment issued a stark warning to the American public on Thursday: Not only is global warming real, but the effects are already becoming serious and the need has become "pressing" for a strong national policy to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases.... "The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in ambitious but measured response efforts," the report concludes. "This is because many aspects of an 'overly ambitious' policy response could be reversed or otherwise addressed, if needed, through subsequent policy change, whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the time scale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to 'undo.'"... The report's authors -- an unusual combination of climate scientists, businessmen and politicians -- said they were very aware that the political mood on climate change had changed significantly from when the committee was formed in 2009.... But Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas, who has been leading the charge against further regulating carbon emissions, swiftly dismissed the council's findings in an interview Thursday. "I see nothing substantive in this report that adds to the knowledge base necessary to make an informed decision about what steps -- if any -- should be taken to address climate change," Mr. Barton said. ...


Silly scientists. All we need to do is Cntrl-Alt-Delete and restart the ecosystem.

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Tue, May 10, 2011
from New York Times:
Barring Cars to Clear the Air
Cruising through cities in cars has been a part of urban life for decades. But for some European drivers, that pastime could be coming to an end where the authorities want to bar the most polluting vehicles. "The future in city centers belongs to small cars and electric vehicles," Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the French minister for ecology and transport, told a French newspaper, Le Parisien, last month. Ms. Kosciusko-Morizet was announcing plans for eight of the largest French cities, including Paris and Nice, to restrict or bar access by passenger cars made before 1997, when stricter emissions standards took effect in Europe. ...


Friggin' French always fouling up our fun.

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Fri, May 6, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
Aging Indiana power plant to shut down, cutting Chicago-area air pollution
One of the nation's dirtiest power plants is shutting down, a move that will scrap a major source of lung- and heart-damaging air pollution in the Chicago area. Facing a federal complaint, more stringent pollution limits and smaller profit margins, Virginia-based Dominion Resources is writing off the State Line Power Station, an aging coal-fired generator sandwiched between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyway at the Illinois-Indiana border. In a recent conference call with financial analysts, Dominion executives announced they had decided it isn't worth upgrading the plant to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. ...


Farewell old faithful and foul friend.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from Fast Company:
The Sharing Economy vs hyperconsumption
In late 2009, he started Shareable, a not-for-profit web hub that provides individuals and groups with a playbook for how to build systems for sharing everything from baby food and housing to skills and solar panels. "Business has spent centuries making buying really easy," says Gorenflo. "We're just at the beginning of making sharing easy." Gorenflo is a leading proselytizer of a global trend to make sharing something far more economically significant than a primitive behavior taught in preschool. Spawned by a confluence of the economic crisis, environmental concerns, and the maturation of the social web, an entirely new generation of businesses is popping up. They enable the sharing of cars, clothes, couches, apartments, tools, meals, and even skills. The basic characteristic of these you-name-it sharing marketplaces is that they extract value out of the stuff we already have. Many of these sites depend on millennials disenchanted by the housing bubble and the banking crisis, or uninterested in traditional icons of success such as house or auto ownership. But the number of people who have quietly begun tapping in is impressive: Already, more than 3 million people from 235 countries have couch-surfed, while 2.2 million bike-sharing trips are taken each month. Contends Rachel Botsman, coauthor of the recently published What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption: "This could be as big as the Industrial Revolution in the way we think about ownership." ...


I think I'll borrow that idea.

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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from Chemical & Engineering News:
EPA Targets Diisocyanates
Diisocyantes, which are ingredients in polyurethane plastics, face Environmental Protection Agency regulation due to concerns about health effects, the agency announced on April 13. The main focus of EPA's efforts is do-it-yourself consumer products such as spray foam insulation, concrete sealers, adhesives, and floor finishes. These polyurethane products may contain uncured diisocyanates, according to the agency. This contrasts with cured products, such as polyurethane foam in mattresses, which are not of concern, EPA says. Diisocyantes can cause breathing and skin problems, the agency says. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration limits exposure to diisocyanates in the workplace. These chemicals are the leading cause of work-related asthma. Consumer exposure to the substances, however, is unregulated. ...


Don't you diis my diisocyanates!

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Fri, Mar 25, 2011
from Leader-Post:
Counting down to 2011 Earth Hour
Major landmarks across Canada -from the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver to the MontRoyal Cross in Montreal -will stand in darkness Saturday as more than 100 countries pledge to turn their lights off as a call to action for climate change. Earth Hour started as a simple conversation between The World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Chicago-based advertising agency Leo Burnett and the Sydney Morning Herald about climate change and how to raise and demonstrate public support. But that discussion sparked an idea that led to the now-annual, hour-long, lights-off event. ...


At my house, we're having Earth Night!

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Tue, Mar 22, 2011
from GOOD:
Chart: Why Four-Dollar-Per-Gallon Gas Is Damn Cheap
Inspired by Cord's thought-provoking post on the per gallon prices of various liquids, and by Sarah Palin's ill-informed Facebook rant on the "$4-Per-Gallon President," I decided to take a closer look at gasoline prices around the world. Mrs. Palin might be interested to learn, that the world already has quite a few $4-Per-Gallon Presidents. In fact, the world already has $6-Per-Gallon Parliaments, $7-Per-Gallon Prime Ministers, and $8-Per-Gallon Presidents!... An odd trend seems to be that the most of countries that have gas prices under our own, are those same countries that so many politicians routinely cite as "evil" or "undemocratic." Does Sarah Palin want our oil economy to be more like Iran and Venezuela? From this recent chart in the Economist, you can see that the bulk of the premium costs in most European nations is due to higher taxes and duties on crude and gasoline. Many nations recognize oil as a finite resource, and are utilizing gasoline taxes to reduce oil imports, create a more efficient transportation system, and better prepare for longer-term oil price volatility. ...


Yeah, but the quality of life in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany sucks. I heard that somewhere.

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Fri, Mar 4, 2011
from WorldFishingToday.com:
Considering moratorium on Caspian sturgeon fishing
As per media report the coastal nations of Caspian Sea are ready for a moratorium on sturgeon fishing in the sea. The Azerbaijani ecology minister said that the moratorium will apply to commercial fishing only. He also added that Azerbaijan fully supported the proposal, which had been welcomed by President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan has already stopped fishing for two types of sturgeon - Fringebarbel and beluga. It agreed a sturgeon fishing quota of 84 tonnes for 2010, which broke down into 46 tonnes of Russian sturgeon and 38 tonnes of starry sturgeon. The quota was agreed at a meeting of the Caspian Commission on Aquatic Bioresources in Tehran in June last year. The quota year runs from 1 March 2010 to 28 February 2011 in order to reflect the fishing season. According to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the government is stepping up its work to tackle corruption. He said that tough measures have been taken against forestry wardens from Sheki to Shamakhi. Over 120 forestry wardens have been sacked. At the last meeting, six senior people - a national park director, his deputy and the heads of forestry warden departments - lost their jobs. ...


Moratoriums are easy when there's not much left.

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Mon, Feb 28, 2011
from London Guardian:
Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change?
The Berkeley Earth project say they are about to reveal the definitive truth about global warming... The aim is so simple that the complexity and magnitude of the undertaking is easy to miss. Starting from scratch, with new computer tools and more data than has ever been used, they will arrive at an independent assessment of global warming. The team will also make every piece of data it uses -- 1.6bn data points -- freely available on a website. It will post its workings alongside, including full information on how more than 100 years of data from thousands of instruments around the world are stitched together to give a historic record of the planet's temperature. Muller is fed up with the politicised row that all too often engulfs climate science. By laying all its data and workings out in the open, where they can be checked and challenged by anyone, the Berkeley team hopes to achieve something remarkable: a broader consensus on global warming. ...


This hope pre-supposes climate skeptics are willing to change their minds.

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Thu, Feb 24, 2011
from PhysOrg:
US issues cheaper boiler rules
The US administration overhauled rules Wednesday to cut air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators but at almost half the price of initial plans criticized by industrial groups. US Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy said the final regulations would provide benefits similar to the previous ones but at a reduced cost. "The Clean Air Act standards we are issuing today are based on the best available science and have benefited from significant public input," said McCarthy, who heads the EPA's air and radiation office.... The initially proposed standard would have cost 20 billion dollars and the loss of 300,000 jobs, according to an industry-financed study. The EPA put its estimate at $3.5 billion. In comparison, the EPA said the new version of the rule would cost $1.8 billion a year and create over 2,000 new jobs.... Aric Newhouse, senior vice president for policy and government relations at the National Association of Manufacturers, criticized what the called an example of the "EPA's aggressive, overreaching agenda." "This is a harsh, inflexible rule that will cost jobs, hurt global competitiveness and may discourage projects that could otherwise lead to environmental improvements," Newhouse added in a statement. ...


How dare you protect the environment with regulations!

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Thu, Feb 10, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Attacks on EPA misrepresent regulations' effects on economy
Having successfully blocked the legislative branch from adopting carbon regulations, congressional Republicans and a few Democrats are now moving to cripple the EPA, whose mandate under the Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court found, includes addressing climate change. The rationale is that the rules "threaten jobs and economic growth." Environmental groups have responded with dump of data that indicates that the claim couldn't be farther from the truth. For instance, a CERES-commissioned report released today estimates that the rules currently being considered would create 1.46 million jobs -- about 290,000 per year over the next five years. The jobs would largely be skilled, high-paying jobs in engineering and construction, as power plants design and install new scrubbers. According to World Resources Institute analysis of historical OMB data, over the 10-year period starting October 1, 1999, EPA regulations cost the nation $26-29 billion. Their benefits, however, totaled between $82 and $533 billion. In other words, benefits outpaced their costs by at least a factor of three, and possibly by a factor of 20. ...


As if I'd let data get in the way of an article of faith.

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Sun, Feb 6, 2011
from Miami Herald:
Florida Keys fishermen won't endorse controversial federal catch share program
Keys fishermen said a resounding "no" at a public workshop Thursday in Key Largo to a controversial federal proposal to use catch shares to manage the commercial snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council says nine stocks of snapper-grouper from North Carolina to the East Coast of Florida are either overfished or about to be depleted to unhealthy levels. Since 2008, the council has been discussing the use of catch shares as a tool to stop overfishing and boost stocks. Already in place in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and New England, catch shares mean allocating a percentage of a fisheries quota to individuals, fishing groups, or communities. The aim, federal fisheries managers say, is to eliminate "derby" fishing, where harvesters rush to catch their quota during shortened fishing seasons, and instead spread the harvest out, keeping markets stable and making seafood available year round. ...


I don't think it's very controversial with the fish.

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Fri, Feb 4, 2011
from Bloomberg:
EPA Sets First Standard for Perchlorate in Water, Reversing Bush Decision
The Obama administration will set the first U.S. standard for perchlorate in drinking water, reversing a Bush-era decision against regulating the chemical that may impair the human thyroid. The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a rule for perchlorate, a toxic rocket-fuel ingredient used to make fireworks and explosive devices, the EPA said today in an e- mailed statement. The EPA also said it will craft a rule to protect people from as many as 16 chemicals found in drinking water that may cause cancer. The agency under President Barack Obama set aside about one-third, or $3.3 billion, of its proposed fiscal 2011 budget for drinking and wastewater projects, almost double the total approved in the final year of the Bush administration. Bush's EPA declined to establish rules for perchlorate.... More than 4 percent of public U.S. water systems have detected perchlorate and 5 million to 17 million people may drink water containing the chemical, according to the EPA, citing monitoring data. The agency said its has received almost 39,000 comments about regulating perchlorate. ...


They monitor chemicals they don't even regulate? That's gotta change.

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Wed, Feb 2, 2011
from Mark Bittman, New York Times:
A Food Manifesto for the Future
And we've come to recognize that our diet is unhealthful and unsafe. Many food production workers labor in difficult, even deplorable, conditions, and animals are produced as if they were widgets. It would be hard to devise a more wasteful, damaging, unsustainable system. Here are some ideas -- frequently discussed, but sadly not yet implemented -- that would make the growing, preparation and consumption of food healthier, saner, more productive, less damaging and more enduring.... Total agricultural subsidies in 2009 were around $16 billion, which would pay for a great many of the ideas that follow. Begin subsidies to those who produce and sell actual food for direct consumption.... Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations and encourage the development of sustainable animal husbandry. The concentrated system degrades the environment, directly and indirectly, while torturing animals and producing tainted meat, poultry, eggs, and, more recently, fish. Sustainable methods of producing meat for consumption exist. At the same time, we must educate and encourage Americans to eat differently. ...


This from the guy whose food column in the NYT was called the Minimalist?!

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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from Guardian:
What exactly are green bonds?
Few people have heard of "green bonds", yet they could be a way of raising the huge amounts of capital needed to tackle climate change and protect our natural world.... This lack of clarity is understandable and is a direct result of all the different types that have been recently proposed. They could, in fact, be all of the following: green gilts, green retail bonds and green investment bank bonds. But, there are many more being proposed as well, including: green infrastructure bonds, *multilateral development bank green bonds, green corporate bonds, green sectoral bonds, rainforest bonds and index-linked carbon bonds. All of these different (and sometimes confusing) classes of green bond have an important role in helping to raise finance for different parts of our low-carbon transition. ...


I'd rather invest in debt-as-collateral endless-growth-forever bonds, just like I was always taught.

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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Study claims 100 percent renewable energy possible by 2030
New research has shown that it is possible and affordable for the world to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, if there is the political will to strive for this goal.... Achieving 100 percent renewable energy would mean the building of about four million 5 MW wind turbines, 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, and around 90,000 300 MW solar power plants.... Jacobson said the major challenge would be in the interconnection of variable supplies such as wind and solar to enable the different renewable sources to work together to match supply with demands. The more consistent renewable sources of wave and tidal power and geothermal systems would supply less of the energy but their consistency would make the whole system more reliable. ...


"Political will?" Didn't that go extinct in the 70's?

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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from Rice, via EurekAlert:
Virus killer gets supercharged on the cheap
A simple technique to make a common virus-killing material significantly more effective is a breakthrough from the Rice University labs of Andrew Barron and Qilin Li. Rather than trying to turn the process into profit, the researchers have put it into the public domain. They hope wide adoption will save time, money and perhaps even lives.... adding silicone to titanium dioxide, a common disinfectant, dramatically increases its ability to degrade aerosol- and water-borne viruses.... "We chose the Yangtze River as our baseline for testing, because it's considered the most polluted river in the world, with the highest viral content," he said. "Even at that level of viral contamination, we're getting complete destruction of the viruses in water that matches the level of pollution in the Yangtze." Using a smaller amount of treated P25 takes longer but works just as well, he said. "Either way, it's green and it's cheap." ...


"Green and cheap" is no way to restart the economy.

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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from Washington Post:
New global network to precisely measure emissions
A D.C. area company and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography will announce Wednesday that they are launching an ambitious project that aims to precisely gauge how human activity is affecting the climate. The $25 million, five-year commercial venture will include 50 sensors in the United States and another 50 around the world to measure atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Most governments and industries estimate their carbon footprint based on an inventory of the fossil fuels they burn, the trees they cut or the landfills they create; this technology will allow experts to quantify how much carbon dioxide and methane has entered the air. ...


We better be able to see this in 3-D.

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Mon, Jan 10, 2011
from CBC:
China bans logging in largest forest reserve
China has banned logging in its largest forest reserve area for 10 years in a bid to combat climate change. The official Xinhua News agency reported Monday that logging will be prohibited until 2020 in the Great and Lesser Hinggan Mountains in the northeast.... China is trying to increase the size of its forests by 40 million hectares to help reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The forest reserve in the Hinggan mountains spreads out over 430,000 square kilometres across Heilongjiang province and into neighbouring Inner Mongolia. ...


Don'tcha hate it when one-party rule makes democracies look like dilly-dallyers?

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Sun, Jan 9, 2011
from AP, via Google:
Is overfishing ended? Top US scientist says yes
For the first time in at least a century, U.S. fishermen won't take too much of any species from the sea, one of the nation's top fishery scientists says. The projected end of overfishing comes during a turbulent fishing year that's seen New England fishermen switch to a radically new management system. But scientist Steve Murawski said that for the first time in written fishing history, which goes back to 1900, "As far as we know, we've hit the right levels, which is a milestone." "And this isn't just a decadal milestone, this is a century phenomenon," said Murawski, who retired last week as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service.... Murawski said the U.S. is the only country that has a law that defines overfishing and requires its fishermen not to engage in it. "When you compare the United States with the European Union, with Asian countries, et cetera, we are the only industrialized fishing nation who actually has succeeded in ending overfishing," he said.... The science is far from perfect, Marciano said. Regulators believed fishermen were overfishing pollock until new data last year indicated scientists had badly underestimated its population, he said. And some stocks, such as Gulf of Maine cod, have recovered even when fishermen were technically overfishing them. "To say you can't rebuild stocks while overfishing is occurring is an outright lie. We did it," Marciano said. ...


You say you believe that science-based regulations made a difference -- but you're a fish!

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Thu, Jan 6, 2011
from BBC:
Dollar trees line conservation road
Maybe money does grow on trees. Certainly, you can find a growing number of people in the conservation movement suggesting that it does; and that if the money is to keep flowing, the wealth in the trees needs to be secured as safely as gold bars in any bank. If forests do not actually sprout banknotes, they do provide services whose value in monetary terms can be measured... refuges for pollinating insects, roots that prevent landslides, absorption of climate-changing carbon dioixide - even places where we like to walk. So do prairies and coral reefs and marshes and... well, pretty much any other life-bearing pieces of nature you care to mention. A UN-backed project called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) has calculated that destruction of forests alone is costing the global economy $2-5 trillion per year.... The poster child for Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is Costa Rica.... And more and more governments are at least flirting with PES. In the EU and US, farmers are rewarded for managing the land in ways that benefit birds, mammals and insects. Agrochemical and seed company Syngenta is financing training for farmers to help them look after pollinating insects. Soft-drink companies are funding the preservation of landscapes that ensure the water supply they need. A fledging market in "biodiversity offsets" is developing, allowing companies to protect nature in one place in recompense for degrading it somewhere else. ...


Economists just might save the world after all.

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Thu, Dec 30, 2010
from Reuters:
Italy To Ban Plastic Shopping Bags
Italy, one of the top users of plastic shopping bags in Europe, is banning them starting January 1, with retailers warning of chaos and many stores braced for the switch. Italian critics say polyethylene bags use too much oil to produce, take too long to break down, clog drains and easily spread to become eye sores and environmental hazards. Italians use about 20 billion bags a year -- more than 330 per person -- or about one-fifth of the total used in Europe, according to Italian environmentalist lobby Legambiente. Starting on Saturday, retailers are banned from providing shoppers polyethylene bags. They can use bags made of such material as biodegradable plastic, cloth or paper. ...


We need more of this amore for the earth.

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Mon, Dec 6, 2010
from FutureStreet:
Wikileaks, the blueprint, and openness
With every day, with every passing hour, the power of the state mobilizes against Wikileaks and Julian Assange, its titular leader. The inner processes of statecraft have never been so completely exposed as they have been in the last week. The nation state has been revealed as some sort of long-running and unintentionally comic soap opera. She doesn't like him; he doesn't like them; they don't like any of us!... Has Earth become a sort of amplified Facebook, where an in-crowd of Heathers, horrified, suddenly finds its bitchy secrets posted on a public forum? Is that what we've been reduced to? Or is that what we've been like all along?... A few months ago I wrote about how confused I was by Julian Assange's actions. Why would anyone taking on the state so directly become such a public figure? It made no sense to me. Now I see the plan. And it's awesome.... Assange gets to be the scapegoat, the pinup boy for a new kind of anarchism. But what he's done can not be undone; this tear in the body politic will never truly heal. Everything is different now. Everything feels more authentic. We can choose to embrace this authenticity, and use it to construct a new system of relations, one which does not rely on secrets and lies. A week ago that would have sounded utopian, now it's just facing facts. ...


Are you implying that sunshine is the best disinfectant?

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010
from Associated Press:
Citing BP, Obama rejects East Coast oil drilling
Pointing to the BP blowout and risks of a new environmental disaster, the Obama administration reversed itself Wednesday and promised not to pursue offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or anywhere else along the nation's East Coast. The decision was hailed in Florida, which depends on tourists drawn by the state's white beaches, but criticized by the oil industry, which said the administration was stifling crucial U.S. energy production and costing recession-battered jobseekers golden opportunities for new work. ...


Chill, baby, chill!

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from Mongabay.com:
Consumer goods industry announces goal of zero deforestation in Cancun
While governments continue to stall on action to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, global corporations are promising big changes to tackle their responsibilities. The Board of Consumer Goods Forum (BCGF) has approved a resolution to achieve net zero deforestation by 2020 in products such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper. Announced yesterday at the UN Climate Summit in Cancun, the BCGF has stated the goal will be met both by individual actions within companies and collective action, including partnerships with NGOs, development banks, and governments. With such giants as Walmart, Unilever, Carrefour, and General Mills, BCGF is made up of four hundred global consumer goods manufacturers and retailers totaling over $2.8 trillion in revenue. ...


And in the meantime, maybe we can do our part by not consuming so much crap!

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Fri, Nov 19, 2010
from New York Times:
A Call to Action on Ocean Acidity
States bordering water bodies that are becoming more acidic from the absorption of carbon dioxide should list them as impaired under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency declared in a memo this week. Carbon dioxide emissions are considered a threat not only because of their heat-trapping properties in the atmosphere but also because of their ability to change ocean chemistry. The world's oceans act as a sponge for carbon dioxide, and as the gas dissolves in seawater, it changes into carbonic acid.... In the case of ocean acidification, such declarations could conceivably compel states or the federal government to act to limit carbon dioxide emissions. "It gives the green light to states to go ahead and assess whether their waters are being impacted by ocean acidification and designate them if they are," said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Step two would be some kind of approach to controlling the pollution that's causing the problem, which in this case would be carbon dioxide." ...


Once again those filthy liberuls are trying to save civilization's future through regulation.

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Tue, Nov 16, 2010
from Associated Press:
EPA announces Fla. water pollution rules
The federal Environmental Protection Agency for the first time Monday in Florida set numeric water pollution standards for a state although 13 others already have adopted such rules on their own. The federal standards are required by the settlement of a lawsuit last year. They replace Florida's vague descriptive regulations for determining when rivers, lakes and other inland waters are polluted with such contaminants as fertilizer and animal and human waste. Those pollutants are blamed for toxic algae blooms that have clogged Florida's waterways. "The EPA has stepped in to rescue Florida from a powerful gang of polluters who for decades have used campaign contributions and intimidation to stop state government in Tallahassee from taking this action," said Frank Jackalone, Florida staff director for the Sierra Club. His is one of five environmental groups that sued EPA for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act of 1972, charging Florida was allowed to get away without adopting numeric standards. ...


This is especially important in a state that will have so much more water once sea levels rise.

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Thu, Nov 11, 2010
from Yale360:
China Turns to Biogas to Ease Impact of Factory Farms
His farm is also different than the American pig farms you usually detect with your nose before you see any animals: it smells only faintly of waste. He says that's because it's an ecological CAFO, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron. "The whole system is pollution-free, zero-emission, and energy saving," says Ye. "The key is the biogas digester." Biogas digestion takes the nuisances of most large animal farms -- solid, liquid, and gaseous wastes -- and turns them into resources that farmers can use and even sell. Raw pig waste is usually a liability for farmers: It's full of pathogens and compounds like ammonia that can ruin crops and soil if applied directly. It also is prone to running off into waterways and leaching into groundwater.... The South China Sea today is largely a dead zone with frequent red tides and little remaining life because of run-off from upstream agriculture.... Ye thinks his biogas digester may be part of the solution. It cost about $600,000, but Ye only paid for half while the central, provincial, and local governments picked up the rest with subsidies.... To avert future environmental disasters like leaks or spills of wastewater from large farms and to capture methane, the government has decreed that all farms with more than 1,000 cows, 10,000 pigs or 100,000 chickens must install biogas digesters. In Zhejiang province, one of China's richest and most environmentally progressive, the local government recently decided that all farms with more than 50 pigs must have biogas digesters. ...


Y'know, in this country we'd call that socialism. We like our freedom to do whatever the hell we want to others.

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Tue, Nov 9, 2010
from Associated Press:
PNC To Halt Mountaintop Mining Financing
PNC Bank has announced it will stop financing projects that extract coal using a controversial form of surface mining known as mountaintop removal. The Pittsburgh-based company is the latest of a group of major commercial lenders that have backed away from underwriting mountaintop removal projects after pressure from environmental activists. PNC said in a statement it will not fund individual projects or "provide credit to coal producers whose primary extraction method is" mountaintop removal. The surface mining practice has for years attracted the ire of activists and Appalachian residents, who say it contributes to environmental degradation and water pollution. In June, a group of 50 activists gathered at a downtown PNC bank branch in Lexington to protest the bank's alleged lending to mountaintop removal projects. ...


Especially given election results, PNC's decision is delightfully Politically Not Correct.

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Sun, Nov 7, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Urine for sale? South African city wants to buy
Get paid to pee. That's the deal on offer in the South African city of Durban, where the city is looking to buy liquid waste to encourage residents to use dry toilets.... Aiming to improve hygiene and save money, the port city has installed in home gardens about 90,000 toilets that don't use a single drop of water. Now Durban wants to install 20-litre (quart) containers on 500 of the toilets to capture urine -- rich in nitrates, phosphorus and potassium, which can be turned into fertiliser. A municipal worker would collect the jerry cans once a week and could pay around 30 rands (four dollars, three euros) to the family -- not a small sum in a country where 43 percent of the population lives on less than two dollars a day.... "If we can turn the toilets into a source of revenues, then they will want to use the toilets," said Neil MacLeod, Durban's head of water and sanitation.... "South Africa is a water-stressed country," said Teddy Gounden, who heads the project. "With the increase in demand for drinking water, we cannot afford to flush this valuable resource down the sewer." ...


The business opportunities in a high-demand, low-supply world are astonishing!

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Wed, Nov 3, 2010
from Scientific American:
Geoengineering faces ban
A last-ditch remedy for an ailing planet, or a reckless scheme that could be a greater threat to life on Earth than the problem it aims to solve? Opinions are sharply divided on geoengineering--potential massive interventions in the global climate system, intended to forestall the worst effects of climate change. Last week, participants in the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) made their views clear at a meeting in Nagoya, Japan. They included in their agreement to protect biodiversity a moratorium on geo-engineering "until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks." The moratorium, expected to be in force by 2012, isn't legally binding, and given the preliminary nature of studies in the area it is unlikely to affect researchers in the near future. But some scientists fear that the CBD's stance will sow confusion and delay at a time when governments and research groups are exploring how geo-engineering might feasibly be undertaken if global warming accelerates disastrously. ...


