Monday, December 31, 2007

"This means the days of the humble light-bulb could soon be over."

UK (TGW) – Researchers at Glasgow University have found a way to make light emitting diodes (LEDs) brighter and more energy efficient than other energy efficient lightbulbs, such as CFLs, on the market.

Previously, LEDs were not bright enough to be used in home lighting. The researchers said they have solved that problem.

To make the diodes brighter, scientists poked microscopic holes in the surface of the LEDs, increasing the level of light they give off.

The process is known as nano-imprint lithography.

Dr Faiz Rahman, who is leading the project, said: "As yet, LEDs have not been introduced as the standard lighting in homes because the process of making the holes is very time consuming and expensive.

"However, we believe we have found a way of imprinting the holes into billions of LEDs at a far greater speed, but at a much lower cost."

He added: "This means the days of the humble light-bulb could soon be over."

Via :: BBC

New Battery Recharges in 5 Minutes, Lasts 10 Years

Toshiba HQ (TGW) – Toshiba has developed a new lithium-ion battery that can be recharged to 90% capacity in less than 5 minutes and will last 10 years.

The company will start shipping in March, and plans to make the battery for electric bikes, forklifts, construction machinery and other industrial use. The battery will be able for hybrids and electric cars by 2010.

"This is a truly innovative battery," said Toshiba Corporate Vice President Toshiharu Watanabe, emphasizing its potential "in the electronic vehicles markets as a new energy solution."

Most lithium batteries in use now require hours to recharge fully.

Toshiba estimates the battery will last 5000 charges and is unlikely to catch fire.

The Tokyo-based electronics maker expects global sales of the new fast-charging battery to reach nearly $900 million by fiscal 2015.

Via :: AP

New Year’s Eve Ball Switching to Energy Efficient LEDs

New York City (TGW) – The New Year’s Eve ball in New York City is going green this year to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

The new 6 feet ball, weighing 1100 pounds, is covered with 9576 light emitting diodes (LEDs). The LEDS are twice as bright as previous bulbs and much more colorful.

"I'm proud to be able to save energy and show off this technology to the world with such a special event," said Kaj den Daas, chairman of Philips Lighting, which made the LEDs.

Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance, a business group in charge of the celebrations, said the new technology would "make the ball glow like nothing else".

"Times Square has always been an arena where the latest and greatest cutting-edge technology is unveiled and showcased," he added.

Via :: BBC

Sunday, December 30, 2007

[POLL] Are the Patriots the Best Team Ever?

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Are the Patriots the best team in the history of the NFL?
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Global Warming Mug - Sea Level Rises When Heated!

“Want to see the effects of global warming without waiting ten or twenty years? Then use one of these frightening and informative Global Warming Vanishing Land Mugs.”

The mug has a map of the world on, but as soon you put anything hot on it, you can see the land melt away before your eyes. It may not be completely accurate (or accurate at all!) but it’s still pretty cool.

[POLL] Is Environmentalism as Bad as Pornography?

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Environmentalism as bad as pornography?
Environmentalists are better - Huckabee's crazy
Yeah, environmentalists are crazy - Vote Huck
Nah, pornography's better! - Vote Ron Paul (haha) free polls

Light Posting Ahead

For all of this week and earlier next week, there won't be any special reports, only news. There will also only be a limited amount of news.

Happy holidays

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oil Watch: 12/17/07 - 12/22/07 Prices, Causes and Effects

Closing price: $93.31 per barrel (up)
National gas average: $3.00 (down)

Oil prices are leveling off, it appears.

1. Weak dollar
A lower dollar makes oil cheaper in countries that use other currencies.
2. U.S. economy
An economic report relieved some worries about the U.S. economy.
3. Low stockpiles
U.S. crude stockpiles hit the lowest in nearly three years.

Market jitters.

Mike Huckabee Equates Environmentalism with Pornography

“Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities.”
-Mike Huckabee


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Global Warming Could Affect Food Webs Across the World

Guest Post: Lucy Goodchild from Micropod Online and Society for General Microbiology

(TGW) - Levels of a climate cooling gas will change as carbon dioxide increases, affecting food webs along the way, said Dr Michael Steinke at a Society for General Microbiology press briefing today.

Microbes in the ocean produce the gas dimethyl sulphide, or DMS. It causes clouds to form above the sea, which reflect the sun’s rays away from the earth. Research suggests that plankton produce more DMS when they get hot so that clouds will cool them down. “Our work on the effect of carbon dioxide on DMS levels showed some interesting results” said Dr Steinke, from the University of Essex. “DMS production is likely to change in the future.”

DMS is responsible for the “seaside smell”. Dr Steinke discovered that plankton may use DMS when looking for prey like the way bees are attracted to fragrant flowers. “The role of DMS in climate change has been studied for years. Its role in marine ecology was unknown and this is what we are investigating.”

Marine animals including seals and birds use DMS to find food and navigate. “DMS plays an important role in oceanic food webs” said Dr Steinke. “If DMS levels change, many marine animals could find it more difficult to search for their prey.” This could have an effect on the food we eat.

Current discussions include using DMS in the “eco-engineering” of climate. Its cloud forming ability could be used to reduce global warming. However, Dr Steinke’s results show it may not be simple. “We have found that the production of DMS is much more complex than we thought and there will be plenty more surprises to come.”

