New Jersey Ice Maker Will Use Sun Power to Make Cubes. By Michael Daigle, Daily Record, November 28, 2006. "In the very near future, Fred Schuld will be making ice from sunlight. Schuld, owner of The Ice Factory in Landing, has installed 85 solar panels on the roof of his home/business, which will run the ice makers that provided his livelihood for the past 19 years... He is installing a 15,000-kilowatt system that will power his ice-making operation and supply the home's electric power needs... He said the solar system helps the environment and his bottom line. Schuld said his average electric bill is $13,000. The new system will drop his annual electric cost by $8,000 to $9,000, including an annual $4,320 Solar Renewable Energy Certificate, generated by the sale of excess electricity to the power system. He also is qualified for a 30 percent federal tax rebate related to his business, and he received a $72,000 rebate from the state Clean Energy Program to cover a significant portion of the $122,000 installation costs. His final cost for the solar system was $49,330. Schuld said. He will be able to break even on the installation in five years."
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
|PLANO - It can't be good for your arteries but it is good for the environment. |
In the US South, folks like their Thanksgiving Day turkey deep fried -- and the city of Plano north of Dallas collects the bird fat from residents for use in the biofuels industry.
"This is our busiest time, the week after Thanksgiving. We collect about 500 gallons of turkey fat during that time," said Lois Woolf, a Plano City worker, as she hoisted a plastic container of oil left outside someone's home for collection.
In 2005, Plano collected 1,200 gallons of cooking oil, the vast majority turkey fryer fat. The bulk of it is picked up during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
The turkey fat is donated to Biodiesel Industries, the first renewable energy-powered plant producing biodiesel fuel in the state of Texas.
Biofuels are gaining favor as an alternative "clean" fuel amid growing concerns about carbon emissions linked to climate change, high oil prices and instability in crude producing regions like the Middle East.
This is even the case in pockets of Texas, the heart of the massive US oil industry.
"The City of Plano has a rolling stock of 700-800 vehicles and 59 of these are using hybrid or alternative fuels," said Melinda Sweney, the Sustainability Communications Coordinator for Plano.
Plano collects the oil from residents who call in and ask for pick-ups -- and there is plenty of demand in a region where people like their food fried and crispy.
"The first time I heard about fried turkey was years ago in Louisiana and I thought 'who eats fried turkey,' said Plano resident Rita Keys.
"But it's good," she added as Marty Huffman, a Plano City worker, poured fat from a deep fryer into plastic containers via a funnel. The scent in the air was distinctly turkey.
The favored method is to use a deep fryer outside which is filled with peanut oil and heated with propane.
Forty-quart deep fryers typically are used -- "super-sized" like everything else in Texas.
This is a sharp contrast from American homes to the north where the big bird is usually stuffed and baked in the oven and the fat is consumed as gravy, not fuel.
Story by Ed Stoddard
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
The agency argues that climate change requires a global solution, not federal regulations. The Supreme Court weighs in this week.
That's what a group of state officials and environmentalists want to know.
Seven years ago, they asked the EPA to get involved - to take an initial step in response to scientific evidence that suggests greenhouse gases are causing global warming.
The agency refused, saying there were too many unresolved questions about the causes and effects of global warming. The state officials took their case to court, charging that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to take immediate action.
On Wednesday, the dispute arrives at the US Supreme Court, where the justices must decide whether the EPA is required to take action or whether the agency retains the discretion to decide for itself how best to respond to world-wide environmental threats.
The case will test the authority of special interest groups and state governments to sue federal agencies and force them to adopt certain regulatory policies that they favor. The case could also establish important legal precedents that might help or hinder state efforts to regulate greenhouses gases on their own in the absence of federal action.
On a broader level, the case raises questions about the role of the judiciary in resolving litigation over regulatory policy arguments. Should judges defer to controversial decisions made by administrative agencies on whether or when to pass regu-lations? Or should judges aggressively enforce what they see as the underlying purpose of statutes that govern agencies?
At issue in Massachusetts v. US Environmental Protection Agency is whether EPA officials acted properly when they declined to issue national regulations limiting the release of four greenhouse gases from new automobile models. The gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons.
EPA officials say the agency lacks the power to regulate greenhouse gases. The Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to take action to reduce and control agents that cause "air pollution." But agency officials have concluded that greenhouse gases are not agents of air pollution. They say the Clean Air Act does not address global climate change.
As a fallback position, EPA officials say that even if they do have authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act they also have discretion under the act to decide when to initiate such measures. The officials have said there was scientific uncertainty about global warming and that they wanted to wait for more research and additional action by Congress before crafting an appropriate response.
Massachusetts along with 11 other states, three cities, a US territory, and numerous environmental groups are urging the Supreme Court to order the EPA to faithfully enforce the law as passed by Congress.
"A straightforward reading of the language of the Clean Air Act shows that carbon dioxide and other air pollutants associated with climate change are 'air pollutants' potentially subject to regulation [under the Clean Air Act]," writes Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General James Milkey, in his brief. "When Congress has spoken as plainly as it has here, an administrative agency is bound to obey that legislative command."
In his brief, US Solicitor General Paul Clement defends the EPA's earlier legal positions. He also argues that Massachusetts lacks the legal standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place. Mr. Clement says Massachusetts officials are unable to draw a direct link between harm to the state and the EPA's decision not to pass the requested regulations.
Massachusetts and other petitioners in the case complain of "profound harms" caused by climate change including the inundation of coastal property, damage to seaside facilities, and additional emergency response costs from more frequent and intense storms. Clement argues that the state's generalized concerns are not enough to demonstrate that such cataclysmic harms are a direct result of the EPA's decision not to regulate.
The specific request was for the EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from new cars. Such emissions make up only a fraction of greenhouse gases released worldwide.
