Wednesday, October 26, 2005

No Escape: Thaw Gains Momentum





By ANDREW C. REVKIN Published: October 25, 2005, New York Times






Many scientists say it has taken a long time for them to accept that global warming, partly the result of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, could shrink the Arctic's summer cloak of ice.

But many of those same scientists have concluded that the momentum behind human-caused warming, combined with the region's tendency to amplify change, has put the familiar Arctic past the point of no return.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

MAJOR CORAL BLEACHING EVENT EXPANDS ACROSS CARIBBEAN, SEVERE IN PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS




NOAA reports that a major coral bleaching event is underway in the Caribbean and may result in significant coral death in much of the region. Currently, the bleaching is centered in waters adjacent to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Reports of bleaching have come in from the Florida Keys and Texas' Flower Garden Banks in the north, to Tobago and Barbados in the southern Antilles, to Panama and Costa Rica in the west.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

12 Steps to Reduce Waste


Sara Eckel iVillage.com



You turn out the lights when you leave the room, and diligently set your bundles of newspapers and rinsed bottles on the curb. But are you doing everything you could to reduce waste? Allen Hershkowitz, PhD, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says that living an eco-friendly life is easier than you might think. "If you operate efficiently, you both reduce waste and save money. There's really no reason not to do it," says Hershkowitz. Convinced? Here are 12 great ways to get started

U.S. material wealth leads to clutter



By Joseph B. Verrengia, AP Science Writer | October 22, 2005 | Boston Globe




To many observers, clutter reflects the mind-set of the modern household -- overburdened, disorganized and compulsive. To others, clutter is a broader symbol of a ravenous culture dependent on easy credit, piling up debt and consuming a lion's share of the world's resources without considering the consequences.

"People's homes are a reflection of their lives," says Los Angeles psychologist and organizational consultant Peter Walsh. "It is no accident that people have a huge weight problem in this country, and clutter is the same thing. Homes are an orgy of consumption."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

China Could Become the World Leader in Wind Power, says Greenpeace

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, OCTOBER 17, 2005,Greenpeace, Posted in Common Dreams





"China is in a position to become the world leader in wind power, according to a Greenpeace report released today. Wind Guandong, a study of wind power potential in the heavily industrialized Guandong province in southern China, says that by 2020 alone, the region could feasibly produce enough energy from wind turbines to meet the equivalent of Hong Kong’s total current electricity supply"

Sunday, October 16, 2005

We must reinvent ourselves

Jurriaan Kamp,
This article appeared in Ode issue: 27




"...changing the individual is still the basis for changing society. “The new world cannot be designed through laws or institutions,” Ferguson says. “Society is the sum of our assumptions and behaviours. Renewal can only be realized through inner revolution. The world will change when we change........."

You Do What You Eat

By Marco Visscher, Ode. Posted September 8, Alternet.



"Forget tougher punishments and hiring more police. The solution to crime and violence is on your dinner plate."



".....Several years later, Bretthauer took the job after seeing that the atmosphere at the school had changed profoundly. Today he describes the students as "calm and well-behaved" in a new video documentary, Impact of Fresh, Healthy Foods on Learning and Behavior. Fights and offensive behavior are extremely rare and the police officer is no longer needed. What happened?

A glance through the halls at Appleton Central Alternative provides the answer. The vending machines have been replaced by water coolers. The lunchroom took hamburgers and french fries off the menu, making room for fresh vegetables and fruits, whole-grain bread and a salad bar.

Is that all? Yes, that's all. Principal LuAnn Coenen is still surprised when she speaks of the "astonishing" changes at the school since she decided to drastically alter the offering of food and drinks eight years ago: "I don't have the vandalism. I don't have the litter. I don't have the need for high security.".............

Solar Energy Project



Ross Nizle, student at University of Vermont


The D350 Solar Energy Project was a concept I came up with shortly after purchasing renewable energy credits to offset any emissions resulting from the production of electricity. While I could offset the suite's impact, wouldn't it be even better if we could generate our own clean electricity?

With the idea of creating a system to meet the basic electrical needs of my Apple Powerbook G4, iPod, cell phone, and Palm Pilot, I researched and priced out a system, ordered it and set it up. The challenge with the system was not building a solar energy system, but where I was building it: in a college dorm room. I could not make any structual modications to the building, I had no power tools - or any tools, for that matter, and also knew that I would have move the system every few months. Everything I needed - tools included, needed to be purchased and I had to work around the needs of others that I lived with, as well as my own already busy schedule. Therefore, "Installation" is not only how I wired the project, but the adventures and trials I had to go through before I could even begin screwing planks together or connecting wires.

