Friday, October 30, 2009

Republicans for Enviromental Protection push back on Big Oil’s attack on Lindsey Graham


A major denier group has started running falsehood-filled ads going after Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the conservative gamechanger who just made a climate bill likely.  As Media Matters explains in their ad fact check:

Using false oil industry talking points, the Big Oil funded American Energy Alliance produced an ad attacking Sen. Lindsey Graham for his willingness to work with Democrats on clean energy jobs legislation.  Contrary to the allegations made in the ad, legislation increasing our investment in clean energy technologies would create jobs in every state and help America become more energy independent, all for less than a quarter a day.

Now Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) are pushing back with their own ad:

The inside-the-beltway GOP and conservative leadership have strayed far from their original roots with their single-minded determination to stop all efforts to preserve a livable climate.  The photo and Goldwater quote above come from the REP website (as does the photo/quote below).  Here is REP’s news release that goes along with this ad: …

Republicans for Enviromental Protection push back on Big Oil’s attack on Lindsey Graham

Military experts call for action on climate change to avoid security threats

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2009 – Yesterday, a group of serving and retired military officers from around the globe called on governments to "work for an ambitious and equitable international agreement" at the Copenhagen climate negotiations in December.

Participants at the conference on "Climate Change and Security at Copenhagen" emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate change now in order to avoid exacerbating current security threats and creating new ones.

"To avoid conflicts from climate change-related impacts, we need to employ every tool and strategy available, and the military is a critical ally in this fight," said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development and speaker at the conference.

The officers, representing Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the US, are part of an international initiative on Climate Change and the Military led by the Institute for Environmental Security (IES) in The Hague and 10 other think tanks from Asia, Europe and North America.

Quoting from the military climate statement released at the conference, Air Marshal (ret) AK Singh of India, Chairman of the project's Military Advisory Council, warned that "failure to recognise the conflict and instability implications of climate change, and to invest in a range of preventative and adaptive actions will be very costly in terms of destabilising nations, causing human suffering, retarding development and providing the required military response." AK Singh also serves as Project Director, Climate Change & Security, Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi. …

Military Experts Call for Action on Climate Change to Avoid Security Threats

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Limbaugh rejects an apology for Revkin

From Climate Progress:

When we last left the most vociferous intellectual leader in the conservative movement, he was being widely condemned for telling NY Times environment reporter Revkin: “Why don’t you just go kill yourself?” Limbaugh’s remarks were far beyond the pale even for his brand of extremism.

Yesterday, Limbaugh closed his show with a mention of this incident (audio here):

(music up)…Another excursion into broadcast excellence gone, in the blink of an eye. The fastest three hours of media. You remember last week I had a little fun with this New York Times guy Revkin who seriously considered the carbon limiting implications of limiting childbirths to one per family and I suggested show us some leadership on this. I mean you’re always telling everybody else to not have any go ahead and show us how it works. Die and save the planet. And he was profoundly offended by this and I’m told wants an apology…. (music up, end)

In the comments section of his blog, Revkin takes an Uber-optimistic spin on what looks to me like another slap in the face:

Hey all, is this a Rush version of an apology? Keep in mind I only sought one for my wife and two sons (note I’m below replacement level), not myself. I get hammered by just about everyone, but they don’t. …

Limbaugh rejects an apology for Revkin

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WaPo to Inhofe: "It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther"


Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes today about how very lonely it must be, to be one of the only dinosaurs left in the US Senate who actually believes climate change is some kind of hoax or socialist conspiracy to take over the world.

I am referring of course to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

Milbank writes:

"It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther.

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, committed climate-change denier, found himself in just such a position Tuesday morning as the Senate environment committee, on which he is the ranking Republican, took up legislation on global warming. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was in talks with Democrats over a compromise bill -- the traitor!" …

WaPo to Inhofe: "It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther"

Toyota engineers new flower species to absorb emissions at Prius factories


By Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York  on 10.28.09

Toyota has long faced the criticism that the process of manufacturing Priuses has a larger environmental impact than most cars. So the giant automaker came up with what's probably the most bizarre solution imaginable--Toyota genetically engineered two brand new species of flowers to absorb greenhouse gases at Prius manufacturing plants. While, you know, still making the place look pretty. …

Toyota Engineers New Flower Species to Absorb Emissions at Prius Factories

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How women can save the planet

“And the one proven way to reduce fertility rates is to empower young women by educating them.”

At six billion plus today, the earth’s human population will reach more than nine billion by 2050, according to estimates. If this many people consume energy at the current rate in the developed world, the planet will need more than double the amount of power it consumes today. But energy is just one issue that humankind will have to tackle to create a sustainable future. The root cause of the looming energy problem--and the key to easing environmental, economic and religious tensions while improving public health--is to address the unending, and unequal, growth of the human population. And the one proven way to reduce fertility rates is to empower young women by educating them.

High fertility rates in areas of the developing world that can least cope put tremendous pressure on freshwater and sanitation needs and fuel economic and religious tensions. In response, these countries ramp up their energy production via the only means available to them based on their resources--means that tend to either pollute the environment or contribute to global warming. …

How Women Can Save the Planet

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Statisticians confirm: no global cooling despite skeptic spin

In case the denialists’ unfounded claims confused you.

GISS temperature trends

In a massive blow to the climate skeptic movement, the Associated Press has conducted a blind test of statisticians that unequivocally confirms that no global cooling trend exists.

Despite the best efforts of a small handful of climate skeptics, who argue that the globe has cooled rather than warmed since the record hot year of 1998, no such cooling trend has taken place.