Clement says that 80 percent of all greenhouse gases are from countries other than the US and that, of US emissions, 70 percent are from nontransportation sources. The solicitor general adds that of the remaining 30 percent, the requested regulation would only affect new vehicles models - leaving the vast majority of emissions in the US and throughout the world not covered by the new regulations.
In effect, Clement says, the threat of global warming is an international threat that requires an international solution. Since the EPA acting alone cannot solve the problem, lawyers from Massachusetts don't have legal standing to try to hold the EPA responsible for a problem it can't solve without international cooperation.
Mr. Milkey says the primary concern of Congress in the Clean Air Act was for the agency to determine whether certain pollutants can reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. Where they pose such a threat, Milkey says, the agency must act to protect the public.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The 100 megawatt (mw) project would cost approximately 6.03 billion yuan ($766 million) and construction would take five years, Xinhua news agency said.
China's economy is racing along at more than 10 percent a year and miners are struggling to meet booming demand for coal, which fuels about 70 percent of the nation's energy consumption.
China has also stepped up investment in energy projects abroad and nuclear power, keen to cut down on pollution which hit the maximum "hazardous" level in the capital on Tuesday.
"Covering a total area of 31,200 square metres, Dunhuang boasts 3,362 hours of sunshine every year and is hailed as a prime area for solar energy development, with its easy access to electricity transmission and communications," Xinhua said.
Xinhua claimed the world's current largest solar power station was a 5mw project in Leipzig, Germany, with 33,500 solar panels.
But a solar plant in Arnstein near Wuerzburg in southern Germany has a 12mw capacity, according to its operator S.A.G. Solarstrom.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The UK's first vegetable oil powered trawler is undergoing trials in the North Sea.
The Jubilee Quest trawler has had its diesel engine converted to run on the more environmentally friendly vegetable oil.
The conversion is not a cheap one but the project had financial backing from the government agency The Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish).
The UK's fishing fleet is currently powered by diesel but it is hoped that by using biofuel, far less of the harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) will end up in the atmosphere.
Vegetable oil does emit CO2 if it is used as a fuel, but the plants used to make the oil absorb the gas while growing, so the hope is that far less CO2 is pumped into in the atmosphere.
The environmental benefits of using biofuel on vessels would be vast, as a typical diesel-powered trawler on a 10-day trip emits 37 tonnes of the greenhouse gas.
In contrast, running a family car for a year would result in a comparably small emission of two tonnes of CO2.
The boat runs on a dual fuel system. It starts on diesel, switches over to vegetable oil when the engine has warmed up, then flushes itself out with diesel again before switching off.
The owners of the Jubilee Quest cannot afford to have it out of work during trials, so the trawler is now fishing as normal out of Grimsby in the North Sea.
"The performance as far as we can tell has been the same as a diesel... we've got to be confident because we work up to 300 miles away from home," skipper Graham Hall told BBC Working Lunch.
The engineer behind the Jubilee Quest's conversion says that he has carried it out for environmental and economic reasons, even though the current tax system does not work in his favour.
"It's quite tough to compete on price with fresh oils at the moment, because there's no road fuel duty to pay on marine fuel," Mike Lawton told the programme.
"Where we want to get to is run vessels on tallow oil... the thick oil left at the bottom of your frying pan after you've cooked some sausages," he said.
The waste cooking oils would be a cheaper fuel to get hold of in comparison to other biofuels currently in use.
As for drivers using biofuels, they benefit from a 20-pence-a-litre discount on the fuel duty they have to pay to the Exchequer.
But other European countries such as Germany and Ireland have gone further, experimenting with a complete duty exemption on some biofuels for road use.
Even so, a growing number of cars, buses and trucks in the UK are using the fuel.Now fishing boats can be added to the list.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Confronted with a rotting whale carcass on the beach in 1970, officials in Florence, Ore., hauled in 20 cases of dynamite and lit the fuse.
The resulting rain of blubber chunks smashed a car a quarter-mile away, sent onlookers fleeing for cover and yielded one of the Internet's most side-splitting video clips.
Biologists at the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories have a better idea for disposing of a 54-foot fin whale that turned up dead in the Port of Everett earlier this month.
They plan to attach 3 tons of metal railroad wheels to the corpse and sink it off the coast of San Juan Island.
But because these are scientists, that's just the beginning of the story.
The real goal is to study the whale's decomposition at a level of detail that would make most people gag.
Using an underwater drone equipped with a video camera, the researchers will document the types of fish, crabs and other creatures that feed on the carcass, and the role it plays as a food bonanza in the marine ecosystem. Divers will also visit the site for an up-close view of the putrefaction.
Video of the exploding Oregon whale: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtVSzU20ZGk
In about two years, when the bones are picked clean, the skeleton will be retrieved for display as part of a marine mammal exhibit at the UW's Burke Museum of Natural History.
"What we're re-creating in a somewhat artificial manner is something that happens occasionally in nature and may turn out to be a very interesting ecological phenomenon," said UW marine ecologist David Duggins.
Not to mention very cool to those who like such things.
"I'm anxious to see it firsthand," said Duggins, who plans to dive to the carcass as soon as possible.
This isn't the first time researchers have tracked whale decomposition.
A University of Hawaii biologist who will collaborate on the project specializes in what he calls "whale falls." When a dead behemoth falls to the sea floor, it can radically alter a world where light doesn't penetrate and food is normally in short supply. In some cases, carcasses can seed living communities that persist for up to 80 years and include worms that feed only on whale bones.
A whale carcass that Duggins and his colleagues sank in 300 feet of water off San Juan Island several years ago attracted a massive aggregation of sea life.
"I saw densities of fish higher than I've ever seen in the San Juans — just huge clouds," Duggins said.