Solar At $1 a Watt - Cheaper Than Coal

California (TGW) – Nanosolar, whose cheap solar panels are expected to revolutionize the solar market, has begun selling its panels commercially.

The company’s radical manufacturing process “prints” photovoltaic material on aluminum backing to reduce the manufacturing cost of solar panels by more than 80%.

Unlike most solar companies, Nanosolar has concentrated on lowering the cost of manufacturing the panels, rather than increasing the efficiency of the panels.

Nanosolar’s founder and chief executive, Martin Roscheisen, says the panels can be produced at a cost of $1 per watt.

“With a $1-per-watt panel,” he said, “it is possible to build $2-per-watt systems.”

According to the Department of Energy, building a new coal plant costs about $2.1 a watt, plus the cost of fuel and emissions, he said.

The company’s orders are sold out for the first 18 months of production.

Via :: NYT

The First Carbon Neutral College Campus in U.S. Is...

Maine (TGW) – College of the Atlantic, all 300 students of it, became the first carbon neutral campus, school officials announced Monday.

The private college said it has offset emissions of 2,488 tons over the past 15 months by using power generated from a hydroelectric source and by investing a greenhouse gas reduction project in Oregon.

Also, the school has conducted an energy audit, replaced all incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and has promoted alternative means of transportation.

"We have much more to do to directly reduce our emissions, but it is satisfying to know that the last 15 months of College of the Atlantic's contribution to the increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere adds up to zero," President David Hales said.

Via :: CoA Press Release

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FutureGen Selects Site of Clean Coal Power Plant That Will Utilize Carbon Sequestration

Chicago (TGW) – The FutureGen Alliance has selected a site in Illinois to be the location of its $1.5 billion clean coal power plant.

The plant will use advanced technology to capture and sequestrate carbon dioxide from the coal underground.

FutureGen includes companies from around the world and is funded by the Department of Energy to design and test technology that can turn coal into a gas that can be stripped of harmful emissions, then burned to produce electricity and hydrogen.

Uncertainty about CO2 emissions “"underscores the need for a public-private venture such as FutureGen to advance cutting-edge technology," said Michael Mudd, chief executive of the alliance.

Via :: Reuters

Methane from Microbes: a Fuel for the Future

Guest Post: Lucy Goodchild from Micropod Online and Society for General Microbiology

Bacteria could provide a clean, renewable energy source and use up carbon dioxide in the process, suggested Dr James Chong at a Society for General Microbiology press briefing today.

“Methanogens are microbes called archaea that are similar to bacteria. They are responsible for the vast majority of methane produced on earth by living things” says Dr Chong from the University of York. “They use carbon dioxide to make methane, the major flammable component of natural gas. So methanogens could be used to make a renewable, carbon neutral gas substitute.”

Methanogens produce about one billion tonnes of methane every year. They thrive in oxygen-free environments like the guts of cows and sheep, humans and even termites. They live in swamps, bogs and lakes. “Increased human activity causes methane emissions to rise because methanogens grow well in rice paddies, sewage processing plants and landfill sites, which are all made by humans.”

Methanogens could feed on waste from farms, food and even our homes to make biogas. This is done in Europe, but very little in the UK. The government is now looking at microbes as a source of fuel and as a way to tackle food waste in particular.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. “By using methane produced by bacteria as a fuel source, we can reduce the amount released into the atmosphere and use up some carbon dioxide in the process!”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What is in the New Energy Bill?

The House has passed the energy bill passed in the Senate, which had been modified to take out $20 billion in tax breaks for clean energy.

But what are other key provisions of this bill?

CAFE increase

• Increases the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) to 35 miles per gallon by 2020
• Automakers can trade credits to achieve this standard
• According to government estimates, it could lower U.S. crude oil usage by 2 million barrels a day - 8% - by 2030 and save American families an average of $700 to $1000

Renewable Energy Mandate

• Expands biofuel mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022, versus 6.5 billion gallons today
• Caps ethanol from corn at 15 billion gallons – the rest must come from cellulosic sources

Efficiency and Research
• Increases the efficiency of buildings, homes, appliances, and lighting, carbon dioxide emissions 75 percent, which will save homeowners an estimated $400 billion by 2030
• Incandescent lightbulbs phased out by 2020, cutting energy use from lightbulbs by 60%
• Requires dishwashers and cut water usage 28% and clothes washers by 40%
• Funds carbon sequestration research and renewable energy research

New Solar Cell Can Convert Twice as Much Energy as Conventional Solar Cell

Copenhagen (TGW) – A new material known as nano flakes could revolutionize the solar power industry.

The new nano flakes can convert twice as much solar energy as conventional solar cells.

"We believe that the nano flakes have the potential to convert up to 30 per cent of the solar energy into electricity and that is twice the amount that we convert today," says Martin Aagesen who is a PhD from the Nano-Science Center and the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen. During his work on his PhD thesis, Martin found a new and untried material.

"I discovered a perfect crystalline structure. That is a very rare sight. While being a perfect crystalline structure we could see that it also absorbed all light. It could become the perfect solar cell," says Martin Aagesen. The discovery of the new material has sparked a lot of attention internationally and has led to an article in Nature Nanotechnology.