The Associated Press conducted the blind test by sending global temperature data from NOAA and NASA to four independent statisticians who were not told what the data represented, but simply asked to perform a common statistical analysis to look for trends in the data.
The statisticians “found no true temperature declines over time,” and in fact identified “a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers,” the AP reports.

Several statisticians quoted in the AP piece slam the climate skeptics who “cherry-pick” data in a “particularly suspect” attempt to denounce global warming.  Efforts to portray a global cooling trend since the record hot year of 1998 are “not scientifically legitimate,” and are the result of "people coming at the data with preconceived notions," according to David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor who analyzed the data for AP.

"To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous," said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford. …

Statisticians Confirm: No Global Cooling Despite Skeptic Spin

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trend watch: pot growing in abandoned McMansions

scary mcmansion photo 

The lastest in American architectural innovation. Image credit, Photobucket, darkrose05rx8

The bad guys bought abandoned or repossessed homes, ripped out interior walls, illegally tapped into power and water, and grew pot commercially. What starts in California goes viral a couple years later. So, don't be surprised if DEA operatives begin cruising upscale developments in Florida or Connecticut. Possible counter-intel tactics by the bad guys: hire broke soccer moms to stop by and smile at the neighbors…

Trend Watch: Pot Growing In Abandoned McMansions

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ares I-X to launch 8:00 EDT Tuesday


NASA is planning to launch the new Ares I-X rocket — the precursor to the bigger Ares series of rockets that will be the mainstay of the Constellation program — at 08:00 EDT (12:00 GMT) Tuesday October 27. It’ll be shown live on NASA TV and probably on a few TV channels as well. …

Ares I-X to launch 8:00 EDT Tuesday

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hunters and anglers rally for climate bill — they see first-hand the impact of human-caused global warming

From Climate Progress:


A recent poll by the National Wildlife Federation, which counts more than 420,000 members across 42 states, found that 66 percent of hunters and anglers surveyed believed that global warming was already occurring.

A Gallup poll in March 2009 found that only 53 percent of the general population shared the same view.

People who spend a lot of their time outdoors are more likely to see the obvious — the climate is changing and invasive species like the bark beetle are ravaging the West.  That’s a key point of this piece in the NYT blog, Green Inc:

More than 13,000 hunters and anglers from across the country joined a “virtual town hall” teleconference on Tuesday to hear a discussion of the impact of climate change on fish and wildlife populations, and to voice their support for federal action to limit carbon emissions.

The call was hosted by the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, American Hunters and Shooters, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“It’s very important in my opinion that we do pass the climate change bill,” said Ted Roosevelt IV, a prominent conservationist and the great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, during the phone call.

The virtual meeting is part of a recent wave of climate activism by national hunting and fishing groups, whose conservative-leaning membership has expressed growing concern with the impacts of climate change on wildlife. …

Hunters and anglers rally for climate bill — they see first-hand the impact of human-caused global warming

Australians kick off world climate change protest

Climate activists form the number '350', representing the atmospheric carbon target of a cut to 350 parts per million, on the steps of the Sydney Opera House on October 24, to kick off an international day of protest about global warming. Similar stunts were planned at some 4,000 locations in more than 170 countries across the globe to mark 50 days until world leaders meet in Copenhagen. (AFP / Torsten Blackwood)

SYDNEY (AFP) – Climate activists gathered on the steps of Sydney's iconic Opera House Saturday and along the city's beaches to kick off an international day of protest about global warming.

Along the famous sands of Bondi Beach and across the span of the Harbour Bridge protesters gathered with placards bearing the logo 350 to call for a cut in carbon emissions to 350 parts per million (ppm), organisers said.

Thousands of people gathered on the steps of the Opera House for an outdoor concert and formed a giant 350 with their bodies, one of more than 200 events to be staged across the continent, said spokeswoman Blair Palese.

Church bells at the city's largest cathedral sounded 350 times, while groups ranging from scuba divers to Frisbee players gathered to stage events Australia-wide.

Similar stunts were planned at some 4,000 locations in more than 170 countries across the globe, including the Eiffel Tower, Times Square and the Himalayas, said Palese.

The protest marks 50 days until world leaders meet in Copenhagen to thrash out a new climate change treaty.

"Our global emissions are now perilously high, at 387 ppm," Palese said.

"The majority of expert scientists now say this has to come down to 350 ppm to avoid dangerous climate change. is calling for our political leaders make this their target." …

Australians kick off world climate change protest

Friday, October 23, 2009

Communicating person to person through the power of thought alone


New research from the University of Southampton has demonstrated that it is possible for communication from person to person through the power of thought alone.

Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI) can be used for capturing brain signals and translating them into commands that allow humans to control (just by thinking) devices such as computers, robots, rehabilitation technology and virtual reality environments.

This experiment goes a step further and was conducted by Dr Christopher James from the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research. The aim was to expand the current limits of this technology and show that brain-to-brain (B2B) communication is possible.

Dr James comments: “Whilst BCI is no longer a new thing and person to person communication via the nervous system was shown previously in work by Professor Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading, here we show, for the first time, true brain to brain interfacing. We have yet to grasp the full implications of this but there are various scenarios where B2B could be of benefit such as helping people with severe debilitating muscle wasting diseases, or with the so-called ‘locked-in’ syndrome, to communicate and it also has applications for gaming.”

His experiment had one person using BCI to transmit thoughts, translated as a series of binary digits, over the internet to another person whose computer receives the digits and transmits them to the second user’s brain through flashing an LED lamp.

