Jun 30, 2006

Costs of pollution on children's health

Minnesota spends $1.5 billion a year on childhood diseases related to environmental problems, according to a report scheduled to be released Friday by two environmental groups.

Samuel Yamin of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, which put out the report along with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said the report shows the cost of ignoring problems - countering arguments that cleaning up the environment is too expensive.

"I think most people would agree we have a moral imperative to protect children from environmental health hazards," Yamin said, "but this report demonstrates that it also makes good economic sense."

The estimate was based on national research on childhood asthma, cancer, lead poisoning, birth defects and neurobehavioral disorders. In some cases, the researchers took national cost estimates and refigured them for Minnesota based on the number of childhood diseases in the state. Researchers also counted only a fraction of childhood diseases, because some children would suffer them even in an ideal environment.

For example, the study estimated total annual costs of childhood asthma at $102 million but then predicted that only 30 percent of the asthma cases were directly related to environmental pollution. That reduced the cost to $30.5 million.

Lead poisoning alone costs the state $1.2 billion per year in lost productivity because of the neurological deficits it causes in children, according to the report.

The report credited the Legislature for acting to reduce mercury emissions from coal plants but also called for more regulation of chemical products, more financial assistance for low-income families with lead contamination and reductions in pesticide exposure.

Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

roots of our throwaway culture

Made to Break reveals the roots of our throwaway culture
"Deliberate obsolescence in all its forms -- technological, psychological, or planned -- is a uniquely American invention. Not only did we invent disposable products, ranging from diapers to cameras to contact lenses, but we invented the very concept of disposability itself," writes Slade, a Canadian cultural historian who has spent years teaching abroad and observes North American consumer culture from his home near Vancouver, B.C...

Weird science from the far right

Sounds like socialism to me.

"STOSSEL: Let me just say that this, at bottom is (SCARBOROUGH) hatred of capitalism and a hatred of industrial production. Yes, it's true, we produce more carbon dioxide, but we are also the cleanest country in the world."

Who said this? Click here to read.

OSHA is seeking proposals for $6.8 million in 1- year health and safety training grant from non-profit organizations.

OSHA is seeking proposals for $6.8 million in 1- year health and safety training grant from non-profit organizations.

The grants will focus on three main areas: constructoin hazards, general industry hazards and "other" areas such as disaster response and recovery; hexavalent chromium; workplace emergency planning, including the healthcare industry; and overview of OSHA safety and health requirements for tribal organizations.

Applications will be available on OSHA's web site at http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/ote/sharwood.html or may be obtained from the OSHA Office of Training and Education, Division of Training and Educational Programs, 2020 South Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights, Ill., 60005, telephone (847) 297-4810

Jun 29, 2006

Environmental researchers estimate that pollution in China causes more than 300,000 premature deaths a year.

"China recently said that pollution problems are costing its government more than $200 billion a year. The Worldwatch Institute in Washington says 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China. Despite the efforts of environmental agencies, China's pollution continues to worsen and spread far beyond the country's borders."

Beijing wants to clean the air in time for the Olympic games two years from now. But as long as rapid economic growth remains the number one priority, China's pollution will continue to soar, while people around the world pay the price.

China complicates efforts to fight global warming - baltimoresun.com

China complicates efforts to fight global warming - baltimoresun.com: "Chinese emissions are making the air in non-urban parts of the Western United States as dirty as ever recorded."

Lead by example?
"The Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997 before U.S. companies began outsourcing millions of jobs to China and India. The pact exempted both and other developing nations from the requirements of curbing emissions. The rationale was that the United States and Western Europe had caused most of the problem, so they should bear the brunt of the sacrifice.

It was a noble but impractical idea. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose nation signed the accord, acknowledged that "no country will want to sacrifice its economy" in the process. The United States refused to approve the agreement for that reason. Although Western European nations did, some of them have failed to keep the commitments they made."

Click here for ful read

The nation needs more clarity on complicated environmental issues

Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/29/2006 | Editorial | Carbon Dioxide's Double Identity: "The nation needs more clarity on complicated environmental issues"

Green groups said that the statistics served to highlight the damaging ecological impact of bottled water.