He's been waiting for another candidate carcass ever since.
This time, the experiment will be conducted in water only about 100 feet deep, making it easier for divers to reach it. The scientists hope the shallower depth will also make it possible to collect the bones and bring them to the surface when all the flesh has been stripped away.
"This is really a new method for preparing a skeleton for exhibit," said Jim Kenagy, curator of mammals for the Burke Museum.
Normally, marine-mammal carcasses destined for display are buried in sand to decompose, a process that can take five years or longer. Digging up and transporting tons of bones, including skulls up to 10 feet long, requires backhoes, cranes and trucks. Then comes the painstaking job of scraping away remaining bits of muscle and sinew.
"It's a very costly procedure," Kenagy said.
The male fin whale that could wind up at the Burke had a short life and brutal ending. The juvenile had been entangled in rope that cut into its jaw and kept it from opening its mouth to feed. It was emaciated when it was apparently struck and killed by a ship and dragged into the harbor at Everett. It was partially decomposed by the time it surfaced.
Duggins is waiting for calm weather to sink the carcass.
He and his crew towed the animal from Everett to San Juan Island on Tuesday — almost 36 years to the day after the infamous Oregon whale explosion.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
|An easy to understand explanation of Global Warming from the TV series Futurama as used by Al Gore in his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth"|
Check it out on Tuesday when it comes out on DVD
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
There are many ways that pollution can damage reefs. Debris like this plastic bag can quickly become entangled on a coral and smother it. (NOAA)
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by JONATHAN CLAYTON
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (11 Nov 2006) -- Zanzibar, the spice island that has become a tropical tourist paradise, has banned plastic bags in an attempt to save its threatened ecology.
Anyone found producing, importing, using or selling plastic bags could face a fine of $2,000 (£1,120) and a jail sentence of up to 12 months, said Ali Juma, the government's director of environmental protection. "We have to put the environment above everything . . . Besides being an eyesore, plastic bags are very damaging to land and marine life and we are already threatened by the rapid pace of development," he said.
Thousands of tourists, most of them European, flock to Zanzibar's palm-fringed beaches and historic Stone Town, the headquarters of the East African slave trade.
Their arrival has brought with it an avalanche of plastic, much of it in the form of thin, blue bags. Experts say that the flimsy plastic bags can provide micro-habitats for malaria-carrying mosquitos, block drains, choke animals and marine life and take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
The ban, introduced by President Karume, who was reelected a year ago in the semi-autonomous archipelago that is part of Tanzania, has been widely welcomed. Tour operator John Glen said: "I think it is wonderful . . . those bags are everywhere and are revolting, they clog up drains and are a dreadful eyesore."
His comments were echoed by residents and environmentalists who have long complained about the impact of the bags on the island's fragile ecosystem.
Juma Hassan, a schoolteacher, said: "We have had environment laws since 1992 but the government was not serious and the environment is being destroyed."
Zanzibar has changed much since it sought to erase all signs of Westernisation in the heady days following its 1964 "Socialist and Islamic" Revolution.
Abeid Karume, father of the present ruler, took power after the island's black Africans rose up against centuries of brutal rule by despotic Sultans and slaughtered 17,000 Arabs.
His son's ban, which applies mainly to transparent PVC bags favoured by roadside traders, has drawn plaudits from all around the world. Officials warned last month that the tropical paradise was in danger of becoming one of the world's most environmentally damaged island chains.
Zanzibar's decision to ban the bags came as a new report warned that old toothbrushes, beach toys and used condoms had formed a vast vortex of plastic rubbish in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Greenpeace International found that, because plastic does not break down, ocean currents and tides had carried it thousands of miles to an area between Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Zanzibar and its neighbouring island Pemba possess long unspoiled sandy white beaches, surrounded by miles of pristine coral reef.
The azure waters are popular with scuba divers who come to see rare marine life, including some of Africa's last turtles.
However, each evening, smoke from hundreds of small fires drifts across the island as locals prepare evening meals.
Most of the island's one million inhabitants have no access to electricity or clean drinking water. Many people use the bags as toilets and then throw them in the sea.
NAIROBI, Kenya: Sweden, Britain and Denmark are doing the most to protect against climate change, but their efforts are not nearly enough, according to a report released Monday by environmental groups.
"We don't have any winners, we only have countries that are better compared to others," said Matthias Duwe of the Climate Action Network-Europe, which released the data during the second week of the U.N. climate conference. "We don't have big shining stars."
The United States — the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — ranked at 53, with only China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia doing worse. U.S. emissions grew by 16 percent between 1990 and 2004, according to a recent U.N. report.
The index ranks 56 countries that were part of a 1992 climate treaty or that contribute at least 1 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The countries make up 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
The calculations, performed by the environmental group Germanwatch, took into account emissions levels, emissions trends and climate policy.
About one-quarter of the energy consumed in Sweden in 2003 came from renewable sources — more than four times as much as the European Union average of 6 percent, according to EU statistics. In Stockholm, one-quarter of city buses run on ethanol or biogas.
The country with the worst ranking was Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter. Duwe said the country's policies generally block attempts to reduce greenhouse gases.
"If you try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you will also reduce oil consumption," Duwe said. "So Saudi oil will be in less demand."
Christoph Bals, political director of Germanwatch, said policy had an enormous effect on the rankings. The U.S. could move up 30 spots if its policies were akin to the U.K.'s, he said.
The United States and Australia are the only major industrialized countries to reject the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which calls for mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases.
The policy of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush on climate change focuses on voluntary emissions cuts by industry and long-term development of clean-energy technology. In rejecting the Kyoto Protocol's mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, Bush said they would hamstring the U.S. economy and complained that poorer countries also should have been covered.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Monday that, "the president has made dealing with climate change a priority for this administration (and) will continue to." He was not asked about the ranking, but other White House officials had no immediate comment.
