Saturday, November 29, 2008

A land rush in Wyoming spurred by wind power

WHEATLAND, Wyo. — The man who came to Elsie  Bacon’s ranch house door in July asked the 71-year-old widow to grant access to a right of way across the dry hills and short grasses of her land here. Ms. Bacon remembered his insistence on a quick, secret deal.

The man, a representative of the Little Rose Wind Farm of Boulder, Colo., sought an easement for a transmission line to carry his company’s wind-generated electricity to market. His offer: a fraction of the value of similar deals in the area. As Ms. Bacon, 71, recalled it: “He said, ‘You sure I can’t write you out a check?’ He was really pushy.”

A quiet land rush is under way among the buttes of southeastern Wyoming, and it is changing the local rancher culture. The whipping winds cursed by descendants of the original homesteaders now have real value for out-of-state developers who dream of wind farms or of selling the rights to bigger companies.

But as developers descend upon the area, drawing comparisons to the oil patch “land men” in the movie “There Will Be Blood,” the ranchers of Albany, Converse and Platte Counties are rewriting the old script.

A Land Rush in Wyoming Spurred by Wind Power

Technorati Tags: ,

Germany says well on track to meet Kyoto goals

The German government released data for 2007 greenhouse gas emissions on Friday that it said showed it was well on track to meet its international climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. AFP - The German government released data for 2007 greenhouse gas emissions on Friday that it said showed it was well on track to meet its international climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

Germany says well on track to meet Kyoto goals (AFP)
Fri, 28 Nov 2008 19:46:22 GMT

Friday, November 28, 2008

Antarctica: new rifts on Wilkins Ice Shelf

New rifts have developed on the Wilkins Ice Shelf that could lead to the opening of the ice bridge that has been preventing the ice shelf from disintegrating and breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctica: Wilkins Ice Shelf Under Threat
Fri, 28 Nov 2008 05:00:00 GMT

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sea eagles may be re-introduced to England

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2008) — The magnificent sea eagle, missing from England for more than 200 years, could be soaring along the Norfolk coast next summer if a proposed reintroduction scheme gets the go ahead.

Natural England, the RSPB and Anglian Water, have been investigating the feasibility of reintroducing the sea eagle, also known as the white-tailed eagle, to East Anglia.

North Norfolk is the preferred location and public consultation is underway to let local people know about the project and to identify any concerns they may have. The consultation will involve landowners and farmers and must address any possible impacts between eagles and livestock.

In a recent opinion poll, held in north Norfolk, 91% of the 500 members of the public who were asked indicated that they would like to see a bird like this in Norfolk.

In 1700, there were more than 200 pairs of white-tailed eagles spread across the UK, but by 1916, they had been driven to extinction.

Sea Eagles May Be Re-Introduced To England

Technorati Tags: ,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Networks of small habitat patches can preserve urban biodiversity

Sets of small and seemingly insignificant habitat patches that are within reach for mobile species may under certain circumstances, as a group, provide an acceptable alternative to larger and contiguous habitats. This finding can make preservation of important ecological functions possible even in urban and other heavily exploited areas.

The study by Dr. Erik Andersson and Dr. Örjan Bodin at the Department of Systems Ecology, and Stockholm Resilience Centre, both at Stockholm University, is unique in the sense that they empirically test and verify an often used modelling approach where habitat fragments are seen as individual nodes in larger networks of interconnected habitat patches.

According to the study, sets of small habitat patches can host species that require much larger habitat patches for their daily needs than what each patch itself can provide. Many species are actually capable of moving back and forth between neighbouring patches, given that they are not perceived as being too far apart. Thus, many species are able to make use of the total of the habitat fragments in the network instead of relying on the individual habitat patches for their persistence.

Networks Of Small Habitat Patches Can Preserve Urban Biodiversity
Mon, 24 Nov 2008 10:00:00 GMT

Great Lakes wind could supply one-third of U.S. electricity

No sooner was the Great Lakes Basin Compact approved in October of 2008 than wind turbine consortiums and manufacturers started talking about the potential of Great Lakes wind to deliver massive amounts of clean energy to the Upper Midwest.

Their hopes and statistics are based on several wind distribution maps. The first, a government-sponsored wind mapping system, shows eastern Wisconsin having the greatest potential. A Wikipedia resource confirms this, and adds the Upper Peninsula area in Michigan as having wind speeds from 12 to 15 miles per hour offshore, with winds exceeding 20 miles per hour on Lake Michigan itself. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy, rates offshore wind speeds at both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan as ‘good', and wind speeds over the lakes themselves as ‘excellent'.

Clearly the potential is there. On October 1, the Land Policy Institute of MSU released a study (in PDF format) showing that 100,000 wind turbines located off the coast of Michigan could produce almost 322,000 megawatts of energy.

To get an idea of the phenomenal amount of power that represents, consider the fact that one megawatt can power up to 300 homes. This means 322,000 megawatts can electrify up to 96 million homes! It's not just a pipe dream, either. Institute members and some wind power consortiums agree the project is feasible, "once depth, technology, view and environmental concerns" are addressed.

Great Lakes Wind Could Supply One-third of U.S. Electricity

Los Angeles sets 10% solar goal for 2020


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to unveil a proposal this afternoon to meet 10 percent of the city’s energy needs with solar power by 2020. The announcement will be made at Solar Integrated Technologies, an LA-based company contracted last month to supply thin-film solar panels for a 1.1 megawatt project by Oregon utility Portland General Electric. ...