"The potential is unmistakeable. We can reduce the solar cell production costs because we use less of the expensive semiconducting silicium in the process due to the use of nanotechnology. At the same time, the future solar cells will exploit the solar energy better as the distance of energy transportation in the solar cell will be shorter and thus lessen the loss of energy," says Martin Aagesen who is also director of the company SunFlake Inc. that pursues development of the new solar cell.

Via :: Science Daily

Global Warming Could Threaten World Food Supplies

Guest Post: Lucy Goodchild from Micropod Online and Society for General Microbiology

Carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere may affect the microbial life in the sea, which could have an impact on a major food source, warned Dr Ian Joint at a Society for General Microbiology press briefing today.

Dr Joint is sequencing the DNA of different ocean bacteria to find out how they will respond to an increase in carbon dioxide. “So far from one experiment we have sequenced 300 million bases of DNA, about one tenth the size of the human genome. We are analyzing this ‘ocean genome’ to see if changes might affect the productivity of the sea.”

Worldwide, fish from the sea provide nearly a fifth of the animal protein eaten by man. If microscopic plants that fish eat are affected by carbon dioxide, this may deplete a major food source.

“Bacteria still control the world” said Dr Joint from Plymouth Marine Laboratory. “They ensure that the planet is fertile and that toxic materials do not accumulate.” The carbon dioxide produced by humans is turning the oceans into weak acids. This century, the seas will be more acidic than they have been for 20 million years.

“There are many millions of different bacteria in the ocean. They control the cycling of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur; microbes in the sea generate half of the oxygen produced globally every year.” So the atmosphere could also be affected by ocean acidification. “Bacteria made the earth suitable for animals by producing oxygen nearly 2 billion years ago. We want to find out if human activities will have a major impact on microbial life in the seas and if this is likely to be a problem for mankind in the future”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bali: What was achieved?

On Wednesday we published an article, “What to Expect at Bali: Nothing, or Worse”. The good news is we weren’t wholly wrong in our predictions (you can still trust us). The better news is we were wrong in some of our predictions.

What wasn’t achieved
As we predicted, nothing on the scale of the Kyoto Protocol was produced. The European Union wanted a mandated 25%-40% carbon cut in developed nations, but the United States blocked any chance of that.

One ‘achievement’ that we predicted did not come into realization: a weak carbon mandate. We had predicted the possibility that the U.S could force the world into a weak, non-binding climate treaty, setting back the possibility of a real treaty probably more than a decade. Luckily, this type of treaty did not come into fruition. The U.S. had not even one country standing beside it by the end of the talks.

What was achieved
There still is a possibility for carbon caps. The deal sets a framework to create a subsidiary committee at the U.N. Views of the committee will be sought by April next year, and the deal commands a full carbon cap deal on the scale of the Kyoto Protocol be completed by the end of the 2009 U.N. Copenhagen summit.

This is the story the media is reporting, but they are missing the most important news to come out of this conference: the deforestation pact.

20% of anthropogenic emissions are from deforestation – it’s arguable the worst humanity has done for the planet. So when deforestation was barely mentioned in the Kyoto Protocol, many were surprised.

Delegates corrected that mistake this time around. A $300 million grant program was assigned to be created at the World Bank, to assist developing countries with planting new trees. The real achievement was REDD: reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries, a pay-and-preserve program.

"It is one of the substantial achievements of this conference,” said EU Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

It’s not one of the substantial achievements; it is the most substantial achievement of the conference.

You can probably see why it is a good thing: we were wrong in saying nothing would be accomplished.

To infinity, and beyond?
The reason I’m quoting Buzz Lightyear (If you don’t understand the above quote, go out to Blockbuster right now and get Toy Story. Or order it on Netflix. I don’t care. Just do it. Now) is to ask, “Where do we go from here?”

Buzz Lightyear knows exactly where he is going, but do we?

The framework set out at Bali mandates a deal be completed by early 2009. For most of the short timeframe the Bali roadmap provides for a deal to be agreed upon, George W. Bush will be president of the U.S. He was willing to make concessions at this summit because essentially no countries stood at the United States sides. It showed that the U.S. is in fact vulnerable to international pressure

That means the real question is: will the pressure be maintained?

Sea Levels Could Rise Twice as High As Predicted

Under the sea (TGW) – The world’s sea level could rise twice as much as predicted by United Nations IPCC scientists, according to researchers.

Scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have forecasted a maximum sea level rise of 32 inches this century, because of human induced global warming.

But researchers publishing a report in the journal Nature Geoscience said the maximum could be twice that – 64 inches.

They made the estimate by looking at previous interglacial periods when it was as hot as the Earth is expected to become this time around. They found that on average, sea levels rose 64 inches.

"Until now, there have been no data that sufficiently constrain the full rate of past sea level rises above the present level," lead author Eelco Rohling of Britain's National Oceanography Centre said in a statement.

Via :: Reuters

All British Schools to be Zero-Carbon by 2016

All new U.K. schools will be zero-carbon by 2016, according to British Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls.

New schools will install solar panels and wind turbines in an effort to go green, Balls detailed in a statement to MPs, along with 200 other energy saving projects that will cost about £110m over the next three years.