While attached to an EEG amplifier, the first person would generate and transmit a series of binary digits, imagining moving their left arm for zero and their right arm for one. The second person was also attached to an EEG amplifier and their PC would pick up the stream of binary digits and flash an LED lamp at two different frequencies, one for zero and the other one for one. The pattern of the flashing LEDS is too subtle to be picked by the second person, but it is picked up by electrodes measuring the visual cortex of the recipient.

The encoded information is then extracted from the brain activity of the second user and the PC can decipher whether a zero or a one was transmitted. This shows true brain-to-brain activity. …

Communicating person to person through the power of thought alone

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

BioOctanic Tower: vertical farm grows biofuel for gas stations

vertical farm biofuel algae image

Sometimes it's just impossible to find a gas station. But not if Croatian Architects UPI2M have their way; They propose building vertical farms and biofuel factories on top of existing gas stations, using algae and bamboo grown on top to fuel up cars below. And, you can't miss them! …

BioOctanic Tower: Vertical Farm Grows Biofuel for Gas Stations

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Prepare for climate change, U.S. report warns W.House

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Congress considers curbs on carbon dioxide pollution, a U.S. report on Thursday urged the White House to prepare now for flooding and other natural disasters brought by global warming.

Federal agencies, working with Congress, state and local governments, should "develop a national strategic plan that will guide the nation's efforts to adapt to a changing climate," said a report by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

John Stephenson, director of GAO's natural resources and environment office, told a congressional panel that higher concentrations of greenhouse gases may have significant effects, including threats to coastal areas from rising seas.

The GAO found there was no coordinated national approach for dealing with such problems.

While government has been slow to get ready, Stephenson said, "Natural disasters such as floods, heat waves, droughts or hurricanes raised public awareness of the costs of potential climate change impacts."

A survey of government officials, GAO said, found there was limited money for climate change planning, as agencies put higher priority on other concerns. …

Prepare for climate change, U.S. report warns W.House

Toshiba launches portable fuel cells for mobile devices

toshiba fuel cell image 

Image via Physorg

As cell phones become more tech intensive and therefore more energy sucking, the fear of a dead battery while on the go is increasing. While there are gads of portable solar chargers out there, many companies are putting their chips on fuel cells, which offer immediate recharging for devices. Toshiba is the latest company to offer a fuel cell solution, launching a portable methanol fuel cell that will charge up two phone batteries.  …

Toshiba Launches Portable Fuel Cells for Mobile Devices

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

18 leading scientific organizations send letter to Senators affirming the climate is changing, and “If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”

From Climate Progress:

Here is the letter from 18 top U.S. scientific organizations:

Dear Senator:

As you consider climate change legislation, we, as leaders of scientific organizations, write to state the consensus scientific view.

Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment. For the United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades. [See Footnote #1 below]

If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.

We in the scientific community offer our assistance to inform your deliberations as you seek to address the impacts of climate change. …

18 leading scientific organizations send letter to Senators affirming the climate is changing, “human activities are the primary driver,” impacts are projected to worsen “substantially” and “If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”

UPDATE: Revkin responds to Rush Limbaugh's ridiculous comments

Boss Limbaugh blows smoke 

I posted a story earlier today about shock jock radio host Rush Limbaugh suggest that NY Times reporter Andy Revkin should "kill himself."

Revkin has now responded. Here's an excerpt:

"I’d like to think that Rush Limbaugh was floating a thought experiment, and not seriously proposing something, when he told millions of listeners the following: “Mr. Revkin, why don’t you just go kill yourself, and help the planet by dying.”

He had picked up on some commentary and reports that have been bouncing around the instanet ever since I spoke via Skype video at a symposium on media coverage of the population part of the climate and energy challenge, put on by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. …

UPDATE: Revkin repsonds to Rush Limbaugh's Ridiculous Comments

Obama administration will remove barriers to home energy retrofits

An old-fashioned house in Boulder, Colorado is retrofitted with a two kilowatt grid-tied solar electric system. April 2008. (Photo courtesy Namaste Solar Electric)

WASHINGTON, DC, October 19, 2009 (ENS) - The emergence of a home retrofit market that would increase energy efficiency and cut home energy bills has been hampered by lack of access to reliable information, financing and skilled workers, finds a new report released today by Vice President Joe Biden.

The report, "Recovery Through Retrofit," [pdf] is intended to build on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient, the vice president said.

"'Recovery Through Retrofit' is a blueprint that will create good green jobs - jobs that can't be outsourced, and jobs that will be the cornerstones of a 21st-Century economy," said Biden. "And, thanks to the Recovery Act's unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, we are making it easier for American families to retrofit their homes - helping them save money while reducing carbon emissions and creating a healthier environment for our families."

At a Middle Class Task Force meeting earlier this year, the vice president asked the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop a proposal for federal action to lay the groundwork for a self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry.

In response, the Council set in motion an interagency process with the Office of the Vice President, six other White House Offices and 11 departments and agencies to develop recommendations for how to use existing authority and funding to accomplish this goal. These recommendations are detailed in the report.  …

Obama Administration Will Remove Barriers to Home Energy Retrofits

75 Chipotle restaurants get solar panels - chain becomes largest solar power producer in industry

 chipotle solar panels photo

Here's one more reason to feel good about heading out to Chipotle for a burrito: The Denver-based Mexican restaurant chain has just announced that is making a big solar power push, partnering with Standard Renewable Energy to install solar panels at approximately 75 of its restaurants over the next year.