Update: The mayor’s office has revealed that the planned 1.3 gigawatt project is to be a network of solar power systems owned by the city, residents and private companies. The proposal includes new incentives and low-interest loans for residential and commercial installations, as well as a push for large-scale solar projects outside of the Los Angeles basin (in the Mojave Desert, for example) with purchase agreements — but not necessarily funding — from the LA utility. After about eight years, the Department of Water and Power would have the option to buy these plants.

Los Angeles Sets 10% Solar Goal for 2020

Wind energy reaches 43 percent of Spain's electricity demand

At 5 a.m. Central European Time (CET) on Nov. 24, wind power reached a new record of meeting 43% of Spain's electricity demand - with 9,253 MW of wind energy in operation - of the 21,264 MW total demand.

image The previous record was broken March 22 at 6 p.m. CET, with 40.8% of the demand, or 9,862 MW. At 12:30 p.m. CET on Nov. 24, 10,263 MW were being produced simultaneously. The previous record of 10,880 MW of wind production was reached on April 18 at 4:50 p.m. CET, representing 30% of the peninsula's demand.

According to La Asociacion Empresarial Eolica, wind energy prices could drop to 6 euros per MWh. Wind energy has experienced a savings of 2.077 billion euros for the electrical system (4.50 euros of savings per citizen).

SOURCE: La Asociacion Empresarial Eolica

Wind Energy Reaches 43 Percent Of Spain's Electricity Demand

EU mulls state aid to ease costs of cutting CO2

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is considering state aid to help companies deal with the risk of electricity prices rising as the EU clamps down on carbon emissions, a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.

image The measures are aimed at easing a stand-off with member states including Germany and Poland that fear big employers will simply move operations overseas to less regulated countries, rather than face the cost of cutting carbon at home.

The EU is now reviewing its flagship c, which caps how much CO2 industries may emit and makes them pay for permits to pollute.

"Aid could be reasoned to be necessary...where the costs of ETS burden companies to an extent that they would leave the EU," the document said.

EU mulls state aid to ease costs of cutting CO2
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 13:10:10 GMT

Tuna fishing to be cut by 30 pct over two years: EU

Greenpeace activist set up a banner behind tunas, they dumped in front of French Agriculture ministry, on November 17, 2008 in Paris during a demonstration, calling for a ban of tuna fishing. Bluefin tuna fishing will have to be cut by 30 percent over two years in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean under an international accord reached in Marrakesh, the European Commission said Tuesday.(AFP/File/Martin Bureau)AFP - Bluefin tuna fishing will have to be cut by 30 percent over two years in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean under an international accord reached in Marrakesh, the European Commission said Tuesday.

Tuna fishing to be cut by 30 pct over two years: EU (AFP)
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 17:14:42 GMT

Denmark works to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50%

The Danish energy system can be changed to depend mainly on renewable energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50%, according to a consensus from scientists, government officials and businesspeople. The big challenge lies in the system itself.

imageFor two days 160 scientists, businesspeople and government officers have been working to answer the question: What is the fastest way to an energy system with much less CO2 emissions? The first step is to integrate an interconnected intelligent power grid in Europe.

Denmark can become independent of fossil fuels by implementing efficiency improvements in all sectors including power stations, houses, industry and transport. At the same time, the share of renewable energy must be increased with more wind energy and increased use of biomass. In the transport sector we can replace fossil fuels with biofuels and we can also use electric cars which can be integrated into the power grid. The obstacle is the development of better batteries. Such a radical transformation of the energy system takes time.

Denmark Works To Cut Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 50%
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 05:00:00 GMT

Bush administration quietly works to torpedo global warming regulations

White House emailing mayors to oppose greenhouse gas limits

Nick Juliano, The Raw Story

On his way out the door, President Bush seems to be taking one last shot at torpedoing court-ordered action to restrict global warming.

imageTop Bush administration figures have been e-mailing sympathetic mayors and other allies encouraging them to oppose Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court last year ordered the EPA to craft a proposal to limit the emissions under the Clean Air Act, but the White House made clear it doesn't like the idea.

"At the time, President Bush warned that this was the wrong way to regulate emissions. [House Energy and Commerce Committee] Chairman John D. Dingell called it 'a glorious mess,' " Jeremy J. Broggi, associate director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin. "And many of you contacted us to let us know how harmful this rule would be to the economies of the cities and counties you serve."

"The Bush administration," Eilperin says, " sending out a message to some of its allies: Tell us how much you don't want us to regulate emissions linked to global warming."

The e-mail appears to be one is a series of steps Bush is taking to leave as many as his fingerprints as possible on federal policy before he leaves office. The administration is pushing through an array of parallel deregulatory policies including lifting barriers to mountaintop coal mining and ocean-fishing along with easing standards governing drinking water quality.

Bush administration quietly works to torpedo global warming regulations

Technorati Tags: ,,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vatican set to go green with huge solar panel roof

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican was set to go green on Wednesday with the activation of a new solar energy system to power several key buildings and a commitment to use renewable energy for 20 percent of its needs by 2020. 

imageThe massive roof of the Vatican's "Nervi Hall," where popes hold general audiences and concerts are performed, has been covered with 2,400 photovoltaic panels -- but they will not be visible from below, leaving the Vatican skyline unchanged.