Why would geoengineering concern biodiversity scientists? Complex living ecosystem interrelationships have nothing to do with corporate-military politics.

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Sun, Oct 31, 2010
from Reuters, via Yahoo:
World Bank launches scheme to green government accounts
The World Bank on Thursday launched a program to help nations put a value on nature just like GDP in a bid to stop the destruction of forests, wetlands and reefs that underpin businesses and economies. The five-year pilot project backed by India, Mexico and other nations aims to embed nature into national accounts to draw in the full benefits of services such as coastal protection from mangroves or watersheds for rivers that feed cities and crops. "We're here today to create something that no one has tried before: a global partnership that can fundamentally change the way governments value their ecosystems," World Bank President Robert Zoellick told reporters in the Japanese city of Nagoya.... "For economic ministries in particular, it's important to have an accounting measure that they can use to evaluate not only the economic value but the natural wealth of nations," Zoellick told Reuters in an interview. "It's not a silver bullet. It's a way of trying to help people understand better in economic terms the value of natural wealth." While economists try to get a handle on the value of nature, scientists are struggling to get a full picture of the variety of wildlife species around the globe as climate change, exploitation and pollution threaten "mass extinctions," a series of studies published on Wednesday showed. ...


OMG! The foundations of consumer society are being threatened, with the support of the World Bank!

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Sat, Oct 30, 2010
from Scientific American:
Nations agree to historic deal to save nature
Nearly 200 nations agreed on Saturday to a sweeping plan to stem the loss of species by setting new 2020 targets to ensure greater protection of nature and enshrine the benefits it gives mankind. Environment ministers from around the globe also agreed on rules for sharing the benefits from genetic resources from nature between governments and companies, a trade and intellectual property issue that could be worth billions of dollars in new funds for developing nations. Agreement on parts of the deal has taken years of at times heated negotiations, and talks in the Japanese city of Nagoya were deadlocked until the early hours of Saturday after two weeks of talks. Delegates agreed goals to protect oceans, forests and rivers as the world faces the worst extinction rate since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago. They also agreed to take steps to put a price on the value of benefits such as clean water from watersheds and coastal protection by mangroves by including such "natural capital" into national accounts. Services provided by nature to economies were worth trillions of dollars a year, the head of the U.N. Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said in a statement, adding businesses from banks to miners were key in halting rapid loss of ecosystems. ...


Agreeing to "2020 targets" is step 1 of at least 2019 more steps.

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Thu, Oct 21, 2010
from Guardian:
India set to be first country to publish 'natural wealth' accounts
India is today expected to become the first country in the world to commit to publishing a new set of accounts which track the nation's plants, animals, water and other "natural wealth" as well as financial measurements such as GDP. The announcement is due to be made at a meeting of world governments in Japan to try to halt global destruction of biodiversity, and it is hoped that such a move by a major developing economy will prompt other countries to join the initiative. Work on agreeing common measures, such as the value of ecosystems and their "services" for humans - from relaxation to clean air and fertile soils - will be co-ordinated by the World Bank, which hopes it can sign up 10-12 nations and publish the results by 2015 at the latest. The move fulfils one of the key demands of a major report also being published today at the Japan meeting, a UN study of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). ...


C'mon, if humans didn't build it, does it really count?

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Fri, Oct 15, 2010
from New York Times:
Canada Declares BPA, a Chemical in Plastics, to Be Toxic
The government of Canada formally declared bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to create clear, hard plastics, as well as food can liners, to be a toxic substance on Wednesday. The compound, commonly known as BPA, has been shown to disrupt the hormone systems of animals and is under review in the United States and Europe. Canada's move, which was strenuously fought by the chemical industry, followed an announcement by the government two years ago that it would eliminate the compound's use in polycarbonate bottles used by infants and children. The compound was formally listed as being toxic to both the environment and human health in an official notice published online by the government without fanfare, a noticeable contrast to the earlier baby bottle announcement, which was made by two cabinet ministers. ...


No fanfare? This makes me a big fan.

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Tue, Oct 5, 2010
from New Scientist:
White House to install solar panels after all
After a month of stalling, US president Barack Obama has finally agreed to install some solar panels on the White House's living quarters. The Associated Press reports that the solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. Campaigners from the climate action group 350.org travelled to Washington DC early in September to push for this, bringing with them a set of solar panels that were installed on the roof of the West Wing between 1979 and 1986. At the time they didn't manage to extract any promises, but Obama seems to have changed his mind. ...


Oh no! This may alienate the Tea Party voters!

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Tue, Sep 21, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
New Smog Proposals From EPA Draw Fire
A proposed crackdown on smog by the Environmental Protection Agency is fueling resistance from businesses groups concerned about costs, Republicans who say it'll be a drag on the economy--and some heartland Democrats engaged in tough election battles this fall. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has dramatically stepped up the pace and scope of regulatory activity since 2009. She has pushed sweeping rules to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change, challenged coal companies over their mining practices, and questioned the methods energy companies are using to drill for natural gas. Now Ms. Jackson is proposing to redefine what constitutes unsafe levels of ground-level ozone, a primary ingredient in smog. ...


Where there's smog... there's fire!

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Fri, Sep 17, 2010
from NASA, via HuffingtonPost:
Ozone Hole Has Stopped Growing, Should Be Restored By Mid Century According To UN Scientists
September 16 marks the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorated as the anniversary of that day in 1987 when the Montreal Protocol was signed, an international treaty created to limit and eventually ban CFCs and other substances that were discovered to have been depleting our ozone. And this year certainly brings cause for celebration. In the "Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2010" report, UN scientists announced that the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere has ceased diminishing, attesting to the success of the Montreal Protocol. The scientists say the area of the ozone that has thinned out should largely be restored by mid century, AFP reports. ...


It's as if... as if the world could get together to solve a common problem, in spite of cries from industry of economic hardship. What's up with that?

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Post-Tribune:
Area universities urged to study climate change
Adapting to climate change and mitigating its impacts are about to become bigger priorities in Northwest Indiana. A committee of the region's largest planning agency, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, has taken an official stand on the issue and is calling on local universities to study the impact of climate change on health, the economy and the environment in the region. At least one university is ready to help. The committee wants NIRPC to expand its public education program and spread the word that municipalities need to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change. The committee also wants the commission to promote green infrastructure as a way to mitigate climate change. Green infrastructure is a way of using nature to filter precipitation into the ground rather than sending it to sewers. ...


They need the universities because they sure as hell won't get any help from the governor!

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Glasgow Herald:
War on the car
Stricter and lower speed limits, higher parking charges and a five pence per kilometre road-pricing scheme are being proposed by the Scottish Government as part of a major new offensive to cut the pollution that is disrupting the climate. The suggestions, contained in a key policy report leaked to the Sunday Herald, are part of radical plans being drawn up to meet the ambitious target of a 42 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020. The government's new package of 30 "proposals and policies" to combat climate change has been welcomed by environmentalists. But some of the measures have already provoked the ire of the car lobby and businesses. The Association of British Drivers dismissed the curbs on cars as "lunatic". They would spark widespread anger, claimed Peter Spinney, the association's co-ordinator in Scotland. ...


Way to cut carbons!

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Tue, Aug 31, 2010
from New York Times:
Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks
Blasting off mountaintops to reach coal in Appalachia or churning out millions of tons of carbon dioxide to extract oil from sand in Alberta are among environmentalists' biggest industrial irritants. But they are also legal and lucrative. For a growing number of banks, however, that does not seem to matter. After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines. ...


Ya think insurance companies might catch on?

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Fri, Aug 27, 2010
from Planet Green:
Mobile Farm Trucks Bring the Produce to the People
[I]t isn't surprising that some clever entrepreneurs are capitalizing on both trends by bringing farm fresh produce to those in both urban and rural areas. They are calling themselves Mobile Farm Trucks or Mobile Farmers' Markets, and they don't just cater to high-end shoppers, but provide low-income residents with affordable, fresh produce, grown using sustainable and/or organic methods. For example, in New York City, the Holton Farms Mobile Farm Truck has taken to the streets. Not a mobile farm stand, but a CSA on wheels. As they say on their site, "... The Farm Truck allows us access to neighborhoods throughout the Five Boroughs without having to open a store." The Farm Truck is run by sustainable farmers who partner with other farms and artisan producers to bring other products to its members including ice cream, cheeses, breads, coffee, grains, and soaps. They are still working on getting the appropriate permits to sell to non-CSA members and they are also accepting Food Stamps and discounting their prices by 20 percent for low-income New Yorkers.... Last year, Maine's Jordan Farm started a Mobile Farm Stand that travels to senior housing sites in South Portland and to Portland and Scarborough businesses. Using a renovated school bus, they offer the same fresh produce that is available at their farm stand in Cape Elizabeth. Like Holton Farms, Jordan's Farm uses sustainable farming practices, and also brings products from other producers in their area, including eggs, cream, butter, meat, cheese, pasta, honey, and maple syrup. ...


This story has wheels.

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Wed, Aug 25, 2010
from Guardian:
British Gas launches solar panels scheme with '1000 pounds a year profit' claim
More than 12 million homeowners would be in line to save up to 1,000 pounds a year, should they install solar panels, says British Gas. The utility firm is the latest in a host of companies offering to install electricity-generating systems on homes to take advantage of a government scheme that pays the owners of solar panels for the 'renewable' electricity they generate. The sudden allure of solar power is less to do with planet-saving and more to do with companies or individuals banking the lucrative feed-in-tariffs (Fits) for every unit of electricity generated - currently 41.3p per KWh, irrespective of whether you consume the power at the time or not. British Gas says the Fits payments can be worth 1,000 pounds per annum, though with export tariffs (for power not used) added, they can be worth even more. They are guaranteed by the government for 25 years, are payable via the utility company, and will rise in line with inflation. British Gas has entered the market with the launch of two schemes. If you opt for its "rent-a-roof" scheme, it will install solar panels on your roof for free and you will benefit from the electricity you generate during the day. The installation is free but you will not own the panels and so British Gas will pocket the Fits cash for the length of the scheme - 25 years. The rent-a-roof deal is limited to the first 1,500 British Gas customers who apply. Alternatively, you can install your own solar panels and British Gas will offer you a two-year interest-free loan, supplied by Hitachi Capital, with which to borrow the upfront costs. You will receive the feed-in-tariffs as well as benefit from the generation of cheaper power. BG says the upfront cost generally ranges from 10,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds depending on the size of the roof. ...


Socialist energy? Not in America!

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Mon, Aug 16, 2010
from New York Times:
Portugal on track for 45 percent renewable energy this year
Five years ago, the leaders of this sun-scorched, wind-swept nation made a bet: To reduce Portugal's dependence on imported fossil fuels, they embarked on an array of ambitious renewable energy projects -- primarily harnessing the country's wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves. Today, Lisbon's trendy bars, Porto's factories and the Algarve's glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal's grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago. Land-based wind power -- this year deemed "potentially competitive" with fossil fuels by the International Energy Agency in Paris -- has expanded sevenfold in that time. And Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars. ...


Gosh. I wonder if that could be done in America.

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Wed, Aug 11, 2010
from New York Times:
By Messing With Texas Air Pollution Permits, EPA Unleashes Power Struggle
After simmering behind closed doors for more than 15 years, a disagreement between U.S. EPA and Texas environmental officials over air pollution permits has boiled over in a big way...During the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations, EPA routinely missed its 18-month deadline for making decisions on Texas' permitting programs. Meanwhile, experts say, TCEQ kept issuing permits without federal approval and Texas businesses kept applying for them, assuming that no complaints from EPA meant that everything was fine. To this day, there are about 30 Texas permitting programs in legal limbo, many of them more than a decade old. With EPA required by a court settlement to make yes-or-no decisions on all of them by 2012, experts say the current dispute could be just the beginning of a protracted legal battle to determine where state authority ends and federal oversight begins. ...


Keep your guvment mitts off our shitty air.

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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA requires cleanup of mercury from cement plants
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced the nation's first limits on mercury emissions from cement plants. The decision also will require reductions of other harmful pollutants from cement plants, including soot, also known as particle pollution, which is linked to asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths for people with heart and lung diseases. The rules are part of a broader EPA air-cleanup plan. Next year the agency will put the first nationwide controls on mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from a much larger source, coal-fired power plants. The federal government presently doesn't require power plants to control mercury and other toxics. Coal-fired power plants are the source of 51 percent of the manmade mercury emissions in the U.S, followed by industrial and other boilers, at 15 percent. Cement kilns are third, with 7 percent, according to the EPA. ...


If they ain't careful, the EPA might find themselves wearing some cement shoes.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from Guardian:
Ecuador signs $3.6bn deal not to exploit oil-rich Amazon reserve
Ecuador, home of the Galapagos Islands, the Andes mountain range and vast tracts of oil-rich rainforest, yesterday asked the world for $3.6bn not to exploit the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil block in the Yasuni national park. A knockdown price, it said, considering the oil alone is worth more than $7bn at today's prices. The 407m tonnes of CO2 that would be generated by burning it could sell for over $5bn in the global carbon markets. But neither the oil block nor the park is for sale, and under the terms of a unique, legally binding trust fund set up yesterday by the government and the UN, the oil and the timber in Yasuni will never be exploited. Instead, donor countries, philanthropists and individuals around the world are being invited to pay the money in return for a non-exploitation guarantee.... Conservation groups have been staggered by the biological riches in the park, which is situated at the intersection of the Amazon, the Andes and the equator. It was recently found to have 650 species of tree and shrub within a single hectare - the highest number in the world and more than in the whole of north America. In addition, it has more than 20 threatened mammal species, including, jaguars, otters and monkeys, and several hundred bird species. ...


Yeah, but are any of those trees and shrubs valuable?

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Fri, Jul 30, 2010
from Reuters, via Scientific American:
EPA denies challenges to greenhouse gas rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday rejected 10 petitions challenging EPA's 2009 finding that climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and the environment. The EPA received petitions questioning the scientific basis for the so-called endangerment finding -- which cleared the way for the EPA to curb carbon dioxide emissions -- from Texas and Virginia and groups like the Ohio Coal Association.... "The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "These petitions -- based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy -- provide no evidence to undermine our determination." ...


That's denial I can get behind!

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Sun, Jul 25, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Researchers Calculate the Cost of CO2 Emissions, Call for Carbon Tax
Brito and Curl argue that there are three important unresolved questions in the current debate on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions: "First, what is the range of prices on carbon dioxide emissions that will be necessary to achieve the desired reductions? Second, should electrical generators and transport fuels be regulated jointly or separately? Third, should the restrictions be in the form of a quantity limit such as cap and trade or in the form of a carbon tax?"... The authors noted that the efficiency of coal generators is very concentrated. For instance, "at current prices for fuels, a carbon price of approximately $30/ metric ton (MT) will shut down 10 percent of coal generator capacity," they wrote. "An additional increase of $15 -- resulting in a carbon dioxide price of $45/MT -- will shut down 90 percent of coal generator capacity."... As a result of the risk of high volatility, the authors back a carbon tax to assist the transition from coal to natural gas. They also assert "it is possible to decouple the pricing of allocations for transportation fuel from the allocations for the production of electricity," because the rise in carbon prices needed to effect the shift in electricity generation would have very little impact on transportation fuels. ...


You'll tax my coal from my hot, dead hands.

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Wed, Jul 21, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
A Water Fight Over Luxury Showers
Regulators are going after some of the luxury shower fixtures that took off in the housing boom. Many have multiple nozzles, cost thousands of dollars and emit as many as 12 gallons of water a minute. In May, the DOE stunned the plumbing-products industry when it said it would adopt a strict definition of the term "showerhead" in enforcing standards that have been on the books -- but largely unenforced -- for nearly 20 years. Industry response has been fast and furious. "It was not the legislative intent of Congress to authorize DOE to regulate the bathing habits of Americans," wrote Frederick Desborough, vice president of California Faucets, a Huntington Beach, Calif., manufacturer, in a letter to the DOE in June. The showdown is a challenge to President Barack Obama and his energy secretary, Steven Chu, as they try to cajole -- or compel -- Americans to use water and energy more efficiently. ...


It is my God-given, American right to waste as much water as I please!

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Mon, Jul 19, 2010
from The Daily Climate:
New conservation model emerges in Canada's boreal
The scale of the conservation effort is staggering: 470,000 square miles - half the size of the Louisiana Purchase, five times the size of the U.S. national park system - forever shielded from logging, mining and damming. It is part of an ongoing and unprecedented drive to protect Canada's northern boreal forests, peat bogs, wetlands and tundra - a drive that is also changing how land managers view their stewardship, civic leaders approach economic growth and companies view their bottom line. And for the first time, some of the protections have a climate component. "It's our gift to future generations," said Alan Latourelle, chief executive officer of Parks Canada, the agency managing the nation's parks, which is in the process of doubling their size. "We're the last generation that can do that." ...


Hey, climate refugees! Have I got an ideal place for you!

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Sat, Jul 3, 2010
from SolveClimate:
IEA: $46 Trillion Roadmap for Halving Global Emissions a "Bargain"
Memo to the planet from the International Energy Agency: Buckle down and speed up the nascent low-carbon revolution. Top thinkers from the energy watchdog presented an ambitious 40-year pathway to halve the world's carbon emissions during a Thursday rollout at the National Press Club. Indeed, weaning the globe of its fossil fuel dependency will require ingenuity, cooperation and tens of trillions of dollars. But IEA maintains that bumping up investments in renewables, nuclear power and a smart electric grid, and perfecting technologies such as carbon sequestration are the most reasonable and reachable course available to keep Earth's temperature stable and arrest the severe impacts climate scientists agree are imminent--and already occurring.... In addition, the plan counts on the rather rapid maturation of a technology still in the test phases--carbon capture and sequestration. The catch is that IEA's proposal calls for constructing 30 new nuclear plants and outfitting 35 coal-fired plants with the technology to capture carbon emissions and bury them underground every year through 2050. ...


Some days these "all it would take to save the world is..." stories are the saddest of all.

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Fri, Jul 2, 2010
from Guardian:
Green tech investment surges
Global venture capital investment in green technology companies reached $4.04 billion in the first half of 2010, exceeding -- slightly -- the record set in the boom year of 2008, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte. Venture investment in the second quarter rose to $2.02 billion, up 43 percent from the year-ago quarter. Investments in the first half of the year spiked 65 percent from the same period in 2009. "There's been a very clear resurgence in solar activity and that is largely responsible for the strong quarter," Richard Youngman, the Cleantech Group's head of global research, said on a conference call Thursday.... Despite the recession, corporate America poured a record $5.1 billion into green tech companies in the first half of 2010, a 325 percent increase from a year ago. ...


If it's not green, isn't it, well, rotting?

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Mon, Jun 14, 2010
from National Geographic News:
Ecuador Puts a Price Tag on Untapped Oil
In the coming weeks, Ecuador aims to sign a unique agreement to forgo drilling for oil in a huge plot of this rain forest in exchange for money. The idea is that contributions from industrialized nations and, potentially, from corporations would make up for the badly needed petroleum revenue that the South American nation would lose by keeping the fossil fuel underground....If it comes together, some hope that the so-called YasunĂ­-ITT Initiative -- named for the area's Ishpingo, Tiputini, and Tambococha oil fields --could be a model for combating global warming. ...


And they can pay me to cheer about it!

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Tue, Jun 8, 2010
from Associated Press:
Pa. halts drilling by company after gas accident
Pennsylvania regulators halted work Monday at dozens of unfinished natural gas wells being drilled by the company whose out-of-control well spewed out explosive gas and polluted water for 16 hours last week. The order against Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. will remain in place until the Department of Environmental Protection can finish its investigation and until after the company makes whatever changes may be needed, Gov. Ed Rendell said. he order stops EOG from drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells. It affects about 70 unfinished EOG wells into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation. ...


Let's just stop drilling, period -- especially at the dentist!

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Wed, Jun 2, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicle:
State plastic bag ban gaining support
California would be the first state to ban plastic and most paper bags from grocery, convenience and other stores under a proposal that appears headed for a major legislative victory this week. Shoppers who don't bring their own totes to a store would have to purchase paper bags made of at least 40 percent recycled material for a minimum of 5 cents or buy reusable bags under the proposal, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2012. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he supports the bill, which will be voted on in the Assembly this week and could go to a Senate vote this year. ...


First ban plastic bags, then oil!

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Sun, May 23, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
Scientists Reassert Man's Role in a Changing Climate
The National Academy of Sciences, a group of elite American researchers that advises the U.S. government, on Wednesday issued an 869-page report reasserting mankind's role in altering the climate and calling for specific policy measures to help forestall undesirable effects. The report, requested by Congress 2008, essentially supports the main findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body whose most recent report released in 2007 was criticized for containing several errors.... "Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks," the academy report concludes.... Nonetheless, the academy acknowledged that there is significant uncertainty when attempting longer-term predictions about climate change. For example, the 2007 IPCC report said sea levels could rise by between 0.6 and 1.9 feet by 2100, but later studies suggested that forecast was too conservative. The academy's report incorporates the newer research and concludes that sea levels could rise by as much as 6.5 feet in that period. ...


See? Those darned scientists constantly underestimate. We can't believe a thing they say!

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Sat, May 22, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Fishing restrictions bring better catches, says study
Closing fishing areas and regulating the use of fishing gear can result in more profitable catches that boost fishermen's incomes, according to a study. The conclusion has emerged from a long-term investigation in Kenya on the effects of fishery closures on fishermen's profits. The study, published today in Conservation Biology, used data on 27,000 fish caught in three locations off the Kenyan coast over a period of 12 years. One location was next to a closed fishing area, one far from the closed area but with restrictions on vertically hanging fishing nets (seine nets), and one far from any fishing restrictions. Fishing close to an area with fishery closures led to larger catches of fish with a higher market value. And the ban on seine nets also increased fishermen's income, the study found. ...


You want me to listen to science? It's obvious that restrictions are bad.

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Thu, May 20, 2010
from National Academy of Sciences:
National Academy of Sciences: We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us
A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems, concludes this panel report from the America's Climate Choices suite of studies. As decision makers respond to these risks, the nation's scientific enterprise can contribute both by continuing to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, and by improving and expanding the options available to limit the magnitude of climate change and adapt to its impacts. To make this possible, the nation needs a comprehensive, integrated, and flexible climate change research enterprise that is closely linked with action-oriented programs at all levels. The report recommends that a single federal entity or program be given the authority and resources to coordinate a national research effort integrated across many disciplines and aimed at improving both understanding and responses to climate change. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, established in 1990, could fulfill this role, but it would need to form partnerships with action-oriented programs and address weaknesses in its current program. A comprehensive climate observing system, improved climate models and other analytical tools, investment in human capital, and better linkages between research and decision making are also essential to a complete understanding of climate change. ...


What a weird idea: to acknowledge a problem and try to understand it through scientific inquiry. I thought it was just about attitude.

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Wed, May 19, 2010
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
With newly protected boreal forest, the caribou are smiling
Two old foes in Canada have made peace to conserve some of the world's most precious natural resources. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, signed by most of the Canadian forestry industry and environmental activists, is nothing less than historic. It will result in a real and internationally significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and it serves as a model of non-governmental co-operation. The agreement commits all participating companies (which cover some 70 per cent of Canada's boreal forest) to the most advanced sustainability practices in forestry: practices that "start with the science" and make the protection of species-at-risk paramount. Canada's woodland caribou, and other less photogenic species that traverse the boreal forest, are among the greatest beneficiaries. ...


Caribou are smiling... and by extension we presume the clams are happy!

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Fri, May 14, 2010
from ChemicalWatch:
Bill on screening for endocrine disrupters in drinking water enters Congress
Ed Markey, chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee,and Jim Moran, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and the Environment,have introduced the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Enhancement Act (HR 5210), which is designed to update the US Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. The Bill requires the US Environmental Protection Agency to establish a programme that tests chemicals found in drinking water to determine whether they are endocrine disruptors and if so, to determine the extent of their ability to interfere with the body's hormonal system. The EPA would have to produce a schedule for identifying and testing substances found in drinking water, ensuring that at least 100 chemicals found in drinking water were tested within four years. ...


And not a moment too soon!

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Thu, May 6, 2010
from Enviromental Science and Technology:
Can the U.S. phase out coal's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030?
The U.S. could end its global warming emissions from coal in two decades by embracing a collection of proven and promising technologies, according to a new ES&T paper (Environ. Sci. Technol. DOI 10.1021/es903884a). Climate scientists James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha, together with Charles Kutscher of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and noted architect Edward Mazria, say their paper targets coal because it is the energy source that is most responsible for accumulated fossil fuel CO2 in today's atmosphere. Kharecha and Hansen, both of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Columbia University Earth Institute, and their coauthors argue that fast action is demanded by recent revelations in the field of climate science. For example, a draft of the Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report released in mid-April says that current effects of climate change include water cycle disruptions, vanishing mountain glaciers, and extreme weather events. In the new paper, the scientists write, "The 'safe' long-term level of atmospheric greenhouse gases is much lower than has been supposed, [and CO2 concentrations are] already into the dangerous zone." ...


Sounds like we better do this ... for our grandparents!

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Mon, Apr 19, 2010
from Gannnett:
"Polluter pays" tax sought to fund cleanup of Superfund sites
A former dye-making plant in Toms River is still on a list of highly contaminated Superfund sites, even after decades of cleanup work. But it's not the only Superfund site in New Jersey where cleanup has been complex and drawn out. Of the 112 New Jersey sites on the Superfund environmental cleanup program's National Priorities List, 50 have been on the list since 1983. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., both D-N.J., have introduced a bill to reinstate a controversial "polluter pays" tax on the chemical and petroleum industries to finance Superfund cleanups nationwide. Supporters of the proposal say reviving the tax, which expired in 1995, would pay to hasten cleanups of "orphan" sites whose former owners can't be located or have gone bankrupt. ...


The moribund Superfund may have found its superheroes!

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Sat, Apr 17, 2010
from TIME:
Regulation of Toxic Chemicals Faces Tightening
But the [Toxic Substances Control Act] has remained stuck in the 1970s, an aging throwback that never gave Washington any real power to protect people from potentially toxic chemicals. It may finally be time to bring chemical regulation out of the polyester era. On April 15, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced new legislation that would overhaul the regulatory system, requiring manufacturers to prove the safety of chemicals before they could be sold. That represents a much needed change from the current system, in which the burden of proof falls on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to show that a chemical is dangerous to human health or the environment before the agency can regulate it. "America's system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken," said Lautenberg in a statement. "My Safe Chemicals Act will breathe new life into a long dead statute by empowering the EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals." ...