Installation of the solar panels is currently underway in Denver, Colorado and Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, Texas. All together, Chipotle says the solar power initiative is expected to avoid some 20,500 tons of CO2 emissions annually -- and that when completed Chipotle can boast being the largest direct producer of solar power in the restaurant industry. …

75 Chipotle Restaurants Get Solar Panels - Chain Becomes Largest Solar Power Producer in Industry

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Ares 1-X is one step closer to launch

Ares I-X Is On Its Launch Pad

"For the first time in more than a quarter century, a new vehicle is sitting at Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ares I-X flight test vehicle arrived at the pad atop of a giant crawler-transporter at approximately 7:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday. The crawler-transporter left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 1:39 a.m., traveling less than 1 mph during the 4.2-mile journey. The rocket was secured on the launch pad at 9:17 a.m. The vehicle is scheduled to launch at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27. This test flight of the Ares I-X rocket will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I launch vehicle." 

Ares 1-X Is One Step Closer To Launch

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rush Limbaugh wishes NYT climate reporter would "go kill himself"

We all know that environmental journalists are a dying breed but this is just ridiculous. On his nationally syndicated radio show today, climate expert Rush Limbaugh invited noted New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin to "go kill yourself." Revkin's offense was posting a blog that talked about a new report that shows that access to reproductive health care could be an important tool to help stop climate change. …

Rush Limbaugh Wishes NYT Climate Reporter Would "Go Kill Himself"

Seattle City Light is first utility to offer Microsoft Hohm to customers

 microsoft hohm page image

Microsoft's Sustainability blog announced Hohm's first utility partner - Seattle City Light. Customers of the utility will start to be able to use Hohm to track their energy usage and get rolling on conserving electricity.

Microsoft Hohm is an easy-to-use online dashboard that shows a user their energy consumption data. It also provides customized tips and recommendations for the user on how to conserve energy. The program was in beta mode back in June, and Seattle City Light was one of nine utilities with which Microsoft partnered to test Hohm. Now, it's the first utility to allow its customers to connect to Hohm and use the information generated from their utility account. …

Seattle City Light Is First Utility to Offer Microsoft Hohm to Customers

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Republican senator says open to U.S. climate bill

The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana August 15, 2008. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton 

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Republican in the United States Senate, conservative Senator Lisa Murkowski, said she would consider voting for a "cap and trade" climate change bill Democrats are pushing if it also contains a vigorous expansion of nuclear energy and domestic oil drilling.

In an interview set to air on Sunday on the C-SPAN cable TV network, Murkowski said cap and trade legislation, which aims to mandate reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, must protect consumers from energy price increases and contain safeguards against market manipulation of pollution permits that would be traded by companies.

Some of these elements already are included in Democratic legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives.

"Count me as one of those who will keep my mind open as we move forward," said Murkowski, the senior Republican on the Senate energy panel and a member of her party's leadership.

Murkowski's remarks came after her fellow conservative, Senator Lindsey Graham, published a column in The New York Times with liberal Senator John Kerry, in which they vowed to work together to advance legislation tackling global warming. …

Republican senator says open to U.S. climate bill

Police arrest 80 in power station climate protest

Police clash with demonstrators as they pull down a fence during a climate change protest at Ratcliffe Power Station.  Reuters

By Matt Dickinson and Danielle Dwyer, Press Association

Nearly 80 people were arrested and three police officers left needing hospital treatment during a huge climate change protest at a power station.

More than 1,000 demonstrators converged on the giant coal-powered Ratcliffe-on-Soar site in Nottinghamshire yesterday, with clashes breaking out between police and protesters as they tried to tear up perimeter fencing.

One policeman was airlifted to hospital with head injuries but later released, and two other officers needed hospital treatment for minor injuries, Nottinghamshire Police said.

Police said nearly 80 people were arrested during the day on suspicion of committing offences including aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

"There are still a large number of protesters at the power station and we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the night," a spokesman said,.

Demonstrators, under the banner the Great Climate
Swoop, included supporters of three pressure groups - the Camp for Climate Action, Plane Stupid and Climate Rush.

The 2,000MW coal-fired power station is owned by the energy company E.ON and said to be one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide in Britain.

Some protesters carried banners and cardboard gravestones bearing the words 'RIP E.ON' and 'RIP Ratcliffe'. Many chanted "F off, E.ON" and some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan. …

Police arrest 80 in power station climate protest

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mission finds bright ribbon at solar system border

This is the kind of surprising discovery that makes science so fun and rewarding.

A bright ribbon of hydrogen atoms marks the edge of the solar system, where the Sun's wind meets emissions from the rest of the galaxy, researchers reported on Thursday. They used telescopes aboard the orbiting Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft or IBEX to look toward the heliopause, which is the boundary where solar wind meets galactic wind at the edge of the solar system beyond Pluto. REUTERS / Science / AAAS / Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bright ribbon of hydrogen atoms marks the edge of the solar system, where the Sun's wind meets emissions from the rest of the galaxy, researchers reported on Thursday.

They used telescopes aboard the orbiting Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft or IBEX to look toward the heliopause, which is the boundary where solar wind meets galactic wind at the edge of the solar system beyond Pluto.

Researchers combined images from IBEX with data from the Cassini spacecraft, which is near Saturn, and said it completely alters their ideas about what this border area looks like.

