Monday, January 30, 2006

Scientists debate human effect on global warming

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post | January 30, 2006

Scientists who read the history of earth's climate in ancient sediments, ice cores, and fossils find clear signs that it has shifted abruptly in the past on a scale that could prove disastrous for modern society.

Peter deMenocal, an associate professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said that about 8,200 years ago, a very sudden cooling shut down the Atlantic Ocean conveyor belt.

As a result, the land temperature in Greenland dropped more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit within one or two decades.

''It's not this abstract notion that happens over millions of years," deMenocal said. ''The magnitude of what we're talking about greatly, greatly exceeds anything we've withstood in human history."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Planet Earth, Year 2050

By Traci Hukill, AlterNet. Posted January 25, 2006.

An important report on the world's ecosystems says there is time to avert the worst consequences of global warming, if we start now.

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

New York Times, Posted on Commondreams

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Number of organic farms surges in Vermont

Rutland Herald

It's the dead of winter, but Vermont's organic farmers are growing like crazy.

Some 40 members of the Vermont Organic Farmers Association came to the Vermont Farm Show on Tuesday to hold their annual meeting at Alumni Hall at the Barre Auditorium and learn more about what it means to grow the organic way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Global Ecological Assessment calls for Humanity to Value Nature

Environment New Service

There is an unbreakable link between human well-being and the health of the planet," said Dr. Walter Reid, director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and a professor with the Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.
The massive study is filled with statistics that reveal how the planet’s ecosystems are struggling with the increasing demands of the world’s growing population.
It finds that more than 60 percent of the ecological systems that sustain life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably.

Monday, January 23, 2006

United States Ranks 28th on Environment, a New Study Says


WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 - A pilot nation-by-nation study of environmental performance shows that just six nations - led by New Zealand, followed by five from Northern Europe - have achieved 85 percent or better success in meeting a set of critical environmental goals ranging from clean drinking water and low ozone levels to sustainable fisheries and low greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, jointly produced by Yale and Columbia Universities, ranked the United States 28th over all, behind most of Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Costa Rica and Chile, but ahead of Russia and South Korea.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Warmer Seas Will Wipe Out Plankton, Source of Ocean Life

by Steve Connor, The Independent - posted on Commondreams

The microscopic plants that underpin all life in the oceans are likely to be destroyed by global warming, a study has found.
Scientists have discovered a way that the vital plankton of the oceans can be starved of nutrients as a result of the seas getting warmer. They believe the findings have catastrophic implications for the entire marine habitat, which ultimately relies on plankton at the base of the food chain

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Jamais Cascio, posted on World Changing

The US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in cooperation with Whirlpool and IBM, has embarked on a year-long experiment in smart power distribution called GridWise -- and it could prove to be the sign that a revolution is at hand.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No More Mr. Nice Guy

by Bill Mckibben, Grist

"....In the best of all possible worlds, we'd do everything slowly and carefully -- but this planet is rapidly becoming the worst of all possible worlds, a place that before my daughter dies may well see temperatures exceeding anything since before the dawn of primate evolution. A planet facing hundreds of millions of environmental refugees as a result of rising seas, with heat waves like the one that killed 35,000 in Europe becoming commonplace occurrences. I mean, we went through the usual hurricane alphabet this past year, and got all the way to the Greek letter Zeta."

Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks

By Mark Clayton | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

"....Dr. Berzin, a rocket scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. About three years ago, while working on an experiment for growing algae on the International Space Station, he came up with the idea for using it to clean up power-plant exhaust.

If he could find the right strain of algae, he figured he could turn the nation's greenhouse-gas-belching power plants into clean-green generators with an attached algae farm next door."

Monday, January 16, 2006

With Findings on Storms, Centrist Recasts Warming Debate


"...But in August, two weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Professor Emanuel wrote in the journal Nature that he had discovered statistical evidence that hurricanes were indeed affected by global warming. He linked the increased intensity of storms to the heating of the oceans.

"His paper has had a fantastic impact on the policy debate," said Stephen Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford. "Emanuel's this conservative, apolitical guy, and he's saying, 'Global warming is real.' "

Firms taking 'green' path in workplace

Better environments bolster productivity

By Diane E. Lewis,Boston Globe

The US Green Building Council, which promotes renewable energy and environmentally sound construction, reported last month that US spending on green goods and services hit $7 billion in 2004, up 37 percent over 2003. Currently, there are 113 green offices in the country and 385 green buildings, with 3,073 more in development, the council said.

''Gradually, this shift is occurring in the workplace," said May Buckley Sadowski, professor of psychology at Connecticut College. ''Researchers are finding that if there is sunlight, there is less opportunity for depression. We also know that windows offer varying stimulation and allow you to refocus your energies."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How business can create a roadmap to a sustainable future

A new in-depth report on the current and possible future state of the Earth’s ecosystems and their impact on our well-being highlights the challenges and opportunities this presents for business

by Kathleen Hawk, 0footprint.

"The MA discovered that two-thirds of the ecosystem services it examined are being degraded or used unsustainably. Resources such as clean water, natural air and water cleaning systems and key raw materials are already in decline. And, more troubling, this destruction has reached a point where the group anticipates not only gradual and progressive degradation, but also sudden and irreversible changes.

But bad news often holds seeds of business opportunity. "Businesses' engagement in voluntary actions to reduce their impact on Earth's ecosystems can be an engine of positive change in two ways: it can be a source of new opportunities for business, and a means of preserving our natural assets for future generations," says the report."

Flame retardants are newest threat for polar bears

Toxins from US, Europe pollute Arctic food chain

By Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times | January 15, 2006, Posted on Boston Globe.