But ignorance of risk is much more profitable! Think of the economy!

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Fri, Apr 16, 2010
from DOE:
DOE Awards Nearly $100 Million for Smart Grid Workforce Training
DOE announced on April 8 it will award nearly $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to 54 Smart Grid workforce training programs that will help prepare the next generation of workers in the electric utility and electrical equipment manufacturing industries. Located in 32 states and the District of Columbia, the 54 training programs will leverage more than $95 million in funding from community colleges, universities, utilities, and manufacturers. The programs will train approximately 30,000 U.S. workers in Smart Grid technologies. The funding is the latest investment by the Obama Administration to develop the Smart Grid, and builds on the more than $4 billion in Recovery Act funding for Smart Grid deployment and demonstration projects throughout the country. The programs will focus on training activities that support electricians, line workers, technicians, system operators, power system engineers, cyber security specialists, and transmission planners. The selections include broad efforts to develop and deploy new training programs and curricula at a variety of educational institutions, as well as workforce programs conducted by electrical equipment manufacturers and electric utilities to train new hires and retrain current employees. The award selections include 33 projects at educational institutions and 21 training projects at electrical equipment manufacturers and electric utilities. ...


Oh, so now you're going to discriminate against the dumb grid!

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Tue, Apr 6, 2010
from Reuters:
Tense standoff in Peru as protest turns deadly
The violence broke out near the town of Chala, 372 miles south of the capital Lima, on Sunday when police tried to clear a roadblock set by the miners on the Panamerican Highway leading to Chile. Two of the dead were bystanders, including a taxi driver struck by a stray bullet and a woman who suffered a heart attack. Police said 20 protesters and nine officers were injured in the country's latest conflict over natural resources. Protesters wielding clubs and rocks continued to block a stretch of the road on Monday and traffic was snarled in both directions. Interior Minister Octavio Salazar vowed to try again in the coming hours to break the blockade, where some 3,800 miners are pitted against 1,200 police officers. President Alan Garcia, whose term has been marred by periodic clashes over his natural resources policies, said wildcat miners must pay taxes and stop polluting....Miners say Garcia's new measures, which aim to limit dredging in rivers and prevent wildcat mining in nature reserves, would leave them without jobs and that they need the work to support their families. ...


Let me get this straight. In Peru, the government is fighting for the environment?

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Mon, Apr 5, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA may try to use Clean Water Act to regulate carbon dioxide
The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists. With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, the Clean Water Act would serve as a second front, as the Obama administration has sought to use the Clean Air Act to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases administratively. Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day. Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales. ...


Note to EPA: Use whatever means necessary.

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Tue, Mar 23, 2010
from USDA:
USDA, DOE & NSF Agree to Joint Climate Change Prediction Research Program
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today created a joint research program that designates nearly $50 million to develop climate system models that provide insights on climate variability and impacts on ecosystems. "Climate change and its impacts on the land, crops and animals raise some of the most serious issues faced by producers and by society at large," said Roger Beachy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. "It is important to understand its potential effect on our world and how we can proactively mitigate its consequences. Accurate and reliable scientific information is critical to sustain economically viable agricultural operations."... The program seeks proposals that couple climate models at different spatial and temporal scales to erosion, geomorphic change, land use, water management and food production. ...


Is this a new kind of TriLateral Commission? Sounds like a conspiracy of some kind.

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Sat, Mar 13, 2010
from Associated Press:
Meeting on deforestation boosts morale, budget
A conference bringing together more than 60 nations Thursday added $1 billion to the fight against deforestation and boosted the morale of those hoping to save the world's forests -- a key defense against global warming. Three months after a morose ending to climate change talks in Copenhagen, the one-day ministerial meeting in Paris attended by heavily forested countries such as Indonesia and those in the Amazon and Congo basins amounted to a confidence-builder for nations wondering what comes next in the battle against deforestation, many delegates said. ...


I hope there weren't too many handouts.

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Thu, Mar 11, 2010
from SolveClimate:
New Approach to Farming Could Help Solve Climate, Economic Crises
Discussions of climate change keep running head-long into a barrier: China, India, Brazil and the other countries of the global South need to develop. No leader of an underdeveloped country will ever agree to a climate change proposal that will take away that country's right to develop.... Meanwhile, first-world leaders, mired in economic crisis, can't make the long-run infrastructural investments that would enable them to take the technological lead in a low-carbon transformation -- let alone make the technology transfers or capital grants that are a moral and political imperative. But there's a partial way out of the crisis, or what the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has christened the "triple crunch," the intertwined crisis of climate crisis, systemic economic malaise, and oil depletion. The NEF argues that we need a new Green New Deal, culminating in a "great transition" to a new way of structuring production and consumption so as to re-create an ecology in homeostasis -- a sustainable economy, one that doesn't draw down impossible-to-renew natural resources. Food and agriculture will be central to such a transition... ...


As long as I don't have to get my hands dirty.

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Tue, Mar 9, 2010
from Yale environment 360:
World's Pall of Black Carbon Can Be Eased With New Stoves
With a single, concerted initiative, says Lakshman Guruswami, the world could save millions of people in poor nations from respiratory ailments and early death, while dealing a big blow to global warming -- and all at a surprisingly small cost. "If we could supply cheap, clean-burning cook stoves to the large portion of the world that burns biomass," says Guruswami, a Sri Lankan-born professor of international law at the University of Colorado, "we could address a significant international public health problem, and at the same stroke cut a major source of warming."...Some scientists now estimate that small, solid particles of black carbon are responsible for about one-fifth of warming globally and, as such, are the second-largest contributor to climate change, after carbon dioxide gas. ...


This dude's a guru and a swami ... all rolled into one.

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Sat, Mar 6, 2010
from Ceres, via BusinessGreen:
Climate change shareholder actions hit record high
The number of climate change-related shareholder actions has soared 40 per cent during the 2010 proxy season to a record 95 resolutions, according to new figures from sustainable investment lobby group Ceres. The flurry of shareholder resolutions, many of which call on companies to provide more detailed information on the risks they face as a result of climate change and imminent carbon regulations, are expected to increase further after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released new guidance detailing how climate change can represent a material risk to a firm's operations that should be disclosed to investors. "We want our companies to closely look at the impact climate change legislation and regulation have on them, to realistically assess those risks, and to consider the indirect consequences of climate change-driven regulation and business trends on their activities," said Jack Ehnes, chief executive of CalSTRS, a pension fund which manages $131bn dollars in assets. "The SEC's interpretive guidance outlines exactly the kind of action we have been asking our portfolio companies to take with regards to the issues raised by climate change." ...


Sometimes, big money talks.

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Thu, Mar 4, 2010
from Boston Globe:
US backs ban on bluefin tuna trade
The US government announced yesterday that it supports prohibiting international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a move that could lead to the most sweeping trade restrictions ever imposed on the highly prized fish. Sushi aficionados in Japan and elsewhere have consumed bluefin for decades, causing the fish's population to plummet. In less than two weeks, representatives from 175 countries will convene in Doha, Qatar, to determine whether to restrict the trade of bluefin tuna -- valued for its rich, buttery taste -- and an array of other imperiled species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.... Japan, the world's largest bluefin consumer, opposes the idea of trade restrictions, while the European Union has yet to take a formal position.... Over the past 40 years, the adult population of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna has declined 72 percent. In the western Atlantic, the population has dropped 82 percent. The declines occurred even though bluefin fishing was being governed by an international panel that sets catch quotas and is supposed to curtail illegal fishing. ...


I see "scientific bluefin fishing" in Japan's future.

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Thu, Mar 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Fuel Taxes Must Rise, Harvard Researchers Say
To meet the Obama administration's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving must simply increase, according to a forthcoming report by researchers at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The 14 percent target was set in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget for fiscal 2010. ...


Ivy League gassholes.

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Thu, Feb 25, 2010
from TIME:
A Deal Sours, and the Hummer Bites the Dust
GM's efforts to sell its Hummer brand to a little-known Chinese company have fallen apart, the U.S. automaker announced Wednesday. As a result, GM will begin to dismantle a brand of gas-guzzling SUVs that were synonymous with pre-financial crisis wealth and excess. Specific reasons for the failure of the deal, first announced last June, were not released. But Chinese regulators had frowned on the purchase for much the same reason that U.S. consumers shunned Hummer; the vehicle's size and poor fuel economy were incompatible in an era of high fuel prices, general economic weakness and greater concern about the harmful effects of vehicle emissions on the environment. ...


My heart is breaking.

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Tue, Feb 23, 2010
from SolveClimate:
Australia Group Rolls Out Plan for 100 percent Renewable Energy by 2020
A report to be released in the first half of this year finds that Australia can use solar and wind power to produce 100 percent of its electricity in 10 years using technologies that are available now.... "We have concluded that there are no technological impediments to transforming Australia’s stationary energy sector to zero emissions over the next 10 years," said Matthew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions. Australia now gets nearly 80 percent of its power from coal plants. Only 1 percent comes from wind power; less than half of 1 percent comes from solar energy.... Wright concedes that the plan is ambitious. At the same time, he says, it is "totally feasible," despite the price tag. The cost of quitting carbon entirely is estimated at around $36 billion per year, or up to 3.5 percent of Australia's annual GDP. ...


But what if we have no advancements in the next five years?

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Sun, Feb 21, 2010
from Associated Press:
Feds outline plan to nurse Great Lakes to health
The Obama administration has developed a five-year blueprint for rescuing the Great Lakes, a sprawling ecosystem plagued by toxic contamination, shrinking wildlife habitat and invasive species. The plan envisions spending more than $2.2 billion for long-awaited repairs after a century of damage to the lakes, which hold 20 percent of the world's fresh water... Among the goals it hopes to achieve by 2014: finishing work at five toxic hot spots that have languished on cleanup lists for two decades; a 40 percent reduction in the rate at which invasive species are discovered in the lakes; measurable decreases in phosphorus runoff; and protection of nearly 100,000 wetland acres. ...


I know how to push that 40 percent to 100: just ignore 'em!

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Sun, Feb 21, 2010
from AFP, via PhysOrg:
Chemicals suspected in breast cancer, US experts want tests
"We're currently not identifying chemicals that could be contributing to the risk of breast cancer," said Megan Schwarzman, a physician and environmental health researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. According to Schwarzman, only a handful of the more than 200 chemicals in the environment linked to mammary tumors in lab animals have been regulated by the US authorities "on the basis of their ability to cause breast cancer."... As the incidence of the most common invasive cancer in women has skyrocketed in a generation, a flurry of studies have looked into the role of chemicals in breast cancer.... Only around a quarter of more than 186,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 were genetically predisposed to the disease, and other breast cancer risk factors, including the early onset puberty in girls, have been linked to chemicals. ...


Government oversight and regulation is a drag on the economy, right?

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Tue, Feb 16, 2010
from Guardian:
Global collective action is the key to solving climate change
With Copenhagen behind us, it's time for a new discourse, one which acknowledges the majority view on climate science, accepts uncertainties, and encourages debate among scientists over their observations of the world. A debate framed in the language of risk and uncertainty in which economics and societal values will play a central role. We have to recognise that a global climate deal will be unlike any other previous international agreement. What we are seeking is a radical transformation of the global economy. If we view it as just another agreement that can be achieved with a bit of lobbying and mass mobilisation it won't work.... Perhaps a more global conscience is a distant dream. But dream we must. We have no alternative but to build a global grassroots movement, move politicians forward, and force large corporations and banks to change direction. Civil society needs to sharpen its teeth if it is to win the battle to save the climate. ...


Egads, rise up and assert our right to a future?

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Thu, Feb 4, 2010
from Climate Wire:
'All Kinds of Yelling' Expected From Obama's Lobbyist Crackdown
The Obama administration's call for a lobbying crackdown created confusion on K Street yesterday even as it spawned cheers among environmental and watchdog groups. The issue came to the forefront this week after Norm Eisen, White House special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, blogged about how the administration plans to revolutionize how lobbyists disclose their activities and contribute money to candidates for federal office... Considering that climate change is an issue producing lobbyists from almost every industry in the United States, the plans, if enacted, could generate a flood of data about the discussions and attendees at pivotal meetings during the drafting of global warming legislation. ...


No matter what, a reduction in lies and bullshit is good for the planet.

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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from WWF:
French Guiana set to tackle bycatch
A new law requiring French Guianese shrimp fishers to use special devices that reduce unwanted fish catch will help better protect marine turtles and other vulnerable marine species in the region. As of Jan. 1, the country's fishing fleet under the new law now has to use a device called the Trash and Turtle Excluder Device, or TTED, to limit accidental capture of larger marine species. Widespread use of this device, which took three years to develop, will greatly reduce bycatch among shrimp trawlers. In French Guiana, tropical shrimp fisheries represent a major source of undesired bycatch. Without a bycatch reduction device in place, shrimp represents only 10 to 30 percent of the total catch, meaning the rest is made up of other marine species. Nearly half of the world's recorded fish catch is unused, wasted or not accounted for, according to estimates in an April scientific paper co-authored by WWF. ...


TTEDs rule -- and I bet the French acronym is much cooler!

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Mon, Jan 11, 2010
from University of Exeter via ScienceDaily:
Coral Can Recover from Climate Change Damage, New Research Suggests
...Scientists and environmentalists have warned that coral reefs may not be able to recover from the damage caused by climate change and that these unique environments could soon be lost forever. Now, this research adds weight to the argument that reducing levels of fishing is a viable way of protecting the world's most delicate aquatic ecosystems....The researchers conducted surveys of ten sites inside and outside marine reserves of the Bahamas over 2.5 years. These reefs have been severely damaged by bleaching and then by hurricane Frances in the summer of 2004. At the beginning of the study, the reefs had an average of 7 percent coral cover. By the end of the project, coral cover in marine protected areas had increased by an average of 19 percent, while reefs in non-reserve sites showed no recovery. ...


All we gotta do is get rid of people!

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Mon, Jan 11, 2010
from CNN:
World warming to greener train travel
Take more trains and fewer planes. That's what Sarah Kendrew pledged to herself a few years ago. An astronomer at the Netherlands' Leiden Observatory, she travels frequently to nearby countries on business -- and prefers to not leave vapor trails in the sky when doing so. "I've been making a conscious effort to take trains rather than fly," she told CNN, "for environmental reasons initially, but I've also found them to be much more comfortable and convenient -- so it's not really an effort anymore." Faced with global climate change, many around the globe -- from governments to companies to individuals -- have also warmed to train travel. Traveling by rail is on average three to 10 times less CO2-intensive compared to road or air transport, according to the UIC, a Paris-based international organization of the railway sector. ...


Especially since we never got those jetpacks we were promised!

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Wed, Jan 6, 2010
from TIME Magazine:
Global Warming: Why Branson Wants to Step In
...at least one business leader, the British billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group Richard Branson, says he has heard the alarm from scientists and environmentalists about climate change, and believes that the world must not waste time shifting away from oil and other fossil fuels... So, Branson has taken it upon himself -- unsurprisingly -- to lead the charge against carbon. In 2010, he will officially launch the Carbon War Room, a corporate think tank of sorts, designed to incubate and spread the best ways to cut carbon in corporate sectors ranging from aviation to shipping to construction... Branson's operation will start by addressing carbon emissions from a significant but little-known source that is not covered by any national or international regulations: global marine shipping. ...


Maybe he could clean up those islands of plastic crap while he's at it.

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Wed, Jan 6, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Vast protected area proposed for leatherbacks
The battle to save Pacific leatherback turtles from extinction prompted federal biologists Tuesday to propose designating 70,000 square miles of ocean along the West Coast as critical habitat for the giant reptiles. The designation by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration would mark the first time critical habitat has ever been established in the open ocean for the endangered leatherbacks, which swim 6,000 miles every year to eat jellyfish outside the Golden Gate. If approved, the regulations would restrict projects that harm the turtles or their food. The government would be required to review and, if necessary, regulate agricultural waste, pollution, oil spills, power plants, oil drilling, storm water runoff and liquid natural gas projects along the California coast between Long Beach and Mendocino County and off the Oregon and Washington coasts. ...


Yeah, if it weren't for the turtles why even worry about waste, pollution, oil spills, etc...

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Tue, Jan 5, 2010
from New York Times:
C.I.A. Is Sharing Data With Climate Scientists
The nation's top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government's intelligence assets -- including spy satellites and other classified sensors -- to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests. The collaboration restarts an effort the Bush administration shut down and has the strong backing of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the last year, as part of the effort, the collaborators have scrutinized images of Arctic sea ice from reconnaissance satellites in an effort to distinguish things like summer melts from climate trends, and they have had images of the ice pack declassified to speed the scientific analysis. ...


Well that sure is Climate In Action!

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Tue, Dec 29, 2009
from Reuters:
Brazil keeps climate targets despite failed summit
"We will fully comply with the targets. It doesn't matter that Copenhagen didn't go as well as we had hoped," Environment Minister Carlos Minc told reporters after meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva... Brazil aims to reduce its projected 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by as much 39 percent. That amounts roughly to a 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels. According to the bill Lula is expected to sign into law later on Monday, those targets will be quantifiable and verifiable. Latin America's largest country had tried to prod other developing and industrialized countries into adopting bold targets at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen earlier this month. But the meeting failed to produce a new framework agreement on climate to follow the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. ...


This is Brazilicious!

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Wed, Dec 23, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
EPA announces plan to require disclosure of secret pesticide ingredients
Reversing a decade-old decision, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it plans to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose to the public the inert ingredients in their products. An inert ingredient is anything added to a pesticide that does not kill or control a pest. In some cases, those ingredients are toxic compounds, but companies do not identify them on pesticide labels. Nearly 4,000 inerts - including several hundred that are considered hazardous under other federal rules - are used in agricultural and residential pesticides. ...


Oh jeez I don't think I wanna know!

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Tue, Dec 22, 2009
from New York Times:
Time to Scrap the White Pages?
It appears that the white pages -- the section of the telephone book that lists residential numbers -- may be going the way of the phone booth and rotary dial phone. A growing cadre of consumers and elected officials see the automatic delivery of white pages as unnecessary and wasteful given the availability of free online directories. The country's largest independent online directory provider, White Pages Inc., has been a leading advocate for limiting these deliveries. The company has gathered more than 20,000 signatures for its "Ban the Phone Book" campaign, which seeks the creation of "opt-in" programs for white pages phone books so they are delivered only to people who request them. The concept has attracted 5,000 fans on Facebook. ...


But ... how will I know I exist?

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Thu, Dec 17, 2009
from The Daily Climate:
Cities pushing nations toward deeper cuts
Mayors of some of the world's largest cities flexed their muscle at the United Nations climate talks Wednesday, warning that "billions of people" are prepared to cut emissions far beyond whatever agreement world leaders may ink this week....The discussion came a day after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a UN climate summit for cities and regions. "We at the local level have too much to lose," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. "We will go further, and we will make it safe for (politicians) to go further. We will push the envelope." Nickels and mayors of Delhi, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Melbourne – representing some 45 million people total – said they were pushing forward with ambitious climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, even as their national leaders remained stuck on those very points. They had no choice, said Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle. Earlier this year the worst wildfires in Australia's history grazed the outskirts of his city, killing more than 75 people. Experts attributed the exceptionally fierce blaze to drought conditions that scientists predict will become increasingly common as emissions increase. ...


It would appear it's time for "world leaders" to start FOLLOWING.

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Wed, Dec 16, 2009
from New York Times:
Climate Talks Near Deal to Save Forests
COPENHAGEN -- Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests, and in some cases, other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change. Environmental groups have long advocated such a compensation program because forests are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in trees, is estimated to account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. The agreement for the program, if signed as expected, may turn out to be the most significant achievement to come out of the Copenhagen climate talks, providing a system through which countries can be paid for conserving disappearing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions. ...


Can I please get paid to not weed my garden?

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Tue, Dec 15, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Newsom backs radiation labels on cell phones
San Francisco would become the first city in the country to require that cell phone retailers label the devices with the level of radiation they emit under a controversial proposal being discussed at the Department of the Environment and endorsed by Mayor Gavin Newsom. There is no scientific consensus that cell phones pose health hazards, and the Federal Communications Commission is adamant that any cell phone legally sold in the United States is safe for consumer use. But Newsom - who said he'll keep on using his beloved iPhone - said customers have the right to the information. "The information exists, but not at the point of sale," he said. "If we prevail, and I believe we will prevail, other cities will follow suit." ...


The customer is ALWAYS right.

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Tue, Dec 15, 2009
from New York Times:
Trusting Nature as the Climate Referee
Imagine there's no Copenhagen. Imagine a planet in which global warming was averted without the periodic need for thousands of people to fly around the world to promise to stop burning fossil fuels. Imagine no international conferences wrangling over the details of climate policy. Imagine entrusting the tough questions to a referee: Mother Earth.... To end this political stalemate, Dr. McKitrick proposes calling each side's bluff. He suggests imposing financial penalties on carbon emissions that would be set according to the temperature in the earth's atmosphere. The penalties could start off small enough to be politically palatable to skeptical voters. If the skeptics are right and the earth isn't warming, then the penalties for burning carbon would stay small or maybe even disappear. But if the climate modelers and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are correct about the atmosphere heating up, then the penalties would quickly, and automatically, rise. ...


Unfortunately, temperature is just an observational theory.

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Sat, Dec 12, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
It's best to avoid BPA, federal official says
The head of the primary federal agency studying the safety of bisphenol A said Friday that people should avoid ingesting the chemical - especially pregnant women, infants and children. "There are plenty of reasonable alternatives," said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. While stressing she is not a medical doctor, Birnbaum said she has seen enough studies on the chemical to be concerned about its effects on human health... Asked if consumers should be worried about BPA, Birnbaum said, "Absolutely." ...


Then what are we grown men? Chopped liver?

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Tue, Dec 8, 2009
from Associated Press:
Historic climate debate opens, with boost from US
The United States delivered a welcome boost Monday to a pivotal climate conference by saying greenhouse gases blamed for global warming should be regulated as a health hazard... Such regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would supplement the cap on carbon dioxide emissions being considered in the U.S. Congress, effectively raising the U.S. offer on emissions reductions in two weeks of hard bargaining in Copenhagen. "The executive branch is showing what it can do, even while legislation is pending," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. scientific network on climate change, said of the EPA action. "It also sends a powerful signal to Congress. It shows a degree of resolve on the part of the president." ...


"A degree" may not be enough...

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Wed, Dec 2, 2009
from USA Today:
Healthy, organic and cheap school lunches? Order up
On the combination plate of problems plaguing the USA's public schools, few are as intractable as this: Can you serve fresh, healthful meals each day to millions of kids without breaking the bank, or must you resort to serving up deep-fried, processed, less expensive junk?... For the first time, a small, privately held start-up is pushing to do just that: producing what are by all accounts fresh, healthful, all-natural school meals for just under $3 apiece. Starting with just one school in spring 2006, Revolution Foods has quietly grown year by year and now delivers about 45,000 breakfasts, lunches and snacks daily to 235 public and private schools in California, Colorado and the District of Columbia...Revolution shuns high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, trans fats and deep-frying. Its meats and milk are hormone- and antibiotic-free, and many of its ingredients are organic and locally sourced. ...


Doesn't sound very lunchable to me.

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Mon, Nov 30, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Solar panel costs 'set to fall' in near future
The cost of installing and owning solar panels will fall even faster than expected according to new research. Their tests show that 90 percent of existing solar panels last for 30 years, instead of the predicted 20 years. According to the independent EU Energy Institute, this brings down the lifetime cost. The institute says the panels are such a good long-term investment that banks should offer mortgages on them like they do on homes.... Heinz Ossenbrink, who works at the institute, said China had underpinned its solar industry with a big solar domestic programme which would keep prices falling. There are large-scale solar plans in the US and India too. ...


Solar default swaps, anyone?

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Mon, Nov 30, 2009
from San Diego Union Tribune:
Carbon dioxide not the only climate enemy
By quickly arresting soot, methane, low-level ozone and hydrofluorocarbons, the researchers said the world can delay climate change by roughly 40 years -- enough time to significantly trim emissions of carbon dioxide. So-called fast-action strategies generally rely on available technologies so that they can be launched in two or three years with relatively little cost, according to advocates for that approach. They said trimming potent lesser-known pollutants will produce results in a matter of decades while carbon-dioxide remain in the atmosphere for centuries even after emissions stop. Many scientists say it's important to avoid raising the world temperature by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels, a "tipping point" at which they predict major irreversible problems such as disappearing ice sheets. "As important as the CO2 side is, it's not enough to save us from irreversible and catastrophic changes," said Durwood Zaelke, a sustainable development expert at UC Santa Barbara. "We need these fast-action strategies to put the brakes on." ...


Don't just arrest them -- throw 'em in jail!

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Fri, Nov 27, 2009
from Southport Visitor:
Stationary motorists in Sefton could be fined for leaving engines running if plans are approved
PLANS to fine motorists who leave their engines on when stationary in Sefton have been proposed. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is seeking authorisation for plans to hand drivers on the spot fines of up to ÂŁ40 if they do not switch off their vehicle when stood still for more than a couple of minutes. This has come after the EPD received a number of complaints about stationary cars being left with their engine running whilst waiting at level crossing barriers, as well as waiting for buses and delivery vehicles to move on. In particular, numerous complaints about bus drivers leaving engines on for up to 30 minutes have been received and concerned members of the public brought up the issue during the recent consultation process. ...


Idling cars are the devil's smokestack.

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Mon, Nov 16, 2009
from New Scientist:
How reputation could save the Earth
HAVE you ever noticed a friend or neighbour driving a new hybrid car and felt pressure to trade in your gas guzzler? Or worried about what people might think when you drive up to the office in an SUV? If so, then you have experienced the power of reputation for encouraging good public behaviour. In fact, reputation is such an effective motivator that it could help us solve the most pressing issue we face -- protecting our planet.... Out in the real world, these experiments suggest a way to help make people reduce their impact on the environment. If information about each of our environmental footprints was made public, concern for maintaining a good reputation could impact behaviour. Would you want your neighbours, friends, or colleagues to think of you as a free rider, harming the environment while benefiting from the restraint of others? ...


But what about my right to private profligacy?

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Fri, Nov 13, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Threat of climate change should be treated like war say engineers
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) said it would be almost impossible for the UK to meet ambitious climate change targets to cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 without drastic action. The only way to reach the target would be to "go to war" against carbon emissions, its report said. This would mean setting up a Department of Climate Security to act like the War Cabinet and co-ordinate action across every other Government department. Unemployed people would be trained in making homes more energy efficient, factories would make solar panels and schools would encourage pupils to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Money would be pumped into wind turbines, nuclear power stations and solar panels as a matter of urgency. ...