The new system on the 5,000 square meter roof will provide for all the year-round energy needs of the hall and several surrounding buildings, producing 300 kilowatt hours (MWh) of clean energy a year.

Vatican set to go green with huge solar panel roof
Tue, 25 Nov 2008 20:02:45 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

Bush pardons man who killed three bald eagles

Jonathan Turley summarizes the situation well:


The symbolism is perfectly exquisite. President George Bush, who has given out fewer pardons than any modern president, felt that he could not leave office without releasing Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully killing three bald eagles in southeast Missouri. Bush is generally viewed as the most hostile president to environmental protections in modern times. His pardons seemed to reflect that profile with a number of environmental felons rescued in the fourteen pardons issued this week.

Collier is a real charmer. He explained that he was only trying to kill coyotes by lacing hamburger meat with pesticides — a trap that is widely denounced by environmentalists around the world and well-known to be a danger to bald eagles and other animals. Collier was appropriately convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

What is particularly galling is that Collier received a light sentence: two years probation, $10,000 in restitution. Yet Bush believed that even that was too harsh for an environmental crime.

Bush Pardons Man Who Killed Three Bald Eagles

Ocean acidification on YouTube

This is a one-minute video that clearly describes the issue. The YouTube approach, using short, informative, and visually compelling content, looks like a good way to communicate complex scientific issues that have policy implications.

YouTube, 10 November 2008. Video.

Acid Test: Are the Oceans Already Lost?
Tue, 25 Nov 2008 12:31:42 GMT

Monday, November 24, 2008

A stimulus package for renewable energy would benefit economy and climate, says German study

Faced with the worst economic crisis since 1931, governments in Germany and the UK as well as the US and China are planning to use deficit spending to avert a dramatic economic slowdown.

imageThe study by Deutsche Asset Management (DeAM), a member of the Deutsche Bank group, argues that directing any stimulus package towards the renewable energy would benefit not just the economy by boosting jobs and growth but also accelerate the creation of a booming new clean tech industry, so helping to slash greenhouse gases.

Massive investment in renewable energy would also have the advantage of establishing energy independence for countries such as US, China, Germany and the UK from oil and gas imports from crisis-hit regions.

"The current crisis is making the necessity of tackling climate change an opportunity to stimulate growth through investment opportunities," said Mark Fulton, DeAM's Global Head of Climate Change Investment Research.


"Currently, the renewable energy market is worth US $70 billion and doubling in size every three years," he said. "The global market for renewable energy can grow at double digit rates until 2050, and overtake the size of today's fossil fuel industry.

A Stimulus Package for Renewable Energy Would Benefit Economy and Climate, Says German Study

Obama names Mexico chemistry Nobel laureate Molina to oversee climate change

Ecologist will be part of the Executive Office of 21 key leaders of Obama team

MEXICO CITY -- Nobel Prize-winning Mexican chemist Mario Molina will be a part of the transition team of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, the scientist's assistant told Efe.

Lorena Ibarra confirmed that the scientist was invited to join Obama's work team, where he "is going to be managing everything to do with science and ecology," an offer she said he accepted by saying, "Yes, immediately."

Obama on Tuesday promised to give priority to the fight against climate change when he gets into the White House, making his commitment in a videotaped speech that was released at the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles.

Molina, who won the Nobel in chemistry in 1995, will be part of the Executive Office of the 21 leaders of the president-elect's team.

US President-Elect Obama Names Mexico Chemistry Nobel Laureate Molina to Oversee Climate Change

Technorati Tags: ,

People said to believe in aliens and ghosts more than God

image - More people believe in aliens and ghosts than in God, a new survey finds, according to a British newspaper.

The survey, however, was done by a marketing firm in conjunction with the release of an X-Files DVD, and details of how the poll was conducted were not reported in the Daily Mail. Survey questions, depending on how they are written, can greatly skew results, along with how subjects are sampled.

That said, the poll of 3,000 people found that 58 percent believe in the supernatural, including paranormal encounters, while 54 percent believe God exists. Women were more likely than men to believe in the supernatural and were also more likely to visit a medium.

Indeed, humans are prone to believing in things they can neither see nor find logical evidence for.

People Said to Believe in Aliens and Ghosts More Than God (
Mon, 24 Nov 2008 14:48:12 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

Harvard urges rich nations to cut emissions first

LONDON (Reuters) - Rich nations should make the first cuts in greenhouse gases while developing countries carry on business-as-usual for the time being, according to a report published on Monday by Harvard University.

Harvard urges rich nations to cut emissions first
Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:45:45 GMT

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Solar panels on graves give power to Spanish town

Solar panels sit on top of niches at the Santa Coloma de Gramenet cemetery, outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. The city council has installed 462 solar panels on top of the grave niches. The energy they produce, equivalent to the yearly consumption of 60 homes, flows into the local energy grid and is one community's odd and pioneering nod to the fight against global warming. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)AP - A new kind of silent hero has joined the fight against climate change.

Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a gritty, working-class town outside Barcelona, has placed a sea of solar panels atop mausoleums at its cemetery, transforming a place of perpetual rest into one buzzing with renewable energy.

Flat, open and sun-drenched land is so scarce in Santa Coloma that the graveyard was just about the only viable spot to move ahead with its solar energy program.