29/6/2006--'Environmental insanity' to drink bottled water when it tastes as good from the tap: "Green groups said that the statistics served to highlight the damaging ecological impact of bottled water."

One recent study calculated that the bottled water industry in the UK generated annually about 33,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through transport - equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 6,000 homes. According to industry figures, Britons consume about 1.5 billion litres of water each year from bottles made out of polyethylene terephthalate or PET - a plastic made out of crude oil extracts.
Despite a reduction of 30 per cent in the amount of PET that goes into each bottle, only about 10 per cent of the bottles are recycled. Most go to landfill, where they take 450 years to break down.

Read full here

Injures to a contractor hired by Miller Brewery

A painting contractor hired by Miller was in stable condition after exposure to ammonia at the Miller Brewing Co. on Wednesday morning when a ammonia safety relief valve that released the gas near at about 10:40 a.m.

Two other men were treated and released at the hospital in relation to the accident, a hospital spokesman said. Miller officials would not identify the three men, nor give details of their injuries.

Miller spokeswoman Julie Kubasa said the gas is commonly used as a refrigerant in brewing. If a tank becomes over-pressurized, a safety valve opens until a safe pressure level is met.

"Those folks were just in that area (near the valve)," Kubasa said.

Immediately after the incident, Miller's safety management team treated the injured man until the ambulance arrived. Crews from the Eden Fire Department also responded.

Efforts Wednesday to locate contractor officials were unsuccessful. The county will not investigate because the accident happened inside the plant, Cardwell said. However, federal officials are expected to visit.

Doug Jones, a compliance supervisor for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration office in Winston-Salem, said his office is not required to get involved based on the extent of the injuries. But the chemical in the event changes that.

"I'm sure we will get involved with an ammonia spill," he said.

To conserve is to be patriotic

By David Horst.. David Horst writes a biweekly column on nature. E-mail him at sandhill@focol.org.
Federal tax incentives for alternative energy are back and utilities are offering rebates to cover some of the costs. They are required, after a long-fought battle, to pay the same rate for excess energy your wind turbine or solar collectors put into the grid as what they charge for energy you buy from them.

Renewable energy can no longer be considered fringe technology. It is a peace movement. The more we develop alternative sources, the less we rely on foreign oil and the less chance we'll have to send more young men and women to countries that have large reserves of oil, but no civil stability. It's not about sticking it to "The Man" anymore, it's downright patriotic.

Please - Click on this link to comment on this story

Water more valuable than oil

The lack of usable water worldwide has made it more valuable than oil. The Bloomberg World Water Index of 11 utilities returned 35 per cent annually since 2003, compared with 29 per cent for oil and gas stocks and 10 per cent for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

The United Nations estimates that by 2050 more than 2 billion people in 48 countries will be short of water.

"There is only one direction for water prices at the moment, and that's up," said Hans Peter Portner, who manages a US$2.9 billion ($4.7 billion) Water Fund at Pictet Asset Management in Geneva.

The fund jumped 26 per cent last year, and Portner forecasts annual returns from water of 8 per cent through 2020.

General Electric chairman Jeffrey Immelt says "scarce" clean water worldwide will more than double the revenue he gets from water purification and treatment to US$5 billion by 2010.

"This will be a big and growing market for a long time," as governments struggle to bring water to 4 billion people who live in areas of profound shortage, Immelt, 50, said at the company's annual meeting in Philadelphia in April.

Time running out to curb effects of deep sea pollution

More than 90% of the world's living organisms are found in the oceans, but a new UN report says that researchers are only now beginning to understand the nature of their ecosystems."Today, these environments are considered to have been the very cradle for life on Earth."

Big Three emit the most greenhouse gas - Automotive - MSNBC.com

Big Three emit the most greenhouse gas - Automotive - MSNBC.com: "With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 30 percent of the world’s automobiles and produces 45 percent of the world’s automotive carbon dioxide emissions, the report said. U.S. cars are driven more and burn more fuel per mile than the international average."


Study says U.S. is responsible for half of the greenhouse gases created by cars: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

American cars and pickup trucks are responsible for nearly half of the greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally, even though the nation's vehicles make up just 30% of the nearly 700 million cars in use, according to a new study by Environmental Defense.