The "About the Project" has an overview of how I researched and built the system. "System setup" has a diagram of how the system is wired and how it functions, and the "Photos" page is self explanatory.

You can see the panel if you walk by the D-Building, it's on the balcony of our suite. If you are interested in seeing the system in greater detail, or have any questions about it, feel free to send me an e-mail at ross.nizlek@uvm.edu. As long as I'm free, I'm always welcome to having vistors come by and look at the system. It's purpose is to educate on the basics of small scale renewable energy generation as much as it is to generate clean electricty for my needs.

I would like to thank and highly recommend Sundance Solar for anyone else thinking of a similar project. Their materials, support and staff were excellent - without them, the D350 project would likely have been just another project shelved away in my mind, rather than a functioning energy generating system.

Also, for more solar energy links, you can check out UVM's 5kw solar electric system, with real time online monitoring.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The peak oil problem We may be running out sooner than we think

by Greg Pahl, Rutland Herald, October 13, 2005




A Feb. 8, 2005, report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy titled "The Mitigation of the Peaking of World Oil Production" puts it this way, "The world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions were gradual and evolutionary. Oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary."

Chilling Effects of Climate Change in the Antarctic




Published on Thursday, October 13, 2005 by Inter Press Service by Gustavo González posted on Common Dreams



According to the Argentine Antarctic Institute, in September - the start of the southern hemisphere spring - the hole in the ozone layer reached 28 million square kilometres, representing an eight percent increase from 2004. In addition, the ozone value dropped from 95 to 87 Dobson Units (a measure of the "thickness" of the ozone layer, with 220 units considered the acceptable lower limit).

Survivor's guide to the energy crisis

By Jeremy Rifkin | October 13, 2005


It appears that the president and his team do not understand the enormity of the energy crisis facing the United States and the world. The White House clearly needs guidance. The president should download the just published European Union Green Paper on Energy Efficiency (europa.eu.int/comm/energy/efficiency/index_en.htm). The paper lays out a detailed survivor's guide, a roadmap of what every individual, family, community, and country -- including the United States -- can do to cushion the cost shock of rising oil prices.


According to the report, the European member states alone could save at least 20 percent of their present energy consumption for a net savings of 60 billion euros per year, by enacting tough energy conservation programs across European society -- in homes, commercial buildings, factories, and transport. The EU report says the United States could save far more with widespread adoption of energy conservation practices since the United States currently wastes approximately 50 percent more energy than the European Union to produce one unit of GDP.

What Part of "Global Warming" Do We Not Get?

by Bill McKibben,Published on Thursday, October 13, 2005 by CommonDreams.org



"So far human beings have increased the planet's temperature about 1 degree Fahrenheit. Unless we do everything possible, as quickly as possible, to shift away from fossil fuels, scientists say we will warm the planet another 5 degrees before the century's end. So imagine all those numbers multiplied by five."

Hunger For Natural Gas




By Stan Cox, AlterNet. Posted October 12, 2005.



Vaclav Smil, distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba and author of the 2004 book Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch and the Transformation of World Food Production, has demonstrated the global food system's startling degree of dependence on nitrogen fertilization. Using simple math -- the kind you can do in your head if there's no calculator handy -- Smil showed that 40 percent of the protein in human bodies, planet-wide, would not exist without the application of synthetic nitrogen to crops during most of the 20th century.

"That means that without the use of industrially produced nitrogen fertilizer, about 2.5 billion people out of today's world population of 6.2 billion simply could never have existed."


"If farming depended solely on naturally occurring and recycled nitrogen fertility, the planet's cropped acreage could feed only about 50 percent of the human population at today's improved nutrition levels, according to Smil. But absolute dependence on synthetic nitrogen is geographically lopsided -- it's largely in countries with a high human-cropland ratio that survival hinges on nitrogen fertilizer. This includes India, Indonesia, and China, where four in 10 human beings on Earth reside."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Question for Journalists: How Do We Cover Penguins and the Politics of Denial?




by Bill Moyers
Keynote Speech to the Society of Environmental Journalists Convention
Austin, Texas - October 1, 2005





" So if the environmental movement is pronounced dead, it won't be from self-inflicted wounds. We don't blame slavery on the slaves, the Trail of Tears on the Cherokees, or the Srebrenica massacre on the bodies in the grave. No, the lethal threat to the environmental movement comes from the predatory power of money and the pathological enmity of rightwing ideology."