We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight in the factories, we shall fight in our lifestyles. This is our finest hour.

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Tue, Nov 10, 2009
from Doc Jim:
From the ApocaDesk
Hundreds packed the IUPUI Campus Center in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, Nov. 9, to listen to a "professional bummer-outer." Yes, that's what Bill McKibben called himself as he opened his talk.
    It was 20 years ago that McKibben published what is now considered the first general-reader book about climate change, The End of Nature. Yet, 20 years later, we are still in the pickle of a lifetime, on the brink of climate collapse for many species on the planet, including our own. It's easy to conclude, here on the eve of Copenhagen climate talks, that no progress has been made as our planet's peril becomes more irrefutable every day.
    McKibben, though, is fresh from the success of International Day of Climate Action Day, Oct. 24, instigated by his 350.org group, and is in no bummer-outer mode at all. International Day of Climate Action Day was a world-wide public protest/awareness-raising, that included 5200 actions on planet Earth, all pertaining to a single data point: 350 ppm.
    350 ppm is the level of CO2 emissions that our planet can handle -- without stirring up extreme weather patterns or disturbing the hydrologic cycle or causing mass extinction or massive climate migration, etc. You know, the kind of thing we ApocaDocs post every day.
    You know that we've already far exceeded 350; we're hovering around 390, in fact, but still, 182 countries were represented and McKibben's slideshow at IUPUI of the actions people made were poignant and inspiring. See www.350.org to see the photos. CNN called it the "most widespread day of political action in the planet's history."
   In his talk, McKibben walked us through a short history of consumerism, pointing out that 1956 was the peak year for people responding a survey that they were "very satisfied" with their lives. Now, that number is around one quarter of those surveyed. The reason for this deterioration of happiness is that we've lost our "web of connections." People cite "half the number of friends" that they used to have (and we're not counting the amorphous, quasi-fictional friends we have on Facebook).
    Over these 50 years, he says, "We've built bigger and bigger houses farther apart from each other," encouraging that lack of human contact. Meanwhile, the consumer lifestyle created by readily-available (and affordable) fossil fuels is beginning to run out. And the effects of global warming are now visible almost everywhere, from the melting arctic ice to the desertification of Australia.
McKibben says our average global temp has risen one degree -- many scientists believe we'll go up 4 or 5 degrees if we don't change, fast, and McKibben remarks "we don't want to know" what a world like that will be.
    To free ourselves from the trap of consumerism, we need to head in a "new direction"... that direction being how we deal with food. McKibben calls food "our basic economy" -- and points out that it's the resurgence of farmers markets that has created the context for people to interact again. Food, he points out, is usually a net gain when it comes to energy issues, but is definitely a plus when it comes to taste as well as the overall experience of buying locally-grown produce, conversing with farmers and growers, as well as other customers.
    Given McKibben's activism with Step It Up and now 350.org, this college prof and Sunday School teacher has moved far beyond his role as writer -- and bummer-outer. In fact, McKibben is one of the most vital voices we have, inciting us to think deeply about sustainability and how the "local" is linked to the "global." ...


McKibben McRocks!

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Mon, Nov 9, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Copenhagen failure would be 'suicide': Maldives
The president of the Maldives has warned that a failure to agree a deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen next month would be an act of "collective suicide". "At the moment every country arrives at climate negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible," President Mohamed Nasheed said here. "This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide. "We don't want a global suicide pact. We want a global survival pact."... Nasheed opened a two-day forum for 11 countries considered the most vulnerable to climate change, urging them to go carbon neutral to show the rich world the way forward. ...


One world leader seems to be flying over this crazy cuckoo's nest.

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Fri, Nov 6, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
Research shows pesticide-free homes can be bug-free, too
When a building supervisor notified tenants in Brooklyn that one of the apartments had a bedbug infestation, Eddie Rosenthal feared that it was only a matter of time until they spread to his home. But it wasn't just the bugs that gave Rosenthal the creeps. So did the prospect of using pesticides. So Rosenthal decided to try a few tricks that might keep his home bug-free without spraying chemicals. He raised his bed off the ground, filled some cracks and applied some nontoxic powder to spaces between walls. Now new research shows that such good housekeeping techniques not only minimize chemical use, but they are even more effective at controlling pests than hiring an exterminator to spray powerful, toxic pesticides. A single use of such techniques in 13 New York City apartment buildings eliminated substantially more cockroaches and mice than repeated professional applications of pesticides, according to a new study. ...


Please don't let the pests figure out our new strategy!

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Fri, Oct 30, 2009
from London Guardian:
Canada sets aside its boreal forest as giant carbon vault
...In a series of initiatives, Canadian provincial governments and aboriginal leaders have set aside vast tracts of coniferous woods, wetlands, and peat. The conservation drive bans logging, mining, and oil drilling on some 250m acres -- an area more than twice the size of California...A report by the International Boreal Conservation Campaign said the forests, with their rich mix of trees, wetlands, peat and tundra, were a far bigger carbon store than scientists had realised, soaking up 22 percent of the total carbon stored on the earth's land surface....said Sue Libenson, a spokeswoman for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign... "The general premise is that there is still a hell of a lot of carbon in there." Its release would be a climate catastrophe. ...


CliTastrophe!

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Sun, Oct 25, 2009
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA to limit mercury emissions from power plants by 2011
The Environmental Protection Agency will put controls on the emissions of hazardous pollutants such as mercury from coal-fired power plants for the first time by November 2011 , according to an agreement announced Friday to settle a lawsuit against the agency. Many other polluters were forced to reduce emissions of toxic material such as mercury, arsenic and lead after the Clean Air Act was strengthened in 1990. Power plants, however, the largest source of mercury pollution, aren't subject to nationwide rules. The tougher rules will clean up more than just heavy metals because some kinds of pollution controls -- scrubbers, for example -- also remove other pollutants, such as soot. ...


I propose coal fired plants be fired, period!

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Thu, Oct 22, 2009
from Daily Climate:
A day built around a data point goes viral
Author Bill McKibben never saw this coming. Founder of 350.org, an environmental campaign aimed at holding atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts-per-million, McKibben set this Saturday as the day to take to the streets. The call went viral in ways far beyond anything McKibben and fellow organizers imagined: As of Thursday morning some 4,227 actions and rallies are planned in 170 countries, with 300 events in China, 1500 across the United States, 500-plus in Central and South America. Organizers credit the increasing inter-connectedness of Web, cellular and social networks for the spread, saying such random and organic growth would have been impossible even two years ago. "This is the one most important number in the world right now," McKibben said in an interview. "It's the one number that applies as absolutely in the Maldives as in Manhattan. It somehow has worked its magic." ...


What a difference a day -- and a data point -- makes!

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Tue, Oct 20, 2009
from Associated Press:
Michigan limits mercury emissions from coal-fired plants, requires 90 percent cutback by 2015
Michigan's coal-fired power plants will be required to make drastic cuts in mercury emissions under regulations announced Monday. The rules developed by the Department of Environmental Quality are designed to implement a policy Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced three years ago to slash the generators' mercury output 90 percent by 2015. Coal-fired plants produce 60 percent of Michigan's electricity. "Mercury is a serious health concern, and Michigan is eager to see a major reduction in mercury air emissions," DEQ Director Steven Chester said. A powerful toxin, mercury can damage the human nervous system and cause learning disabilities in fetuses and young children. Coal-fired electric plants are the nation's leading source of mercury pollution. ...


Michigan: Becoming more amenable every day.

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Tue, Oct 20, 2009
from Chicago Tribune:
Obama's EPA orders more tests for BP refinery
The Obama administration is cracking down on BP as the oil company overhauls its massive refinery in northwest Indiana, one of the largest sources of air pollution in the Chicago area. In response to a petition from environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered Indiana regulators to revamp a new operating permit for the Midwest's biggest refinery. The groups, along with elected officials in Illinois, contend Indiana had allowed the oil giant to avoid stringent requirements under the federal Clean Air Act. Tougher pollution limits could help relieve problems with lung-damaging soot and smog in the metropolitan area that stretches around the tip of Lake Michigan. In a 24-page order, the agency directed Indiana to take a new look at several sources of air pollution at the Whiting refinery, 15 miles southeast of downtown Chicago. The results are due in 90 days. ...


Just so EPA cracks down on towns Obama isn't in love with!

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Sat, Oct 17, 2009
from Richmond Review:
Richmond makes pesticides illegal
Using pesticides to spruce up lawns and gardens on all residential property and most city property is now illegal in Richmond. In a final vote this week, city council enacted the Pesticide Use Control Bylaw, giving bylaw enforcement officers power to fine homeowners up to $1,000 for using products like Roundup, Killex and Weed 'N' Feed.... Bylaw officers can write tickets to those who break the rules -- $100 for first offence, $500 for second and $1,000 for third. Tuesday's council vote thrilled members of the Richmond Pesticide Awareness Coalition, which has long lobbied for a bylaw. The coalition's Michelle Li said she hopes the city will now work to educate homeowners and lawn care companies of alternatives. ...


Is there a pesticide to get rid of bylaw officers?

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Tue, Oct 13, 2009
from The Australian:
Scientists back law to limit farm runoff to Great Barrier Reef
SCIENTISTS have backed the Queensland government's crackdown on farm runoffs to the Great Barrier Reef, describing new laws to limit the chemicals on sugar crops and pastures as "the right answer". Conservation groups have swung behind the measures, after producer organisations and individual farmers branded them unnecessary and a sop to the green lobby.... "The state is taking its responsibility to the reef very seriously ... I think we have to do everything we can." Marine scientists have warned that vast sections of the reef are threatened by the coral bleaching associated with rising sea temperatures caused by climate change.... Ms Jones's spokesman pointed out that high concentrations of the nutrients associated with fertiliser runoff were being detected up to 50km offshore. ...


Scientists and specialists weighing in on policy? What? Isn't more study needed?

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Thu, Oct 8, 2009
from COP15:
Cost of climate change: Pay now, or pay a lot more later
"As the news keeps sounding worse and worse, what we're talking about is not that the cost of doing something has changed -- the cost of doing nothing is really what's escalating." says Frank Ackerman, an economist at the Stockholm Environment Institute and Tufts University and lead author of the report "The Benefits and Costs of Climate Stabilization". The report was released this week by Economics for Equity and the Environment, a network of 200 economists that is a project of Portland-based Ecotrust. The economists estimate that it will cost around 2.5 percent of the gross world product to change the way we live and work, but such radical action would create jobs and could hurry technological advances just as the Cold War did in the 1950s and 1960s, The Oregonian reports. The study looks at what it would take to meet the recommendations of climate scientists who call for reducing atmospheric carbon concentrations from their current level of 387 parts per million to 350 parts per million -- compared to pre-industrial levels of 275. ...


Let's just pay the bill with our credit card!

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Wed, Sep 30, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
'Planned recession' could avoid catastrophic climate change
The report says the only way to avoid going beyond the dangerous tipping point is to double the target to 70 per cent by 2020. This would mean reducing the size of the economy through a "planned recession". Kevin Anderson, director of the research body, said the building of new airports, petrol cars and dirty coal-fired power stations will have to be halted in the UK until new technology provides an alternative to burning fossil fuels.... "For most of the population it would mean fairly modest changes to how they live, maybe they will drive less, share a car to work or take more holidays in Britain."... "If we do everything we can do then we might have a chance," he said. ...


I'm not sure that "recession now instead of collapse later" has the resonance to become a political chant.

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Sat, Sep 26, 2009
from New York Times:
Palau to Ban Shark Fishing
Palau, an island nation in the Western Pacific, is banning fishing for shark in its waters, Matt Rand, director of the Pew Environment Group's shark conservation program, said Thursday.... It will apply to waters covering an area about the size of Texas that are home to scores of shark species, Mr. Rand said. Mr. Rand conceded that Palau, which has a population of barely 20,000, would have difficulty enforcing the ban, but he said the country was a leader in marine conservation and added that he expected other countries would follow Palau's lead on the issue. ...


How dare you -- I love shark's fin soup!

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Sat, Sep 26, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
UN climate summit: Sea change needed at Copenhagen
With just 15 negotiating days left before governments meet in Copenhagen in December supposedly to finalise a new climate agreement, the man in charge of the negotiations -- the somewhat dour Dutchman Yvo de Boer == complains that they are "afloat on a sea of brackets". I haven't looked to see if any of them enclose a solitary comma (somehow life seems too short), but I do know that there are 2,500 sets -- all surrounding different points of contention -- in the 200-page negotiating text. At the present rate, most will remain as unresolved as the 30-year-old comma in New York. And yet almost every one of the world's governments (Saudia Arabia appears to be a rare exception) seems to want to seal a deal.... The issue is far too big to be left to the negotiators -- or even to the environment ministers who usually have to strike the deal in the end. Only national leaders have the authority to take the decisions, which will determine the shape of economies as well as the environment and could usher in a new era of growth. If they don't, we could be looking at not so much a comma, as a full stop. ...


"Sea change" -- is that the "awareness tide" that lifts all boats?

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Tue, Sep 22, 2009
from CNN Money:
PG&E Corp Quits US Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Views
PG&E Corp. (PCG) said Tuesday it is leaving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over objections to what its top executive called the chamber's "extreme position on climate change." In a letter to the U.S. Chamber published on PG&E's blog, www next100.com, PG& E Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Darbee wrote that company employees "find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored." The U.S. Chamber has been a vocal critic of climate legislation pending in the Senate, most recently suggesting that the U.S. hold a "Scopes-like" trial to debate evidence that climate change is man-made. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has demurred on the request, saying that its proposed finding that global warming poses a danger to public health is based on sound science. ...


Is the "sanity lobby" somehow taking hold?

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Tue, Sep 22, 2009
from Associated Press:
UN climate chief says China poised to take lead
China's ambition to grow quickly but cleanly soon may vault it to "front-runner" status — far ahead of the United States — in taking on global warming, the U.N. climate chief said Monday. China could steal the show by unveiling new plans Tuesday at a U.N. climate summit of 100 world leaders. India has also signaled that it wants to be an "active player" on climate change. "China and India have announced very ambitious national climate change plans. In the case of China, so ambitious that it could well become the front-runner in the fight to address climate change," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told The Associated Press Monday. "The big question mark is the U.S." The development would mark a dramatic turnabout. The United States, under former President George W. Bush's administration, long cited inaction by China and India as the reason for rejecting mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases. ...


Oh... we'll think of SOMETHING.

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Fri, Sep 18, 2009
from London Times:
India challenges US by agreeing to impose limits on carbon emissions
India wrong-footed the United States and other rich nations yesterday by agreeing for the first time to set numerical targets for curbing its greenhouse gas emissions. The move added to pressure on the Obama Administration to deliver on its own climate change pledges even as senior Democrats warned that US legislation may face severe delays. Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Environment Minister, told The Times that legislation was being drafted in Delhi to limit India's carbon footprint and in the process repair his country's reputation for intransigence on climate change before the crucial UN conference in Copenhagen in December. ...


If India can do it, then yes we can too!

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Fri, Sep 18, 2009
from London Independent:
Call for murder charges to be brought over toxic dumping
Trafigura, the oil-trading company at the centre of the scandal caused by the dumping of tons of toxic waste in one of the world's poorest countries, could be prosecuted for murder after a dossier of evidence was submitted to a court in the Netherlands yesterday, alleging that the sludge caused deaths and serious injuries. A complaint filed by Greenpeace Netherlands calls for a Dutch prosecution arising from Trafigura's actions in July 2006 — when a chartered tanker carrying the contaminated waste arrived in Amsterdam — to be widened to include events in Ivory Coast a month later which caused thousands of people to fall ill after tons of the foul-smelling slurry was dumped in the port of Abidjan.... A United Nations report this week stated that there seemed to be "prima facie evidence" that up to a dozen deaths in Abidjan were linked to the sludge. ...


If this works, I've got a list a mile long...

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Thu, Sep 17, 2009
from SolveClimate:
US Policy Breakthrough on Super Greenhouse Gases, But Obstacles Remain
The U.S. State Department issued an international proposal jointly with the governments of Canada and Mexico this week to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) starting as early as 2011. The move represents a welcome breakthrough for the administration, whose HFC policy has been delayed since May when interagency disagreements stalled U.S. action on the super greenhouse gases. HFCs, found in small amounts in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, have a climate warming impact many thousands of times greater than CO2.... It would be the first time that the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, recognized as a very successful treaty that has stopped the global use of more than 90 ozone-destroying substances in its 20 years, would be deployed to control climate warming gases. ...


Jobs. Air conditioning more expensive. Theory. Economy. Socialism. Don't tread on me.

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Tue, Sep 15, 2009
from Washington Post:
When It Comes to Pollution, Less (Kids) May Be More
To heck with carbon dioxide. A new study performed by the London School of Economics suggests that, to fight climate change, governments should focus on another pollutant: us. As in babies. New people. Every new life, the report says, is a guarantee of new greenhouse gases, spewed out over decades of driving and electricity use. Seen in that light, we might be our own worst emissions. The activist group that sponsored the report says birth control could be one of the world's best tools for fighting climate change. By preventing the creation of new polluters, the group says, contraceptives are a far cheaper solution than windmills and solar plants. ...


As long as people don't leave those dang rubbers lying around everywhere!

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Sun, Sep 13, 2009
from New Scientist:
Better world: Tax carbon and give the money to the people
A universal carbon tax could be far simpler. NASA climatologist James Hansen is a vocal proponent, favouring a variant in which fossil fuels are taxed at source or at a country's port of entry. The most polluting fuels in terms of carbon emissions, such as coal or tar-sand-derived oil, could be taxed more heavily than others. Consumers would not pay the tax directly, but its effect would permeate through to everything from the price of gas to the price of food: the more carbon-intensive goods or services are, the more heavily they will be hit. That doesn't mean that consumers need be out of pocket. As Hansen envisages the scheme, the proceeds of the tax should not be kept by the government, but instead distributed equally among all citizens in the form of payments into their bank accounts. Those who make greener choices -- flying less, insulating their home, running a more energy-efficient car -- will make a net profit from the tax.... "A carbon tax is honest. It takes one page rather than 1400," [Hansen] says. "That doesn't go down too well in Washington." ...


Simple and sensible leaves too little room for opportunism.

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Mon, Sep 7, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Solar panel maker to create 4,000 green jobs
US solar specialist Solyndra has begun construction of a second fabrication plant, which it claims could result in 3,000 temporary jobs and 1,000 or more long-term positions in the new plant.... The company said that the new site will allow it to address its $2bn order backlog and could create enough solar panels, along with the existing facility, to cut more than 350 million metric tons of C02 or 850 million barrels of oil.... Solyndra, which gets its name from its cylindrical solar modules, also announced that it has become the first company to receive a loan -- of around $535m -- guaranteed by the US Department of Energy under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. ...


Leeeeet the sun shine, leeeet the sun shine in!

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Sat, Sep 5, 2009
from Mongabay:
Investing in conservation could save global economy trillions of dollars annually
By investing billions in conserving natural areas now, governments could save trillions every year in ecosystem services, such as natural carbon sinks to fight climate change, according to a European report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). As reported by Reuters, a one time investment of 45 billion dollars in protected areas the global economy could save ecosystem services worth 4.5-5.2 trillion annually, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, adding that this was more than the value of the global car, steel and information technology sectors. ...


That's kind of risky. I'll stick with credit default swaps.

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Sat, Sep 5, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
France to set carbon tax at 14 Euros a tonne
The French government is poised to introduce a carbon tax of 14 euros a tonne from next year, brushing aside concerns that unilateral emission taxes could force carbon-intensive businesses to leave the country. In an interview with Le Figaro magazine to be published tomorrow, prime minister Francois Fillon said the government would introduce the tax at a level in line with the current carbon market price of 14 euros a tonne before increasing it over time.... The announcement sparked immediate protests from motorists and haulage firms, but Fillon said that measures would be undertaken to protect businesses and poorer families from the impact of the tax.... "I assure you there will be no increase in the obligatory taxes," he said. "The carbon tax is about transferring taxation, it is not a new tax." ...


Ah, Francois, I kees you on both cheeks!

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Sat, Aug 22, 2009
from New York Times:
In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand
...Deforestation, a critical contributor to climate change, effectively accounts for 20 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 70 percent of the emissions in Brazil. Halting new deforestation, experts say, is as powerful a way to combat warming as closing the world’s coal plants. But until now, there has been no financial reward for keeping forest standing. Which is why a growing number of scientists, politicians and environmentalists argue that cash payments ... are the only way to end tropical forest destruction and provide a game-changing strategy in efforts to limit global warming. ...


Then money DOES grow on trees!

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Mon, Aug 17, 2009
from Wall Street Journal:
New Priorities For Our Energy Future
By T. BOONE PICKENS AND TED TURNER Renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas are the basis of a new strategy the world needs to create a cleaner and more secure future. And the global transformation to a clean-energy economy may be the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century. According to the authoritative Potential Gas Committee (administered by the Colorado School of Mines), the U.S. sits on top of massive reservoirs of natural gas—an estimated 2,000 trillion cubic feet—that contain more energy than all the oil in Saudi Arabia... natural gas is already cheap, available and ready to meet the nation's power needs while improving climate security. It emits about half the carbon dioxide per British thermal unit of energy, and far fewer of the heavy metals than does coal. ...


The coal industry is going to crap a coal brick when they read this editorial.

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Fri, Aug 14, 2009
from Treehugger.com:
US Has Gotten More New Energy from Efficiency Improvements Than All Supply Side Expansion Combined: Obama Science Advisor
John Holdren: "[T]he cleanest, fastest, cheapest, safest, surest energy supply option continues to be increasing the efficiency of energy end use -- more efficient cars, more efficient buildings, more efficient industrial processes, more efficient airplanes. We have gotten more new energy out of energy efficiency improvements in the last 35 years than we've gotten out of all supply side expansion put together in the United States. That's even without trying all that hard. For most of that period, we haven't had anything that you could call a really coherent set of energy policies supporting increasing energy efficiency." ...


Surely a more efficient title could have been used for this story.

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Fri, Aug 7, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Obama hands out $2.4bn to jump-start US electric car development
The Obama Administration this week pledged $2.4bn (Ł1.4bn) in stimulus money in its bid to make America a global leader in electric and hybrid car development. "For too long we failed to invest in this kind of work, even as countries such as China and Japan were racing ahead," Obama said as he and his colleagues travelled the US this week doling out economic stimulus funds to programmes in 20 states. Michigan, the state that is the traditional home of the US car industry and in the fallout from the recession has the nation's highest unemployment rate at 15.2 per cent, received 11 grants worth $1.36bn to develop new kinds of batteries and electric car technologies, as well as build new factories to manufacture them. General Motors received more than $241m to make battery packs for its imminent Chevrolet Volt electric car and build a rear-wheel electric-drive system. ...


That's almost 0.3 percent of the cost of the Iraq war!

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Adidas, Clarks, Nike and Timberland agree moratorium on illegal Amazon leather
Leading shoemakers, including adidas, Clarks, Nike and Timberland, have demanded suppliers stop sending them leather from illegal ranches in the Amazon, after Greenpeace published a report highlighting the problem. The environmental charity found that shoe companies were unknowingly accepting leather from cattle raised on ranches set up on land that had been illegally cleared. Greenpeace said leather from cattle raised on legal and illegal ranches was often mixed up by the time it was exported from Brazil, making it impossible to trace a piece's origin. ...


Swoooooosh!

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Tue, Aug 4, 2009
from The Daily Green:
Congress to FDA: Prove Bisphenol A Safe, or Ban It
A little-noticed portion of the landmark food safety bill could have a big impact on the composition of consumer products, leading to the elimination of Bisphenol A in plastics now widely used in a range of plastic products aimed at pregnant women and young children. If the Senate keeps the provision in the final food safety bill, the Food and Drug Administration will have until the end of 2009 to determine whether the chemical is safe; if it cannot make a determination, then it must restrict the use of Bisphenol A in products designed for pregnant women, babies and young children, according to a provision inserted in the bill by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.). ...


Quickest way to get an answer: Ask the plastics industry!

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Fri, Jul 31, 2009
from The Earth Institute at Columbia University via ScienceDaily:
Index Insurance Has Potential To Help Manage Climate Risks And Reduce Poverty
Climate has always presented a challenge to farmers, herders, fishermen and others whose livelihoods are closely linked to their environment, particularly those in poor areas of the world. A type of insurance, called index insurance, now offers significant opportunities as a climate-risk management tool in developing countries... "Only the richest three percent of people in the world are covered by insurance," said Olav Kjorven, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy. "The world's poor have been completely left out, even though they are the most vulnerable people most in need of protection. Droughts, floods and hurricanes often strip whole communities of their resources and belongings. Index insurance, however, could finally enable millions of poor people to access financial tools for development and properly prepare for and recovery from climate disasters." ...


"Index insurance"... it sounds soooo sexy!

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Fri, Jul 31, 2009
from Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea via ScienceDaily:
New Hope For Fisheries: Overfishing Reduced In Several Regions Around The World
Scientists have joined forces in a groundbreaking assessment on the status of marine fisheries and ecosystems. The two-year study, led by Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington and including an international team of 19 co-authors, shows that steps taken to curb overfishing are beginning to succeed in five of the ten large marine ecosystems that they examined.... The work is a significant leap forward because it reveals that the rate of fishing has been reduced in several regions around the world, resulting in some stock recovery. Moreover, it bolsters the case that sound management can contribute to the rebuilding of fisheries elsewhere. ...


This news floats my bobber!

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Fri, Jul 31, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Bill would restrict antibiotics in food animals
A New York congresswoman is trying to rally support for a federal bill that would restrict antibiotic use in food animals just months after a similar measure tanked in California. Despite being voted down in Sacramento, a proposal that bans feeding antibiotics to cattle, hogs and poultry to increase their growth seems to be gaining momentum in the nation's capital, where the Obama administration has condemned the practice.... scientists and doctors fear that the overuse of these drugs makes them less effective in fighting bacteria in humans and animals. Microbes that develop immunity to the drugs will multiply and flourish. ...


Big farms like big pharms.

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Thu, Jul 23, 2009
from CBC (Canada):
Cod expert: Don't boost harvest yet
Newfoundland and Labrador's leading expert on cod said Tuesday that while there are strong signs northern cod is starting to make a comeback, fishermen should still leave it alone. Inshore fishermen have noticed an increase in the number of cod, and say there should be an increase in the amount they're allowed catch. George Rose, a former federal fisheries scientist and the research chair in fisheries science at Memorial University, said there has been a big turnaround recently in the fish's population -- a big change from even three or four years ago. "Nowhere near back to what they were historically, but they're starting to look better and better each year. So there's been some amazing changes in the last couple of years," he said. Rose linked some of the change to the recent reappearance of caplin, the main food for cod at this time of the year. However when it comes to increased catch allowances, Rose argued that if ever there was a time for caution, it's now. "We are at a critical time, and we're not at all certain that with an increase [in] the fishery that's substantial, we couldn't knock this back down," he said. ...