The study was designed to show for the first time the huge amount of carbon dioxide released by American cars and to stimulate passage of tougher laws and policies aimed at reducing it. The Senate last year passed a nonbinding resolution to cap emissions, but bipartisan efforts to pass a law have thus far failed.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) last week introduced a version that would freeze allowable levels of greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, reduce them by 2% each year through 2020, then reduce them further by 5% annually through 2050.

Jun 28, 2006

Motivational Quote

"It's not a 9-5 job. It's an every moment you're awake job because you actually enjoy the work that you're doing."

Robots: Still Skeptical of Climate Change

While climate change threatens the extinction of thousands of plant and
animal species, it seems to have brought
out of extinction.

It’s nice to know that despite the gloomy message of “An Inconvenient
Truth,” and the science snuffing that continues to stall action, that VP
Gore’s sense of humor is not extinct.

EPA: UPS Vehicle is World’s Most Fuel Efficient

On June 21, 2006, EPA unveiled the world's first hydraulic hybrid delivery truck in Washington D.C. The EPA hybrid features a hydraulic drivetrain that replaces a conventional drivetrain and eliminates the need for a conventional transmission. By achieving 70 percent better fuel efficiency in urban driving and 40 percent lower CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, this vehicle demonstrates the highest-efficiency powertrain known. A fleet owner operating one of these high efficiency hydraulic vehicles would save up to 1,000 gallons of fuel each year. EPA estimates that over the lifespan of the vehicle the net savings based on lowered fuel consumption and lowered brake maintenance cost to be over $50,000

DaimlerChrysler to bring fuel-efficient sub-compact to U.S. market.

The two-seater egg-shaped cars get 46.3 miles per gallon in the city to 70.6 mpg on the highway, according to some estimates, although Singhartinger points out that if the brand is brought to the United States, it will be the next generation of the vehicle which is due to be rolled out in Europe in early 2007.

Coffee Intake Linked To Lower Diabetes Risk

Based on information reported in the initial questionnaire, about half of the women (14,224) drank one to three cups of coffee per day; 2,875 drank more than six cups; 5,554 four to five cups; 3,231 less than one cup; and 2,928 none. Over the following 11 years, 1,418 of the women reported on surveys that they had been newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After adjusting the data for some of the other diabetes risk factors, women who drank more than six cups of any type of coffee per day were 22 percent less likely than those who drank no coffee to be diagnosed with diabetes; those who drank more than six cups of decaffeinated coffee per day had a 33 percent reduction in risk compared with those who drank none.

(Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1311-1316. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Corn is the greediest of plants, consuming more fertilizer than any other crop.

Chemists call this process of taking atoms from the atmosphere and combining them into molecules useful to living things "fixing" that element. Until a German Jewish chemist named Fritz Haber figured out how to turn this trick in 1909, all the usable nitrogen on earth had at one time been fixed by soil bacteria living on the roots of leguminous plants (such as peas or alfalfa or locust trees) or, less commonly, by the shock of electrical lightning, which can break nitrogen bonds in the air, releasing a light rain of fertility...

...It has been less than a century since Fritz Haber's invention, yet already it has changed earth's ecology. More than half of the world's supply of usable nitrogen is now man-made. (Unless you grew up on organic food, most of the kilo or so of nitrogen in your body was fixed by the Haber-Bosch process.) "We have perturbed the global nitrogen cycle," Smil wrote, "more than any other, even carbon." The effects may be harder to predict than the effects of the global warming caused by our disturbance of the carbon cycle, but they are no less momentous.

The key to reducing our dependence on synthetic nitrogen is to build a more diversified agriculture—rotating crops and using animals to recycle nutrients on farms—and give up our vast, nitrogen-guzzling monocultures of corn. Especially as the price of fossil fuels climbs, even the world's most industrialized farmers will need to take a second look at how nature, and those who imitate her, go about creating fertility without diminishing our world.