"The IBEX results are truly remarkable, with emissions not resembling any of the current theories or models of this never-before-seen region," David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, who led the research, said in a statement. …

Glimpses of Solar System's edge

…Our Solar System is whipping around the centre of the galaxy. Just like a hand held out of a moving car, the Solar System feels a "wind" of particles from the region between our star and its nearest neighbours.

At the same time, the solar wind - a constant stream of fast-moving particles in all directions - blows outwards from the Sun.

The boundary at which the incoming and outgoing particles are at equivalent pressures, known as the heliopause, defines the heliosphere - the "bubble" in space generated by our own Sun's exhalations.

The true extent and shape of the heliosphere has been a subject of debate for more than half a century. Until now, the best clues came from the two Voyager spacecraft, which are believed to have passed through the heliopause at two different distances.

Through a process known as "charge exchange" at the heliosphere's edge, fast-moving neutral or uncharged particles are created, and it is these energetic neutral atoms or ENAs that the Ibex spacecraft aims to measure.

It orbits the Earth in a vast ellipse, gathering incoming ENAs flying back from the heliopause at a range of speeds.

What a number of researchers have found is that the flow of the ENAs is uneven, with a significantly higher flow in a "ribbon" across the sky. …

Mission finds bright ribbon at solar system border

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T-minus 18 months and counting: Virgin Galactic and the future of space tourism

Twenty-five years ago when Sir Richard Branson (sans the "sir," at the time) called up Boeing and asked for a spare 747, few would have predicted the brash entrepreneur would so radically disrupt the formerly staid business of air travel. Perhaps folks had higher hopes for the former record executives' feature film production debut at the same time: 1984 . But today Branson is master of airlines on six of seven continents, employing hundreds of jets, and now the ennobled Brit predicts, his company is a scant 18 months from the first commercial near-orbit flight.

"We've got deposits for the first 200 seats at $200,000 a pop," Branson told an audience of roughly 75 business executives and journalists Thursday morning at The Wall Street Journal's Viewpoints Executive Breakfast series. In roughly 18 months, Sir Richard, his parents and his children will go into space. "My father just wants to get to heaven quicker," he says.
This isn't just another Branson lark, like the ocean crossings via hot air balloon. Virgin Galactic plans to capitalize on the fact that 90 percent of people, in Branson's estimation, would like to go into space "if we can guarantee a return ticket." Plus, the company hopes to become a private launcher of commercial satellites, putting some of the burgeoning number of orbiting machines into space for a fraction of the going rate. …

T-minus 18 months and counting: Virgin Galactic and the future of space tourism

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trade curbs sought for sharks, corals, bluefin tuna

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA (Reuters) - Tuna popular in sushi, colorful corals used in jewelry and sharks whose fins make soup have been proposed for international trade restrictions overseen by the United Nations, a spokesman for the treaty said on Thursday.

Juan-Carlos Vasquez of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) said countries had submitted 40 requests for trade curbs and controls that will be reviewed at a conference in Qatar in March.

African elephants, some plants from Madagascar, the skins of certain snakes and crocodiles, and a range of waxes and oils used in cosmetics were also suggested for the regulation which aims to encourage conservation, Vasquez said.

"We check that the trade is sustainable, is legal and is traceable," he explained. CITES registration gives protection to endangered species carrying high economic or commercial value.

Most of the plants and animals proposed for the 2010 Doha conference would, if approved by CITES' 175 member states, be regulated in a government permit system certifying their trade.

But Monaco proposed that Atlantic bluefin tuna be subjected to a full ban, which could cause big losses for Mediterranean countries who have resisted European Union calls to stop fishing the over-exploited population. …

Trade curbs sought for sharks, corals, bluefin tuna

Magnetic monopoles observed for first time


By David Shiga

The magnetic equivalent of electricity, dubbed "magnetricity", has been demonstrated experimentally for the first time. Just as the flow of electrons produces electrical current, individual north and south magnetic poles have been observed to roam freely, generating magnetic "current".

The result could lead to the development of "magnetronics", including nano-scale computer memory.

Magnets normally have two poles, north and south, that are inseparable. Cutting a magnet in half only results in each piece developing its own north and south pole. That is true even if one disassembles a magnet all the way down to its individual atoms, since each behaves as a tiny bar magnet with two poles.

But physicists have theorised that magnetic monopoles – individual north and south poles that are not bound in pairs and can move independently of one another – could form inside a crystalline material called spin ice. …

'Magnetricity' observed for first time

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Terror Act used on climate activist

By Beverley Rouse, Press Association

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Terror legislation was used to stop a British climate change activist from travelling to Denmark, it has emerged.

Chris Kitchen, 31, said he was prevented from crossing the border on Tuesday at about 5pm when the coach he was travelling on stopped at the Folkestone terminal of the Channel Tunnel.

Mr Kitchen told the Guardian that police officers boarded the coach and, after checking all passengers' passports, took him and another climate activist to be interviewed under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a clause which enables border officials to stop and search individuals to determine if they are connected to terrorism.

He was asked what he intended to do in Copenhagen and also about his family, work and past political activity.

Mr Kitchen said he pointed out that anti-terrorist legislation did not apply to environmental activists but said the officer replied that terrorism "could mean a lot of things".

His coach had left by the time his 30-minute interview had finished and police paid for a ticket for him to return to London.

Mr Kitchen said he believed the officials knew his name and had planned to remove him before they boarded the coach as passports were not initially scanned.

"The use of anti-terrorist legislation like this is another example of political policing, of the government harassing and intimidating people practising their hard earned democratic rights," he told the Guardian.” …

Terror Act used on climate activist

BP signs Aussie deal to offset carbon emissions by planting 10 million eucalyptus trees

My only hope is that they plant these trees where the changed Australian climate can support them.