That crazy not fishing idea -- it just might work!

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Wed, Jul 22, 2009
from University of British Columbia, via EurekAlert:
Modest fisheries reduction could protect vast coastal ecosystems: UBC research
A reduction of as little as five per cent in fisheries catch could result in as much as 30 per cent of the British Columbia coastal ecosystems being protected from overfishing, according to a new study from the UBC Fisheries Centre.... Using B.C.'s coastal waters as a test case, the study affirms that small cuts in fishing -- if they happen in the right places -- could result in very large unfished areas. For example, a two per cent cut could result in unfished areas covering 20 per cent of the B.C. coast, offered real conservation gains.... "With the current rates of progress, there is no chance of meeting our 2012 targets," says Ban. "Given that fishers recognize the problem of overfishing but often regard marine protected areas as serving only to constrain them, another approach must be found. That's why we undertook this study." ...


Presuming, of course, that there are fish left to catch....

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Wed, Jul 22, 2009
from SouthCoast Today:
NOAA's chief poses 'grand' ocean challenge
"In our fisheries, the rich biodiversity of life swimming in and flying above the oceans, and our own well being all depend upon the actions we take this year and this decade," said Lubchenco, a marine ecologist who taught at Oregon State University before President Barack Obama appointed her as head of NOAA. "Too much is at stake to continue on our present path," she said. "Too much is at risk if we ignore either oceans or climate change."... Changes in ocean temperature could cause fish species to migrate northward and could throw current predator-prey relationships out of balance. Ocean acidification related to the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could make it difficult for scallops, oysters, mussels, clams, lobsters and other shellfish to produce and maintain hard shells or skeletons. "This is a relatively recently uncovered problem," she said. "And we don't yet know how every single species will respond. But for most species it will be increasingly challenging for them." ...


You're saying "our present path" is unsustainable? Haven't you heard that "the American way of life is non-negotiable"?

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Tue, Jul 21, 2009
from London Guardian:
Food products should carry 'water footprint' information, says report
Food and drink products should carry a new label to give consumers more information about their "water footprint" -- the hidden amount of water used in the manufacturing process -- two health and food lobby groups will recommend this week. More transparency is needed about the huge volumes of water used to produce food, which most consumers are unaware of, said the joint report by the Food Ethics Council (FEC) and the health and food group Sustain. It is calling for the proposed new label to reflect good practice, by taking into account the extent to which some companies and manufacturers are already working to use water in ways that are fair and environmentally sustainable. ...


Who's gonna wanna drink that water once your foot's been in it?!

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Sun, Jul 19, 2009
from Boulder Daily Camera:
Boulder explores work weeks of four 10-hour days
Working fewer, longer days each week could mean big savings for Boulder's energy bills, and happier workers, according to some city employees advocating for such a change. The city recently took a survey of its workers, asking them what they would change to become more efficient or cost-effective in the face of an expected $5 million budget shortfall next year. A resounding theme in the anonymous responses, according to city documents, is that managers should consider shortening the typical work week from the traditional five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days -- the theory being that shutting down city buildings could save energy. ...


Three day weekends ROCK!

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Sat, Jul 18, 2009
from New York Times:
Bottled Water Makers in the Hot Seat
Bottled water makers, it seems, are under seige. The Environmental Working Group, which found chemical contaminants in tests of bottled water, has begun calling for more oversight of the bottled water industry. Proponents of low-carbon lifestyles, meanwhile, are urging consumers to eschew bottled water and fill up reusable bottles with tap water instead. Restaurants have started to pull bottled water from their menus, and cities like Toronto are delivering chilled, dispensable drinking water to public events so people won't have to buy it. Last week, members of Congress grilled manufacturers of bottled water about the safety and environmental impacts of their products, while a small town in Australia reportedly became the first in the world to ban bottled water entirely. ...


I dunno... Paying for the contaminants just feels right.

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Fri, Jul 17, 2009
from Reuters:
U.S. releases unclassified spy images of Arctic ice
The United States released more than a thousand intelligence images of Arctic ice to help scientists study the impact of climate change, within hours of a recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences. In an unusually fast move by a U.S. government agency, the Interior Department made the images public on Wednesday. The academy's report urging this action was released at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Some 700 images show swatches of sea ice from six sites around the Arctic Ocean, with an additional 500 images of 22 sites in the United States. The images can be seen online at gfl.usgs.gov/. ...


Government helping scientists? Whoa! Maybe there is some hope!

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from Federation of American Scientists, via EurekAlert:
34 US Nobel Laureates urge inclusion of $150 billion in climate legislation
"The stable support this Fund would provide is essential to pay for the research and development needed if the U.S., as well as the developing world, are to achieve their goals in reducing greenhouse gases at an affordable cost," they wrote. "This stable R&D spending is not a luxury," they added. "[I]t is in fact necessary because rapid scientific and technical progress is crucial to achieving" U.S. goals in energy and climate and making the cost affordable. The letter notes that the House-passed climate bill, H.R. 2454, "provides less than one fifteenth of the amount" the president proposed "for federal energy research, development, and demonstration programs." The Senate is expected to consider its version of the climate legislation later this month. ...


Only 34? I bet I could find one laureate who disagrees. Then we could have a one-on-one, fair and balanced debate on television!

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from Haaretz:
Israeli study sees link between oral cancer, cell phones
A recent study documents a sharp rise in the incidence of salivary gland cancer in Israel that researchers believe may be linked to the use of mobile phones. The study was commissioned by the Israel Dental Association and directed by Avi Zini of the community dentistry department at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. The study included examination of the incidence of oral cavity cancers in Israel from 1970 to 2006. Among salivary gland cancer cases, researchers found a worrying rise in the number of cases of malignant growth in parotid glands - the salivary gland located under the ear, near the location where cell phones are held during conversations. ...


Shall we rename 'em cancer cell phones?

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from New York Times:
At Wal-Mart, Labeling to Reflect Green Intent
Shoppers expect the tags on Wal-Mart items to have rock-bottom prices. In the future they may also have information about the product's carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, and the air pollution left in its wake. As the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores is on a mission to determine the social and environmental impact of every item it puts on its shelves. And it has recruited scholars, suppliers, and environmental groups to help it create an electronic indexing system to do that. The idea is to create a universal rating system that scores products based on how environmentally and socially sustainable they are over the course of their lives. Consider it the green equivalent to nutrition labels. ...


Somebody pinch me... am I dreaming?

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Wed, Jul 15, 2009
from National Academy of Sciences, via EurekAlert:
Arctic sea ice images derived from classified data should be made public
Hundreds of images derived from classified data that could be used to better understand rapid loss and transformation of Arctic sea ice should be immediately released and disseminated to the scientific research community, says a new report from the National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report emphasized that these Arctic images show detailed melting and freezing processes and also provide information at scales, locations, and time periods that are important for studying effects of climate change on sea ice and habitat -- data that are not available elsewhere. "To prepare for a possibly ice-free Arctic and its subsequent effects on the environment, economy, and national security, it is critical to have accurate projections of changes over the next several decades," said committee chair Stephanie Pfirman, professor and chair of the department of environmental science at Barnard College, New York City. "Forecasts of regional sea-ice conditions can help officials plan for and adapt to the impact of climate change and minimize environmental risks." ...


But National Security! GWOT! Terrorists could... oh, wait, we're talking world security, aren't we?

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Tue, Jul 14, 2009
from Climate Wire:
SEC Turnaround Sparks Sudden Look at Climate Disclosure
Federal regulators are preparing to launch "a very serious look" at requiring corporations to assess and reveal the effects of climate change on their financial health, according to a commissioner on the Securities and Exchange Commission. Initial efforts are under way, moving the commission toward a conclusion that investment groups had sought unsuccessfully throughout much of the Bush administration: forcing public companies to report the dangers they face from releasing carbon dioxide and its warming aftermath... Big emitters like oil and gas companies, for example, might have to formally reveal the output of their greenhouse gases and the disadvantages they face from federal efforts to charge polluters for every ton of carbon that's released. ...


They should have always had to do this!

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Thu, Jul 9, 2009
from Associated Press:
H2-WHOA! Australian town bans bottled water sales
SYDNEY -- Residents of a rural Australian town hoping to protect the earth and their wallets have voted to ban the sale of bottled water, the first community in the country -- and possibly the world -- to take such a drastic step in the growing backlash against the industry. Residents of Bundanoon cheered after their near-unanimous approval of the measure at a town meeting Wednesday. It was the second blow to Australia's beverage industry in one day: Hours earlier, the New South Wales state premier banned all state departments and agencies from buying bottled water, calling it a waste of money and natural resources. ...


Cheers, mate!

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Sun, Jul 5, 2009
from Contra Costa Times:
EPA tentatively agrees to pesticide use restrictions near Bay Area endangered species habitat
The Environmental Protection Agency last week announced its tentative settlement agreement to temporarily ban in eight Bay Area counties the use of 74 pesticides in habitat set aside for 11 imperiled species. The agency also agreed to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rigorously assess any risks posed by these pesticides to the endangered or threatened species. That latter step will clear up uncertainty over the effects of these powerful chemicals on animal species deemed near the brink of survival, said Jeff Miller, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco, a nonprofit that filed a 2007 lawsuit leading to the settlement. "The end game is to get them to actually conduct the assessments of what the actual effects are," Miller said. ...


Here's my assessment: Pesticides are poison!

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Fri, Jul 3, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
China plans dramatic increase in solar capacity to 2GW by 2011
China is set to raise its target for installed solar capacity to 2GW by 2011, a fifteen-fold increase on the 140MW goal it set only last year. The state-run China Daily newspaper reported today that the National Energy Administration, the government office responsible for energy development plans, has decided to increase capacity over the next two years by providing increased subsidies for solar generators worth $0.16 (10p) per kWh. Chinese solar panel makers, including Suntech Power Holdings, Yingli Green Energy and LDK Solar, are expected to enjoy significant increases in sales as a result of the revised goal, said the newspaper. ...


The Commies are more committed to solar than we are? Time for an EnergyRace™!

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Tue, Jun 23, 2009
from SolveClimate:
Surprise: Nissan's Electric Cars to Be Made in the USA
Japanese motor giant Nissan will begin building electric vehicles and batteries in the United States as soon as 2010, thanks to U.S. government incentives announced today. The news carries a promise of green jobs for a struggling section of Tennessee. It also means that a cut of the $25 billion auto stimulus package that Congress passed last September will be going to a foreign company. Nissan won approval from the Department of Energy (DOE) for $1.6 billion in special low-interest loans earmarked for making American vehicles greener. Ford and electric car start-up Tesla Motors were the other recipients, landing loans of $5.9 billion and $465 million, respectively. The decision by the DOE to include the Tokyo-based automaker is yet another sign of Japan's rising clout in the world's nascent EV market. Under the plan, Nissan will invest its loan dollars in building electric car assembly lines at its Smyrna, Tenn. plant. The factory will be capable of churning out 50,000 to 100,000 electric vehicles a year by 2012. ...


Now that's stimulus I can believe in!

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Tue, Jun 23, 2009
from Mongabay:
Wind could power the entire world
Wind power may be the key to a clean energy revolution: a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science finds that wind power could provide for the entire world's current and future energy needs.... They imagined 2.5 megawatt turbines crisscrossing the terrestrial globe, excluding "areas classified as forested, areas occupied by permanent snow or ice, areas covered by water, and areas identified as either developed or urban," according to the paper. They also included the possibility of 3.6 megawatt offshore wind turbines, but restricted them to 50 nautical miles off the coast and to oceans depths less than 200 meters. Using this criteria the researchers found that wind energy could not only supply all of the world's energy requirements, but it could provide over forty times the world's current electrical consumption and over five times the global use of total energy needs. Turning to the world's two largest carbon emitters, China and the United States, the researchers found that wind power has the potential to easily supply both nations. ...


The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

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Wed, Jun 17, 2009
from New York Times:
Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun
...City dwellers have long cultivated pots of tomatoes on top of their buildings. But farming in the sky is a fairly recent development in the green roof movement, in which owners have been encouraged to replace blacktop with plants, often just carpets of succulents, to cut down on storm runoff, insulate buildings and moderate urban heat. A survey by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, which represents companies that create green roofs, found the number of projects its members had worked on in the United States grew by more than 35 percent last year. In total, the green roofs installed last year cover 6 million to 10 million square feet, the group said. ...


What's next? Green roofs on cars?

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Wed, Jun 17, 2009
from Daily Climate:
White House underscores climate impact
The Obama Administration on Tuesday released a report showing climate disruption is already leaving deep imprints on every sector of the environment and that the consequences of these changes will grow steadily worse in coming decades. The 196-page report crisscrosses the United States and finds that global warming has touched every corner: Heavier downpours, strengthened heat waves, altered river flows and extended growing seasons. These changes, the report notes, will place increasing stress on water, health, energy and transportation systems and have, in several instances, already crossed tipping points to irreversible change. "This report is a game-changer," said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Much of the foot-dragging in addressing climate change is in the perception that climate change is a ways down the road and only occurring in remote parts of the planet. "Climate change is happening now. It's happening in our own backyards. It affects you and the things you care about." ...


Can we pleeeeeeeze go back to the Denial Epoch of George W. Bush?

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Tue, Jun 16, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Obama targets US public with call for climate action
The Obama administration is poised for its most forceful confrontation with the American public on the sweeping and life-altering consequences of a failure to act on global warming with the release today of a long-awaited scientific report on climate change. The report, produced by more than 30 scientists at 13 government agencies dealing with climate change, provides the most detailed picture to date of the worst case scenarios of rising sea levels and extreme weather events: floods in lower Manhattan; a quadrupling of heat waves deaths in Chicago; withering on the vineyards of California; the disappearance of wildflowers from the slopes of the Rockies; and the extinction of Alaska's wild polar bears in the next 75 years.... "It's a clarion call for immediate action," said Amanda Staudt, a climate scientist at the National Wildlife Federation who has seen advanced drafts of the report but not the version released today. "This report basically describes a state of emergency. It says we need to act quickly and decisively. Every state is going to be affected, and every sector of the economy." ...


"State of emergency?" From a theory?

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Mon, Jun 15, 2009
from Wall Street Journal:
Before Adding, Try Reducing
The U.S. government is committing billions of dollars to support renewable energy such as wind- and solar-power plants. Some say it should use more of that financial clout to encourage less energy consumption in the first place. Advocates of conservation, including businesses that help homeowners and companies save energy, think there should be more subsidies and tax incentives for basics like insulation and window shading, and for newer, more costly products like light-emitting-diode lamps and building-automation systems. LEDs cost more but use less energy than incandescent bulbs. The new automation systems help buildings waste less energy on cooling, heating and lighting. Projects that improve efficiency pay for themselves quickly, the advocates say, and help people and businesses save money. Renewables, meanwhile, cost more money to achieve the same reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions. ...


What do these smartypants think is going to be gained by using common sense?

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Sun, Jun 14, 2009
from The Economist:
REDDy and waiting
THESE are critical times for trees. In some places -- like Peru, where police and indigenous folk are doing battle -- the future of the forests is being determined by lethal force. Guyana is seeking money from the rich world to help keep most of its land forested. In other places, eco-warriors merely have to hack their way through a thicket of arcane technicalities. One such place is Bonn, where diplomats from most countries in the world are haggling over financial incentives to keep trees intact... The talks are working on details of an idea known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD): it aims to fold the saving of trees into a wider UN effort to cool the world. At the moment, the UN system offers no rewards for leaving trees alone. ...


A la Pink Floyd, sing with me: Hey, teacher, leave them trees alone!

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Sat, Jun 13, 2009
from TIME Magazine:
Congress Finally Gets Tough on Food Safety
Every few months, it seems, a new food-contamination scandal grips the nation, playing out in the same troubling way. Someone dies of a food-borne infection with a scary Latin name. The government recalls a dinner-table staple and traces its contamination to dirty irrigation water or a processing plant. Everything returns to normal until the next case of killer spinach or poisoned peanuts stalks the nation. Despite the toll -- 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations a year -- Congress has typically been unwilling to strengthen controls on the growing, manufacturing and handling of food in the face of powerful industry resistance. But as profits and consumer confidence have plummeted with each new outbreak, the political climate has changed -- so much so that earlier this week, a House panel reached unusual bipartisan consensus on the most sweeping reform of the food-safety system in at least 50 years. ...


I'll belch to that!

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Thu, Jun 11, 2009
from McClatchy Newspapers:
U.N. environment chief urges global ban on plastic bags
Single-use plastic bags, a staple of American life, have got to go, the United Nations' top environmental official said Monday. Although recycling bags is on the rise in the United States , an estimated 90 billion thin bags a year, most used to handle produce and groceries, go unrecycled. They were the second most common form of litter after cigarette butts at the 2008 International Coastal Cleanup Day sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, a marine environmental group... According to the report, "Plastic, the most prevalent component of marine debris, poses hazards because it persists so long in the ocean, degrading into tinier and tinier bits that can be consumed by the smallest marine life at the base of the food web." ...


Kind of like Zeno's paradox about the arrow in flight.

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Sat, Jun 6, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Rainforests could be more profitable standing, says research
The Indonesian rainforest is worth more to businesses standing than if it was felled, according to new research. A study published in the journal Conservation Letters shows that a scheme that would give palm oil companies -- largely responsible for deforestation in the region -- carbon credits for protecting rainforests would make them more money than clearing land to grow plants for palm oil. Palm oil is used in a number of cosmetic products as well as man biofuels. The scheme, called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd), could go a long way towards protecting rainforests, Oscar Venter from the University of Queensland told the BBC. "If Redd does become part of the next international climate agreement, it will have the potential to fund forest protection in areas slated for oil palm conversion," said Dr Venter, who led the research. ...


And, if we can build a theme park or two in the rainforest... even more profit!

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Thu, Jun 4, 2009
from Mongabay:
Tribes in Peru to get $0.68/acre for protecting Amazon forest
Indigenous communities in Peru will be paid 5 soles ($1.70) per hectare ($0.68/acre) of preserved forest under a new conservation plan proposed by Peru's Ministry of Environment, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its bi-monthly update. Antonio Brack, Peru's Minister of Environment, says the scheme could generate $18.3 million dollars for forest communities, which control some 11 million hectares of forest in the country, beginning in 2010. Brack says money has already been set aside for the program in the 2010 budget.... Nevertheless the program will represent a substantial increase in funding over the $30,000 per year indigenous communities presently receive in direct international support for forest conservation, according to Brack. ...


Jeez, can I buy a few acres?

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Tue, Jun 2, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Nancy Sutley: Obama to stake political prestige on passing US climate bill
Barack Obama is prepared to stake his own political prestige on getting climate change legislation through Congress, and would be willing to intervene directly to ensure passage of America's first law to reduce the carbon emissions that cause global warming. Nancy Sutley, who is pivotal in setting Obama's green agenda as the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told the Guardian that the president is ready to use his considerable personal popularity to rally Congress behind a sweeping climate change bill.... The accelerated pace set by some Democrats seems designed to capitalise on recent momentum behind a climate change bill which cleared a crucial committee in late May. The strategy also seeks to take advantage of Obama's current popularity -- Gallup gave him a 65 percent average approval rating last month. ...


Yes We... still might.

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Sun, May 31, 2009
from London Independent:
Leaders called to special climate talks
World leaders are to meet for an unprecedented second summit on climate change this year to try to get agreement on a tough new treaty by December, and may even get together for a third time before the end of the year. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, is to call the world's heads of government to New York in September to "galvanise political will" about what he describes as "the defining issue of our time". And there are plans for another G20 summit to discuss the issue in the autumn. These will follow a meeting of 17 key world leaders convened at the initiative of President Barack Obama immediately after the annual G8 summit in July. Observers cannot remember any similar progression of top-level meetings to address any issue over such a short period of time. ...


So many summits... so little time...

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Sun, May 31, 2009
from Washington Post:
New Virus Spurs Experts to Rethink Definition of Pandemic
Influenza experts are acknowledging that they were almost completely surprised by the way the current swine flu outbreak unfolded, so much so it is forcing the world to rethink what a pandemic is and what pandemic preparedness means. Virtually every assumption made since planning for a pandemic began in earnest after the deadly "bird flu" outbreak of 2004 in Southeast Asia has been contradicted by the six-week history of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1). Although they acknowledged there might be alternative scenarios, nearly every expert assumed that the next pandemic strain would jump from birds to human beings someplace in Asia. They also assumed that, like the H5N1 bird flu virus, which is lethal in 60 percent of people who catch it, the new strain would be recognized immediately and would have to be fought with drastic measures. Instead, the virus emerged in North America, appears to have come from pigs, had spread widely by the time it was noticed, and kills less than 1 percent of the people it infects. ...


We could plan for all this unpredictably by not planning at all!

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
China puts its faith in solar power with huge renewable energy investment
China is the world's leading ­manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) panels, which turn sunlight into electricity. But 95 percent of these are exported. While solar thermal power, in which sunlight heats water, is in widespread use, the central government and the five major utilities have deemed PV power too ­expensive, particularly compared with coal, which generates ­electricity for between an eighth and a tenth of the cost. But the global economic crisis and ­increasing concerns about climate change and energy security have prompted a change in attitudes. Since last year, a glut in supply of PV panels has pushed prices down by more than 30 percent, cutting ­profits of domestic manufacturers such as Suntech. To support them and widen the ­country's energy base, the plan is expected to include the biggest ever boost for solar power, along with extra spending and ­policy support for nuclear, wind and ­biomass power. By 2020, the government is committed to raising the share of ­renewable energy ­(excluding hydroelectric power) in the energy mix to 6 percent, from the current 1.5 percent. ...


Can they make photovoltaics as cheap as their crappy microwaves?

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Washington Post:
In Ecuador, an Unusual Carbon-Credit Plan to Leave Oil Untapped
QUITO, Ecuador -- Beneath the tropical jungles of northeastern Ecuador lies a vast pool of oil, representing one-fifth of the small Andean country's petroleum reserves and potentially billions of dollars in revenue. Directly above that pool, the Yasuni National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife that is among the richest on the planet, Ecuadoran and U.S. biologists say. Faced with these two treasures, Ecuador is pursuing an unusual plan to reap the oil profits without actually drilling for oil. The idea envisions wealthy countries effectively paying Ecuador to leave its oil -- and the carbon dioxide that would result from using it -- in the ground. Environmentalists hail the proposal as a potentially precedent-setting approach to conservation in developing countries. ...


Don't drill, baby, don't drill!

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from Associated Press:
Study says businesses can create clean energy jobs
COPENHAGEN -- Business leaders vowed Monday to help world governments set a price on carbon, establishing a market that governments can use to cut greenhouse gases. "I think we can craft some pretty clear direction," said Tony Hayward, the chief executive officer of BP PLC. That approach requires governments to join a new U.N.-administered treaty for regulating greenhouse gases that proponents hope to hammer out by December... The predictions came at a global business summit where corporate leaders are focusing on how to help politicians negotiate a new global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto treaty that expires in 2012. ...


Businesses and politicians working together? Now all we need is common po' folks to join in!

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Tue, May 19, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
China and US held secret talks on climate change deal
A high-powered group of senior Republicans and Democrats led two missions to China in the final months of the Bush administration for secret backchannel negotiations aimed at securing a deal on joint US-Chinese action on climate change, the Guardian has learned. The initiative, involving John Holdren, now the White House science adviser, and others who went on to positions in Barack Obama's administration, produced a draft agreement in March, barely two months after the Democrat assumed the presidency.... The secret missions suggest that advisers to Obama came to power firmly focused on getting a US-China understanding in the run-up to the crucial UN meeting in Copenhagen this December, which is aimed at sealing a global deal to slash greenhouse gas emissions. In her first policy address the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she wanted to recast the broad US-China relationship around the central issue of climate change.... Chandler said he and Holdren drew up a three-point memo which envisaged: * Using existing technologies to produce a 20 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2010. * Co-operating on new technology including carbon capture and storage and fuel efficiency for cars. * The US and China signing up to a global climate change deal in Copenhagen. "We sent it to Xie and he said he agreed," said Chandler. ...


Backchannel, frontchannel, we don't care, just get moving!

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Sat, May 16, 2009
from Associated Press:
Obama wants to pump $475M into Great Lakes cleanup
A budget proposal from the Obama administration would spend $475 million on beach cleanups, wetlands restoration and removal of toxic sediments from river bottoms around the Great Lakes. The spending represents a first step toward a multiyear campaign to repair decades of damage to the battered ecosystem. It also seeks to ward off new threats by preventing exotic species invasions and cutting down on erosion and runoff. Obama's 2010 budget released in February requested the $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, focusing on the region's most pressing environmental problems. When added to existing programs such as sewer system upgrades, it would push annual federal spending on the lakes past $1 billion. ...


Isn't "pumping" crap into the Great Lakes what got us into this trouble in the first place?

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Fri, May 8, 2009
from New York Times:
U.S. Drops Research Into Fuel Cells for Cars
Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, once hailed by President George W. Bush as a pollution-free solution for reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil, will not be practical over the next 10 to 20 years, the energy secretary said Thursday, and the government will cut off funds for the vehicles' development.... The Energy Department will continue to pay for research into stationary fuel cells, which Dr. Chu said could be used like batteries on the power grid and do not require compact storage of hydrogen. The Obama administration will also establish eight "energy innovation hubs," small centers for basic research that Dr. Chu referred to as "Bell Lablettes." These will be financed for five years at a time to lure more scientists into the energy area. "We're very devoted to delivering solutions -- not just science papers, but solutions -- but it will require some basic science," Dr. Chu, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics, said at a news conference. ...


Again with the pragmatics. Where has the ideology gone?

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Fri, May 8, 2009
from DOE, via EurekAlert:
Report examines limits of national power grid simulations
America's power grid today resembles the country's canal system of the 19th Century. A marvel of engineering for its time, the canal system eventually could not keep pace with the growing demands of transcontinental transportation. More than 150 years later, America's infrastructure is again changing in ways that its designers never anticipated. Distributed and intermittent electricity generation, such as wind power, is rapidly expanding, new smart meters are giving consumers more control over their energy usage, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles may someday radically increase the overall demand for electricity.... "Implementing smart grid technologies on a large scale will not be trivial," Petri added. "The challenges go beyond technical and economic issues. The smart grid technologies could fundamentally change how national power grid systems operate and respond to disruptions." ...


Since when is smart anything trivial?