Read more here

WI - Unwanted prescriptions turning up in natural waterways

The Brown County collection is designed for residents with less than 2.2 pounds of unwanted pharmaceuticals, not for large-quantity medical facilities. The collected drugs will be incinerated.

"We don't want people flushing these drugs or pouring them down the drain until we know all the effects," Graffin said.

The effects of prescription drugs in the environment aren't well understood. Milwaukee's Great Lakes WATER Institute exposed fathead minnows to low levels of cholesterol-lowering drugs recently. After one night, the minnows were dying, said researcher Rebecca Klaper.

Read more here

Jun 27, 2006

Guide to Great Lakes health

Duluth News Tribune : "Scientists have found there are at least 207 variables that stress the Great Lakes environment -- all of them caused by humans -- that fall into five general categories: land use, agriculture, point source pollution (such as factories, power plants and sewage plants), airborne pollution that falls into the lakes and human population density."

Jun 26, 2006

Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe

"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie?

This is highly valuable knowledge, but doesn't make them climate change cause experts, only climate impact experts. Read more here

Why gas prices are soooo high.... really.

Ethanol in the U.S. is subsidized through a 51-cent-a-gallon tax credit. Corn-based ethanol, largely produced from Midwest crops, dominates the U.S. market. It might face competition from sugar-based ethanol, which is more energy-efficient and largely produced overseas. But a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on sugar-based ethanol essentially freezes it out of the U.S. market.

"Equal" competition is what makes America the greatest nation in the world. Only by relieving regulations on fuels will we have "Equal” playing field for alternative energies. With all the current subsides and unbalanced taxes on “hybrids” and “alternative” fuels it is IMPOSSIBLE for the average consumer to recognize a truly “innovative” and sustainable energy source.

It is true that 85% on all Americans want to do “what is right for the environment”… now it is our challenge to seek out the truth in what IS right for the environment.

And ethanol isn’t new to the auto business: the first Model T's ran on it.

But, we need to learn from history. Suger is the answer, not corn.

Why the U.S. makes it from corn? The same people who started "big oil" are now "big corn"
"That’s because business is very good. Larry Hansen, a member of the plant's board of directors, says the biggest impact on the community has been that the price of corn in the area rose from five to 10 cents a bushel."

"If you've got eight million bushels coming in, all that extra money that was being sent down the river is now here in the community," says Seward, who is also on the board.

Another board member, Polly Granzow, says, "There are oil fields in Texas, and that is called their black gold. And I think Iowa, that’s our green gold."

If you read my blog, then you already understand the "Fine Print"

Much like Bio Fuels, Electric Cars & Hybirds have been around for nearly a century. The only thing that has change is “Eco-Marketing”. No seriously, people take credit everyday for someone else’s ideas. Do a simple google or patent search on anything that appears to be a new “Eco Idea”…. Most often you’ll find the “new” part is the name and marketing company.

While you should watch out for the new generation of “EcoScams”, I think it is AWSOME that so many people are looking for greener solutions and I support ALL companies that offer truly innovative, safer & environmentally sound solutions.

Understanding the system prevents you from becoming a slave to it…

We could learn a lot from Brazil

The US is taking small steps towards the use of ethanol, but its process, relying on corn, is lengthier and more expensive. Over the past three decades Brazil has worked to create a viable alternative to gasoline. With its sugarcane-based fuel, the nation may become energy independent this year. Brazil’s ethanol program, which originated in the 1970s in response to the uncertainties of the oil market, has enjoyed intermittent success. Still, many Brazilians are driving “flexible fuel” cars that run on either ethanol or gasoline and allow the consumer to fill up with whichever option is cheaper – often ethanol. Countries with large fuel bills such as India and China are following Brazil’s progress closely.

Running cars on carbohydrates instead of fossil fuels is not a new idea, and ethanol has drawbacks, but the fuel offers an attractive alternative as oil prices climb.

At current prices, Brazil can make ethanol for about $1 a gallon, according to the World Bank. That compares with the international price of gasoline of about $1.50 a gallon. Even though ethanol gets less mileage than gasoline, in Brazil it's still cheaper per mile driven. As a result, ethanol now accounts for as much as 20% of Brazil's transport fuel market. The country's use of gasoline has actually declined since the late 1970s. The use of alternative fuels in the rest of the world is a scant 1%.