"We are taking action now to reduce carbon emissions in new school buildings while we work towards the zero-carbon goal," Balls said. A typical secondary school will receive £500,000 in grants to reduce emissions, he added.

Via :: Guardian

Sunday, December 16, 2007

[POLL] What did you Think of the Bali Climate Conference

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What did you think of the Bali climate conference?
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oil Watch: 12/10/07 - 12/15/07 Prices, Causes and Effects

Closing price: $91.27 per barrel (up)
National gas average: $3.00 (down)

Though oil prices went up this week, they are still on a relatively downward trend.

1. Stronger dollar
The dollar was unusually strong this week.
2. Concerns over U.S. economy
There are concerns that increased fuel prices along with other problems are slowing the U.S. economy, and therefore the U.S.’s oil demand.

Prices are staying in about the same price range, though prices rose slightly this week. Prices will continue to stay steady, if not drop.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Senate Guts Energy Bill

Washington (TGW) – The Senate today trimmed down a version of the energy bill, slashing the section of the bill taking away over $21 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry.

The money that would have come from the repealing of those tax breaks would have funded tax breaks for clean tech.

The White House had threatened to veto the previous version of the bill, and many Republicans stalled the bill until it was changed. Now, the president has said he will sign the bill.

"By addressing the concerns of the administration and moving forward with a bipartisan approach, senators have taken steps to improve our economic and energy security," said a statement from the White House.

"If this legislation makes it to the president's desk, he will sign it into law."

The bill includes plans for the first federally mandated increase in fuel efficiency in 30 years, as well as expanding the Renewable Fuels Standard. The bill also has framework to promote energy efficiency.

The House is expected to vote on the bill next week, and the president is expected to sign it soon after that.

Via :: Cleantech

Deforestation Plans Could be Too Succesful

Earth (TGW) - Plan to fight deforestation could be so successful 'it will create such large emissions reductions that carbon markets could collapse unless rich nations take on more stringent reductions targets.'

So warns an architect of the recent deforestation deal made at the Bali climate conference.

Destruction of forests accounts for about 20% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

The plan produced at the conference, though yet to be formally approved, would give carbon credits for planting trees to developing countries or to developed countries assisting developing countries.

But Kevin Conrad, executive director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and Papua New Guinea's climate change envoy, believes that the framework would flood the market with too many carbon credits.

"We are not going to flood the market and then drop prices for everybody and not be able to overcome any of the opportunity costs…The only way that we are going to bring in new supplies is if there are deeper cuts (for rich nations)," he said.

Via :: Reuters

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What to Expect at Bali: Nothing, Or Worse

Written in coalition with Thoughts on Global Warming, Environmental Graffiti, Thoughts on the World, and The International Relations Blog.

The Bali climate conference taking place right now is one of the most important climate conferences, if not the most important, since the conference at which the Kyoto Treaty was designed. This conference has a potential to achieve something, relative to other recent conventions.

Throughout late 2006 and early 2007, global warming was high on the public’s mind, especially in the U.S. Global warming was an easy target; it could be blamed for just about any weather related disaster. And after the hurricanes of 2005 and skyrocketing oil and gas prices, the public needed something to blame. Not only that, but Inconvenient Truth was bring the real science of global warming into the eyes of the public. Al Gore was riding high. Many Floridians, who hurricanes had hit the hardest, were probably regretting a vote or two from a couple of years back.

This climaxed in early 2007, when negotiators from developing and developed countries announced the current climate convention in Bali, Indonesia.

So what can we expect at this year’s climate conference: nothing, or worse. That is my prediction – and give me a chance to back it up.

After May of this year, things started to cool down a little bit. Although oil prices skyrocketed in September and haven't come down, and sea ice hit a record low in August, there have been some disappointments. Number one: hurricanes.

Just as a disclaimer, I don’t live in Florida or down south (though I have at one point). Hurricanes are just such a huge natural disaster it can’t help but be noticed when an abnormally large amount of super storms hit. And people noticed in 2005 and 2006. But then this year, an uncharacteristically high number of intense storms were predicted, but they never showed. That’s only case number one. I’m sure I could find other examples, like ski resorts doing very good business this year, but I think I get my message across.

Let me say something else: though this has weakened public resolve to fight global warming, that doesn’t mean every environmentalist caught the plague. Public support for a climate solution is still stronger than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. But relative to a year and a half ago, global warming has fallen to the edge of the radar. It’s still there, but not as obvious.

This leads me to another point: the economy. The economy in the U.S., and therefore China, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, is slowing down. Emissions cuts APPEAR to be hard enough to achieve in good times, but in bad economic times, there is less public (let alone political) support for emissions cuts. This is a much bigger issue than my first point, even if it is a shorter read – in other words, this is more important and don’t forget it!

This is evidence for my assertion that ‘nothing’ will be achieved at the climate conference, but you probably wonder what I mean when I say ‘or worse.’

Well, given the fact that the U.S. and China would like to get out of binding carbon caps for as long as they can, the governments could collaborate to produce a very weak climate framework. This framework would theoretically set unenforceable benchmarks for emissions. Once this framework would be in place, it would be unlikely to be replaced for several years. And during these several years, President Bush will be replaced, meaning that there is a possibility that the U.S. could soon have a totally different environmental policy during the lifespan of the framework. Not to attack the president over the top, but it would give him a legacy many would remember happily – until they see the effects of global warming really get going.