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Thu, May 7, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Ford to convert SUV plant to produce its first electric car
In a highly symbolic move, auto giant Ford announced yesterday that it is to invest $550,000,000 ... in converting a Michigan plant currently used to manufacture SUVs into a factory specialising in small, fuel-efficient cars that will also produce its first electric vehicle. The company said that the plant would be refitted to manufacture a new version of its small Ford Focus from next year, and would then begin producing a battery-electric version of the Focus -- Ford's first all-electric passenger car -- in 2011. The Michigan plant was one of the world's most profitable car factories during the late 90s when sales of large SUVs such as Ford's Lincoln Navigator boomed. However, it has suffered in recent years as the market for larger vehicles has collapsed. ...


But without a monster SUV, how can I prove my dominant-primate status?

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Mon, May 4, 2009
from ABC News:
Plastic bag ban begins
South Australia has become the first state to ban lightweight plastic checkout bags. The ban is expected to reduce the 400 million bags a year which end up in dumps. Shops must supply reusable or environmentally friendly alternatives such as cornstarch or paper bags. Retailers could get an on the spot fine of $315, or a maximum penalty of $5,000 if they are caught breaching the ban. ...


Quit being a bag nag!

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Wed, Apr 29, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Smarter grids could provide 700,000 UK job boost
The UK's Digital Road to Recovery report models the likely economic impact of an additional Ł15bn investment in broadband networks, smart grid technologies, and intelligent transport systems, such as congestion management infrastructure. It concludes that the productivity boost digital networks can deliver for other businesses means that increased investment in ICT technology would prove more effective at creating jobs and boosting the economy than spending on physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges. The report calculated that an additional Ł5bn in broadband investment would help to create or retain 280,000 jobs, while Ł5bn for smart grid systems would create or retain 235,000 jobs, and investing the same sum in intelligent transport systems would result in 188,000 jobs. ...


Will that mean we'll start seeing groups of four geeks by the roadside, with three of them watching the fourth one work?

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Mon, Apr 27, 2009
from London Guardian:
Call for 20-year fishing ban in a third of oceans
One third of the world's oceans must be closed to fishing for 20 years if depleted stocks are to recover, scientists and conservation groups have warned. Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at the University of York, has reviewed 100 scientific papers identifying the scale of closure needed. "All are leaning in a similar direction," he said, "which is that 20-40 percent of the sea should be protected." Friends of the Earth, the Marine Conservation Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds all support the idea of a 30 percent closure. ...


Can't you just see it? Giant No Fishin' signs placed all over the planet!

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Fri, Apr 24, 2009
from Sacramento Bee:
Fuels must clean up act
California became the first state in the nation Thursday to mandate carbon-based reductions in transportation fuels in an attempt to cut the state's overall greenhouse gas emissions. The California Air Resources Board approved a phased-in reduction starting in 2011, with a goal of shrinking carbon impacts 10 percent by 2020. Fuel producers can comply in different ways, such as providing a cleaner fuel portfolio, blending low-carbon ethanol with gasoline or purchasing credits from other clean-energy producers. California's low-carbon fuel standard could lead to a national measure under President Barack Obama, as well as shape how the transportation sector evolves. But businesses and oil industry critics warned that more research is necessary and that its action would lead to higher costs for consumers in a recessionary economy. ...


It's super important my financial portfolio is robust during the Apocalypse!

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Tue, Apr 21, 2009
from London Guardian:
South Korea lights the way on carbon emissions with its ÂŁ23bn green deal
The secretary for future vision is considering how many South Koreans it takes to change a million lightbulbs. No joke. Kim Sang-hyo, the president's extravagantly titled right-hand man, is trying to create more than 940,000 green jobs and improve his country's energy efficiency at the same time. Switching every bulb in every public building in South Korea to light-emitting diodes by the end of this year is one, very small, element in the master plan of what has been described as the greenest new deal on the planet....Over the next four years, the government promises to build a million green homes, improve the energy efficiency of a million more, invest ÂŁ1.2bn on research into low-carbon technologies and spend ÂŁ4.8bn on high-speed railways and other forms of "clean" transport. ...


The heart and seoul of the green movement is the lightbulb.

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Mon, Apr 20, 2009
from London Guardian:
China considers setting targets for carbon emissions
The Chinese government is for the first time considering setting targets for carbon emissions, a significant development that could help negotiations on a Kyoto successor treaty at Copenhagen later this year, the Guardian has learned. Su Wei, a leading figure in China's climate change negotiating team, said that officials were considering introducing a national target that would limit emissions relative to economic growth in the country's next five-year plan from 2011... While that is a minority view and final decisions are some way off, the proposals are striking because they are at odds with China's official negotiating stance. ...


Maybe leaders who don't take global warming seriously shouldn't be leaders!

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Mon, Apr 20, 2009
from The Daily Climate:
California takes on King Corn
California regulators, trying to assess the true environmental cost of corn ethanol, are poised to declare that the biofuel cannot help the state reduce global warming. As they see it, corn is no better -- and might be worse -- than petroleum when total greenhouse gas emissions are considered. Such a declaration, to be considered later this week by the California Air Resources Board, would be a considerable blow to the corn-ethanol industry in the United States. If passed, the measure could serve as a model as other states and the federal government tackle carbon emissions. That has the ethanol industry in a full-court press against the proposal, saying it risks killing investments needed to create the next generation of cleaner, more efficient biofuels. ...


Foolishly, we've been bio-foiled again!

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Sun, Apr 19, 2009
from Baltimore Sun:
Bay survey shows blue crabs rebounding
The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has increased significantly over the past year, Maryland and Virginia officials announced Friday, saying that harvest limits designed to combat steep declines in the population appear to be working. Results of the 2008-2009 winter dredge survey show that the number of female crabs in the bay doubled in the past year. Catch restrictions were aimed at preserving females so they could survive to produce the next generation. Overall, the number of crabs in the bay increased from 280 million in 2007-2008 to more than 418 million in 2008-2009, officials estimate, a rapid and surprising rebound. The survey showed that the number of baby crabs held steady at 175 million. ...


Good they're rebounding -- now if they could only hit their jumpshots.

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Sat, Apr 18, 2009
from Washington Post:
EPA Says Emissions Are Threat To Public
The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday officially adopted the position that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare, a move that could trigger a series of federal regulations affecting polluters from vehicles to coal-fired power plants. The EPA's action marks a major shift in the federal government's approach to global warming. The Bush administration opposed putting mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, on the grounds that they would hurt business, and the EPA had resisted identifying such emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. ...


Whoa! So the EPA decided to live on the same planet as the rest of us!

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Tue, Apr 14, 2009
from Lawrence Journal-World & 6News:
New battle expected after Gov. Sebelius vetoes coal-burning power plant bill
It's a showdown over coal-burning power plants again. On Monday, as expected, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed legislation that would allow construction of the two 700-megawatt plants in southwest Kansas. She vetoed three similar bills last year. In her newest veto message Monday, Sebelius said of the legislation, "What was a bad idea last year, is an even worse idea today." President Barack Obama is moving toward regulating carbon dioxide emissions, and Kansas doesn't need the plants for its own energy needs, she said. ...


You go, Gov!

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Tue, Apr 7, 2009
from US News and World Report:
Five Hot Spots in Congress's Upcoming Climate Change Debate
When Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts released a draft of a much-anticipated global warming bill last week, it effectively marked the start of this year's debate over regulating greenhouse gas emissions . But even with a Democratic majority in Congress and a sympathetic Obama administration, it's going to be a long, tough fight. The debate centers on a proposal to create a cap-and-trade program, which, if passed, would set national limits on greenhouse gas emissions and require big polluters to get credits, or permits, for their emissions, which could then be traded between cleaner and dirtier companies. Among the questions that remain to be answered: how to design a cap-and-trade program that not only works but also protects average Americans from potentially higher energy costs and how to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars the program is expected to raise. ...


What's so complicated about trading caps? I'll wear whatever it takes!

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Mon, Apr 6, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Obama pledges US lead on climate change
PRAGUE (AFP) -- President Barack Obama said Sunday the United States was ready to take the lead in tackling climate change, as EU leaders pushed him to follow their ambitious targets to combat global warming. "To protect our planet, now is the time to change the way that we use energy," Obama told a crowd gathered at Prague Castle for his only public speech during his maiden tour of Europe. "Together we must confront climate change by ending the world's dependency on fossil fuels by tapping the power from the sources of energy like the wind and the sun and calling upon all nations to do their part. "And I pledge to you that in this global effort the US is now ready to lead." ...


Sometimes... you just gotta pinch yourself to make sure you're awake!

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Mon, Apr 6, 2009
from New York Times:
A List of the Most Wanted, by the E.P.A.
... The E.P.A.'s list, complete with mug shots of the fugitives, was established in December to try to draw attention to serious environmental crimes. "We take them seriously, and there are serious consequences," said Doug Parker, deputy director of the agency's criminal investigation division...The list includes two men charged with smuggling ozone-destroying coolants, who are believed to have fled to Syria; a man charged in Illinois with building a secret pipeline to funnel pollutants into a tributary of the Mississippi River; and a man, believed to be in Greece, indicted on charges of dumping contaminated grain into the ocean. ...


What about my neighbor, who drives a Hummer?

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Sun, Apr 5, 2009
from 350.org:
Dear World:
This is an invitation to help build a movement--to take one day and use it to stop the climate crisis. On October 24, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we'll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety. This movement has just begun, and it needs your help. Here's the plan: we're asking you, and people in every country on earth, to organize an action in their community on October 24. There are no limits here--imagine bike rides, rallies, concerts, hikes, festivals, tree-plantings, protests, and more. Imagine your action linking up with thousands of others around the globe. Imagine the world waking up. ...


If we're gonna take our world back, we're gonna have to get organezized!

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Thu, Apr 2, 2009
from New York Times:
China Vies to Be World's Leader in Electric Cars
Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that... To some extent, China is making a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making gas-powered vehicles, but by skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump on the next... But electric vehicles may do little to clear the country's smog-darkened sky or curb its rapidly rising emissions of global warming gases. China gets three-fourths of its electricity from coal, which produces more soot and more greenhouse gases than other fuels. ...


How about this, then? How about Flintstones-style vehicles?

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Tue, Mar 31, 2009
from Minneapolis MinnPost:
There ain't no bugs in me: Anti-antibiotics bill irks agribusiness
Are pigs hogging all the good antibiotics? A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives assumes so, and it aims to control the overuse of the drugs in livestock and poultry production. Penicillin, tetracycline and other antimicrobials that doctors prescribe for our strep throats are also used in factory farming. The drugs are mixed with animal feed at CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), where a crowded environment can lead to petri dish-like conditions for bacteria. Antibiotics also help animals grow faster. And as we learned in high-school science class from Mrs. Phelps, the more bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the more resistant some of them (sometimes called "superbugs") get. ...


Chances are... if it irks agribusiness, it's probably good for regular folks!

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Tue, Mar 31, 2009
from San Jose Mercury News:
Obama signs landmark wilderness bill; restoration of key California river included
In one of the first major environmental acts of his presidency, President Barack Obama on Monday signed a far-reaching measure to provide wilderness protection to 2.1 million acres of federal land and restore salmon to California's second-longest river, the San Joaquin. The law will put billions of gallons of fresh water back into the river, potentially improving drinking water quality for large sections of the Bay Area, including Silicon Valley. "This legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted," Obama said at a White House ceremony. "But rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share." The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, co-written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer, is the largest wilderness preservation bill since President Clinton signed the Desert Protection Act in 1994. ...


Yes we really can!

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Mon, Mar 30, 2009
from London Guardian:
Fit every home with water meter by 2020, says Environment Agency
Every home in London and south-east England should be fitted with a water meter within six years, according to experts at the Environment Agency who say the move is needed to conserve dwindling water supplies. The agency says water companies and the government must accelerate plans to roll out the meters, and wants one fitted to every home in England and Wales by 2020. Water-stressed areas such as the south-east should have them by 2015, it says. Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: "People and businesses need to use less water and wasting water needs to cost a lot more." He said climate change and population growth could lead to serious shortages. "There may not be enough water in England and Wales in the future for people and the environment unless we start planning and acting now. We need a joined-up approach to this problem to prevent it becoming a crisis." ...


This better not impact my 20 minute showers!

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Mon, Mar 30, 2009
from Associated Press:
New Hampshire issues first climate plan
New Hampshire's first climate action plan calls for "a new way of living," beginning immediately, to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming -- and preparing the state for the warming the authors say is already under way. Recommendations range from making buildings more energy efficient to expanding public transportation systems and bike lanes as well as building transmission lines to bring hydroelectric and wind power from Canada. "Future economic growth in New Hampshire as well as mitigation of and adaptation to a changing climate will depend on how quickly we transition to a new way of living" based on increasing energy efficiency, using more renewable energy and driving less, the report said. ...


Live Green or Die.

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Mon, Mar 30, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
The 'revolution' starts here as 35,000 pack the G20 march
They hoped for 10,000, but in the end more than triple that number turned out on London's streets for the biggest demonstration since the beginning of the economic crisis. The Put People First march yesterday was organised by a collaboration of more than 100 trade unions, church groups and charities including ActionAid, Save the Children and Friends of the Earth. The theme was "jobs, justice and climate" and the message was aimed at the world leaders who will be gathering for the G20 summit here this week.... Updates on the event and messages of support were quickly posted on social networking websites such as Twitter, which organisers encouraged people to use to provide live coverage. One blog dubbed the event as "Protest 2.0". ...


This is the dawning of the age of Pisces.

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Sat, Mar 28, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Australia kicks off Earth Hour climate campaign
The waters of Sydney Harbour plunged into darkness on Saturday night, with the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge killing their lights for an hour in a global call for swift action on climate change. Chatham Island, the largest of a tiny group of Pacific islands 800 kilometres (500 miles) southeast of New Zealand, unofficially began Earth Hour by switching off its diesel generators at 0645 GMT, or 8:30 pm local time. The 25-hour energy-saving marathon officially began in Sydney shortly after 0930 GMT with a spectacular switch to darkness for an hour before spreading across the world for more than 80 countries to take part at 8:30 pm local time.... "Even if a billion people turn off their lights this Saturday the entire event will be equivalent to switching off China's emissions for six short seconds," said Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre think-tank. ...


If only Earth Hour could be Earth Day or Earth Week or...

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Fri, Mar 27, 2009
from Amandala (Belize):
Cherishing Belize's fisheries
Officials of the Environmental Defense Fund, a US-based NGO with an international network, hosted a presentation and discussion Wednesday morning at the training room of the Coastal Zone Management Authority's office in Belize City to talk about a program they are implementing in Belize. The program involves a concept known as “catch shares,” which the group describes as an incentive-based management of fisheries.... Sustainable management of fisheries works better if the interests of government and fishermen are aligned towards sustainability for both parties, Bonzon said.... She demonstrated (using a PowerPoint presentation) that when catch shares are implemented (1) over-fishing stops, (2) wastage or the taking of unnecessary by-catch declines, and (3) revenues to fishermen increase remarkably by as much as 170 percent in the fifth year of implementation. ...


This cooperation smacks of socialism. How is it possible that everyone benefits?

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Thu, Mar 26, 2009
from Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences , via EurekAlert:
E-waste reduced by fees at time of purchase, says new study
The large amount of waste that follows the sale of computers and electronics is reduced when states charge consumers a fee at the time of sale, according to [a recent study].... The fast pace of new product introduction in the electronics industry imposes high costs on manufacturers and the environment as consumers each year discard millions of tons of obsolete electronics containing toxic materials, by one estimate, more than one million tons of e-waste in the United States alone.... [T]he authors find that fees-upon-sale induce manufacturers to introduce products less frequently and, consequently, the quantity of e-waste decreases dramatically -- and manufacturers' profits may actually increase. In contrast, fees-upon-disposal reduce manufacturers' profits and fail to reduce the quantity of e-waste. ...


You're saying everyone benefits if we produce and buy less crap?
But what about
consumer culture?

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Tue, Mar 17, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Renewable energy's possible role 'underestimated'
Renewable energy could play a much larger role in supplying the world's energy needs than previously estimated — but it won't come cheap, according to a new study. The research, presented at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week (11 March) says that renewable energy could supply 40 per cent of the world's energy needs by 2050.... If renewable technologies were given the same government attention and financial backing as nuclear energy was in the 1970s and 80s wind energy and solar power would cost the same as traditional electricity generation by 2020–2025 and 2030 respectively, said Lund. But such ambitious targets require substantial financial investment, Lund warned. The technologies would require global support of US$12.8 billion to US$25.5 billion per year and without this backing wind and solar energy would contribute less than 15 per cent of the world's energy output. ...


Compared to the GWOT, that's peanuts.

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from CBC (Canada):
Nova Scotia Power to invest in wind energy
The Nova Scotia government plans to revise rules that bar Nova Scotia Power from investing in wind power companies, in hopes of helping the utility reach its green energy goals. Currently, Nova Scotia Power is forbidden from investing in wind turbine companies, but Energy Minister Barry Barnet said the province wants that to change. "I think there was kind of a mutual coming-of-the-minds that this is the way we can meet each other's objectives," Barnet said. "It's imbedded within the regulation and I'm not sure why it was put in there in the first place. The idea was to have the independent producers have the ability to operate separately from Nova Scotia Power." ...


Can we figure out how to identify stupidity and pre-emergency self-defeating regulations within bureaucracies?

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Sun, Mar 15, 2009
from Associated Press:
Sick 'downer' cows permanently banned from food supply
Washington -- The government on Saturday permanently banned the slaughter of cows too sick or weak to stand on their own, seeking to further minimize the chance that mad cow disease could enter the food supply. The Agriculture Department proposed the ban last year after the biggest beef recall in U.S. history. The recall involved a slaughterhouse in Chino and "downer" cows. The Obama administration finalized the ban Saturday... Those kind of cows pose a higher risk of having mad cow disease. They are also susceptible to infections from bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as E. coli, because the animals wallow in feces. ...


Wallowing around in feces does sound rather like a downer.

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Fri, Mar 13, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
US commits to renewable development
The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced plans to make the development of renewable energy a central priority of the organisation. In a statement issued this week, secretary of the interior Ken Salazar said he had issued a secretarial order to promote the creation of solar, geothermal and wind energy projects on the one fifth of the country's landmass managed by the department.... According to the DOI, it... has identified about 21 million acres of public land with wind energy potential in western states, and about 29 million acres with solar energy potential in southwestern states. The organisation added that there are also about 140 million acres of public land in western states and Alaska that could be used for geothermal energy. ...


Sing it: that land is your land, that land is my land...

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Wed, Mar 11, 2009
from Science:
Proposal: Make Every Earthling Pay Their Personal Carbon Debt (Sort of)
Today, an international team of scientists proposed a new way of deciding who needs to cut what: Set up a scheme in which every person on Earth has the same climate pollution limit— "a global personal emissions cap." The system would work by first setting a global limit for each year—ideally to be determined by the science, said Heleen de Coninck of the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands. If, for example, negotiators set the global emissions limit for 2030 at 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted, each nation would determine what its citizens' individual responsibilities to cut emissions were to achieve that cut and then add them up. The approach, said de Coninick, could really shake up negotiations. Individual Americans in 2005, for example, were responsible for roughly 19 tons of CO2 each per year on average. China's average was about 4 tons. Under the scientists' proposal, the world limit in 2030 would be 11 tons per person. So negotiators would calculate the per capita emissions cuts that each country would be responsible for. It would be up to individual goverments to decide how to divvy up the cuts, but the end result would be that the average U.S. emitter would have to cut more than the average Chinese. ...


There goes my gas-powered toasterfridge!

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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
from National Research Council, via EurekAlert:
Acknowledging the 'change' in climate change
Currently many state and local governments and private organizations are basing decisions -- such as how and where to build bridges or implement zoning laws -- on the assumption that current climate conditions will continue, an assumption that is no longer valid. Informing Decisions in a Changing Climte, new from the National Research Council, recommends principles for federal agencies to follow when conveying climate change information to these decision makers, and assesses whether a larger federal initiative to disseminate such information is needed. ...


You mean we're not done yet with this climate change thing?

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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
from WCSH6 (ME):
Shapleigh Passes Ordinance To Protect Groundwater
The town of Shapleigh voted Saturday to pass an ordinance that gives the people the right to control the water resources in town. Under the ordinance, groundwater is put in a common trust to be used for the benefit of its residents. The vote was 114 in favor and 66 against. Shapleigh is the first town in Maine to pass such an ordinance. It's a reaction to Poland Spring's interest in extracting town groundwater. ...


I'll drink from my recycled bottle to the rights of nature!

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Sun, Mar 8, 2009
from Mother Jones:
Spoiled: Organic and Local Is So 2008
Many of the familiar models don't work well on the scale required to feed billions of people. Or they focus too narrowly on one issue (salad greens that are organic but picked by exploited workers). Or they work only in limited circumstances. (A $4 heirloom tomato is hardly going to save the world.)... Organizations such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (which despite its namesake is a real leader in food reform) have long insisted that truly sustainable food must be not just ecologically benign, but also nutritious, produced without injustice, and affordable.... Using the definition of sustainability above, about 2 percent of the food purchased in the United States qualifies. Put another way, we're going to need not only new methods for producing food, but a whole new set of assumptions about what sustainability really means.... And for all our focus on the cost of moving food, transportation accounts for barely one-tenth of a food product's greenhouse gas emissions. Far more significant is how the food was produced—its so-called resource intensity. Certain foods, like meat and cheese, suck up so many resources regardless of where they're produced (a pound of conventional grain-fed beef requires nearly a gallon of fuel and 5,169 gallons of water) that you can shrink your footprint far more by changing what you eat, rather than where the food came from. According to a 2008 report from Carnegie Mellon University, going meat- and dairyless one day a week is more environmentally beneficial than eating locally every single day. ...


Wait... it's not just simply "organic or not"? I mean -- isn't "paper or plastic" simple?

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Sun, Mar 8, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Energy secretary promises "transformational" green research
US energy secretary, Steven Chu, yesterday called on a Senate committee to authorise far greater levels of government support for energy research, arguing that the onus is on the federal government to help incubate cutting edge low carbon technologies before they become commercially viable. Chu was testifying at a hearing held by the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to review the future direction of energy research and development. He argued there was an urgent need for greater funding, and a renewed focus on how to spend that money more wisely.... Chu also called for greater government support for cutting edge " transformational" energy research, arguing there was a need for "game changing, rather than incremental" science.... These include the creation of fuel from non-food crops and bio-waste, automotive batteries with greater longevity, reducing the cost of photovoltaic by 80 per cent, and computer design tools to increase energy efficiency in buildings. Finally, the Government could help to develop energy storage technology that could turn renewable power sources into base load generators, he said. ...


If we change the game, how will we know who wins?

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Sun, Mar 8, 2009
from Living on Earth:
Toward Healthier Waters
President Barack Obama has set aside half a billion dollars to clean up the Great Lakes. Many environmentalists - and some politicians - say the project is long overdue. The lakes are polluted with toxic waste that poison fish and endanger human health, and invasive species which disrupt the food web and the marine ecosystem... ...


Maybe we can bribe the quagga mussels into leaving.

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Fri, Mar 6, 2009
from USA Today:
Obama veers from Bush's environmental course
Even before George W. Bush can settle into his new house in Dallas, his legacy on the environment is being dismantled by his replacement in the White House. In less than two months, President Obama has put on hold Bush's plans for power-plant pollution, offshore oil drilling, nuclear waste storage and endangered species. ...


After how much harm Bush did in 8 years, his legacy isn't the only thing that should be dismantled!

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Wed, Mar 4, 2009
from Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Climate Official Urges Congress To Curb Greenhouse-Gas Emissions
The top U.S. negotiator of international climate-change agreements urged Congress to pass legislation curbing greenhouse-gas emissions in advance of an international summit this December, saying it would give other countries "a powerful signal" to cut their own emissions. "It's been a long time now that countries have been looking to the U.S. to lead," Todd Stern, President Barack Obama's special envoy for climate change, said in response to questions from audience members after a speech at a conference on global warming. Mr. Stern acknowledged that passage of climate-change legislation before December would be "an extremely tall order," but added that "nothing would give a more powerful signal to other countries than to see a significant, major, mandatory plan" from the U.S. before the start of international talks that are intended to forge a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which committed many industrialized nations to cutting their emissions. ...


Thank goodness his name is Todd Stern and not Todd Wussy.

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Mon, Mar 2, 2009
from CNN:
Can a 'smart grid' turn us on to energy efficiency?
... According to research sponsored by the U.S. Government, improving the efficiency of the national electricity grid by 5 percent would be the equivalent of eliminating the fuel use and carbon emissions of 53 million cars. For years environmentalists have been talking up the idea of a "smart grid" -- an electricity distribution system that uses digital technology to eliminate waste and improve reliability -- as a way of achieving this. Advocates of a "smart grid" also say that it would open up new markets for large and small scale alternative energy producers by decentralizing generation. "It would give consumers the potential to have a much more complex relationship with their energy supplier," says John Loughhead, Executive Director of the United Kingdom Energy Research Center. "Essentially, with a smart grid, traffic goes both ways. If you wanted to install some kind of micro-generation facility in your home, you could use it to sell to the grid and get money back." ...


But what if .... my grid is dumb?

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Sun, Mar 1, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
States' patchwork ballast rules has a few holes
A battle to force overseas ships to stop dumping biological pollution in the Great Lakes is taking shape in the harbors of Wisconsin. The state Department of Natural Resources recently released a proposed set of ballast water discharge rules for oceangoing vessels that is far stricter than anything that has been adopted by any other Great Lakes state except New York. Ballast water is used to steady less-than-full cargo ships and is a problem for the Great Lakes because oceangoing vessels traveling from distant countries can arrive with tanks teeming with unwanted organisms. Those foreign species can wreak havoc on the environment when the ballast is flushed as cargo is loaded. Congress has been talking about a uniform national ballast law for the better part of a decade, with little to show for it. ...


Sorry... but I just crapped a pile of quagga mussels on your couch!

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Sun, Mar 1, 2009
from New York Times:
Obama's Backing Raises Hopes for Climate Pact
Until recently, the idea that the world’s most powerful nations might come together to tackle global warming seemed an environmentalist's pipe dream. The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, was widely viewed as badly flawed. Many countries that signed the accord lagged far behind their targets in curbing carbon dioxide emissions. The United States refused even to ratify it. And the treaty gave a pass to major emitters in the developing world like China and India. But within weeks of taking office, President Obama has radically shifted the global equation, placing the United States at the forefront of the international climate effort and raising hopes that an effective international accord might be possible. Mr. Obama's chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, said last week that the United States would be involved in the negotiation of a new treaty -- to be signed in Copenhagen in December -- "in a robust way." ...