Scientists blame the past century's 0.6-degree-Celsius (1-degree-Fahrenheit) rise in average global temperatures at least in part on the accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel-burning sources.
Some climate conference participants said the results of last week's midterm elections in the United States were a good sign for environmental issues. Americans swept Democrats into power in the House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years and largely dismantled the Republican Senate majority.
"The U.S. elections are clearly good news for strong U.S. action on global warming," said Jeremy Symons, director of National Wildlife Federation's climate change program. He added that new leadership will "break the conspiracy of silence and denial" on environmental issues.
Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone... I mean Washington is in bed with lobyists, and big business makes all the legislation in this country through one way or another... And given the current administrations view that global warming is "fake science" and their ability to keep top NOAA officials quiet, its not that surprising that it has taken this long for the public to even care... Hopefully things will start to change...
Friday, November 10, 2006
November 10, 2006 — By Daniel Wallis, Reuters
"The oceans are rapidly changing," said professor Stefan Rahmstorf on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change that has drawn delegates from more than 100 countries to Kenya. "Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine organisms."
In a study titled "The Future Oceans — Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour," Rahmstorf and eight other scientists warned that the world is witnessing, on a global scale, problems similar to the acid rain phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s.
Rahmstorf also reiterated warnings of rising sea levels caused by global warming, saying that in 70 years, temperature increases will lead more frequent storms with 200 million people threatened by floods.
The 1997 Kyoto accord requires 35 industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Kyoto countries meeting in Nairobi are continuing talks on what kind of emissions targets and timetables should follow 2012.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
New chairman: Bart Gordon, Tennesse
He has publicly spoken about the failings of NASA and is very strongly against political meddling in the sciences and research. This is great news, as many top NOAA officials have been told to keep quiet about global warming for long enough, many fisheries scientists have anonomously spoken out about administration pressuring them to report data that supports Bush administration policies, etc. Hopefully this will all come to an end now.
Committee: Energy and Commerce
New chairman: John Dingell, Michigan
This committee covers many issues of scientific interest, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), energy policy and air pollution. This is the committee that said there is no global warming. Unfortunately, Dingell, despite being a democrat, is in bed with the auto industry from his home district of Detroit. He is against enforcing stricter fuel economy standards and usually sides with Republicans in his position on global warming.
New chairman: Nick Rahall, West Virginia
This committee is where a lot of environmental battles shape up, as it regulates extracting anything from the Earth that is worth money, including fish, trees, minerals, oil and gas. He is sympathetic to the coal mining industry, but he is favored over his Republican predecessor by many environmental groups. We shall see on this one.
Committee: Government Reform
New chairman: Henry Waxman, California
This committee is meant to keep an eye on the federal government. He wants to investigate the Bush administration record on science. "In 2003, he put out a 33-page report charging the administration with manipulating science. More recently he has alleged that the government has muzzled scientists on climate change, interfered at the FDA over the Plan B emergency contraceptive and deleted a government grant for evolutionary biology from a federal education program. Expect hearings aplenty on the politicization of science." This is perhaps the biggest position, because he can expose the administration and its lies and general anti-science policy.
New chairman: Collin Peterson, Minnesota
This committee oversees funding for agricultural science. He comes from the cornbelt, and is extremely interested in ethanol as an alternative fuel source. This could be huge in our step to break our dependence on foreign oil.
New chairman: David Obey, Wisconsin
" This committee may be the most powerful in the House, since it apportions out the money every year. Obey, a senior representative, is keeping mum about his priorities, but education and the environment are among his pet issues." This is huge, because much of scientific research is funded through state and federal grants. Researchers and families depend upon getting funding for research, and numerous budgets have been increasingly cut during the past 6 years.
All information is from nature.com
Groups Sue to End Gulf Bluefin Fishing
November 09, 2006 — By Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — Bluefin tuna fishing should be shut down in the Gulf of Mexico to keep one of the world's largest and most valuable fish from dying out, environmentalists say.
Earthjustice and the Blue Ocean Institute sued the federal government this week, after the government's rejection of a petition by Earthjustice to close 125,000 square miles of the Gulf when bluefin are spawning.
Coincidentally, a study in the current issue of Nature warns that fish populations worldwide are on the brink of collapse. Researchers from Dalhousie University in Canada say long-term trends based on fish landings indicate decades of overfishing have driven most commercial species to unprecedented low numbers. If the trend is not reversed, the researchers claim, most fish stocks will crash by 2048.
The environmental groups' lawsuit was filed in Washington, D.C.
Federal fisheries managers say bluefin already are highly protected in domestic waters, and the species' decline is an international problem, since European nations catch more than 10 times as much bluefin tuna as are caught by North American nations.
Bluefin, which can reach 10 feet long and up to 1,500 pounds, travel thousands of miles every year to reach the spring spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. Direct fishing for bluefin was banned in U.S. waters in 1999, said Sam Rauch, deputy director of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Yet many of the fish end up getting caught and sold regardless, hooked by longline fishing vessels targeting mahi-mahi, albacore and yellowfin tuna. That "incidental catch" is not illegal. Between 1995 and 2004, the most recent data available, more than 22 million pounds of bluefin tuna worth $150 million were landed in U.S. ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The lawsuit contends federal conservation laws compel Rauch's agency to stop that trade.
"The population of bluefin has been declining steadily for 20 years," said plaintiffs' attorney Steve Roady. "Unless the fisheries service takes prompt action to halt the killing of these bluefin as they spawn, that population decline will continue and lead to a situation where ... it will never recover."