Oil Eating Microbes Create Clean Energy From Oil

Below the surface (TGW) – An oil eating bug may help a new industry create clean energy from trillions of barrels of heavy crude, which is costly and ineffective to do with today’s methods.

Researchers have shown how microbes in oil reservoirs break down crude and release methane.

The problem, the reason why the microbe isn’t already in mass production, is the challenge of pumping the microbes with the equivalent of steroids, so they can complete this process in 10 years, instead of 10 million.

"If it can be done economically, that's a game-changer, because the average heavy oil recovery worldwide is 17 percent," Larter said. "If you can suddenly liberate a tiny additional fraction of that as methane rather than as heavy oil, with all of its environmental and cost footprint, then it's a huge thing."

The process of injecting steroids can be done in laboratory, but it is not know whether the process works in practice in oil fields.

Via :: Reuters

Arctic Sea Ice to be Gone During Summer 'By 2013'

Antartic (TGW) - The Arctic will be ice free in the summer by the year 2013, according to a well known U.S. scientist.

According to new models, the Arctic will be ice free in the summer in 5 to 6 years. Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, the head of an international team which included NASA, told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous models underestimated the processes now driving the ice loss.

The team of scientists is well known for producing model dates ahead of other scientists.

"Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007," Maslowski said. "So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative."

The team used data from 1970 to 2004 to make their predictions, which does not include data from 2007 and 2005, the years with the least and 2nd least respectively sea ice loss.

Previous conservative estimates put models predicting 50% of sea ice being gone by summer 2050. The majority of researchers are now predicting 50% of sea ice will be gone during the summer at a date earlier than that, but no where near Maslowski’s team’s predictions.

Maslowski argues mainstream models don’t take the way warm water is moved into the Arctic Basin from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans into account.

"My claim is that the global climate models underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice by oceanic advection," Professor Maslowski said. "The reason is that their low spatial resolution actually limits them from seeing important detailed factors.

"We use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice forced with realistic atmospheric data. This way, we get much more realistic forcing, from above by the atmosphere and from the bottom by the ocean."

Other scientists held skepticism of Maslowski’s claims.

"In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly. It might not be as early as 2013 but it will be soon, much earlier than 2040… My thinking on this is that 2030 is not an unreasonable date to be thinking of,” said Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University.

Arctic sea ice hit a record low
August of this year.

Via :: BBC

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Greenland Ice Sheet Melting at a Record Rate

Greenland (TGW) – The Greenland ice sheet melted at a record rate this year, according to a top climate scientist.

"The amount of ice lost by Greenland over the last year is the equivalent of two times all the ice in the Alps, or a layer of water more than one-half mile deep covering Washington DC," said Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The extent of the melt area Steffen and his team measured was 10% greater than the last record year, 2005. 2005 was also the hottest year on record.

5% of the world’s ice is in Greenland – if it all melted, world sea levels would rise 21 feet.

Via :: Reuters

Socialism Done Right: City of Rotterdam to Give Away 600,000 Energy Saving Lightbulbs

Amsterdam (TGW) – The city of Rotterdam will give away over 600,000 energy saving lightbulbs to its citizens, it said today.

The Dutch city said it will give away the lightbulbs to over 300,000 homes, and expects the electricity savings to be over $38 million dollars, compared to costs of $6 million.

The move is part of an effort by the city to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2025 compared to 1990 levels.

The city anticipates saving some 75,000 tons of CO2 emissions over 6 years, a conservative estimate of the lightbulbs life span.

All CO2 related to the intitiave will be offset, the city said.

Via :: Reuters

Monday, December 10, 2007

New NavBar

How's everybody like the new cruddy navbar i spent all of yesterday figuring out how to make?

Yes, I have to/will fix it.

Britain's "Energy Revolution": Wind 'Could Power All UK Homes'

London (TGW) – Thousands of offshore wind farms will power Britain by 2020, the British government announced today.

Business secretary John Hutton proposed the creation of up to 33 gigawatts of offshore wind energy.

One gigawatt can power the city of San Francisco.

The ambitious plan would require around 7,000 turbines.

"It is going to change our coastline, yes, for sure," he said. "There is no way of making the shift to a low-carbon technology without there being change and for that change to be visible and evident to people. We've got a choice as a country about, you know, whether we rise to this challenge of change or whether we stick our head in the sand and hope it's going to go away."

The plan will first undergo a ‘strategic environmental assessment’.

"We're an island nation - there's a lot of wind around," the shadow business secretary, Alan Duncan, told the Politics Show. "We should use that offshore capacity for generating electricity that's clean and secure."

The Liberal Democrat’s party welcomed the change, though saying, "Ministers need to pay households to install microgenerators and also invest in big schemes like the Severn Barrage which alone could generate 5% of our electricity needs."

Michael Rea, the chief executive of the Carbon Trust, also said that "cost reduction is now the name of the game". "Offshore wind [energy generation] is set for huge growth but this will require substantial investment before it can be realised at this scale," said Rea.

"Hutton is proposing nothing less than a wind energy revolution, but it won't become a reality on the back of a speech," he said.