The power the 462 panels produces — equivalent to the yearly use by 60 homes — flows into the local energy grid for normal consumption and is one community's odd nod to the fight against global warming.

"The best tribute we can pay to our ancestors, whatever your religion may be, is to generate clean energy for new generations. That is our leitmotif," said Esteve Serret, director Conste-Live Energy, a Spanish company that runs the cemetery in Santa Coloma and also works in renewable energy.

Solar panels on graves give power to Spanish town (AP)
Sun, 23 Nov 2008 16:56:56 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Converting sunlight into electricity: European project breaks efficiency record

Scientists have developed photovoltaic multi-junction solar cells which are able to convert 39.7% of the energy of sun light into electricity. This is the highest percentage ever reached in Europe, according to researchers.

The main barrier to large-scale deployment of PV systems is the high production cost of electricity, due to the significant capital investment costs. Research is engaged to reduce manufacturing costs and to raise the efficiency of the cells. Today conventional PV cells made of silicon are converting only a fraction of the solar light spectrum around 17%.

FULLSPECTRUM's multi-junction solar cells are able to catch more sun light energy due to their composition of different materials, including gallium, phosphorus, indium and germanium. These multi-junction solar cells are expensive and have only been used for applications in space. However, the cost can be considerably reduced by arranging them in special panels which include lenses that focus a large amount of solar energy onto the cells. These concentrators can reach far above 1000 times the natural solar power flux and have also been the object of the project research.

Converting Sunlight Into Electricity: European Project Breaks Efficiency Record
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 22:00:00 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

Burying greenhouse gases: new tool could aid safe underground storage of carbon dioxide

To prevent global warming, researchers and policymakers are exploring a variety of options to significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide that reaches the atmosphere. One possible approach involves capturing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide at the source, then injecting them underground. Now engineers have come up with a new software tool to determine how much carbon dioxide can be sequestered safely in geological formations.

While theoretically promising, the technique has never been tested in a full-scale industrial operation. But now MIT engineers have come up with a new software tool to determine how much CO2 can be sequestered safely in geological formations.

According to the 2007 MIT study, "The Future of Coal," and other sources, capturing CO2 at coal-burning power plants and storing it in deep geological basins will mitigate its negative effects on the atmosphere.

However, injecting too much CO2 could create or enlarge underground faults that may become conduits for CO2 to travel back up to the atmosphere, said Ruben Juanes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) and one of the authors of the work. "Our model is a simple, effective way to calculate how much CO2 a basin can store safely. It is the first to look at large scales and take into account the effects of flow dynamics on the stored CO2," he said.

Burying Greenhouse Gases: New Tool Could Aid Safe Underground Storage Of Carbon Dioxide
Sat, 22 Nov 2008 13:00:00 GMT

Urgent action on international coral reef crisis urged

Coral reef scientists and policy makers from the world's most prominent coral reef nations are meeting in Australia this week to develop urgent action plans to rescue the world's richest center of marine biodiversity from gradual decline.

Human pressures on the Coral Triangle have raised grave concerns about the imagefuture of its fish, corals and other sea life, leading to a proposal by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for joint action by six governments, scientists, agencies and environmental non-government organisations of the region.

Marine scientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) are assisting the largest reef conservation program ever undertaken, known as the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security.

The Coral Triangle (CT) spans Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands, and has over 200 million inhabitants, a third of whom depend on the sea for food security or livelihood.

Spread over 5.7 million square kilometres, the CT has the highest diversity of marine life of any area on Earth.  It contains three quarters of the world’s known coral species, a third of the world’s coral reefs, more than 3,000 species of fish and the world’s richest mangrove forests. It generates $2.3 billion in sea products each year and is a major spawning ground for tuna and other valuable species.

Urgent Action On International Coral Reef Crisis Urged
Sat, 22 Nov 2008 04:00:00 GMT

Presidential decree protects Brazil rain forest

AP - Brazil's president has signed a decree aimed at recovering and protecting devastated rain forest along Brazil's Atlantic coast.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc says the government hopes to restore 20 percent of the forest's original cover.

Only about 7 percent of Brazil's coastal rain forest remains standing. It once covered more than 500,000 square miles (1.3 million square kms).

The decree signed by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Friday provides financial incentives for local residents to protect and recover forest through green businesses.

Presidential decree protects Brazil rain forest (AP)
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 17:20:51 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,,

Rangers return to Congo gorilla park after a year

GOMA, Congo (Reuters) - Park rangers returned to a reserve that is home to nearly a third of the world's remaining mountain gorillas Friday, more than a year after fighting forced them to abandon the area, a park chief said. Armed Tutsi rebels loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda occupied the gorilla sector of Virunga National Park in September 2007, forcing rangers to leave.


"It is a huge step that all sides have agreed that the protection of Virunga as a World Heritage Site and its mountain gorillas is of sufficient priority to transcend political differences," park Director Emmanuel de Merode said in a statement.


More than 150 rangers have been killed in eastern Congo in a decade of conflict that has claimed more than 5 million lives -- more than any conflict since World War Two -- through violence, hunger and disease.

Rangers return to Congo gorilla park after a year
Sat, 22 Nov 2008 01:40:00 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,,

Bush appointees land career federal science jobs without technical backgrounds

By Juliet Eilperin and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers

The president of the nation's largest general science organization yesterday sharply criticized recent cases of Bush administration political appointees gaining permanent federal jobs with responsibility for making or administering scientific policies, saying the result would be "to leave wreckage behind."