But David Maginnis, a tuna buyer in Dulac for Jensen Seafood, said fishing vessels in the Gulf catch only the occasional bluefin. The problem, he said, comes when the fish migrate to the other side of the Atlantic.
"The pressure for these fish in the Mediterranean is huge," Maginnis said. "After the hurricane (Katrina) we only have about 23, 24 active boats in Louisiana. We had 150 boats working out of Venice at one time. Are 23, 24 boats hurting the bluefin stock?"
Quotas set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas allowed the landing of 35,000 metric tons of tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean last year.
That equals more than 77 million pounds -- roughly 70 times total U.S. landings in 2004.
"We think there's massive amounts of overfishing taking place in other nations," Rauch said.
An area of the Gulf known as the DeSoto Canyons already is closed to longline fishing every year, he said. Closing additional areas could simply push fishermen into waters where they might have a negative impact on other species, including endangered sea turtles, Rauch said.
"You would not want to take an action that would preserve tuna but have a devastating impact on sea turtles," he said.
Source: Associated Press
Now we all understand there are issues in the fishery on both sides of the Atlantic, but just because they aren't as heavily regulated over there does not mean that the US should not be regulated here. And especially during spawning season. There wont be any more bluefin to catch if fisherman don't let them spawn, its pretty simple. And of course they will never admit to targetting them, even though their net worth is much greater than any of their "target species." I doubt the enviromental groups will win but its worth a shot... GOOD LUCK!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
"On-site sewage treatment systems are becoming increasingly common with new development projects, and Victoria’s Dockside Green project is setting the bar high with the goal of treating all of it’s waste on-site, with no sewer connection at all. The system won’t shun the sewage system completely however, as it will require an infusion of municipal sewage to kick start the biological processes that will break down the waste from the 1,200 units in the community.
The actual area planned for the treatment facility is very small at a mere 260 square meters, with the only visible indications being a 12 meter long wall along a pathway. To further disguise the buried system, on top of it is a fish pond connected to a stream. Hiding the treatment system is important to maintain the asthetics of the site for the buyers, but also serves as an excellent indication of how integrated with our communities our waste management systems can be. The facility is being built inside the bank of a hill and three meters below sea level, resulting in many construction challenges.
Despite the treatment system’s small size, the effluent standards are extremely high and will be close to drinking water standards. In order to achieve this high quality of treated water, the designers opted to use treatment technology from Zenon Membrane Solutions. 15% of the treated water will be tinted blue and recycled back into the community’s toilets, the remainder will be used for fountains, irrigation and an artificial stream runningg throughout the community. Residents of Dockside Green will be educated to keep inappropriate substances out of the system such as harsh cleaning products.
Plant construction will start early next year and is expected to be completed in 9 months, followed by another month of testing to ensure the biological treatment process is working properly. The plant will cost approximately $3M to build, and will treat 380 cubic meters of wastewater each day at a cost of $0.01 per gallon.
In addition to clean water, the system will output a block of compressed sludge each day. Initially this will be sent to an organic composting facility in the nearby town of Langford, but eventually it will be burned in an on-site cogeneration setup to produce heat and electricity. "
By Jeannette J. Lee
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - In the quest for oil-free power, a handful of small companies are staking claims on the boundless energy of the rising and ebbing sea.
The technology that would draw energy from ocean tides to keep light bulbs and laptops aglow is largely untested, but several newly minted companies are reserving tracts of water from Alaska's Cook Inlet to Manhattan's East River in the belief that such sites could become profitable sources of electricity.
The trickle of interest began two years ago, said Celeste Miller, spokeswoman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agency issues permits that give companies exclusive rights to study the tidal sites. Permit holders usually have first dibs on development licenses.
Tidal power proponents liken the technology to little wind turbines on steroids, turning like windmills in the current. Water's greater density means fewer and smaller turbines are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as wind turbines.
After more than two decades of experimenting, the technology has advanced enough to make business sense, said Carolyn Elefant, co-founder of the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, a marine energy lobbying group formed in May 2005.
In the last four years, the federal commission has approved nearly a dozen permits to study tidal sites. Applications for about 40 others, all filed in 2006, are under review. No one has applied for a development license, Miller said.
The site that is furthest along in testing lies in New York's East River, between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, where Verdant Power plans to install two underwater turbines this month as part of a small pilot project.
Power from the turbines will be routed to a supermarket and parking garage on nearby Roosevelt Island.
Verdant co-founder and President Trey Taylor said the 6-year-old company will spend 18 months studying the effects on fish before putting in another four turbines.
The project will cost more than $10 million, including $2 million on fish monitoring equipment, Taylor said.
``It's important to spend this much initially,'' Taylor said. ``It's like our flight at Kitty Hawk. It puts us on a path to commercialization, and we think eventually costs will fall really fast.''
If all goes well, New York-based Verdant could have up to 300 turbines in the river by 2008, Taylor said. The turbines would produce as much as 10 megawatts of power, or enough electricity for 8,000 homes, he said.
With 12,380 miles of coastline, the United States may seem like a wide-open frontier for the fledgling industry, but experts believe only a few areas will prove profitable. The ideal sites are close to a power grid and have large amounts of fast-moving water with enough room to build on the sea floor while staying clear of boat traffic.
``There are thousands of sites, but only a handful of really, really good ones,'' said Roger Bedard of the Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit organization in Palo Alto that researches energy and the environment.
``If you're sitting on top of the best scallop fishing in the world, you can't put these things down there,'' said Chris Sauer, president of Ocean Renewable Power in Miami. The 2-year-old company is awaiting approval for federal study permits in Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay in Alaska, and Cobscook Bay and the St. Croix River in Maine.
Prime tidal energy sites lie beneath San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and in Knik Arm near Anchorage, Bedard said.