50m environmental refugees by end of decade, UN warns

David Adam, environment correspondent
Wednesday October 12, 2005
The Guardian




Rising sea levels, desertification and shrinking freshwater supplies will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade, experts warn today. Janos Bogardi, director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn, said creeping environmental deterioration already displaced up to 10 million people a year, and the situation would get worse.

Political winds: Vermont falters in a gale of opposition to wind power


By Shay Totten | Vermont Guardian



Vermont has few wind turbines and remains a relative footnote in wind power history —and ongoing opposition from citizens groups and a lack of support from Gov. Jim Douglas may keep it that way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The truth about global warming



Tuesday, October 11, 2005, By Sandi Doughton Seattle Times staff reporter.



"The consensus is most clearly embodied in the reports of the 100-nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the United Nations in 1988. Every five to six years, the panel evaluates the science and issues voluminous reports reviewed by more than 2,000 scientists and every member government, including the United States.



The early reports reflected the squishy state of the science, but by 2001, the conclusion was unequivocal: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."




Stunned by the strong language, the Bush administration asked the prestigious National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the international group's work. The UW's Wallace served on the academy's panel, which assured the president the IPCC wasn't exaggerating.



The next IPCC report is due in 2007. Among the new evidence it will include are the deepest ice cores ever drilled, which show carbon-dioxide levels are higher now than any time in the past 650,000 years.



In the history of science, no subject has been as meticulously reviewed and debated as global warming, said science historian Spencer Weart, author of "The Discovery of Global Warming" and director of the Center for History of Physics.



"The most important thing to realize is that most scientists didn't originally believe in global warming," he said. "They were dragged — reluctant step by step — by the facts."

Fearing Heat Costs, Many Take Preventive Action




By PAM BELLUCK and SARAH KERSHAW
Published: October 11, 2005, NY Times.




"People who heat their homes with natural gas will pay an average of 46 percent more this winter, with costs in some regions, like the Midwest, expected to be as high as 71 percent more, according to forecasts issued last month by the Department of Energy. Heating oil costs are expected to go up an average of 31 percent. And those figures were released before Hurricane Katrina made the situation worse.

Now, people across the country, as well as state and local governments and school districts, are scrambling to respond. Some are turning away from gas and oil, buying wood stoves, wood-pellet stoves, even corn-burning stoves. Others are replacing windows, buying carpets, adding insulation. Some are rushing to invest in alternative energies like solar, geothermal or biodiesel. And many are tightening their budgets."

PetroCollapse New York Conference

Remarks by James Howard Kunstler,October 5, 2005.
Author of The Long Emergency




"In the waning months of 2005, our failure to face the problems before us as a society is a wondrous thing to behold. Never before in American history have the public and its leaders shown such a lack of resolve, or even interest, in circumstances that will change forever how we live.

Even the greatest convulsion in our national experience, the Civil War, was preceded by years of talk, if not action. But in 2005 we barely have enough talk about what is happening to add up to a public conversation. We're too busy following Paris Hilton and Michael Jackson, or the NASCAR rankings, or the exploits of Donald Trump. We're immersed in a national personality freak show soap opera, with a side order of sports 24-7.

Our failure to pay attention to what is important is unprecedented, even supernatural.

This is true even at the supposedly highest level. The news section of last Sunday's New York Times did not contain one story about oil or gas - a week after Hurricane Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico - which any thought person can see leading directly to a winter of hardship for many Americans who can barely afford to heat their homes - and the information about the damage around the Gulf was still just then coming in."

Monday, October 10, 2005

The High Price of Gasoline Sends Shoppers to the Web



By BOB TEDESCHI
Published: October 10, 2005, NY Times




Online shopping sites, already on a roll, are getting help from the high price of gasoline, which is prompting untold numbers of consumers to boot up their PC's instead of driving their S.U.V.'s to the mall.

As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound




By CLIFFORD KRAUSS, STEVEN LEE MYERS, ANDREW C. REVKIN and SIMON ROMERO
Published: October 10, 2005, NY Times.