"It's ludicrous to have people who do not have a scientific background, who are not trained and skilled in the ways of science, make decisions that involve resources, that involve facilities in the scientific infrastructure," said James McCarthy, a Harvard University oceanographer who is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "You'd just like to think people have more respect for the institution of government than to leave wreckage behind with these appointments."

His comments came as several new examples surfaced of political appointees gaining coveted, high-level civil service positions as the administration winds down. The White House has said repeatedly that all gained their new posts in an open, competitive process, but congressional Democrats and others questioned why political appointees had won out over qualified federal career employees. 

Top Scientist Rails Against Hirings

Saturday, November 22, 2008; Page A03

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cquestrate animated

Neat video showing the basic idea behind Cquestrate's plan for reducing atmospheric carbon and ocean acidity.

Cquestrate from cquestrate on Vimeo.

Cquestrate animated

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Democrats look to stop endangered species rule changes

image WASHINGTON — With the Bush administration on the verge of relaxing regulations protecting endangered species, Democratic leaders are looking at ways to overturn any last-minute rule changes.

The Bush administration has until Friday to publish new rules in order for them to take effect before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in. Otherwise, Obama can undo them with the stroke of a pen.

A rule eliminating the mandatory, independent advice of government scientists in decisions about whether dams, highways and other projects are likely to harm species looked likely to meet the deadline, leaving the only chance for a quick reversal to Congress.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House will be looking at ways to overturn the final endangered species rules and other one-minute-to-midnight regulations.

"The House, in consultation with the incoming administration and relevant committees, will review what oversight tools are at our disposal regarding this and other last-minute attempts to inflict severe damage to the law in the waning moments of the Bush administration," Hammill said.

Dems look to stop endangered species rule changes

With dog's help, clues to orcas' decline found in whale scat

Using a dog trained to track the scent of orca scat, researchers at the University of Washington are finding that hormone levels in scat samples indicate the animals aren't getting enough to eat.


By Lynda V. Mapes, Seattle Times staff reporter

Researchers trying to learn whether orcas are starving have turned — with the help of a dog — to a new source of information: orca scat.

Tucker, a black Lab trained in tracking animal scat, has been deployed two of the past three summers to track down orca scat between the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island in Haro Strait, sniffing his quarry from the bow of a research boat for a University of Washington research team.

When Tucker finds what researchers are looking for, he gets to play with his ball. So he is a highly motivated tracker — and in the summers of 2006 and 2008, he helped track down some of 130 samples of scat from orca whales in Puget Sound's J, K and L pods.

Sam Wasser, director of the UW's Center for Conservation Biology, led the research team, which analyzed hormone levels in the scat. What they found surprised them. The orca mortality rate was the highest when thyroid hormone levels were lowest, indicating the animals may be nutritionally deprived.

The southern resident population of orcas that frequents Puget Sound is endangered. The seven orcas missing and presumed dead this year bring the population to just 83 animals, the fewest since 2003, and down from a recent high of 97 in 1996. The number of deaths has alarmed researchers, who haven't seen as steep a drop in nearly a decade.

With dog's help, clues to orcas' decline found in whale scat

Technorati Tags: ,

Here's what Typealizer says about Technozoic

ESTJ - The Guardians

The organizing and efficient type. They are especially attuned to setting goals and managing available resources to get the job done. Once they´ve made up their mind on something, it can be quite difficult to convince otherwise. They listen to hard facts and can have a hard time accepting new or innovative ways of doing things.

The Guardians are often happy working in highly structured work environments where everyone knows the rules of the job. They respect authority and are loyal team players.

Who knew?


New deep-sea observatory goes live

Off the coast of Central California, in the inky darkness of the deep sea, a bright orange metal pyramid about the size of two compact cars sits quietly on the seafloor. Nestled within the metal pyramid is the heart of the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS)—the first deep-sea ocean observatory offshore of the continental United States. Six years and $13.5 million dollars in the making, the MARS Observatory went "live" on Monday, November 10, 2008, returning the first scientific data from 900 meters (3,000 feet) below the ocean surface.

imageConstruction of the observatory was coordinated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). According to Marcia McNutt, MBARI president and CEO, "Getting all of the components of the observatory to work together perfectly in the remote, unforgiving, inhospitable environment of the deep sea was no easy task. But the tougher the challenge, the greater the glory when it is finally achieved. Some day we may look back at the first packets of data streaming in from the MARS observatory as the equivalent of those first words spoken by Alexander Graham Bell: 'Watson, come here, I need you!'"

Like the Hubble Space Telescope, the MARS Observatory is not designed for human occupation, but is operated remotely. The observatory will serve as both a "power strip" and a "high-speed internet connection" for scientific instruments in the deep sea. It will allow marine scientists to continuously monitor the dark, mysterious world of the deep sea, instead of relying on brief oceanographic cruises and instruments that run on batteries.

The heart of observatory consists of two titanium pressure cylinders packed with computer networking and power distribution equipment. These cylinders are housed in a protective metal pyramid on the deep seafloor. This central hub is connected to shore by a 52-kilometer-long cable that can carry up to 10,000 watts of power and two gigabits per second of data. Most of the cable is buried a meter (three feet) below the seafloor.