Government and the private sector in Europe, Canada and Asia have moved faster than their U.S. counterparts to support tidal energy research. As of June 2006, there were small facilities in Russia, Nova Scotia and China, as well as a 30-year-old plant in France, according to a report by EPRI.
``I expect the first real big tidal plant in North America is going to be built in Nova Scotia,'' said Bedard, who led the study. ``They have the mother of all tidal passages up there.''
The industry is coalescing over worries about dependence on foreign oil, volatile oil prices and global warming. Many states have passed laws requiring a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources, and tidal entrepreneurs believe they will be looking to diversify beyond wind and solar power.
Elefant said the industry is still trying to figure out how much energy it will be able to supply from tides, as well as waves.
``While ocean energy may not power everything in the U.S., it will be functioning in tandem with other renewable resources and supplement other sea-based technologies,'' said Elefant, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. ``The most important thing is for the nation to invest in a diverse energy supply.''
In the United States, wave energy technology is less advanced than tidal and will need more government subsidies, Bedard said, however, the number of good wave sites far exceeds that of tidal. Wave power collection involves cork or serpent-like devices that absorb energy from swells on the ocean's surface, whereas tidal machines sit on the sea floor.
Tidal energy technology has been able to build on lessons learned from wind power development, while wave engineers have had to start virtually from scratch, Bedard said. But a few companies are working aggressively to usher wave power into the energy industry.
Aqua Energy could start building a wave energy plant at Makah Bay in Washington state within two years, said Chief Executive Officer Alla Weinstein. Another wave plant, whose backers include major Norwegian energy company Norsk Hydro ASA, is under construction off the coast of Portugal.
Miller said the commission has received applications for three wave energy permits in Oregon, all filed since July.
With the uptick in interest in tidal and wave energy sites, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is holding a public meeting in Washington on Dec. 6 to discuss marine energy technologies. The meeting can be viewed on the commission's Web site
Read the article at UnderwaterTimes.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
, England (CNN) -- Whenever there is a hike in oil prices, the idea of a return to wind-powered shipping catches favor, but sail ship designs have often fallen short on a number of points, not least that they have to rely on unpredictable weather.
However, the future of shipping could feature wind power, but with kites, not sails.
Flying a kite to propel a ship might sound like something from Kevin Costner's cinematic damp swib, "Waterworld", but that is exactly what a number of nautical engineering firms propose.
Sails, no matter how sophisticated their design or use of lightweight modern materials have a fundamental flaw: they take up valuable deck space and storage room that is better used for cargo.
Kites have the advantage of not needing masts, do not need a large area to store them and can be retrofitted to existing ships.
"Kites hold the potential to change the way we move goods across oceans. They are eco-friendly and sufficiently cost effective to herald a return to sail that the Earth's finite petroleum supplies mandate," says Dave Culp, President of California based company KiteShip.
Another company that is throwing itself into towing kite technology is SkySails, based in Hamburg, Germany. The company was founded by Stefan Wrage, who has developed his idea in the face of much scepticism in the past.
Neither company is proposing that engines will be made redundant with the use of a kite, rather that the added propulsion will save a considerable amount in fuel costs.
Earlier this year SkySails trailed a kite on an 800-ton former buoy tender in the Baltic Sea. Using a towing kite of only 80-square-meters the Beufort reached five knots in low winds.
While this doesn't sound very impressive, add to it engine propulsion and Wrage and his team believe that a saving of between ten and 35 percent could be made on fuel costs and in better wind conditions, perhaps even 50 percent.
Read the rest of this CNN article.
Also, send a message to your Representatives and Senators if they haven't signed on to the bill proposed in July to help reduce global warming pollution. We have the power to get things done! Encourage our government to sing onto Kyoto!!!
Go to Climate USA for more details on how you can help!
By Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has rejected staff scientists' recommendations to protect animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act at least half a dozen times in the past three years, documents show.
In addition, staff complaints that their scientific findings were frequently overruled or disparaged at the behest of landowners or industry have led the agency's inspector general to look into the role of Julie MacDonald — who has been deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks since 2004 — in decisions on protecting endangered species.
The documents show MacDonald has repeatedly refused to go along with staff reports concluding that species such as the white-tailed prairie dog and the Gunnison's sage grouse are at risk of extinction. Career officials and scientists urged the department to identify the species as either threatened or endangered.
Overall, President Bush's appointees have added far fewer species to the protected list than did the administrations of either Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush, according to the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity. As of now, the administration has listed 56 species under the Endangered Species Act, for a rate of about 10 a year. Under Clinton, officials listed 512 species, or 64 a year, and under President George H.W. Bush the department listed 234, or 59 a year.
The dispute is the latest in a series of controversies in which government officials and outside scientists have accused the Bush administration of overriding or setting aside scientific findings that clashed with its political agenda on such issues as climate change, the Plan B emergency contraceptive or stem-cell research.
Interior spokesman Hugh Vickery said the agency has added fewer plants and animals to the list because it has been mired in lawsuits over existing listings and was more focused on ensuring their recovery than in identifying new ones.
MacDonald said that she does not make the decision on whether to protect a species, because the head of the Fish and Wildlife Service has that responsibility. But MacDonald said she had made her feelings clear in documents; overruled scientists' conclusions in areas where she has authority, such as designating critical habitat; and mocked rank-and-file employees' recommendations.
MacDonald said she sees her job as protecting "the public face of the Fish and Wildlife Service" by carefully scrutinizing listing documents that often seemed vague or unsupported by evidence.
"A lot of times when I first read a document I think, 'This is a joke, this is just not right.' So I'll ask questions," said MacDonald, a civil engineer by training.