By Asa Wahlquist | October 15, 2009

EUROPE'S second-largest oil company, BP, has hired Perth-based Carbon Conscious to plant 10 million gum trees in Australia to absorb greenhouse gas emissions as companies prepare for the introduction of climate change laws.

The deal sent Carbon Conscious shares soaring 10 per cent to close at 44c.

The company will begin planting trees on marginal farmland in 2010, at an initial cost of $2.5million.

It is the second major deal for Carbon Conscious, which confirmed an agreement with Origin Energy in July to plant $26m worth of trees over three years.

The trees "sequester" carbon dioxide, pulling it out of the atmosphere and storing it.

Carbon Conscious chief executive Peter Balsarini said the mallee eucalyptus trees would be planted on working farms.

"We go to farmers and we look for their marginal, less productive country," he said.

This included land that had been over-cleared or affected by salinity, Mr Balsarini said.

"We are looking at preventing salinity by getting our tree roots into the water table and lowering it. It has risen because of the over-clearing of the land," he said. Carbon Conscious became an accredited provider under the federal government's Greenhouse program last December. …

BP signs Aussie tree deal to offset carbon emissions

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Scientists return fire at climate skeptics in 'destroyed data' dispute

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Commerce

Published: October 14, 2009

Climate scientists are refuting claims that raw data used in critical climate change reports has been destroyed, rendering the reports and policies based on those reports unreliable.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market advocacy group, is arguing that U.S. EPA's climate policies rely on raw data that have been destroyed and are therefore unreliable. The nonprofit group -- a staunch critic of U.S. EPA's efforts to regulate greenhouse gases -- petitioned (pdf) the agency last week to reopen the public comment period on its proposed "endangerment finding" because the data set had been lost (E&ENews PM, Oct. 9).

But climate scientists familiar with the data insist that the reports are based on sound science and that the data in question was altered as part of standard operating procedure to ensure consistency across reporting stations.

At issue is raw data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, including surface temperature averages from weather stations around the world. The data was used in assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reports that EPA has used in turn to formulate its climate policies.

Citing a statement on the research unit's Web site, CEI blasted the research unit for the "suspicious destruction of its original data." According to CRU's Web site, "Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data."

Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit, said that the vast majority of the station data was not altered at all, and the small amount that was changed was adjusted for consistency.

The research unit has deleted less than 5 percent of its original station data from its database because the stations had several discontinuities or were affected by urbanization trends, Jones said.

"When you're looking at climate data, you don't want stations that are showing urban warming trends," Jones said, "so we've taken them out." Most of the stations for which data was removed are located in areas where there were already dense monitoring networks, he added. "We rarely removed a station in a data-sparse region of the world."

Refuting CEI's claims of data-destruction, Jones said, "We haven't destroyed anything. The data is still there -- you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center." …

Scientists Return Fire at Climate Skeptics in 'Destroyed Data' Dispute

Teabaggers try to “flush” Graham out of GOP for supporting climate legislation

From Climate Progress:

As predicted, far-right-wingers are going after Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for his breakthrough partnership with John Kerry (D-MA).  The two Senators asserted Sunday that they have developed “a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.”

Some are even labeling Graham a RINO (Republican In Name Only), even though the American Conservative Union rates him an ACU “Senate Standout,” among the 20 most conservative U.S. Senators in 2008!  Think Progress and Wonk Room have the gory details, which I excerpt below.

After voting to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and expressing a willingness to build a compromise approach to clean energy legislation, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appears to be the new target of tea party activists. At a Graham town hall in Greenville yesterday, activist Harry Kimball of “RINO HUNT” protested by constructing a display that depicted Graham, as well as moderates like Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), being flushed down a toilet:

KIMBALL: This is for every RINO who has failed to represent us. [...] [the toilet represents] flushing them, flushing them.

One attendee of the event asked the senator, “when are you going to announce that you are switching parties?” The question drew loud applause from the crowd. Graham defended himself, and denounced the influence of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) on the Republican party:

GRAHAM: I’m going to grow this party, I’m not going to let it get [inaudible], I’m not going to let it be hijacked by Ron Paul. [...] I’m going to find people in Maine, Delaware, Illinois, other places–

AUDIENCE: Move there!

GRAHAM: That can win as Republicans, and I’m going to go up, and we’re going to move this party, and this country forward, and if you don’t like it, you can leave. …

Teabaggers try to “flush” Graham out of GOP, calling him “traitor” and “RINO” and “wussypants, girly-man, half-a-sissy”; Graham responds, “We’re not going to be the party of angry white guys.”

Report suppressed by Bush administration shows global-warming risks

Worst. President. Ever.

The EPA report, technically known as an "endangerment finding," was prepared in 2007, but the Bush White House refused to make it public because the administration opposed regulating the gases most scientists see as the major cause of global warming.

By Jim Tankersley and Alexander C. Hart

Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a copy of a long-suppressed report by officials in the George W. Bush administration concluding that, based on the science, the government should begin regulating greenhouse-gas emissions because global warming posed serious risks to the country.

The report, technically known as an "endangerment finding," was prepared in 2007, but the Bush White House refused to make it public because the administration opposed regulating the gases most scientists see as the major cause of global warming.

The existence of the finding — and the refusal of the Bush White House to make it public — were previously known. The Bush EPA draft was released in response to a public-records request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The document "demonstrates that in 2007 the science was as clear as it is today," said Adora Andy, an EPA spokeswoman. "The conclusions reached then by EPA scientists should have been made public and should have been considered."