Driving a Hybrid Helps AutoMakers not tangible climate change

"Carbon neutral" programs typically invest in non-polluting wind, solar or hydropower projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America to offset emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas.

Or they pay to plant trees, which soak up carbon, or invest in renewable energy or energy-efficiency projects.

The aim is for governments, individuals or companies to offset the carbon emissions they produce.

Once limited to a hard core of green activists, carbon neutral projects are winning wider favor. "We're talking about millions of tons a year (of carbon dioxide offsets) instead of perhaps 100,000 a couple of years ago," Shopley said.

Still, the amounts are a pinprick in world emissions from human activities of more than 25 billion tons a year. Many scientists say global warming, widely blamed on greenhouse gases, could trigger more floods, droughts and heatwaves and drive up world sea levels.

For one passenger flying from Paris to Sydney, for instance, Germany's Atmosfair reckons the emissions total 5.99 tons, due to a "high altitude surcharge."

Warren Buffett, donates over $29 Billion to save the world

"What can be more logical, in whatever you want done, than finding someone better equipped than you are to do it?" Buffett told Fortune. "Who wouldn't select Tiger Woods to take his place in a high-stakes golf game? That's how I feel about this decision." Buffett has long said limiting the spread of nuclear weapons is the greatest challenge facing mankind. And stockbroker Andy Kilpatrick, who wrote a biography of Buffett, said Buffett probably agrees with the Gateses' concerns about population control, disease and education. In a statement, Bill and Melinda Gates applauded Buffett's decision. "We are awed by our friend Warren Buffett's decision."

Device Burns Fuel with Almost Zero Emissions

Simple design makes ultra-low emission combustion more efficient, affordable and stable.
ATLANTA (June 21, 2006) — Georgia Tech researchers have created a new combustor (combustion chamber where fuel is burned to power an engine or gas turbine) designed to burn fuel in a wide range of devices ― with next to no emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO), two of the primary causes of air pollution. The device has a simpler design than existing state-of-the-art combustors and could be manufactured and maintained at a much lower cost, making it more affordable in everything from jet engines and power plants to home water heaters.

Think globally, act locally

The nation isn't doomed to continue polluting the air and adding to the problem of global warming, which scientists say could cause severe droughts, melting glaciers and floods because of rising sea levels.

If more cities would take the initiative and promote bicycle trails, reduce sprawl, make energy-efficient building code improvements, and the like, the air pollution that causes global warming could be reduced, and the nation could get on the right track.

Environmental stewardship is a huge job, but taking it on county by county, city by city, person by person will get the job done.

Greenland glacier's quick breakup amazes scientists

By all accounts, the glaciers of Greenland are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago, even as the ice sheets of Antarctica – the world's largest reservoir of fresh water – also are shrinking, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Kansas reported in February.

Proof of global warming will come too late to do anything

Nashuatelegraph.com: Proof of global warming will come too late to do anything: "“If anything, the history of climate modeling has been one of conservatism and underestimating the impacts of climate change,” Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, observed recently.

Perhaps the most sobering data come from studies of climates past. Late last year, European researchers published an analysis of an Antarctic ice core containing climate information going back 650,000 years. (The ice contains tiny bubbles of trapped air, each a sample of ancient atmosphere.) The core shows that carbon dioxide levels today are higher than they have been at any point in that entire period.

Jun 24, 2006

Wind energy projects might move forward

Some of an estimated $1 billion in Wisconsin wind energy projects that have been stalled for months because of fears that they could interfere with military radar might be allowed to move ahead soon.

"There has been some tremendous movement off of dead center," said Bruce Beard, a Federal Aviation Administration official in Texas. "There just has been tremendous movement in clearing up these roadblocks. . . . I'm semi- optimistic that the logjam is fixing to be broken."

Spurred by high fossil-fuel prices, federal tax credits and a growing political and public appetite for renewable power, developers are scouring Wisconsin and other states for suitable spots to put up wind turbines to generate electricity.