Since the act's inception in 1973, the government has identified 1,337 domestic species as threatened or endangered, of which 1,311 remain on the list. At any given time the government is evaluating hundreds of candidate species; officials and scientists review all the available scientific literature on a plant or animal before awarding it protection.
Hundreds of pages of records, obtained by environmental groups through the Freedom of Information Act, chronicle the long-running battle between MacDonald and Fish and Wildlife Service employees over decisions on whether to safeguard plants and animals from oil and gas drilling, power lines and real-estate development — spiced by her mocking comments on their work and their frequently expressed resentment.
Two advocacy groups, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for Biological Diversity, provided the documents to The Washington Post. Francesca Grifo, who directs the union's scientific integrity program, said MacDonald's actions are "not business as usual, but a systemic problem of tampering with science that is putting our environment at risk."
In a few instances, federal judges have overturned decisions MacDonald had influenced. After she declared that the endangered Santa Barbara and Sonoma salamanders were no longer "distinct populations" entitled to protection, William Alsup, a judge on the U.S. District Court for Northern California, ruled MacDonald had arbitrarily instructed Fish and Wildlife scientists to downgrade the two species even though an agency scientist concluded "genetics state otherwise."
MacDonald has repeatedly urged employees to consider the position of industry officials more seriously when weighing whether to declare a species threatened or endangered. During a discussion of greater-sage-grouse populations, she wrote, "This paragraph completely ignores the comments received by the Owyhee Cattlemen's Association and the Idaho Cattle Association." The organization opposed the listing on the grounds that it would limit their use of land.
During a separate rulemaking concerning the threatened bull trout's habitat on the Klamath River, Fish and Wildlife officials debated via e-mail how to respond to MacDonald. Her questions, they believed, reflected the concerns of Ronald Yockim, a lawyer representing three Idaho counties opposing a pending decision to protect nearly 300 miles of the river. After MacDonald's intervention, Fish and Wildlife officials opted to protect just 42 miles.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - State wildlife officials have developed several potential changes to Florida's alligator management program, including removing the reptile from its list of imperiled species and allowing homeowners to deal with nuisance gators themselves.
The proposals come after the first broad review of the alligator management program in its 20-year history, developed through public input over a 10-day period in September. A draft proposal was posted on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Web site Monday.
The commission will hear the options at its December meeting and will make recommendations to state scientists. Some of the new rules could take affect by late next year. State alligator coordinator Harry Dutton said Tuesday that further public input is also needed before anything takes affect.
Officials estimate there are up to 2 million alligators in the state. The potential downgrading of the alligator from species of special concern to game could occur within five years and would remove it altogether from the state's list of imperiled animals.
That could lift restrictions that now make it illegal for a homeowner to kill a nuisance alligator on their property. Currently, they must first contact the commission, which contracts with a trapper to come remove the gator.
Palm Beach County trapper Rick Kramer said removing those restrictions could mean trouble for people who aren't professionals.
"I think it's going to cause some dangerous situations," Kramer said.
Also under the current protections, alligator hunting is limited to a several-week period and each hunter is only allowed two gator kills per permit.
The potential change in classification would mean, among other things, reduced restrictions on alligator hunting and possibly allowing for more kills over an extended period of time. But the process is still under review.
"We're still trying to reach conservation goals. We're still trying to reach certain recreational goals," Dutton said. "It's a very long and very complicated process to remove it from the state's list of imperiled species."
Dutton said the potential changes have nothing to do with the three fatal alligator attacks that occurred in one month earlier this year, but are simply in response to the state's successful conservation efforts over the past four decades.
Alligators were once thought to be on the brink of extinction after years of over-hunting, leading to their listing as an endangered species in 1967. They were removed from the federal list in 1987.
They have remained under state protection at least in part because of their similarities to the American crocodile, which is a federally endangered species.
Biologists now believe there is about one alligator for every nine of the state's nearly 18 million people, but dangerous encounters are still extremely rare. Just 18 fatal attacks have been reported since 1948, not including two of the three deaths in mid-May that are still under investigation.
I mean it seems like Florida is trying to eliminate all conservation methods set in place. And its no coincidence that it was being run by a Bush for years. Whats next? Elminiating the no building ban in the everglades? I mean they are already trying to do that now, so once lobbyists against conservation get more and more environmental acts repealed, the everglades will turn into New Miami... This is very sad indeed. What the fuck is wrong with Florida? I wish I didn't leave just so I can be down there and vote against such measures and vote people out of office who propose them. I mean its great that alligators have rebounded dramatically, but whose to say that if anyone can kill an alligator that the populations won't once again crash? Here's an idea, don't want to encounter an alligator, DON'T LIVE WHERE THEY DO!!! Seems simple right? And the article brought up a valid point, whose going to stop people from killing the endangered crocodiles? I am certain most people couln't tell you the difference, especially not a bunch of rifle-toting rednecks that will show up in their swamp buggies once its ok to kill gators! This is a travesty!
Greenbelt, Maryland (Oct 26, 2006 17:17 EST) New York City has been an area of concern during hurricane season for many years because of the large population and logistics. More than 8 million people live in the city, and it has hundreds of miles of coastline that are vulnerable to hurricane threats. Using computer climate models, scientists at NASA have looked at rising sea levels and hurricane storm surge and will report on them at a science meeting this week.
Cynthia Rosenzweig and Vivien Gornitz are scientists on a team at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, New York City, investigating future climate change impacts in the metropolitan area. Gornitz and other NASA scientists have been working with the New York City Department (DEP) of Environmental Protection since 2004, by using computer models to simulate future climates and sea level rise. Recently, computer modeling studies have provided a more detailed picture of sea level rise around New York by the 2050s.