"If we are finally to exploit the massive energy resources we have available to us on this windy island, there will now need to be a revolution in thinking in Whitehall, where the energy dinosaurs have prevailed for too long." "We need the government to guarantee premium prices for clean electricity so industry can take risks to get tens of thousands of turbines built and installed out at sea. "And Labour needs to drop its obsession with nuclear power, which could only ever reduce emissions by about 4% at some time in the distant future." He said Britain needed to slash its electricity emissions by 2020, "and wind power, not nuclear, should get the money and support". “That's the test, and we wait to see what government does next," he added. "There is a lot more renewable energy out there – from big wave and tidal power projects to roof-mounted solar PV panels. If we make the most of these abundant resources we could generate almost half of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. "The government must now set out what support mechanisms it will put in place to deliver on its proposals and make the most of other renewables. It must also increase investment in the development of new renewable technology, including bigger and more efficient wind turbines." "We should also be cooperating with our European neighbours to make the most of our shared resources, for example by developing a European super-grid or large scale wind farms in the North sea."

Via :: Guardian

Oceans Producing Nitrous Oxide? - English Rivers Producing Methane, Though That Can be Used For Energy

A large amount of nitrous oxide is being produced by bacteria in the ocean, according to researchers.

Researcher Dr. Mark Trimmer looked at bacteria in the Arabian Sea. Bacteria there, attempting to make nitrogen, create nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times as powerful as CO2.

"A third of the 'denitrification' that happens in the world's oceans occurs in the Arabian Sea (an area equivalent to France and Germany combined)" said Dr Trimmer. "Oxygen levels decrease as you go deeper into the sea. At around 130 metres there is what we call an oxygen minimum zone where oxygen is low or non-existent. Bacteria that produce nitrous oxide do well at this depth."

"Recent reports suggest increased export of organic material from the surface layers of the ocean under increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. This could cause an expansion of the oxygen minimum zones of the world triggering ever greater emissions of nitrous oxide."

On a separate note, another report from Dr. Trimmer says that English chalk streams release methane.

On another totally separate note, another report suggests methanogens, bacteria that produce methane, can be used to generate power.

"Methanogens are microbes called archaea that are similar to bacteria. They are responsible for the vast majority of methane produced on earth by living things" says Dr Chong from York University. "They use carbon dioxide to make methane, the major flammable component of natural gas. So methanogens could be used to make a renewable, carbon neutral gas substitute."

Methanogens produce about one billion tons of methane every year. They thrive in oxygen-free environments like the guts of cows, sheep, humans and even termites. "Increased human activity causes methane emissions to rise because methanogens grow well in rice paddies, sewage processing plants and landfill sites, which are all made by humans."

"By using methane produced by bacteria as a fuel source, we can reduce the amount released into the atmosphere and use up some carbon dioxide in the process!"

Via :: Science Daily :: Science Daily :: Science Daily

Sunday, December 9, 2007

[POLL] Do You Support the Renewable Energy Bill in the Senate?

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Do you support the renewable energy bill that is stuck in the Senate?
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Saturday, December 8, 2007

OIl Watch: 12/03/07 - 12/08/07 Prices, Causes and Effects

Closing price
: $87.46 per barrel (down)
National gas average: $3.01 (down)

Expect oil prices to drop even more.

1. Weak dollar (again)
Yes, this is essentially permanent. A lower dollar makes oil cheaper in countries that use other currencies.
2. Rising U.S. inventories
Sending prices down.
3. Boost in U.S. domestic production
Also sending prices down.

Companies that use oil everyday (think: Boeing) are happy about this. As said previously, oil prices will continue to sink and eventually level out.

Renewable Energy Investment to Top $100 Billion This Year

Bali, Indonesia (TGW) – Investments in renewable energy will top $100 billion this year, according to a report issued at the U.N. sponsored climate summit in Bali, Indonesia.

"Policies to promote renewable energy have mushroomed over the past few years," the Renewable Energy Policy Network, which links governments, industries and other groups, said in its study.

"In 2007, global annual investment in renewable energy will exceed $100 billion,” it said. "Wind power now receives the largest share of investment annually of any renewable technology, even more than large hydropower," it said.

Renewable energy capacity totaled 240 gigawatts in 2007, excluding large hydropower projects. One gigawatt could power a city about the size of San Francisco.

In 2006, investment totaled around $55 billion, and $39 billion in 2005.

Via :: Reuters

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bill to Raise MPG and Cut $13 Bil in Tax Breaks for Oil Industry Blocked in Senate

Washington (TGW) – A bill that would end billions of dollars in tax breaks for the oil industry and raise mileage standards hit a roadblock in the Senate today.

The bill failed on a procedural vote 7 votes short of the needed 60 majority, 53-42.

The law would require car manufacturers to raise their mileage standards up to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The current standard, 27.5 mpg was passed in 1975.

Senators said the vote did not mean the bill was done for.

"This doesn't mark the end of this bill," said Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "It means we have to go to work to fix some of the problems that the House bill has generated for us."

The panel’s Democratic chairman thought a new version could make it onto the floor by next week.

The bill also includes standards to repeal $13 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry, and to require electricity utility companies generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.

Via :: CNN

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ireland to Tax Cars Based on Emissions and Will Ban Traditional Lightbulbs

Ireland (TGW) – Ireland’s environment minister announced plans to ban traditional lightbulbs starting in 2009 and to penalize high-emission vehicles, starting July 2008.