A finding that greenhouse gases and global warming pose serious risks to the nation is a necessary step in the process of instituting government regulation. President Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing for major climate legislation, but if Congress fails to act, the administration has raised the possibility that it would use an EPA finding to enact regulation on its own.

In April, the administration released its own proposal for an endangerment finding. The newly released document from the Bush EPA shows that much of the Obama document embraced the earlier, suppressed finding word for word.

"Both reach the same conclusion — that the public is endangered and regulation is required," said Jason Burnett, a former associate deputy administrator who quit the EPA in June 2008 amid frustration over the Bush administration's inaction on climate change. "Science and the law transcend politics." …

Report suppressed by Bush administration shows global-warming risks

Monday, October 12, 2009

Home of the future will have own biosphere

The home of the future could feature thermoreflective wallpaper an indoor biosphere to grow fish and fresh produce and waterless ultrasonic washing machines.

Plastic recyclers will turn waste into designer dining plates and showers will use filtered rainwater, it is predicted.

Eco-conscious home designers will be driven by climate change and the rising price of energy to design a range of eco-friendly products.

The Future Laboratory, who wrote the Conscious Home report for John Lewis, say the changes will mark "one of the most seismic cultural shifts since mass electrification in the 1920s and 30s".

In 2030 people will be living in the same homes but the buildings will be radically changed by devices such as "frugal fridges" that will compact food waste and suggest new recipes.

Kitchens will also have a self-contained biosphere, created by Philips, which will produce fish and fresh produce all year round. Running on household waste, it will deliver fresh hydrogen, used to power a car, while the plants will produce oxygen for the fish.

Appliances will create a "linked energy chain", feeding off each other so that, for example, a dishwasher can use the power generated by the washing machine's spin cycle.

Houses will be decked out with feedback systems to tell occupants exactly how much energy they are using, according to the report which was produced for John Lewis buying teams to help them visualise customers' future needs.

Sean Allam, head of product sourcing, said: ''With the onset of an era of acute energy consciousness, we want to assist our buyers in anticipating the products of the future that can help our customers move towards sustainable living. …

Home of the future will have own biosphere

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If you want to thank Lindsey Graham for reaching across the aisle to address the climate problem…

From Climate Progress:

Email link for GOP Sen. Graham’s DC Office – Ph. 202-224-5972 – Graham’s SC office 864-250-1417 — SC GOP HQ Ph. 803-988-8440

Yes, sometimes I visit the website of the Swift boat smearer to see the latest in denier talking points and to be amused by his latest self-acknowledged version of performance art and to save you all the trouble!

I tend to ignore what Morano writes because:

  1. He just makes stuff up (see Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Morano and Inhofe, CO2 — but not the sun — “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850).
  2. The latest web analysis suggests right-wing denial websites like his are only talking to themselves.

But this time I found two tidbits that need responding too.  First, he published an outright lie about me (with my photo!) that I will address shortly.  Second, he attacked Linsday Graham who, as I reported, has reached across the aisle to John Kerry (D-MA) to achieve a bipartisan solution to our climate and energy problems, as I blogged on this morning here.

For Morano, Graham is “another GOP turncoat ala Arlen Specter” — but this is another of his outright lies.  Graham is a mainstream conservative — he has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 89.79Graham is an ACU “Senate Standout,” among the 20 most conservative U.S. Senators in 2008! …

If you want to thank Lindsey Graham for reaching across the aisle to address the climate problem….

Saturday, October 10, 2009

90 percent of Coal Plant CO2 Captured in 12-Month Test


Written by Susan Kraemer
Published on October 9th, 2009

One year ago the French company Alstrom began a year-long US test of capturing CO2 from the water+carbon-dioxide mix created using their chilled-ammonia technology, in the smokestack of the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant in Wisconsin.

This week the year’s results were announced. The years average CO2 capture rate was 90%, according to a joint announcement from the EPRI, We Energies and Alstrom to the Society of Environmental Journalists.

The 12-month test was just completed after running 24 hours a day on a small sectioned-off portion of the smokestack; working on just 5% of the plants total emissions.

But the test is scalable, and the Electric Power Research Institute, the R&D arm of the utility industry, is optimistic that chilled-ammonia technology will work on a larger scale. It is one of several carbon-capture technologies under consideration as we move to a carbon constrained world.

Next, Alstom will work with AEP in Columbus, Ohio to test a scaled-up version of the technology at the Mountaineer power plant in West Virginia.  That test takes the next step as well; not just capturing the carbon dioxide but burying it 8,000 feet beneath the plant site.

Alstom’s chilled ammonia process results in a lower energy cost for capturing CO2 than other techniques under consideration so far. Initial studies currently estimate the average energy penalty at around 20-25% of net boiler output. Alstrom is also working on a technique for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from a gas plant.

90 percent of Coal Plant CO2 Captured in 12-Month Test

Dam's demise lets the Rogue River run

On Friday, a platoon of bulldozers and earthmovers tore away at the last of the temporary earthen berms holding water behind the dam. The Rogue River rushed free, flowing through its historic channel for the first time since 1921.

Two channels of the Rogue River meet after two berms were removed Friday from the north side (on left) allowing the river to flow freely for the first time since 1921 when the Savage Rapids Dam was built to divert water for irrigation.

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — For years, the water stored by the Savage Rapids Dam has nurtured the green bean fields and grazing pastures of southern Oregon, turning them into a lush region of bounty.