SVALBARD, Norway -- Already imperiled by melting ice and a brew of toxic chemicals, polar bears throughout the Arctic, particularly in remote dens near the North Pole, face an additional threat as flame retardants originating largely in the United States are building up in their bodies, according to an international team of wildlife scientists.

The flame retardants are one of the newest additions to hundreds of industrial compounds and pesticides carried to the Arctic by winds and ocean currents. Accumulating in the fatty tissues of animals, many chemicals grow more concentrated as larger creatures eat smaller ones, turning the Arctic's top predators and native people into some of the most contaminated living organisms on Earth.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's Getting Crowded on the Environmental Bandwagon

Published: December 22, 2005 - NY Times.

Customers can't buy it. Shareholders can't invest in it. But a growing list of big-name companies appear to be spending ever-bigger chunks of their advertising budgets to promote it.

A General Electric elephant, for one, high-stepped on national television right after the company introduced its Ecomagination line of products last May, dancing for joy at how G.E. is "in step with nature." It has been followed by four product-specific environmental ads and a spate of print ads, and the company has a fresh Ecomagination campaign planned for next year. (BBDO, owned by the Omnicom Group, is the agency.)

Sunny California gets behind bright idea

By Leonard Anderson, Reuters | January 13, 2006, Posted Boston Globe.

The California Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a $2.9 billion program to make California one of the world's largest producers of solar power.

The California Solar Initiative, backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, aims to add 3,000 megawatts of solar energy over 11 years through the installation of 1 million rooftop solar energy systems on homes, businesses, farms, schools, and public buildings.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

China, India Seen Setting Stage for Environment-Friendly World

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2006 by Agence France Presse,posted to Commondreams.

A country heavily dependent on coal, China's ambitious renewable energy law enforced this month stands a good chance of jumpstarting windpower, biofuels, and other new energy options, the report said.

The world's most populated nation has already successfully pioneered the use of small wind turbines, hydro generators, and biogas plants for power generation in remote rural areas.

China is world leader not only in solar hot water technology but also in producing super-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.

It is also aiming for an ingenious bus rapid transit system that combines the speed of a subway with the affordability of a bus. Trials have been held and bus ridership has jumped five fold during rush hour, the report said.

Electric bicycles are also becoming popular, with domestic sales having reportedly trebled the projected sales of cars.

Frog extinction tied to global warming

New York Times

LONDON -- An infectious fungus aggravated by global warming has killed entire populations of frogs in Central and South America and driven some species to extinction, scientists said yesterday. In research that showed the effects of rising temperatures on delicate ecosystems, a team of researchers found that a warming atmosphere encouraged the spread of a fungus that has wiped out species of harlequin frogs and golden toads. ''This is the first clear evidence that widespread extinction is taking place because of global warming," Dr. Alan Pounds, an ecologist at Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, said in an interview.

Monday, January 09, 2006

High School Opens Vegetarian Lunch Line

The Associated Press

But Grady's vegetarian line has been a popular cafeteria draw. Originally designed for the 30 students in Archibong's Vegetarian Club, meat-eaters also jumped in line and the cafeteria now serves vegetarian entrees to up to 400 of the school's 1,200 students each day. This past fall, the school district offered the vegetarian option to other schools, although so far there have been no takers.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Robert Hirsch on peak oil mitigation

Global Public Media

"This problem is truly frightening. This problem is like nothing that I have ever seen in my lifetime, and the more you think about it and the more you look at the numbers, the more uneasy any observer gets. It's so easy to sound alarmist, and I fear that part of what I'm saying may sound alarmist, but there simply is no question that the risks here are beyond anything that any of us have ever dealt with. And the risks to our economies and our civilization are enormous."

Pataki Wants Drivers to Fill Up With Ethanol or Biodiesel

By DANNY HAKIM, New York Times

If the plan is approved by the Legislature, it will give New Yorkers one of the nation's most diverse ranges of fuel choices. Only Minnesota offers an ethanol-rich blend known as E85 at more than 100 stations. Likewise, biodiesel is offered at only a few hundred of the nation's roughly 180,000 stations.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Canada: Too warm for the bears

by Nick Miroff, Frontline

Biologists have documented a 17 percent decline in the Hudson Bay polar bear population as a result of the warming trend.

"By the middle of the century, if there's no sea ice on Hudson Bay, there are no bears. They are not going to be able to adapt -- unless they go out and learn how to drink Slurpees "

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Greening of Goldman Sachs

By Traci Hukill, AlterNet. Posted January 3, 2006.

In November Goldman Sachs, a financial sector leader worth $60 billion, rolled out a new environmental policy that goes further, and is smarter, than any comparable policy in the corporate world.

The unveiling of the framework to address environmental degradation and climate change capped 18 months of consultations with environmental groups. Among them were Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Rainforest Alliance, World Resources Institute and Friends of the Earth.

Only eight pages long, the plan (PDF) contains some fairly typical stuff, such as a vow to use more recycled paper in Goldman's offices. But it also contains a promise to reject projects in environmental no-go zones, and to institute further changes in the way it does business--all with an eye on ethics and the environment.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Support is building for region's first biodiesel plant

By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN, Brattleboro Reformer

GREENFIELD, Mass. -- The region's first commercial biodiesel production plant could be up and running within a year, after investors voted this month to support the plant's business plan.
A group of local supporters of the alternative fuel started an energy cooperative, Co-op Power, about a year and a half ago.

About 165 members have joined the energy co-op.

For a $975 membership share, Co-op Power members have been pooling their funds to try to raise the capital necessary for building a biodiesel plant.

The company that will build and manage the plant, Northeast Biodiesel, has secured a site in Greenfield. At a meeting in December, Co-op Power members voted unanimously to invest $125,000 in Northeast Biodiesel.