Ireland has had a tax on plastic bags for several years.


The new standard, announced by Environment Minister John Gormley, is intended to promote energy saving cars and lightbulbs.

"The aim of such a move will be to end the use of incandescent light bulbs in Ireland," Gormley, who is leader of the Irish Green Party, told fellow lawmakers. "These bulbs use technology invented during the age of the steam engine."

The move to end the use of conventional lightbulbs reduce CO2 emissions by 700,000 tonnes a year save $296.3 million on household electricity bills.


Starting in July, all cars registered in Ireland will be taxed based on their greenhouse gas emissions: 100 euros for the greenest, 2000 for the worst.

Cars that are already registered will be taxed based on engine size.

Finance Minister Brian Cowen admitted that even with the new regulations, it will be hard to meet the standards of the EU.

"An even greater effort will be needed to achieve up to a 30 percent cut envisaged by the EU for 2020," he said.

Via :: Reuters

Global Warming Skeptics Attack - My Response

Ah, man. I’ve been fending off global warming deniers all day long. First, one of my friends emailed me this story: The Faithful Heretic, under the subject line, “more doubting.”

This was my response (we’ve been having this argument for a while):

I can respond to all of those claims.
1. "Bryce says the data fed into the computers overemphasizes carbon dioxide and accounts poorly for the effects of clouds water vapor"
The air can only hold so much water. This is called "saturation". Water vapor contributes to 60% of the natural greenhouse effect. Because the atmosphere can only hold so much water, water vapor does not contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect.
In other words, there will always be just about the same amount of water vapor in the air globally.

2. "'Do you believe a five-day forecast?' he asks."
This is just stupid. Predicting the exact temperatures for the next 5 days is totally different from predicting the average temperature in 5 decades. But yes, the models have been wrong. In fact, they UNDER PREDICTED the temperatures.
3. "Climate's always been changing and it's been changing rapidly at various times, and so something was making it change in the past,"
Once again, just stupid. Of course the climate has been changing in the past. But that in NO WAY means we (humans) can change the climate with our 6 billion population, our vast land use, etc..
4. "And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide [in the first 30 feet, *see previous paragraph*]? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."
Yeah, in the first 30 feet. That's almost taller than Yao Ming. How tall is the atmosphere I wonder?
5. "All six studies found atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations tracking closely with temperatures, but with CO2 lagging behind changes in temperature, rather than leading them."
The answer to this is simple. There was another effect that affected the climate before the CO2: Milankovich Cycles. Then, as CO2 happened to go up around the same time, the greenhouse effect amplified it, and the temps then went up along with the CO2.

You still have no argument. This guys main arguments are in #2, 4, and 5, and each of those are EASILY swatted down. Come back when you have facts.

Then over at New School Politics (we’re not done with our argument there, definitely)
“The fact remains that the scientific data does not add up to the earth melting. For one, humans contribute a very small fraction of the greenhouse effect (try less than 2%).”
I don’t think that’s true… Period.

Then, at Political Fever.
"What about the solar cycle? How about that we've been only able to keep track of the weather for 200 years? Or the fact that global patterns are having more of an influence. What about 1998 not being the warmest year on record?"

Oh please. This has got to be the oldest skeptic argument and it has been disproved oh so many times.

According to the Max Planck Institute, there has been little increase in solar irradiance since 1940. There's no correlation after 1940. At all.

And if you don't believe that, the PMOD at the World Radiation Center has records back to 1978.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What is Solar Hybrid Lighting?

The company Sunlight Direct has begun testing “solar hybrid lighting”. What is solar hybrid lighting? During the day, sunlight is captured and channeled into lighting fixtures, then at night, the fluorescent bulb takes over. On the roof, light is captured using a large dish that tracks the sun.

There is even a psychological benefit, according to Kostas Papamichael. “We know that people like daylight,” he said. “We know that daylight gives the best color rendering. It links us to the environment and satisfies biological needs that we have. Not necessarily at the level that you get it from a window — and, next to it, by a skylight — but some connection to the exterior for sure.”

The lighting system is already employed in occasional buildings in Tennessee, but a home version will be available next year.

Solar Powered Vending Machine

Solar Energy Vending has developed a solar powered vending machine, which they claim is "the world's only refridgerated vending machine that is powered by the sun." In areas that receive little sunlight, the solar panel you can see on top of the machine is replaced by a wind turbine.

The machines have been distributed throughout the UK and Spain.

A Green Spaceport

New Mexico (TGW) – Is it possible to offset the huge amount of emissions of space flight?

Starting in 2009, Virgin Atlantic will begin offering two and a half hour long flights into space for the low price of $200,000.

The emissions from the company will be huge. One trip in SpaceShipTwo along with its launch vehicle, WhiteKnightTwo, has a carbon footprint equal to that of one business-class passenger flying round-trip between New York and London, says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn.

In an attempt to reduce these emissions, Virgin Atlantic has built its spaceport green.

The main building will be teardrop shaped, with high-tech ventilation systems, solar panels, and massive windows.

The spaceport could even earn top certification from U.S. Green Building Council.