New deep-sea observatory goes live

Observing buried carbon dioxide

A project proves that millions of tons of the sequestered gas can be safely monitored.

By David Talbot

Scientists say that fighting climate change will  require pumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide underground. But will it be possible to monitor such large-scale sequestration to make sure it's not leaking? Evaluations at a remote CO2-burial site in Saskatchewan suggest that the answer is yes.

"We have demonstrated fairly convincingly that you can monitor the CO2 underneath the surface using seismic technologies," says Don White, a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada, who presented the latest analyses of the site in Weyburn, Saimageskatchewan, at a conference in Washington, DC, this week. "The results have been positive so far. If we went to regulatory hearings and were asked, 'How do you know it's safe?' we'd say, 'We've demonstrated that it works and that we can monitor it.'"

Weyburn is one of the leading facilities in the world for studying underground CO2 storage. Located just north of North Dakota, it consists of two old oil fields that use carbon dioxide pumped underground to increase oil production. The site also accepts carbon dioxide piped from the Great Plains Synfuels Plant.

To date, Weyburn has buried 11 million tons of CO2, most recently at a rate of three million tons per year. To put this in perspective: an intermediate-size coal plant emits about two million tons of carbon dioxide each year--and there are about 600 coal power plants in the United States. So the annual amount that Weyburn accepts is equivalent to roughly one-quarter of one percent of the CO2 emitted by U.S. coal power plants.

Observing Buried Carbon Dioxide
Thu, 20 Nov 2008 05:00:00 GMT

Hurricane season ending after record damage in US

Miami (AFP) Nov 19, 2008 - The Atlantic hurricane season in 2008 is coming to a close after producing 16 storms, including eight hurricanes, and inflicting record damage in the United States, a report by university researchers said on Wednesday.

Hurricane season ending after record damage in US
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 23:59:53 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

shift in house commerce

In a telling shift Dingell (MI) was replaced by Waxman (CA) as chair of the house Energy and Commerce committee.

The importance of this shift is pretty huge when you consider LA has long found itself paying the price of detroit's control of legislation on issues such as CAFE.

It will be very interesting to see what this means in terms of legislation in the next congress.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

EU agrees cod stocks rescue plans

Haddock and cod in a trawler (file image)

European fisheries ministers have agreed a plan aimed at increasing dwindling cod stocks.

The new plans envisage using better nets that allow smaller cod to escape, as well as closing certain areas to fishing when cod are spawning.

Ministers have admitted the plan will be difficult for
fishermen to achieve.

But they say the incentive will be larger quotas in
areas like the North Sea, where cod stocks are
beginning to recover.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

California on track to 33% renewables by 2020 and 80% reduction from 1990 carbon levels by 2050

A few days late on the post but the press release follows.

One thing that remains a bit unclear to me is the language "Gov. Schwarzenegger has also called for the state to reduce carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050"

Which I read to be very different from "to 80 percent of 1990 levels" and would be, well, A LOT of carbon reduction.

The press release:

For Immediate Release: Contact: Aaron McLear
Monday, November 17, 2008 Lisa Page
Governor Schwarzenegger Advances State’s Renewable Energy Development

Signs Executive Order to Raise California’s Renewable Energy Goals to 33 Percent by 2020, Clear Red Tape for Renewable Projects

Building on his commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the state’s renewable energy, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed Executive Order S-14-08 (EO) to streamline California’s renewable energy project approval process and increase the state’s Renewable Energy Standard to 33 percent renewable power by 2020.

“I am proposing we set the most aggressive target in the nation for renewable energy—33 percent by the year 2020—that’s a third of our energy from sources like solar, wind and geothermal,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “But we won’t meet that goal doing business as usual, where environmental regulations are holding up environmental progress in some cases. This executive order will clear the red tape for renewable projects and streamline the permitting and siting of new plants and transmission lines. With this investment in renewable energy projects, California has a bright energy future ahead that will help us fight climate change while driving our state’s green economy.”

The Governor made today’s announcement at the site of OptiSolar’s new plant in Sacramento, which will begin manufacturing solar panels in early 2009. When fully built out, the one-million-square-foot plant will be the largest photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing plant in North America, providing 1,000 green jobs and producing approximately 2,000 solar panels per day.

To solidify his promise to increase the amount of electricity California receives from renewable resources, the Governor will expand the state’s current RPS requirements to 33 percent by 2020. The Governor also will propose legislative language that will codify the new higher standards and require all utilities, public and private, to meet the 33 percent target and spread implementation costs across all ratepayers with safeguards for low-income customers. It will allow for the expansion of eligibility for California’s RPS program to renewable energy generation from other western states and reform the renewable energy market structure to spur new development while providing consumer safeguards.

The EO will advance California’s transition into a clean energy economy and directs state agencies to create comprehensive plans to prioritize regional renewable projects based on an area’s renewable resource potential and the level of protection for plant and animal habitat. To implement and track the progress of the EO, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing a Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT).

To streamline the application process for renewable energy development, the CEC and DFG will create a “one-stop” permitting process with the goal of reducing the application time for specific projects in half. This will be achieved through the creation of a special joint streamlining unit that will concurrently review permit applications filed at the state level.