Robust ... or bust!

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Sat, Feb 28, 2009
from New York Times:
Obama's Greenhouse Gas Gamble
In proposing mandatory caps on the greenhouse gases linked to global warming and a system for auctioning permits to companies that emit them, President Obama is taking on a huge political and economic challenge. Business lobbies and many Republicans raised loud objections to the cap-and-trade program Mr. Obama proposed as part of his budget this week, saying the plan amounted to a gigantic and permanent tax on oil, electricity and manufactured goods, a shock they said the country could not handle during economic distress.... "Let’s just be honest and call it a carbon tax that will increase taxes on all Americans who drive a car, who have a job, who turn on a light switch, pure and simple," said John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader. "And if you look at this whole budget plan, they use this carbon tax as a way to fund all of their big government ideas." ... "It's a coal state stickup," ... ...


How 'bout we call it a survival tax, eh?

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Wed, Feb 25, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
First Solar reaches 'dollar per watt milestone'
The company said that during the fourth quarter of last year, the manufacturing cost for its solar modules stood at 98 cents per watt, taking it below the $1 per watt mark for the first time.... First Solar said it was confident that plans to more than double its production capacity through 2009 to more than one gigawatt would allow it to reduce costs further to a point where energy from solar panels can undercut that from natural gas and coal. According to the company, it has already reduced costs from more than $3 a watt in 2004 to less than $1 a watt now and there is every indication that the trend will continue as production capacity increases. ...


Hey, governments? Pre-order a few dozen gigawatts to prime the pump.

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Tue, Feb 24, 2009
from McGill University, via EurekAlert:
Peptides-on-demand: McGill researcher's radical new green chemistry makes the impossible possible
Fast and simple 'enabling technology' being offered to the world on open basis... McGill University chemistry professor Chao-Jun (C.J.) Li is known as one of the world leading pioneers in green chemistry, an entirely new approach to the science which eschews the use of toxic, petrochemical-based solvents in favour of basic substances like water and new ways of making molecules. The environmental benefits of the green approach are obvious and significant, but following the road less travelled is also paying off in purely scientific terms. With these alternative methods, Li and his colleagues have discovered an entirely new way of synthesizing peptides using simple reagents, a process that would be impossible in classical chemistry.... "This is really an enabling new technology," he added, "and since McGill has decided not to patent it, we're making our method available to everyone. We are paying the journal's open access fee, so anyone in the world can access the paper." ...


A new kind of science... making the impossible possible... available to everyone... where's the money in that?

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Mon, Feb 23, 2009
from Reuters:
U.S. renewable energy faces weak economy, old grid
People in the industries say the stimulus will help speed the process, but it still may not be fast enough to meet the Obama administration's goal of ramping up renewable energy production and related investments to revive the economy. The stimulus extends tax breaks for generating electricity from renewable sources. The government also will provide incentives for homeowners and businesses to buy solar power equipment, and will help fund other energy-saving measures.... Even if demand for renewable energy surges, moving those power supplies will pose problems. The electricity grid is little changed from the one that powered the radios that carried President Roosevelt's fireside chats in the 1930s. ...


Good evening, friends [crackle] -- we must [crackle] remake our energy infrastructure if [crackle] we are to remake our nation.

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Mon, Feb 23, 2009
from Associated Press:
Chicago touts environmental efforts
Plants cool 3 million square feet of rooftops throughout the city. Wind, hydropower and biofuels provide one-fifth of its energy. And last year, the mayor announced one of the country's most ambitious plans to slash greenhouse-gas emissions. So when Chicago promises to host the greenest Summer Olympics ever if it's awarded the 2016 games, organizers say it's not a gimmick. It's an extension of efforts that have been transforming this former Rust Belt city for years. "We've got a real opportunity to take the best aspects of our city, the parks, the lakefront and the environmentalism and bring a real asset to the table," Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. "It's certainly one of the great strengths of the city of Chicago that we have to offer." In Chicago's official Olympic bid book, released earlier this month, organizers tout a low-carbon "blue-green" event, with most venues along Lake Michigan, which is lined with parks, and a focus on environmentalism. Regardless of whether Chicago gets the Olympics, Mayor Richard M. Daley says he'll continue to focus on a goal he set a long time ago: to make his city the greenest in the United States. "When I started planting trees they thought it was a waste of money," Daley said during an interview at his City Hall office. "We started planting a green roof. They said, 'Oh, this is silly. What are we doing that for?'" ...


It better be green, or they'll be calling the Olympics the Respiratory Failure Sporting Event.

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Mon, Feb 23, 2009
from Environment Magazine:
The Short List: The Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can Take to Curb Climate Change
U.S. households account for about 38 percent of national carbon emissions through their direct actions, a level of emissions greater than that of any entire country except China and larger than the entire U.S. industrial sector. By changing their selection and use of household and motor vehicle technologies, without waiting for new technologies to appear, making major economic sacrifices, or losing a sense of well-being, households can reduce energy consumption by almost 30 percent -- about 11 percent of total U.S. consumption.... Table 3 below, based on Table 2, prioritizes actions in a few simple categories. It stands in contrast to common laundry lists by providing a short, prioritized, accurate, accessible, and actionable list of the most effective household actions to help limit climate change. ...


Yes we might!

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Sun, Feb 22, 2009
from Newsweek:
Greenest Nation
This is a trick question. What big country is, by most measures, greener than Japan and Germany and produces more geothermal energy than all of Europe combined? It might help to know that this nation is also a pioneer in environmental stewardship, having passed many of the world's toughest regulations on vehicle emissions, energy efficiency and nature conservation.... California, with its 37 million people, emits 20 percent less CO2 per dollar of GDP than Germany. It generates 24 percent of its electrical power from renewable fuels like wind and solar, compared with only 15 percent in Germany and 11 percent in Japan. It also has the world's largest solar-power plant (550 megawatts in the Mojave Desert), the largest wind farm (7,000 turbines at Altamont Pass) and the most powerful geothermal installation (750 megawatts at The Geysers north of San Francisco). Although California isn't immune to the economic crisis -- its finances are on the brink of collapse, which could translate into growing support for those who argue that green measures cost jobs -- its green accomplishments put it at the head of the pack. If California were a country, its economy would rank as the world's 10th largest and could lay claim to be one of the world's greenest. ...


Eureka! MEreka! Us...reka...

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Sat, Feb 21, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Investors put Chevron on 'climate watch'
A group of activist investors, including the giant California State Teachers' Retirement System, on Wednesday placed Chevron Corp. and eight other companies on a "climate watch list" of corporations that aren't adequately addressing global warming. The investors want the companies to pay more attention to how their operations are affecting, and will be affected by, climate change. The investors placed San Ramon's Chevron on the list because of its investments in Canadian oil sands. Squeezing petroleum from the sand releases more greenhouse gas emissions than ordinary oil production does. A Chevron spokesman on Wednesday did not address the sand issue but noted that Chevron has its own climate change action plan and has a subsidiary that promotes energy efficiency and renewable power. ...


Money talks.

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Sat, Feb 21, 2009
from New York Times:
E.P.A. Expected to Regulate Carbon Dioxide
The decision, which most likely would play out in stages over a period of months, would have a profound impact on transportation, manufacturing costs and how utilities generate power. It could accelerate the progress of energy and climate change legislation in Congress and form a basis for the United States' negotiating position at United Nations climate talks set for December in Copenhagen.... "We here know how momentous that decision could be," Ms. Jackson said. "We have to lay out a road map." ...


Nice to imagine an administration calling a toxin a toxin.

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from Associated Press:
Beaver sighted in Detroit River; first in 75 years
DETROIT – Wildlife officials are celebrating the sighting of a beaver in the Detroit River for the first time in decades, signaling that efforts to clean up the waterway are paying off. The Detroit Free Press reports that a beaver lodge has been discovered in an intake canal at a Detroit Edison riverfront plant. Officials believe the beaver spotted by the utility's motion-sensitive camera marks the animal's return to the river for the first time in at least 75 years. Photos and video were taken in November, but Detroit Edison didn't want to release them until they could ensure the animal's safety. John Hartig, Detroit River refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says the cleanup along the river has also brought back sturgeons, peregrine falcons and other species. ...


And his dam is LEED Certified, too!

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from Mother Jones:
The Stimulus Goes Green
The conference bill's near-final numbers contain $11 billion for the creation of a smart energy grid; $8.4 billion for public transit; $6.3 billion for state and local energy efficiency grants; $6 billion for the cleanup of contaminated Department of Defense sites; $4.5 billion to green federal buildings; and $1.2 billion for the EPA's cleanup programs. Loan guarantees for nuclear and so-called clean coal technology development -- included in the Senate bill -- were cut. Tax credit programs, incentivizing research and investment in clean renewable energy, will add further to the bill's green tally. "This is unbelievable," says Josh Dorner, a spokesman for Sierra Club. "This is an unprecedented investment in building a clean energy economy. The Clinton Global Initiative, about a year or so ago, their big challenge was to get spending on energy efficiency to reach $1.5 billion, total, in all of America. And this bill, just on federal buildings, has $4.5 billion. It's just kind of sinking in that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and Congress and President Obama really stepped up to the plate." ...


You mean... I... Can we... I mean...
really!?

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
from Associated Press:
Salazar rejects Bush drilling plan
WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has rejected a Bush administration plan to open vast waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to oil and gas drilling, promising "a new way forward" in offshore energy development including new wind projects. Salazar at a news conference Tuesday criticized "the midnight timetable" for new oil and gas development on the country's Outer Continental Shelf proposed by the Bush administration four days before President Barack Obama took office Jan. 20. The secretary said the previous administration's plan did not take into consideration the views of states and coastal communities, nor a need to better understand what energy resources are at stake, especially off the Atlantic coast where oil and gas estimates are more than three decades old. "We need to ... restore an orderly process to our offshore energy planning program," declared Salazar, criticizing "foot dragging" by the Bush administration in pushing for renewable energy development in coastal waters.Salazar did not rule out expanded offshore drilling, but criticized "the enormous sweep" of the Bush proposal, which envisioned energy development from New England to Alaska including lease sales in areas off California and in the North Atlantic that have been off-limits for a quarter century. ...


Guess we're not gonna drill baby drill after all...

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Tue, Feb 10, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Tories propose 'biocredits' to put cash value on damage to habitats and species
Under radical new Conservative proposals to stop biodiversity loss in the UK, all would be given a cash value. The scheme is designed to halt the decline of hundreds of habitats and species by assigning a cost to be paid by proposed development schemes that would lead to their destruction. The damage done by a project would be given a cash value and developers asked to compensate for that damage by investing an equivalent amount in projects to protect or improve biodiversity at another location. The plan being put forward by the new Conservative shadow environment secretary, Nick Herbert, is modelled on similar "bio-credits" initiatives, including in the US, Malaysia and Australia, which have created markets in biodiversity worth tens of millions of pounds a year. ...


We need some science going on, to figure out what critters have value. Like, are humans really necessary to biodiversity?

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Sun, Feb 8, 2009
from Carlisle Sentinel:
Anti-idling truck law goes into effect
As of Friday, most trucks and buses are no longer allowed to sit with their engines running for more than five minutes out of every hour. The enactment of statewide legislation was sweet and long-awaited news for members of the Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania (CAB), which advocated such a bill for two years before it was passed in October 2008. "We had our usual monthly public meeting on Thursday night, and we were celebrating," said CAB board member Rev. Duane Fickeisen of Unitarian Universalists of Cumberland Valley. CAB's emphasis has been on reducing the level of PM 2.5, a fine air particulate that is produced by diesel engines and linked to a variety of heart and lung ailments, and Fickeisen said he thinks the new law will help but not cure the problem. ...


Idle emissions are the devil's parking lot.

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Sat, Feb 7, 2009
from AFP:
US green groups hail reversal of Bush-era land lease
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- US environmentalists including actor Robert Redford have hailed US President Barack Obama's administration's reversal of a Bush-era move to lease wilderness land in Utah to energy companies. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ordered the Bureau of Land Management "not to accept the bids on 77 parcels" that, he said, former president George W. Bush's administration had rushed to sell off in its dying days in office. The lands involved sit "at the doorstep of some of our nation's most treasured landscapes in Utah," including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument and Nine Mile Canyon, Salazar said Wednesday. Actor, environmental activist and Utah resident Robert Redford called the move "a sign that after eight long years of rapacious greed and backdoor dealings, our government is returning a sense of balance to the way it manages our lands." ...


This takes a little of the sting out of the Bush disaster.

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Fri, Feb 6, 2009
from Scientific American:
U.S. Arctic May Close to Fishing
All U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait may soon be closed to commercial fishing. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council—the government body charged with administering Alaskan waters—voted unanimously in Seattle today to close 196,000 square miles (150,000 square nautical miles) of ocean to any fishing. "This will close the Arctic to all commercial fishing," says Jim Ayers, vice president for Pacific and Arctic affairs at Oceana, based in Juneau, who testified before the vote. "This is the beginning of a concept of large protected marine areas." ... While this is good news for fish, it does not mean that the Arctic is free from industrial threats. The Bush administration sold leases for oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi Sea to Shell and global warming is wreaking havoc by melting sea ice, softening permafrost and even eroding villages and towns. That prompted towns like Shishmaref to file a lawsuit requiring a reduction in greenhouse gases to preserve their traditional way of life. ...


No complacency, now. Before you know it, the Arctic will be the new bonanzaland for fish, as the rest is heated and acidified...

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Thu, Feb 5, 2009
from New York Times:
Experts in U.S. and China See a Chance for Cooperation Against Climate Change
BEIJING -- When Chinese officials and the Obama administration begin serious discussions over issues at the heart of relations between China and the United States, the usual suspects will no doubt emerge: trade, North Korea, human rights, Taiwan. But an increasing number of officials and scholars from both countries say climate change is likely to become another focal point in the dialogue. American and Chinese leaders recognize the urgency of global warming, the scholars and officials say, and believe that a new international climate treaty is impossible without agreements between their nations, the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases.... "I believe climate change may become a very important issue which will put China-U.S. relations in a new framework in the 21st century because the stakes are high," said Wu Jianmin, a senior adviser to the Foreign Ministry. "We all understand we don't have much time left. We've got to work together." ...


Somebody pinch me... Am I dreamin'?

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Thu, Feb 5, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Obama's energy secretary outlines dire climate change scenario
Unless there is timely action on climate change, California's agricultural bounty could be reduced to a dust bowl and its cities disappear, Barack Obama's energy secretary said yesterday. The apocalyptic scenario sketched out by Steven Chu, the Nobel laureate appointed as energy secretary, was the clearest sign to date of the greening of America's political class under the new president. In blunt language, Chu said Americans had yet to fully understand the urgency of dealing with climate change. "I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he told the Los Angeles Times in his first interview since taking the post. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going." ...


The Secretary of Energy... telling us the truth? What, did we have an election or something?

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Tue, Feb 3, 2009
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Personal-care chemicals go on toxic list
The federal government is placing on its toxic substances list two silicone-based chemicals that are widely used in shampoos and conditioners, where they help give hair the silky, smooth feeling often played up in advertisements for these personal care products. It is the first time any country has taken such regulatory action against the substances, called D4 and D5 by the silicone industry, that are also in hundreds of personal-care products ranging from deodorants to skin moisturizers.... [Ottawa] decided to designate the substances as dangerous, based on fears that they were a threat to wildlife when they get into the environment from the disposal of consumer products and from industrial releases. ...


You mean poisoning the environment is dangerous? But what about business?

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Mon, Feb 2, 2009
from Wired News:
Melting Arctic Prompts Calls for 'National Park' on Ice
With arctic sea ice melting like ice cubes in soda, scientists want to protect a region they say will someday be the sole remaining frozen bastion of a disappearing world. Spanning the northern Canadian archipelago and western Greenland, it would be the first area formally protected in response to climate change, and a last-ditch effort to save polar bears and other animals. "All the indications are of huge change, and a huge response is needed if you want to have polar bears beyond 2050," said Peter Ewins, the World Wildlife Fund's Director of Species Conservation. National Parks have proven to be one of the most important ways to protect and preserve natural areas and wildlife. First established in the United States in 1872, national parks have since been adopted internationally. But protecting an area outside of a single country's borders could prove to be difficult. ...


So... why don't we name earth itself a national park?

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Sun, Feb 1, 2009
from London Times:
Two children should be limit, says green guru
Couples who have more than two children are being "irresponsible" by creating an unbearable burden on the environment, the government's green adviser has warned. Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government's Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population. A report by the commission, to be published next month, will say that governments must reduce population growth through better family planning. "I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate," Porritt said. ...


Tell that to the mother of five in California who just gave birth to octuplets!

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Sat, Jan 31, 2009
from New York Times:
Praise the Lord and Green the Roof
...In setting out to construct an environmentally advanced building to replace the trio of connected brownstones that they now call home, the Episcopal sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit were taking a giant step in their decade-long journey to weave ecological concerns into their daily ministry. While they have long tried to reduce their carbon footprint at 113th Street, the new convent, for which construction will begin in March, will help them be green from the ground up. Of the 14 firms that the sisters had invited to submit proposals, BKSK ultimately wooed them with a plan that features rooftop gardens, water heated by solar power, rainwater collection, natural light and ventilation and the use of environmentally sensitive materials throughout. ...


Amen!

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Tue, Jan 27, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Supermarket chain bans use of pesticides in bid to save bees
The supermarket chain Co-op has banned foods grown using pesticides that harm honey bees.... The use of pesticides have been blamed for the collapse and yesterday the Co-operative announced it was banning any foods grown using the chemicals from their own range of fresh products.... Co-operative Farms -- the UK's biggest farmer with 25,000 hectares -- will also invite beekeepers to establish hives on its land as part of a 10-point "Plan Bee". ...


Hey Safeway, Giant, Kroger... whadda you got!?

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Tue, Jan 27, 2009
from AP News:
Tougher rules to end overfishing in US waters
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Ocean conservationists are hailing former President Bush for passing tough rules to end the overfishing of 40 struggling marine species before he left the White House. The rules were issued on Jan. 15 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees U.S. oceans policy. Passage of the rules garnered little attention as President Barack Obama prepared to take power. Under the new rules, the nation's eight regional fishery management councils will be forced to draw up measures to end overfishing by 2010. In most instances, this would involve putting caps on how many fish can be caught each year. Fishery managers will need to establish catch limits and goals for each overfished stock. The rules provide for "strong accountability measures" to enforce catch limits, NOAA said. ...


I never thought I'd see conservationists "hailing" W with anything but stones.

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Mon, Jan 26, 2009
from London Guardian:
Hospitals will take meat off menus in bid to cut carbon
Meat-free menus are to be promoted in hospitals as part of a strategy to cut global warming emissions across the National Health Service. The plan to offer patients menus that would have no meat option is part of a strategy to be published tomorrow that will cover proposals ranging from more phone-in GP surgeries to closing outpatient departments and instead asking surgeons to visit people at their local doctor's surgery. Some suggestions are likely to be controversial with patients' groups, especially attempts to curb meat eating and car use. Plans to reuse more equipment could raise concern about infection with superbugs such as MRSA. Dr David Pencheon, director of the NHS sustainable development unit, said the amount of NHS emissions meant it had to act to make cuts, and the changes would save money, which could be spent on better services for patients. ...


Animals applauded this decision as well.

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Mon, Jan 26, 2009
from BBC (UK):
'Climate hope' in economic plans
Economic stimulus packages being drawn up around the world show governments are taking the environment seriously, the UN's top climate official believes. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate convention, cited plans to boost growth by investing in renewable energy and public transport. He said leaders "could not afford to fail" on climate change.... Mr de Boer, who heads negotiations within the UN climate convention, said developments in Beijing and Washington were signs that governments were using the economic troubles as a window of opportunity for reforming their economies. "The high emissions, debt-driven, resource intensive model is dying," he said. "The impacts of climate change would put the final nail in its coffin." ...


Could it really be that the survival instinct has finally kicked in?

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Mon, Jan 26, 2009
from New Scientist:
US prepares to block influx of GM food
After a decade of exporting its genetically modified crops all over the world, the US is preparing to block foreign GM foods from entering the country -- if they are deemed to threaten its agriculture, environment or citizens' health, that is. The warning was given to the US Department of Agriculture, which polices agricultural imports, by its own auditor, the Office of Inspector General (OIG): "Unless international developments in transgenic plants and animals are closely monitored, USDA could be unaware of potential threats that particular new transgenic plants or animals might pose to the nation's food supply." ...


Is this a "Protect Monsanto" policy carried over from the last eight years, or is it a smarter policy of wariness from a new Administration?

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Thu, Jan 22, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Peruvian region outlaws biopiracy
LIMA, Peru -- A region of Peru is claiming to be the first in the world to enact a law outlawing biopiracy and protecting indigenous knowledge at a regional level. Cusco -- in the Peruvian Andes, once the capital of the Inca Empire -- has outlawed the plundering of native species for commercial gain, including patenting resources or the genes they contain. Corporations or scientists must now seek permission from, and potentially share benefits with, the local people whose traditions have protected the species for centuries. Indigenous communities can now implement ways to protect local resources, including creating registers of biodiversity and protocols for granting access to it. ...


One small step for humankind, one giant leap for the rights of nature.

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Wed, Jan 21, 2009
from WWF, via Science Daily (US):
Power Emissions Limits To Save Most Carbon At Least Cost, Study Suggests
The least cost way to reduce power related carbon emissions in Europe would be to supplement the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) with the introduction of Emissions Performance Standards for energy, according to a new study.... Such a system, successfully used in some US States where it has helped put renewable energy on a more equal footing with traditional energy sources, could cut the EU power sector's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 by more than two-thirds – more than 800 million tonnes per year.... "The current EU Emissions Trading Scheme unfortunately does not prevent high polluting coal-fired power stations from being built," said Stephan Singer, Director of WWF's Global Energy Programme. "We need new emissions limits to ensure Europe invests only in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and CO2 capture and storage facilities for coal-fired power stations. Otherwise, Europe will fail to deliver its contribution to keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius." ...


Anything that prevents coal-fired plants from being built is a good thing. Post-sequestered carbon is plainly stupid.

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Fri, Jan 16, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Paint cities white to tackle global warming, scientist says
Hashem Akbari believes that whitening 100 of the world's largest cities could wipe out the effect of the expected increase in emissions over the next decade. White buildings and surfaces reflect far more sunlight than dark ones. Reflected sunlight does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, unlike the heat energy emitted by dark surfaces heated by the sun. Dr Akbari, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, also argues that if built-up areas were made white, less heat would accumulate within them, allowing residents and workers to reduce their use of air-conditioning units, which use a large amount of power. Dr Akbari has calculated that making 100 of the largest cities white would increase the amount of sunlight reflected by Earth by 0.03 per cent. He believes it would cancel out the warming caused by 44billion tonnes of carbon emissions. ...


The future is too bright!

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Fri, Jan 16, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Farms to take heat out of warming
Farmers could help curb rising global temperatures by selecting crop varieties that reflect solar energy back into space, researchers say. Scientists at Bristol University calculate that switching crops in North America and Europe could reduce global temperatures by about 0.1C. Temperatures have risen by about 0.7C since the dawn of the industrial age.... "It could help marginally in certain places but it shouldn't cause anybody to think we can slow up our efforts to stop dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." Another obvious question with the approach is how to persuade farmers to make crop choices that might impact on their income, if they were asked to adopt strains that fetched less at market. One way would be to allow farmers to gain carbon credits for making a reflective choice, although Professor Caldeira suggested "starting to price albedo could open up a whole can of worms". ...


A good start -- and worth having to swallow some worms.

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Fri, Jan 16, 2009
from Taipei China Post:
Indonesian officials ride bicycles to fight global warming
JAKARTA -- City officials in South Jakarta must now cycle when performing their duties, in a move to help combat pollution and global warming, an official said Wednesday. They can own a car and drive to work, but they must cycle when travelling to do their work, South Jakarta city spokesman Ahmad Sotar said. "This is compulsory. Cycling will not only reduce pollution and global warming, but also promote good health," he added. "The officials can also get to know their residents better since now they can cycle through the narrow alleyways to reach their homes. They can't do so if they drive," Sotar said. ...


Leading by example!

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Tue, Jan 13, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Greenpeace buys Heathrow land earmarked for airport's third runway
Campaigners opposed to a third runway at Heathrow have bought a parcel of the land earmarked for the airport's expansion and are preparing for a fierce legal battle to defend it. The Government is expected to approve the new runway this week, along with a sixth terminal -- although there was speculation last night that a decision could be delayed after Gordon Brown agreed to meet Labour backbenchers opposed to the project. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats both oppose the plans, as do dozens of environmental groups. Greenpeace has bought a field the size of a football pitch and plans to invite protesters to dig networks of tunnels across it, similar to those built in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Newbury bypass in 1996. The group also plans to divide the field into thousands of tiny plots, each with a separate owner. BAA, the airport's owner, would be forced to negotiate with each owner, lengthening the compulsory purchase process. ...


Have you no respect for authority!?

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Sun, Jan 11, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
20 big green ideas
as Emma Howard Boyd, head of socially responsible investing at Jupiter Asset Management – sponsors of the Big Idea award, makes clear: "The urgency of what is required to combat issues such as climate change has not diminished as a result of the current financial crisis. We need big ideas -- and it is at times like these, when there is widespread disruption, that we see innovation and new thinking." Big ideas need not necessarily be a whistle-and-bells hi-tech response. At least one of our Big 20 can be described as an "ancient technique" on loan from the Aztecs. The modern genius lies in its rediscovery and deployment because, while it would be foolish to believe blindly in a silver bullet for all environmental problems, now is absolutely the time for faith in contemporary ingenuity. ...


This story makes me feel like, y'know, Yes We Can.

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Sat, Jan 10, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Exxon chief backs carbon tax
In a significant shift in stance, Exxon's chief executive, Rex Tillerson, told an audience in Washington that he considered a tax to be a fairer route to curbing emissions than a cap-and-trade system of pollution allocations. "As a businessman it is hard to speak favourably about any new tax," said Tillerson. "But a carbon tax strikes me as a more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach." Until recently, Exxon was reluctant even to concede that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for global warming. The company has faced mounting pressure over its environmental policies, culminating in a shareholder rebellion at its annual meeting last year led by members of the oil-rich Rockefeller family.... "A carbon tax is also the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions - from investments made by companies to fuel their requirements to the product choices made by consumers," he said. ...


Holy cow! On second thought, is this a shot across the bow of the coal industry?