During most of the twentieth century, sea levels around the world have been steadily rising by 1.7 to 1.8 mm (~0.07 in) per year, increasing to nearly 3 mm (0.12 in) per year within just the last decade. Most of this rise in sea level comes from warming of the world's oceans and melting of mountain glaciers, which have receded dramatically in many places since the early twentieth century. The 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that a global warming of 1.4° to 5.8° C (2.5° -10.4° F) could lead to a sea level rise of 0.09-0.88 meters (4 inches to 2.9 feet) by 2100.
A study conducted by Columbia University scientists for the U.S. Global Change Research Program in 2001 looked at several impacts of climate change on the New York metropolitan area, including sea level rise. The researchers projected a rise in sea level of 11.8 to 37.5 inches in New York City and 9.5 to 42.5 inches in the metropolitan region by the 2080s.
"With sea level at these higher levels, flooding by major storms would inundate many low-lying neighborhoods and shut down the entire metropolitan transportation system with much greater frequency," said Gornitz.
With sea level rise, New York City faces an increased risk of hurricane storm surge. Storm surge is an above normal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane. Hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson scale, from 1 to 5, with 5 being the strongest and most destructive. The scale is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region.
A recent study by Rosenzweig and Gornitz in 2005 and 2006 using the GISS Atmosphere-Ocean Model global climate model for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a sea level rise of 15 to 19 inches by the 2050s in New York City. Adding as little as 1.5 feet of sea level rise by the 2050s to the surge for a category 3 hurricane on a worst-case track would cause extensive flooding in many parts of the city. Areas potentially under water include the Rockaways, Coney Island, much of southern Brooklyn and Queens, portions of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island from Great Kills Harbor north to the Verrazano Bridge. Gornitz will present these findings at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Philadelphia during the week of Oct. 23.
To understand what hurricane storm surges would do to the city, surge levels for hurricanes of categories 1 through 4 were calculated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the 1995 Metro New York Hurricane Transportation Study using NOAA's SLOSH computer model. SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) is a computerized model run by the National Hurricane Center to estimate storm surge heights resulting from historical, hypothetical, or predicted hurricanes by taking into account pressure; size, forward speed, track and hurricane winds.
According to the 1995 study, a category three hurricane on a worst-case track could create a surge of up to 25 feet at JFK Airport, 21 feet at the Lincoln Tunnel entrance, 24 feet at the Battery, and 16 feet at La Guardia Airport. These figures do not include the effects of tides nor the additional heights of waves on top of the surge. Some studies suggest that hurricane strengths may intensify in most parts of the world as oceans become warmer. However, how much more frequently they will occur is still highly uncertain.
Hurricanes have hit New York City in the past. The strongest hurricane was a category four storm at its peak in the Caribbean, which made landfall at Jamaica Bay on Sept. 3, 1821 with a 13-foot storm surge. It caused widespread flooding in lower Manhattan. The "Long Island Express" or "Great Hurricane of 1938," a category three, tracked across central Long Island and ripped into southern New England on Sept. 21, 1938, killing nearly 700 people. The storm pushed a 25-35 foot high wall of water ahead of it, sweeping away protective barrier dunes and buildings.
The 1995 Transportation study was done to assess the vulnerability of the city's transportation system to hurricane surges. The 2001 Columbia study was one of the regional studies for the U.S. National Assessment of Climate Variability and Change; the recent study for the NYC DEP was to evaluate potential climate change impacts, including sea level rise, on the agency's mandated activities and infrastructure.
"This entire work is solutions oriented," said Rosenzweig. "It's about helping NYC DEP and other New York City agencies make better preparations for climate extremes of today, and changing extremes of the future. The report will help us determine how can we do better job now, as well as in the future."
Sir Nicholas Stern, the report's author and a senior government economist, said unchecked global warming could shrink the global economy by 20 per cent -- and cost a whopping $7 trillion in lost output.
However, taking action now would cost just one per cent of global gross domestic product, Sterns says in his 700-page study.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who introduced the report today, called for "bold and decisive action" to cut carbon emissions and stem the worst of temperature rise.
He said the Stern Review showed scientific evidence that global warming was "overwhelming" and its consequences "disastrous."
British Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who commissioned the report, said the U.K. would lead international efforts to tackle climate change and establish "an economy that is both pro-growth and pro-green."
Stern's report is seen as the first major effort to quantify the economic cost of climate change -- and the first major contribution to the global warming debate by an economist, rather than a scientist.
"Our actions over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century," he writes.
If no action is taken, says Stern, up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood from rising sea levels.
Further, up to 40 per cent of wildlife species could become extinct, and melting glaciers could cause water shortages for one sixth of the world's population, the report says.
"It is not in doubt that, if the science is right, the consequences for our planet are literally disastrous,'' said Blair.
"This disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime.
"Unless we act now ... these consequences, disastrous as they are, will be irreversible.''
Despite the gloomy forecast, Stern said he is "optimistic" that if the world powers act "strongly and urgently," the effects can be minimized.
"Whilst there is much more we need to understand -- both in science and economics -- we know enough now to be clear about the magnitude of the risks, the timescale for action and how to act effectively," he said.
Stern said the world must shift to a "low-carbon global economy'' through measures including taxation, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon trading.
Brown said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has emerged as a powerful environmental activist and spokesperson, would advise the government on climate change.
Brown called for Europe to cut its carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020; and 60 per cent by 2050.
He also said the British government is considering new "green taxes" on cheap airline flights, fuel and high-emission vehicles.
The "green" initiatives, he said, provide an opportunity "for new markets, for new jobs, new technologies, new exports where companies, universities and social enterprises in Britain can lead the world".
Stern's report is expected to increase pressure on the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to step up its efforts to fight global warming. The Bush administration never approved the Kyoto climate-change accord.
Stern is a former chief economist of the World Bank.
With files from The Associated Press