EPA Unveils UPS Delivery Truck with 60 to 70% Higher Fuel Economy

The world’s first hydraulic hybrid commercial truck came to town today in the form of a brown UPS delivery truck.

EPA and UPS partnered to develop a delivery truck, the first of its kind, that uses EPA-patented hydraulic hybrid technology. With the breakthrough technology onboard, the UPS truck can increase fuel efficiency by 60 to70 percent in urban driving. It also lowers greenhouse gas emissions by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) by 40 percent compared to the conventional UPS diesel delivery trucks.

Laboratory tests show that this hybrid technology has the potential to dramatically improve the fuel economy for package delivery vehicles, shuttle and transit buses, and refuse pickup. More than 1,000 gallons of fuel each year could be saved per vehicle. EPA estimates that upfront costs for the hybrid components could be recouped in fewer than three years for a typical delivery vehicle. The net savings over the vehicle's lifespan could exceed $50,000, assuming current fuel prices.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/technology/recentdevelopments.htm

Jun 23, 2006

Scientists found more grey matter in musicians

Scientists found more grey matter in the auditory cortex of the right hemisphere in musicians compared to nonmusicians. They feel these differences are probably not genetic, but instead due to use and practice.

Listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, has recently been thought to enhance performance on cognitive tests. Contributors to this volume take a closer look at this assertion and their findings indicate that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition. In addition, the use of music to enhance memory is explored and research suggests that musical recitation enhances the coding of information by activating neural networks in a more united and thus more optimal fashion.

Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Webcasts: The Passive House

In this webcast, Erwin Mlecnik from the Belgian Passive House Platform introduces the subject. Passive Houses reduce final demand for heat by a factor 10, and total energy consumption by a factor 6. They represent one of the largest and most promising concepts to contribute significantly to sustainable energy. The webcast defines the Passive House concept, and introduces its principles. A few practical examples are given, and references to further information are introduced.

View webcast (11 minutes)

Al Gore self proclaimed internet inventor's new film will not change climate

It is worth noting that all the way back in 1992, Gore published a book, Earth in the Balance, which eloquently laid out the dangers of global warming. The book became a bestseller. Gore became the vice-president. And still nothing happened.

Ballooning house sizes If you focus on efforts such as these, it's tempting to conclude that the US is ready to shift course and, indeed, to some extent is already doing so. Look elsewhere, however, and it's far less clear. Consider what has happened to the average new home built in the country. Even as average household size has declined, the size of the average house has ballooned. It was 1,000 square feet in 1950 and is nearly 2,500 square feet to-day. New homes, meanwhile, now routinely feature a gamut of energy-intensive conveniences, such as outdoor kitchens, professional-sized appliances and heated towel racks.

Or consider what has happened to the American automobile. At the same time Americans were being presented with ever more compelling evidence of global climate change, they were also, in ever greater numbers, purchasing cars like GM's Yukon Denali, which has a 335-horsepower engine, weighs 7,000lb, comes equipped with heated leather seats, and gets 13 miles to the gallon. On average, passenger vehicles purchased in the US last year got 21.0 miles to the gallon; this was a worse gas mileage than the average passenger vehicle got 20 years earlier. In many parts of the country George Bush's recalcitrance isn't representative, but in others his equivo-cations look positively progressive: Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, who chairs the Senate committee on environment and public works, has famously called global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". Every year Senator John McCain, the Republican Party's most vocal proponent of action on climate change, brings to the floor a bill that would impose federal limits on CO2 emissions. Every year it's a foregone conclusion that the bill will be defeated.

Chelsea Sexton - The advocate of GM Green drives a what?

ABG: What kind of car do you drive?
Sexton: I drive a Saturn. I've had about eight of them. I won't buy a hybrid, so I drive a good little economical gas car, as little as possible and I won't buy another car until I can buy one with a plug on it. Mostly, it's just what working in the industry and watching what we were showing and then watching the sort of diluted products that we came out with. I use the analogy of accepting Cs from your kids when you know they can get As. In the case of the Prius, paying thirty grand for that C? I'll wait until there's a plug-in hybrid available or an electric car.