To jump start Natural Communities Conservation Plans (NCCPs) under the EO, the REAT will initiate the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan in the priority Mojave and Colorado Desert regions and identify other preferred areas that will benefit from a streamlined permitting and environmental review process. This will dramatically reduce the time and uncertainty normally associated with building new renewable projects.

In addition to the EO announced today, the CEC, DFG, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a coordinated approach with our federal partners in the expedited permitting process. This coordinated approach will significantly reduce the time and expense for developing renewable energy on federally-owned California land, including the priority Mojave and Colorado Desert regions.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has led California in establishing laws and policies aimed at helping to promote renewable energy and fight global warming, including:
In September 2008, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed AB 1451 by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), AB 2466 by Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and AB 2267 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) to build on California’s commitment to increase renewable energy use. AB 1451 will build on the state’s solar power usage by continuing a property tax exclusion for projects that utilize solar panel energy and expanding the exclusion to builder-installed solar energy systems in new homes. AB 2267 builds on the state’s green economy by requiring the CPUC to grant incentives to eligible California-technology manufacturers. This bill also requires the Energy Commission to give priority to California-based companies when granting awards and will not only create jobs for hardworking Californians but will attract more clean-tech and green-tech companies to the state. AB 2466 will increase energy efficiency and help protect the environment by authorizing local governments to receive a utility bill credit for surplus renewable electricity generated at one site against the electricity consumption at other sites.

In 2006, the Governor announced his Million Solar Roofs Plan to provide 3,000 megawatts of additional clean energy and reduce the output of greenhouse gases by three million tons, equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. Now known as the California Solar Initiative, the $3.3 billion incentive plan for homeowners and building owners who install solar electric systems will lead to one million solar roofs in California by 2017.

Announced as a component of the California Solar Initiative in 2007, the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) aims to create a self-sustaining market for solar homes and gain builder commitment to install solar energy systems. A new home that qualifies for the NSHP is at least 15 percent more efficient than the current building standards.

In September 2006, the Governor signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, California's landmark bill that established a first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases. The law will reduce carbon emissions in California to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Gov. Schwarzenegger has also called for the state to reduce carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

California's push to fight global warming and increase renewable energy will also boost our economy. According to an economic study by the University of California at Berkeley and Next 10, California's policies will create as many as 403,000 jobs in the next 12 years and household incomes will increase by $48 billion.

New system proposed to optimize combined energy use

Engineers in Spain have developed an algorithm that can optimize hybrid electricity generation systems through combined use of renewable energies, such as photovoltaic and wind power, and non-renewables, such as diesel. Their study envisions storing the energy in batteries or hydrogen tanks.

New System Proposed To Optimize Combined Energy Use
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 13:00:00 GMT

Africa looks to closer cooperation on climate change

A Gabra woman watches her goats near Balesa village in North Horr, northeast of Nairobi, June 2008. African environment ministers met to agree a common position on climate change ahead of a major international conference on the topic in December 2009.(AFP/File/Simon Maina)AFP - African environment ministers met Wednesday to agree a common position on climate change ahead of a major international conference on the topic in December 2009.

Africa looks to closer cooperation on climate change (AFP)
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 15:44:57 GMT

U.S. and Indonesia link up on forest carbon credits

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - California and two other U.S. states signed a pact late on Tuesday with Indonesia's Aceh province that could see forest carbon credits from Aceh accepted into U.S. emissions trading schemes.

U.S. and Indonesia link up on forest carbon credits
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 11:38:10 GMT

Use flower power to save Europe's bees: EU lawmaker


STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Honey bees, whose numbers are falling, must be given flowery "recovery zones" in Europe's farmlands to aid their survival, a leading EU lawmaker said Wednesday.

Use flower power to save Europe's bees: EU lawmaker
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 11:43:44 GMT

Macedonians plant six million trees in single day

SKOPJE (Reuters) - Thousands of Macedonians took to the hills and forests on Wednesday to plant six million trees in a single day as part of a mass reforestation drive in the Balkan country.


The main aim of the campaign was to replant Macedonia's forests after extensive wild fires over the past two summers, and organizers trumpeted the scheme's environmental benefits at a time of global warming.

"Our goal is to make Macedonia "greener" and make people more aware of the needs of this planet," said Macedonian opera singer Boris Trajanov, who initiated the project.

Thousands of people were bused to the planting sites, including more than 1,000 soldiers who planted some 200,000 seedlings at 14 sites.

"Just as we take care of our homes, we should take care of our planet," said Silvana, boarding a bus with her two children. "We have no other place to live, that's why I'm going."

Trajanov told Reuters he hoped to spread the campaign across the whole Balkan region next year.

"If Macedonia, a country of two million people, can plant six million trees, we can only imagine how many trees can be planted in other, bigger countries," he said.

Macedonians plant six million trees in single day
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 14:02:02 GMT

Scientists find new penguin, extinct for 500 years

In this 2006 photo released Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 by the New Zealand Science Media Centre shown is a yellow-eyed penguin. Australian and New Zealand researchers studying one of the world's rare and endangered penguins have uncovered a previously unknown penguin species that disappeared about 500 years ago. The newly found 'Waitaha' penguin became extinct after Polynesian settlement of New Zealand but before A.D. 1500, researchers from Australia's University of Adelaide, New Zealand's University of Otago and Canterbury Museum, reported Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. The find came as the team was investigating changes in the endangered New Zealand yellow-eyed penguin population since human settlement of New Zealand around A.D. 1200-1300.(AP Photo/New Zealand Science Media Centre,Sanne Boessenkool, HO)AP - Researchers studying a rare and endangered species of penguin have uncovered a previously unknown species that disappeared about 500 years ago.