But there has been a price — the death of thousands of fish, which slammed themselves into the concrete wall of the dam in a futile effort to head upstream.

That picture now resembles a faded sepia-tone photograph. Many of the big farms have turned into 10-acre hobby ranches; the salmon are in danger of disappearing, and even the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that harnessed rivers and irrigated the West, began saying a few years ago it would be better to just tear down the aging dam once and for all.

So they did.

On Friday, a platoon of bulldozers and earthmovers tore away at the last of the temporary earthen berms holding water behind the dam. The Rogue River rushed free, flowing through its historic channel for the first time since 1921.

"Startin' through," muttered Robert Hamilton, project manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, who worked on fixing, and finally dismantling, the dam for more than 20 years. "Don't see something like this every day." …

Dam's demise lets the Rogue River run

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First clown in space hosts show to save Earth's water

Canadian spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte is pictured in the Unity node of the International Space Station in this photo taken October 5, 2009 and released by NASA October 8, 2009. REUTERS / NASA / Handout 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wearing a red clown nose, the Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil hosted an out-of-this-world performance event on Friday, saying he wanted to use his trip as a space tourist to highlight the scarcity of water on Earth.

Guy Laliberte's two-hour performance event called "Moving Stars and Earth for Water" linked the International Space Station with singers, dancers and celebrity campaigners in 14 world cities in what organizers called the first event of its kind to be hosted from space.

"I see stars, I see darkness and emptiness. But planet Earth looks so great, and also so fragile," Laliberte said from the International Space Station, where he has spent the past week after paying $35 million to fly on a Russian spacecraft and become the world's seventh space tourist.

"I decided to use this privilege to raise awareness of water issues," he said. "I believe that with true art and emotion we can convey a message." …

First clown in space hosts show to save Earth's water

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Feds give sea otters habitat protection in Alaska

FILE- In this Feb. 7, 2008 file photo, a couple of sea otters sit on a float in the Cordova, Alaska boat harbor. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 designated more than 5,800 square miles as critical habitat for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea and Alaska Peninsula. (AP Photo / Al Grillo, File)

By MARY PEMBERTON , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Four years after being placed on the Endangered Species List, the dwindling sea otters of southwest Alaska on Wednesday were given an important recovery tool.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated nearly 5,900 square miles as critical habitat for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea and Alaska Peninsula. The designated area includes all nearshore waters.

"Critical habitat has a proven record of aiding the recovery of endangered species," said Rebecca Noblin, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed two lawsuits and engaged in years of litigation to get the animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The otters in southwest Alaska were listed as threatened in 2005.

"This has been a long time coming," she said.

Critical habitat gives the sea otters - the smallest of marine mammals - a "fighting chance of recovery," she said.

Nearshore areas were chosen because most of the creatures that sea otters eat - sea urchins, crabs, octopuses and some bottom fish - are found in shallow waters. Areas close to shore also provide the best protection from marine predators, especially killer whales, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federal law requires that critical habitat be designated at the time of listing. But when that didn't happen under the Bush administration, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a federal lawsuit in 2006. The following year an agreement was reached that critical habitat would be designated by this October. …

Feds give sea otters habitat protection in Alaska

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Global brands refuse to endorse ‘slaughter of the Amazon’

Meat companies sign a moratorium on cattle products linked to rainforest destruction 

By David Adam,, Monday 5 October 2009 16.48 BST

Four of the biggest companies involved in Brazilian cattle farming have joined forces to stop the purchase of cattle from newly deforested areas of the Amazon.

Meat companies Marfrig, Bertin, JBS-Friboi and Minerva yesterday signed a formal moratorium in which they pledge better protection for the rainforest.

The move follows a three-year Greenpeace investigation, reported extensively in the Guardian in June, which exposed the link between forest destruction and the expansion of cattle ranching in the Amazon. The investigation prompted calls for action from key international companies, including food group Princes and footwear manufacturers Clarkes, Adidas, Nike, and Timberland, which threatened to cancel contracts unless their beef and leather products were guaranteed free from raw materials linked to Amazon destruction.

John Sauven, head of Greenpeace, said: "Today's announcement is a significant victory in the fight to protect the Amazon. Cattle ranching is the single biggest cause of deforestation globally, and the fact that these multibillion dollar companies have committed to cleaning up their supply chains will lead to real change in the Amazon."

Global brands refuse to endorse "slaughter of the Amazon"

Apple latest to quit US Chamber of Commerce in climate row

James Murray, BusinessGreen, Tuesday 6 October 2009 at 13:09:00

IT giant "frustrated" by trade group's opposition to climate legislation

The row over the US Chamber of Commerce's opposition to proposed carbon legislation shows no signs of abating, after Apple yesterday became the first consumer brand to quit the trade group over its climate-sceptic stance.

In a letter to the Chamber's president, Thomas J Donohue, Apple vice president Catherine Novelli offered a damning assessment of the Chamber's efforts to block proposed US climate legislation.

"Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the Chamber at odds with us in this effort," she wrote, adding that as a result, the company had "decided to resign our membership effective immediately ".

Apple joins US energy firms Pacific Gas and Electric, PNM Resources, and Exelon, all of which have announced that they will not be renewing their membership of the group as a result of its stance on climate legislation.

In addition, Nike announced last week that it was quitting its post on the board of the Chamber in protest at its position, but would remain a member so that it could continue to lobby for a change in policy at the group. …

Apple latest to quit US Chamber of Commerce in climate row