" the Arctic is undergoing nothing less than a great rush for virgin territory and natural resources worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Even before the polar ice began shrinking more each summer, countries were pushing into the frigid Barents Sea, lured by undersea oil and gas fields and emboldened by advances in technology. But now, as thinning ice stands to simplify construction of drilling rigs, exploration is likely to move even farther north."

Concentrated Solar Thermal Power - Now!

October 7, 2005 Greenpeace



Solar thermal power is a relatively new technology which has already shown enormous promise. With few environmental impacts and a massive resource, it offers a comparable opportunity to the sunniest countries of the world as offshore wind farms are currently offering to European nations with the windiest shorelines. By 2040 more than 5% of the world’s electricity demand could be satisfied by solar thermal power

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Dalai Lama



The Dalai Lama on China, Violence and Hatred. Mother Jones Magazine,Interviewed By Robert Thurman - November/December 1997 Issue



The antidote to hatred in the heart, the source of violence, is tolerance. Tolerance is an important virtue of bodhisattvas [enlightened heroes and heroines] -- it enables you to refrain from reacting angrily to the harm inflicted on you by others. You could call this practice "inner disarmament," in that a well-developed tolerance makes you free from the compulsion to counterattack. For the same reason, we also call tolerance the "best armor," since it protects you from being conquered by hatred itself.

Climate Change and Pollution are Killing Millions, Says Study

John Vidal, environment editor, The Guardian,
Thursday October 6, 2005




Climate change and pollution are killing millions, says study


· Poor sanitation to blame, says World Bank report

· Economic growth stalled by environmental factors






Almost a fifth of all ill health in poor countries and millions of deaths can be attributed to environmental factors, including climate change and pollution, according to a report from the World Bank.


Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene as well as indoor and outdoor air pollution are all said to be killing people and preventing economic development. In addition, says the bank, increasing soil pollution, pesticides, hazardous waste and chemicals in food are significantly affecting health and economies.


More controversially, the report, released yesterday in New York, links cancers to environmental conditions and says global warming has a major impact on health. "For almost all forms of cancer, the risk of contracting this disease can be reduced if physical environments are safe for human habitation and food items are safe for consumption," says the report.

Animals 'Hit by Global Warming'

Published on Thursday, October 6, 2005 by the BBC News
by Tim Hirsch, Posted on Common Dreams




Climate change could lead to the extinction of many animals including migratory birds, says a report commissioned by the UK government.


Habitat for seals is disappearing

Melting ice, spreading deserts and the impact of warm seas on the sex of turtles are among threats identified.

The report is being launched at a meeting of EU nature conservation chiefs in Scotland.

It says that warming has already changed the migration routes of some birds and other animals.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Popularity of Public Transportation Increasing in US



October 4, 2005 05:43 AM - Michael G. Richard, Ottawa, Posted on Treehugger

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports that the ridership of public transportation has increased in the US. "Increased use of public transportation is the single most effective way to reduce America's energy consumption, and it does not require any new taxes, government mandates or regulations," said PTA president William W. Millar. "With today's growing concern about energy security, transit is emerging as a critical part of the solution."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A New Measure of Well-Being From a Happy Little Kingdom





By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: October 4, 2005, New York Times




What is happiness? In the United States and in many other industrialized countries, it is often equated with money.

Economists measure consumer confidence on the assumption that the resulting figure says something about progress and public welfare. The gross domestic product, or G.D.P., is routinely used as shorthand for the well-being of a nation. But the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has been trying out a different idea.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bicycle sales boom in US amid rising gas prices

Yahoo, News


WASHINGTON (AFP) - More bicycles than cars have been sold in the United States over the past 12 months, with rising gas prices prompting commuters to opt for two wheels instead of four.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Melting Planet: Species are Dying Out Faster Than We Have Dared Recognize, Scientists Will Warn This Week

by Andrew Buncombe in Anchorage and Severin Carrell in London,Published on Sunday, October 2, 2005 by the lndependent/UK posted on Common Dreams



The erosion of polar ice is the first break in a fragile chain of life extending across the planet, from bears in the north to penguins in the far south.The UK, which is attempting to put climate change at the top of the global agenda during its presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations, is still struggling to persuade the American, Japanese and Australian governments to admit that mankind's gas emissions are the biggest threat. These three continue to insist there is no proof that climate change is largely manmade.