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Wed, Jan 7, 2009
from Meriden Record-Journal:
New polluters must give neighbors notice
Is someone planning a 50-megawatt power plant in your backyard? If you live in Meriden or certain parts of Southington or Wallingford, there's a better chance you'll hear about it now that a new law creating Environmental Justice Communities has taken effect. The regulation, which took effect Jan. 1, designates a number of cities and portions of suburban towns as Environmental Justice Communities. The entire city of Meriden has been so designated, as have neighborhoods in Wallingford and Southington. ...


"Environmental Justice Communities" ... I sure like the sound of that! How do we ALL get one of those?

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Tue, Jan 6, 2009
from Wildlife Conservation Society via ScienceDaily:
New Park Protects Penguins And Other Marine Life In Argentina
The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society has just announced that its efforts to protect a wildlife-rich coastal region in South America have paid off in the form of a new coastal marine park recently signed into law by the Government of Argentina. The park, which became official in early December protects half a million penguins along with several species of rare seabirds and the region’s only population of South American fur seals. It is the first protected area in Argentina specifically designed to safeguard not only onshore breeding colonies but also areas of ocean where wildlife feed at sea. ...


Great idea! Let's just make earth one giant park!

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Thu, Jan 1, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
95 months and counting
From today, based on the best estimates available, we have eight years to head-off potentially uncontrollable climatic upheaval. What can happen in eight years? Quite a lot, actually. A world war can begin, and end. Two, in fact.... [H]istory tells us great things are possible. We are still in control. We just need to build, rapidly, new energy and transport systems and change our behaviour. Only, we seem to have forgotten what we are capable of. Victorian engineers would have been aghast at our timidity. Within our 8 year time frame, for example, between 1845 and 1852 there were 4,400 miles of railway track laid in Britain. ...


Bad enough if the last two generations are labelled "world killers" -- but "timid losers"? That would be too much.

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Tue, Dec 23, 2008
from TIME Magazine:
A Japanese Town That Kicked the Oil Habit
...In resource-poor Japan, which imports 90 percent of its fuel, Kuzumaki is a marvel of energy self-sufficiency. Signs of the town's comprehensive focus on environmental sustainability are visible from its mountaintops to the pens of the dairy cows that once were the bedrock of local commerce. Atop Mt. Kamisodegawa, the 12 wind turbines, each 305 feet (93 m) tall, have the capacity to convert mountain gusts into 21,000 KW of electricity — more than enough to meet the needs of the town's residents. The excess is sold to neighboring communities. Of course, the wind doesn't always blow. At Kuzumaki Highland Farm, 200 dairy cows share the power load. Their manure is processed into fertilizer and methane gas, the latter used as fuel for an electrical generator at the town's biomass facility. Nearby, a three-year project sponsored by Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's New Energy Development Organization (NEDO) uses wood chips from larch trees to create gas that powers the farm's milk and cheese operations. The bark of other trees is also made into pellets for heating stoves used throughout the community. A local winery, for instance, has two such stoves, and Kuzumaki pays residents up to 50,000 yen ($490) toward the cost of installing one. All told, clean energy generated 161 percent of Kuzumaki's electricity last year. ...


One hundred and sixty-one percent!? That's enough to give us some!

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Sun, Dec 21, 2008
from Time Magazine:
Making Hospitals Greener -- and Patients Healthier
A doctor's principle code is, "First, do no harm." The irony is that your doctor's office or hospital may be making you sicker. Indeed, many hospitals are built with materials, like particleboard, PVC flooring and even conventional paint, that can leach poisonous substances. What's more, the chemicals used to clean hospitals -- chlorine, laundry detergents and softeners, ammonia -- contain toxic ingredients and can cause respiratory disease. In fact, studies suggest that nurses, who spend long hours at the hospital, have among the highest rates of environmentally induced asthma of any profession....Enter "green medicine" -- the effort to detoxify the healing environment and enhance patients' and employees' health, while reducing costs all around. ...


Making the Hippocratic Oath less hypocritical.

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Sat, Dec 20, 2008
from Norfolk Daily Eastern Press:
Pesticides ban to hit farmers and prices
Families will be hit by even higher basic food prices following a drastic European-led ban on pesticides that could change the face of farming in East Anglian. Farmers' leaders have condemned a European Parliament deal to outlaw 22 chemicals that they say could mean a 20 to 25 per cent drop in yields for staple East Anglian produce such as potatoes, carrots and peas - and inevitably lead to increased prices in the shops. They fear that if the plan goes ahead, following a vote next month, many of the corner-stone crops currently grown in the region will become unviable. But groups in favour of the ban say it is justified because of evidence that the pesticides in question can trigger cancer or cause neural, hormonal or genetic damage. ...


I say let's keep using pesticides until we -- and the earth -- adapt to 'em.

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Thu, Dec 18, 2008
from USA Today:
Cooperation helped Louisville clean up air
LOUISVILLE — For years, Louisville has been known for fast horses, fine bourbon, a love of college basketball — and lousy air. People who lived near a complex of chemical plants, called Rubbertown, put up with odors, burning eyes and fears that their every breath might contribute to asthma, cancer or other illnesses. But that began to change about a decade ago, after a minister from the predominantly African-American neighborhoods around Rubbertown organized protests, demanding aggressive government action to clean up the toxic air and reduce the chemical emissions from factories. The campaign soon ranged beyond those neighborhoods, attracting the help of university scientists, industry representatives and government officials. It has led to an ambitious and successful anti-pollution effort that has gained national attention. ...


Way to go, sluggers!

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Tue, Dec 16, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Emissions: Where do you draw the line?
Supporters of this system say that a cap-and-trade, market-based solution is the only realistic way a reduction in global emissions will ever be achieved. Carrots are always better than sticks, they say. But in such a world, it will be rare for a distinction to be made between why emissions were created in the first place. There will be a market-determined price to pay for emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but no one will be asking why you emitted it as long as you pay the going rate. But is it beyond our collective wit to also judge our energy use against a set of criteria that gives extra weighting to our essential and most worthy needs?... But who is going to draw that line between essential and non-essential use? What, for example, would you place into the "essential" trolley? Two thousand miles' worth of petro-fuelled driving a year? Enough energy to heat your living room to 18C during winter? ...


Maybe... a benign tyrant? A philosopher-king? Do we have the collective wit?

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Fri, Dec 12, 2008
from Climate Daily:
Cleaning the air helps cool planet
Local and state regulators have new ammunition in the fight to justify expensive air pollution rules: Cutting smog and soot has an immediate impact on climate change. A study published this week bolsters the link between air quality and climate, finding that across-the-board cuts in air pollution can spur "substantial, simultaneous" improvement in local air quality and near-term mitigation of climate change. Trimming smog and soot also represents an alternate and far more immediate global warming solution for regulators stymied by the complexities of other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Sciences and the lead author of the study. Tackling air pollution can buy 20 to 30 years worth of mitigation, he said – time that will be needed, if ongoing debates in Poznan, Brussells and Washington D.C. offer any indication – to cut the political and economic knots associated with carbon dioxide. ...


Even if this isn't true.... let's pretend it is!

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Wed, Dec 10, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Europe pledges strict emissions cut to tempt China and India into climate deal
European officials have offered to make the continent virtually zero-carbon in an attempt to lure China and other developing countries into a new global climate deal to replace the Kyoto protocol. Stavros Dimas, European commissioner for the environment, told the Guardian that the EU could aim for a 80-95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution by 2050 in exchange for greater efforts by developing nations to limit their emissions. Dimas said the pledge has "already been put on the table" and that he was awaiting responses. In return, Europe would ask developing countries to reduce their forecasted carbon pollution growth by 15-30 percent over the next decade. "We haven't got any reaction, so they're floating somewhere," he said. ...


Apart from how disconnected that is from our real needs (2050? Try 2015...), this is good news!

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Tue, Dec 9, 2008
from Scientific American:
Chicago's Plans to Go Green
...In September, Chicago unveiled an action plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to one quarter below 1990 levels by 2020, followed by reductions through 2050 that would slash emissions by 80 percent. Up to 400,000 homes and 9,200 skyscrapers and factories would require energy-efficient retrofits in the next 12 years. All 21 coal-burning power plants throughout Illinois would need to be refurbished, too, requiring statewide cooperation. Another 450,000 riders would have to wedge themselves into elevated trains and buses every day—a 30 percent increase—rather than commute by car. “I don’t know of another municipal plan that is this ambitious or comprehensive,” says Rebecca Stanfield, a senior energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council... ...


Now, if they could just produce a World Series winner...

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Thu, Dec 4, 2008
from Associated Press:
Conservation group sues to protect walrus
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A conservation group went to court Wednesday to force the federal government to consider adding Pacific walrus to the list of threatened species. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for failing to act on a petition seeking protection for walrus under the Endangered Species Act. Walrus are threatened by global warming that melts Arctic sea ice, according to the group, which was one of the parties that successfully petitioned to list polar bears as threatened. The group also has filed petitions to protect Arctic seals. ...


goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob!

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Thu, Dec 4, 2008
from New York Times:
Proposal Ties Economic Stimulus to Energy Plan
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama and leaders in Congress are fashioning a plan to pour billions of dollars into a jobs program to jolt the economy and lay the groundwork for a more energy-efficient one. The details and cost of the so-called green-jobs program are still unclear, but a senior Obama aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a work in progress, said it would probably include the weatherizing of hundreds of thousands of homes, the installation of “smart meters” to monitor and reduce home energy use, and billions of dollars in grants to state and local governments for mass transit and infrastructure projects. ...


If not now... when? If not us, then who?

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Thu, Nov 27, 2008
from CGIAR, via Mongabay:
Carbon market could pay poor farmers to adopt sustainable cultivation techniques
... [P]roceeds from the carbon market could be used to reward farmers who adopt cultivation techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Such methods include growing crops under a canopy of fruit or timber trees, planting fodder trees for livestock, and curtailing the use of slash-and-burn agriculture. "If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and effectively as possible, we need to do everything we can to encourage the people living in and around the world's tropical forests to adopt carbon-saving and carbon-enhancing approaches to development," said Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center, one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). "One crucial way to do that is to give them the same opportunities to sell their carbon as a commodity in the global market as is encouraged in other sectors." ...


My only worry is that this is too sensible for humanity, but not conducive to agribusiness.

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Sat, Nov 15, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Campaigner wins seven-year battle to force rethink on use of pesticides
An environmental campaigner yesterday won a landmark victory against the government in a long-running legal battle over the use of pesticides. The high court ruled that Georgina Downs, who runs the UK Pesticides Campaign, had produced "solid evidence" that people exposed to chemicals used to spray crops had suffered harm. The court said the government had failed to comply with a European directive designed to protect rural communities from exposure to the toxins. It said the environment department, Defra, must reassess its policy and investigate the risks to people who are exposed. Defra had argued that its approach to the regulation and control of pesticides was "reasonable, logical and lawful". ...


We return to the quaint notion that governments exist to protect its citizens.

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Mon, Nov 10, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
European fishing fleets may have catches cut by one-quarter
European fishing fleets could see their catches cut by up to a quarter next year if EU ministers sign up to recommendations aiming to protect overfished species such as cod and haddock. The European Commission today proposed deep cuts in 2009 catches for almost 30 species and a ban on fishing for several others across the northeastern Atlantic.... "I know this will be hard on the fleets affected," he said. "But there is no other choice if we want to restore the ecological basis for a truly viable European fishing industry," he added. ...


Cut catches now, or we'll be having phytoplankton-'n'-chips later.

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Tue, Oct 28, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Carbon footprint standard for all products drawn up by Government
The world's first standard to measure the carbon footprint of every product in our shops will be launched tomorrow by the Government in an effort to end the continuing confusion over "eco-labels".... The document, known as a Publicly Available Specification or PAS 2050, will tell producers how to calculate a product's carbon output, from the raw materials, through manufacturing and consumption, to the waste produced. It will enable companies to estimate the amount of CO2 in grams used in the life of a product and therefore its potential impact on global warming. ...


Next up: the amounts of methane, NF3, endocrine disruptors, and melamine.

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Farmers Weekly:
Parliament climbdown could save key weedkillers and fungicides
In the parliament's first reading of the controversial pesticides approval legislation, MEPs voted for a proposal that would remove any pesticide that triggered any of the three criteria (persistence, bio-accumulation and long-distance environmental transfer) for an active ingredient to be termed a "persistent organic pollutant" (POP). By contrast, the European Commission and EU agricultural minister both say a substance will be called a POP only if it meets all three criteria. ...


Whew! That was a close one, diflufenican, chlorotoluron, mesosulfuron-methyl, and the rest of the gang -- wasn't it!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from US News and World Report:
California Maps a Plan to Slow Down Global Warming
...This week, the California Air Resources Board, the state agency tasked with implementing the law, released the first details of exactly what the state must do to achieve its global warming goals. In a 142-page report many experts believe could serve as a policy template for other states--and even the federal government--the board provides specific estimates of exactly how and where the state could have an impact on climate change. To return to 1990 carbon emissions levels, the plan says, the state will need to reduce its annual emissions by about 4 tons per person--from 14 tons currently to about 10 tons in 2020. The report calls this goal "ambitious but achievable." ...


This sacrificial mentality is a Sacramento go-go!

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Sat, Oct 18, 2008
from Calgary Sun (Canada):
Ban on BPA begins today
Canada will be the first country to limit the use of bisphenol A today when it formally declares the chemical a hazardous substance. The federal government published its decision to place BPA on its list of toxic substances in the Canada Gazette. The decision comes six months after Health Minister Tony Clement announced plans to limit use of the chemical. The Conservatives said they will now move to ban the importation and sale of baby bottles containing BPA. ...


Why can't our conservatives do something like that?

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Wed, Oct 8, 2008
from SciDev.net:
Brazil's climate change plan 'ready for public scrutiny'
The recommendations are organised into four lines of action: mitigation; vulnerability, impact and adaptation; research and development; and empowerment and divulgation. Goals include getting 7,000 megawatts of power from renewable energy between 2008 and 2010, increasing production of ethanol from 25.6 billion litres in 2008 to 53.2 billion litres by 2017, and preventing the release 570 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2008 and 2017 by using biofuels. Targets will be met by promoting sustainable development in the industrial and agricultural sectors, maintaining a high proportion of renewable energy in the electricity production, encouraging the use of biofuels in the transportation sector, and reducing deforestation. ...


Here's my scrutiny: It's a start. Would that the US were taking a stab at it. Not to mention opening it for "public scrutiny."

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Tue, Oct 7, 2008
from Media Newswire:
Ecosystem Renovation -- Bring Them On Back
A 'lost' lake in Mali and a Kenyan forest that is the water tower for key rivers and lakes in East Africa are among two country projects aimed at bringing significant degraded and denuded ecosystems back from the brink. The projects are among several being drawn up and spearheaded by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in cooperation with governments, to demonstrate that re-investing in damaged ecosystems can generate significant economic, environmental and social returns. A further project proposal is being drawn up and staff being hired to restore soils, wetlands, forests and other key ecosystem on the hurricane-vulnerable island of Haiti where environmental degradation has been linked to social unrest. ...


Perhaps a better investment than, say, paying for Wall Street's mismanagement.

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Wed, Oct 1, 2008
from London Guardian:
Met Office warns of need for drastic cuts in greenhouse gases from 2010
The world will have to take drastic action within two years to reduce greenhouse gas pollution if it is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, a new study warns... The study shows that cutting global emissions by 3 percent a year from 2010 offers the only possible hope of avoiding a global temperature rise of more than 2C - widely recognised as the threshold beyond which the worst impacts of sea level rise and drought become a significant risk. ...


Whew! We still have a little over a year left to par-tay!

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Fri, Sep 26, 2008
from US, via Mongabay:
U.S. Congress passes legislation to boost solar, wind, and geothermal energy
Tuesday the U.S. Senate passed a bill that will extend tax credits on solar power installations through 2016. The House approved the measure Wednesday. The $17 billion package will allow businesses and homeowners to deduct part of the cost of new solar installation from their income tax. The legislation would also extend incentives for wind power for one year and geothermal and biomass for two years. The tax credits would have otherwise expired at the end of the year. ...


Boy, Congress can sure take steps in an election year! Tiny wobbly steps, but still steps.

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Thu, Sep 11, 2008
from London Independent:
Cleared: Jury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law
The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage. Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a "lawful excuse" to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change. ...


You mean the Earth does come first?

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Sat, Sep 6, 2008
from Bernama (Malaysia):
New Glue Ruling For Table Tennis
[A] player fainted while trying to glue her bat, apparently because of the toxic substance present in the gum. And so, world controlling body International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has decided that beginning with the 2008 Volkswagen Women's World Cup, currently underway at the Cheras Badminton Stadium, volatile organic component-based glue -- glue containing toxic composite -- would be banned. Only water-based glue would be allowed. ...


Finally!

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Fri, Sep 5, 2008
from Washington Post:
Emissions Standards Tightened
The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday tightened emissions standards for new gasoline-powered lawn mowers, weed trimmers and boat engines, reducing the amount of smog-causing pollution these motors will be allowed to emit. ...


Get your mitts offa my weed whacker!

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Fri, Aug 29, 2008
from BusinessGreen:
US Treasury launches Environment and Energy Office
The new Office for Environment and Energy is to be headed up by William A Pizer, a former director at research body Resources for the Future and white house economic adviser on energy issues, and will be tasked with developing, co-ordinating and executing the Treasury's role in both domestic and international energy and green policy. In particular, the office will be tasked with managing the multi-billion dollar Clean Technology Fund announced earlier this year by President Bush and intended to accelerate the development of low carbon technologies in developing economies. It will also be responsible for the US Tropical Forest Conservation Act and the Global Environmental Facility, as well as the development of new financial mechanisms and initiatives for tackling climate change. ...


Let's get it going in developed countries too, maybe?

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Fri, Aug 15, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
National Trust cuts plastic bags by 95 per cent with 5p charge
Its clampdown on the "plastic poison", blamed for harming wildlife and blighting the environment, follows similar successes at High Street stores and supermarkets across the country.... Thousands of customers have opted to either recycle old bags or invest in hessian and canvas, and the Government has warned of a mandatory charge for those retailers who do not get onboard the anti-waste bandwagon. The National Trust as part of a wider campaign to become more environmentally-friendly. ...


100 days, 95 percent reduction.
But what will we carry around to pick up dog poo?

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Mon, Aug 11, 2008
from Media Newswire:
Landmark Ruling Requires Aggressive Action to Protect Puget Sound from Stormwater
In a landmark decision, the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board today issued a ruling requiring that cities and counties around Puget Sound take more aggressive steps to reduce stormwater runoff. The board struck down provisions in two regionwide permits as inadequate, and concluded that greater use of "low impact development" techniques is required to meet the governing legal standards. The permits are issued by the state Department of Ecology, which must now reissue them. "This is a great day for Puget Sound," said Kathy Fletcher, Executive Director of People for Puget Sound. "This ruling gets us one big step closer to the Puget Sound Partnership's goal of recovering Puget Sound by 2020." ...


Yes, let's do stop pummeling our world with "high impact" punches. It's reeling, and we have a lot of rounds to go.

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Sat, Aug 9, 2008
from Farmers Weekly (UK):
Save Our Sprays: EU Pesticide Ban -- Your Questions Answered
Proposed EU pesticide legislation could remove key products from the market. Mike Abram explains the background, what the current position is, and what happens next.... "Among the many casualties would be virtually all insecticides, strobilurin fungicides, chlorothalonil, mesosulfuron-methyl (as in Atlantis), and metazachlor. It is probably easier to write a list of what would be left." ...


In wartime, we call those casualties
collateral damage.

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Tue, Aug 5, 2008
from USA Today:
Toxic plastic toys could go the way of dinosaurs
"Children's advocates say they hope a sweeping consumer protection law passed by Congress last week will begin a broad national effort to shield youngsters from dangerous chemicals. The bill, which is expected to be signed by the president, will require that toys be tested for safety before they're sold. The law would ban several types of phthalates, ingredients in plastic linked to reproductive problems." ...


I dunno. I'd be scared to go up against those little green army men!

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Wed, Jun 18, 2008
from FishUpdate:
Norwegian saithe fisheries celebrate sustainability
The Norwegian North Sea saithe and Norwegian North East Arctic saithe fisheries were the first Norwegian fisheries to enter the MSC assessment process. Subject to MSC Chain of Custody certification, saithe from the fisheries is now eligible to carry the MSC eco-label on fish and products marking it out as fish from a sustainable and well-managed source. ...


For the six billion who didn't know, "MSC" is the Marine Stewardship Council.
Stewardship -- what a concept.

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Wed, Jun 18, 2008
from University of Adelaide, via EurekAlert:
World-class environment vision to 'bring back the species'
One of Australia's leading environmentalists will spearhead a world-class project to help revegetate the Mount Lofty Ranges, to stave off the effects of climate change and halt the loss of bird, animal and plant species.... "Ten species are already extinct in the Mt Lofty Ranges and a further 60 species continue to decline in numbers despite the cessation of vegetation clearance in the 1980s. Climate change will exacerbate these losses," he says. "This will be a terrible loss for all South Australians, but it is avoidable, if suitable and resilient habitats are re-established. Our work is not just about revegetation but about reconstructing complex habitats to secure the region's biodiversity." ...


We're down with this down-under approach.

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Wed, Jun 11, 2008
from National Academies:
G8+5 Science Academies Call for International Action on Climate Change, Global Health
Today the science academies of the G8 countries, as well as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, issued statements urging leaders worldwide to take action on two pressing global challenges. To mitigate and adapt to climate change, nations must begin a transition to being "low-carbon societies," a shift that will require energy-saving changes in all sectors -- from housing to transportation to industry -- and the development of a range of clean energy sources. ...


Who do these guys think they are,
experts?

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Wed, Jun 11, 2008
from MIT:
Carbon emissions trading in Europe: Working well, lessons learned
For the past three years, the European Union has been operating the world's largest emissions trading system and the first system to limit and to trade carbon dioxide emissions. An MIT analysis of this initial "trial" phase finds that—despite its hasty adoption and somewhat rocky beginning—the European Union cap-and-trade system has operated well and has had little or no negative impact on the overall EU economy. ...


Given the dollar-to-euro exchange changes over those three years, I'd say the US has some cap'n'tradin' up to do.

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Fri, Jun 6, 2008
from AP News:
Oregon judge sends polluting company owner to prison
The owner of a company that repeatedly mishandled waste oil and other hazardous material in violation of federal environmental laws has been sentenced to six months in prison. Donald Spencer will also pay a $150,000 fine on behalf of his company, Spencer Environmental Inc. A prosecutor says a prison sentence in such an environmental case is rare. Spencer was convicted of two federal felonies for failing to dispose properly of thousands of gallons of used oil and wastewater contaminated with highly corrosive hydrochloric acid. ...


Let's hope it's not an endangered species.

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Mon, May 19, 2008
from Planet Ark via Reuters:
US Changes Course, Bans Drilling In Arctic Wetland
"The Bush administration on Friday proposed keeping potentially oil-rich wetlands in Arctic Alaska off-limits to drilling because of their ecological sensitivity, a reversal of its earlier plan. The Bureau of Land Management proposed a 10-year leasing moratorium for 430,000 acres of wetlands north and east of vast Teshekpuk Lake in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Environmentalists and local groups hailed the decision." ...


The polar bear plight has suddenly made this administration all touchy-feely!

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Sat, May 17, 2008
from Apapa Vanguard:
NAFDAC bans 30 agrochemical products
"THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned the sale and supply of 30 different agrochemical products in the country. NAFDAC Director-General, Professor Dora Akunyili, explained in Abuja that the ban became necessary when it was discovered that the pesticides were causing food poisoning that had resulted in the death of many after they consumed food crops preserved with the chemicals... "Samples were again taken to our laboratory and it was discovered that the foodstuffs contained outrageously high levels of lindane, an organochlorinated pesticide commonly called gammallin that affects the nervous system, producing a range of symptoms from nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness to seizure, convulsion and death," she said." ...


We're better off eating pests.

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Tue, May 13, 2008
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Energy Dept. says wind power could be savior
"Windmills spinning over the Great Plains and along the coasts could supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by the year 2030 and put a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions, federal officials said Monday. Although wind farms now generate just 1 percent of the nation's electricity, a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy found that wind power could play a far larger role in the future. It could supply roughly the same percentage of the nation's power as nuclear plants provide today." ...


Boy. If the U.S. Department of Energy is pushing wind power, you know the shit has hit the fan!

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Sat, May 10, 2008
from American Society of Agronomy:
Large Reductions In Agricultural Chemical Use Can Still Result In High Crop Yields And Profits
Researchers investigated whether yield, weed suppression, and profit characteristics of low-external-input (LEI) farming systems could match or exceed those of conventional farming systems. Yields and profits were similar or higher in the LEI systems as in the conventional system, and lower herbicide inputs did not lead to increased weed problems. The results suggest that large reductions in agrichemical use can be compatible with high crop yields and profits. ...


Since profits are all that matter, this opens up all sorts of new opportunities!

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Wed, Mar 5, 2008
from Associated Press:
OECD: World must act on climate change
"OSLO, Norway -- The world must respond to climate change and other environmental challenges now while the cost is low or else pay a stiffer price later for its indecision, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday. A new report by 30-nation organization looks at "red light issues" in the environment, including global warming, water shortages, energy, biodiversity loss, transportation, agriculture and fisheries...A window of opportunity to act is now open," the report said. "We need forward-looking policies today to avoid high costs of inaction or delayed action over the longer term." ...


With an awkward acronym like that (OECD) what can they truly hope to accomplish?

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Wed, Feb 6, 2008
from Charleston City Paper:
Should we be taxed for eating animals?
"The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found in 2006 that livestock production generates 18 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide -- more than the entire transportation sector of cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined. Cows constantly belch methane from their four stomachs, and lagoons of pig effluent release the gas into the air. Much of the world's beef comes from deforested areas (70 percent of former Amazon rainforest is now used for cattle grazing), a one-two punch from the loss of carbon dioxide-absorbing trees and the addition of more animals. Meat and dairy production is predicted by the U.N. to double in the next 40 years, a growth PETA feels could be abated by a 10-cent tax on each pound of meat." ...


Surely this 10 percent increase would do wonders for the animals' self-esteem.

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Thu, Jan 3, 2008
from New Straits Times (Malaysia):
Malaysian Cabinet committee to tackle climate change
"Environmental needs go beyond environmental impact assessments." Azmi said the setting up of the committee would mean a more concerted effort in dealing with issues of the environment. "As it is, some ministries don't look at climate change mitigation as their responsibility. This cabinet committee will bring everyone in." ...


When all else fails, form a committee. Nonetheless, sort of a start.

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