Scientists find new penguin, extinct for 500 years (AP)
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 13:22:04 GMT

Real-life Furbys rediscovered

By Alan Boyle, Science editor,


A primate species that looks like a living, breathing version of the Furby electronic toy has been found alive in the forested highlands of an Indonesian island for the first time in more than 70 years, scientists announced Tuesday.

Three specimens of the pygmy tarsier, a nocturnal creature about the size of a small mouse, were trapped and tracked this summer on Mount Rorekatimbo in Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, Texas A&M University reported.

Real-life Furbys rediscovered

Pollinator decline not reducing crop yields just yet

The well-documented worldwide decline in the number of bees and other pollinators is not, at this stage, limiting global crop yields, according to an article in Current Biology.

Pollinator Decline Not Reducing Crop Yields Just Yet
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 07:00:00 GMT

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NOAA calls for pesticide buffers to protect salmon

NOAA has identified three chemicals in pesticides it says are likely to jeopardize 27 populations of salmon on the West Coast.

The chemicals are diazonin, malathion, and chlorpyrifos. NOAA says they are likely to jeopardize 27 populations of salmon on the West Coast that are listed as either endangered or threatened.

[Malathion is also implicated in amphibian decline. --Jim]

NOAA calls for pesticide buffers to protect salmon
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 19:40:02 GMT

British lawmakers pass landmark climate change bill


Wind turbines turn on Scout Moor near Edenfield in September 2008. Lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a bill committing Britain to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 -- the first country to have such a legally binding framework on climate change.(AFP/File/Paul Ellis)AFP - Lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a bill committing Britain to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 -- the first country to have such a legally binding framework on climate change.

British lawmakers pass landmark climate change bill (AFP)
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 23:20:04 GMT

Spawning salmon return to creek after decades

Spawning salmon return to creek after decades

By Robert Santos

SEATAC, Wash. -- It's no secret that salmon runs in the region are at an all-time low.

Things had been no different for a local creek where the the endangered species hadn't been seen for years until recently.

Port of Seattle bought a chunk of land near Sea-Tac Airport years ago as a part of its plan to build a third runway. Many conservationists feared construction would damage the wetlands and the creek. But port officials say their efforts to restore the area has paid off.

Nearly 60 years have passed since salmon have been spotted at Miller Creek near the airport, but now coho salmon are returning to spawn. Floodwaters from the recent storm helped give them a boost upstream.


The salmon are spawning some 200 yards away from Sea-Tac's new runway. The port brought in enough dirt to fill trucks in a line from Seattle to Miami and back for that project. Environmental groups worried all the dredging would disturb the environment, but Feigin says not as far as he can tell.


Crews chained in tree trunks to stabilize the banks and create spawning pools, and planted more than 150,000 native plants.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Floods under Antarctic ice speed glaciers into sea

Scientists unveiled Sunday the first direct evidence that massive floods deep below Antarctica's ice cover are accelerating the flow of glaciers into the sea.

Floods under Antarctic ice speed glaciers into sea: study
Mon, 17 Nov 2008 23:59:53 GMT

International biofuels conference gets underway in Brazil

Brazil's Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff (C, background) delivers a speech next to a 100% ethanol powered aircraft made by Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An international conference on biofuels involving officials from 40 countries got underway in Brazil on Monday with delegates to consider the issues of development, food security, trade and climate change.(AFP/Mauricio Lima)An international conference on biofuels involving officials from 40 countries got underway in Brazil on Monday with delegates to consider the issues of development, food security, trade and climate change.

International biofuels conference gets underway in Brazil
Mon, 17 Nov 2008 18:47:11 GMT

A ton of illegal ivory seized in 5 African nations

AP - An undercover investigation of the illegal wildlife trade in five African nations led to the seizure of about a ton of ivory along with hippo teeth and cheetah, leopard and python skins, the Kenya Wildlife Service said Monday.

A ton of illegal ivory seized in 5 African nations (AP)
Mon, 17 Nov 2008 17:16:04 GMT

NASA Satellites Capture Images Of Southern California Wildfires

Images from NASA satellites give a wider perspective of the full extent and devastation of the wildfires raging in Southern California.

NASA Satellites Capture Images Of Southern California Wildfires
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 19:00:00 GMT

UN says greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2000-06 (AP)

AP - Greenhouse gas emissions by 40 industrialized nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty have dropped an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels, U.N. officials reported Monday.

UN says greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2000-06 (AP)
Mon, 17 Nov 2008 20:46:59 GMT

New carbon standard set for forestry trading

OSLO (Reuters) - A new standard for carbon trading will help link forestry and agriculture projects into a million-dollar market to help fight global warming, backers said on Tuesday.

New carbon standard set for forestry trading
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 00:02:15 GMT

Billions Of Particles Of Anti-matter Created In Laboratory

Take a gold sample the size of the head of a push pin, shoot a laser through it, and suddenly more than 100 billion particles of anti-matter appear. The anti-matter, also known as positrons, shoots out of the target in a cone-shaped plasma "jet."

Billions Of Particles Of Anti-matter Created In Laboratory
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 19:00:00 GMT