Via :: DISCOVER magazine

New Fuel Cell Uses Pollution as Source of Energy

200th post

Pennsylvania (TGW) - Scientists in Pennsylvania have developed a fuel cell which uses pollution from coal and metal mines as a source of energy.

The fuel cell could solve a major pollution problem, acid-mine drainage. Acid-mine drainage is hard to clean up and affects the safety of the water supply.

The fuel cell is based on microbial fuel cells, which are capable of generating electricity from wastewater.

In lab experiments, they show the fuel cell can remove iron while generating electricity from a solution similar to acid-mine drainage.

Via :: Science Daily

Monday, December 3, 2007

Top 5 Advantages of Geothermal Power

Part of a series

5. You can have one in your backyard.
The cost of having a geothermal system in, literally, your backyard, for a 4,000 square foot house is estimated to be $15,000 to $20,000. The payback would only take 5 to 10 years, as well. [reference]

4. Maintenance costs are low
Geothermal pumps have very few parts and require very little maintenance. Once up and running, the system can be mostly left alone to produce energy without the need to repair parts of the system.

3. The amount of land needed is low
Unlike nuclear power plants, wind farms or solar farms, a geothermal pump does not require much land. Like mentioned in #5, if you live in a suburb, you could install one in your backyard tomorrow. Larger pumps for commercial electricity generation have also been built, and those too require very little land.

2. Energy output is unaffected by changing weather conditions
Unlike wind power or solar power, there will always hot magma under the surface of the Earth. It’s predictable when one source is cooling down. You can’t predict when the wind is going to stop blowing.

1. It’s renewable
This is pretty self explanatory. Geothermal power produces no greenhouse gases, except in production of the machinery and in any possible maintenance.

The are only benefits. We haven’t talked about disadvantages. Why? Because there are very few. The three most common are:
1. They produce greenhouse gases during production and maintenance (though very few).
2. They could affect their surrounding environment (but they take up very little land).
3. If a system is too large for its site, the energy could dry up (so don’t make them too large…).

More Alternative Energy Series:

Why Corn Ethanol is Bad
The Temporary Solution: Coal
Nuclear Power: Energy of the Future or As Bad As Fossil Fuels
5 Reasons Solar Power Works
The Wind Power and Solar Power Combination
Another Look at Nuclear Power - Nuclear Waste
What's So Special About Hydropower and Hydroelectricity?
Top 5 Advantages of Geothermal Power

Sunday, December 2, 2007

[POLL] Are You Worried About Farts and Their Environmental Impact?

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Are you worried about farts and their environmental impact?
I'm turning off my lights for 30 seconds to offset!
You're crazy
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Saturday, December 1, 2007

First Biodiesel Jet Successfully Flies

Czechoslovakia (TGW) – The Czech Republic, in coordination with Biodiesel Solutions Inc. tested the first flight fueled solely by cooking oil.

The first actual flight was a test flight that lasted 195 seconds yesterday. The first full flight lasted 37 minutes, and attained a height of 17,000 feet.

"She flew and she flew just fine," said physicist Rudi Wiedemann, president and CEO of Biodiesel Solutions, Inc., whose company provided the fuel for the historic October flight: fresh canola oil refined into biodiesel. "We wanted to show that it was doable by just going out and doing it."

Revolutions per minute in the engine were at 98%. "We didn't get full power, but we got an acceptable amount" Doug Rodante, president of Green Flight International, said. "It was a non-issue in climb performance and time to altitude."

The problem with using biodiesels or biofuels as fuel for airplanes is that at higher altitudes, the fuel can freeze. "Jet fuel and biofuel mix is something that is easily done. I don't believe 100 percent biofuel is the answer," Rodante said. "We can implement a 20 percent mix with no modifications in other aircraft."

"As little as 20 percent biodiesel in petroleum diesel fuel will reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent," Wiedemann said.

Via :: Scientific American

Home Wind Turbines Produce More CO2 Than They Save

Many home wind turbines in the United Kingdom are actually contributing to global warming, not fighting it, according to researchers.

Although most consumers purchase wind turbines to save on electricity costs and to help fight global warming, most personal wind turbines never save as much money as the equipment costs, according to the report released by the Building Research Establishment Trust.

"In large urban areas such as Manchester, even with very favorable assumptions about efficiency, lifetime and maintenance, micro-wind turbines may never pay back their carbon emissions," the report says.

"Even in the most favorable location considered in the study, there is no financial payback within the expected life of the systems, with the current system and electricity costs."

The study looked at the three most common household turbines, and analyzed their performance. In most cases, more greenhouse gases were produced during the manufacturing of the turbine then saved during use.

"These studies have shown a large variation in the expected CO2 payback periods from a few months in good locations to situations where they never pay back, in poor locations."

Via :: Reuters

Oil Watch: 11/26/07 - 12/01/07 Prices, Causes, and Effects

Closing price: $90.05 per barrel (down)
National gas average: $3.07 (down)

Expect oil prices to stay steady or even drop, unless prices hit $100. Most likely though, oil will drop as production is expected to increase.

1. Weak dollar (again)
Yes, this is essentially permanent. A lower dollar makes oil cheaper in countries that use other currencies.
2. OPEC increases production
As we predicted last week.
3. Enbridge pipeline repair
Prices had spiked $4 after the blast

Expect oil to continue heading south, unless the U.S. economy does a total 180 degree turn.