What kind of car do you drive?
Really? Who cares what she or he drives... you need to worry about you ;-)

Scientists have invented a plastic solar cell that can turn the sun's power into electrical energy, even on a cloudy day.

Plastic solar cells are not new. But existing materials are only able to harness the sun's visible light. While half of the sun's power lies in the visible spectrum, the other half lies in the infrared spectrum.

The new material is the first plastic composite that is able to harness the infrared portion.

"Everything that's warm gives off some heat. Even people and animals give off heat," Sargent said. "So there actually is some power remaining in the infrared [spectrum], even when it appears to us to be dark outside."

The researchers combined specially designed nano particles called quantum dots with a polymer to make the plastic that can detect energy in the infrared.

With further advances, the new plastic "could allow up to 30 percent of the sun's radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to 6 percent in today's best plastic solar cells," said Peter Peumans, a Stanford University electrical engineering professor, who studied the work.

Illinois 6th worst for global warming

Illinois pumps more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all but five other states, doing its share to worsen global warming, a Chicago-based environment group reported Wednesday.

The state's annual emissions of the greenhouse gas -- 224.7 million metric tons -- were exceeded only by Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, Environment Illinois said.

Only three states -- Texas, Florida and North Carolina -- increased CO2 emissions more than Illinois from 1990 to 2001, the report said.
Cause: coal power, automobiles

Environment Illinois analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Although the period after 2001 isn't covered, DOE projects nationwide increases in CO2 emissions steepening by 11 percent over the 26 years ending in 2030.

Of Illinois' CO2 output, 40 percent comes from coal, nearly all of it burned by power plants; 37 percent from oil consumed by cars and trucks, and 23 percent from natural gas.

In the state as elsewhere around the world, "every day the threat of global warming comes into sharper focus," said Environment Illinois director Rebecca Stanfield at a news conference at the Chicago Center for Green Technology.

Fox News Chicago meteorologist Rick DiMaio noted that Chicago snowfall averaged 50 inches each winter between 1960 and 1980. Since then, the average has fallen to 35 inches.

Other speakers touted ways to combat climate change.

Colleen Sarna of the Sierra Club blasted electric utilities' plans to build 15 new coal-fired power plants in Illinois, joining 23 existing ones.

Showing off solar panels able to supply power for 25 to 30 homes, Mark Burger of the Illinois Solar Energy Association said, "Less than 1 percent of the total land area of the U.S. -- rooftops, parking lots, brownfields -- could be covered [by solar panels] without touching one acre of green space."

From http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-warming22.html

Senators urge to reduce pollution over next decade

Research shows the government must take steps to reduce pollution if it wants to protect future generations from global warming, she said. NMPIRG released a report Tuesday demonstrating New Mexico's pollution increased 218 percent over 40 years. Called "The Carbon Boom," the report also shows coal emissions contributed to 68 percent and oil emissions to 24 percent of New Mexico's pollution.

The national pollution average over the same 40 year period increased 95 percent, Ketcham added. Texas and California created the most pollution and New Mexico fell into the middle of the states. But looking at how much pollution New Mexico creates compared to its population shows the state creates a lot of pollution per capita, she said.

People can reduce emissions first, by using less energy and building more responsibly, Ketcham said. Second, they should turn to renewable energy.

"Renewable energy hasn't received the subsidies in research and development that other fossil fuel industries have. Despite that, it has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years," she said.

Full story here:

Jun 21, 2006

The Dirty Secret of China's Economy

The mainland's rapid growth has only worsened its environmental problems, and the government expects pollution to quadruple by 2020.

China's economy is only about one-fifth the size of the U.S, but is already the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, second only to the U.S. China's emissions jumped 33% during a 10-year period ended in 2002, according to the latest World Bank figures. A miasma of dirty air from China is spreading across East Asia and even reaching the West Coast of the U.S.

There is no denying that Chinese President Hu Jintao's government takes the problem seriously. Not only is it bad for the mainland's international image, but it could be an explosive political issue later in the decade if left unresolved.

RENEGADE POLLUTERS Pan Yue, vice-minister of SEPA, predicted last summer at an environmental conference in Beijing that "the pollution load of China will quadruple by 2020" if nothing is done. Some 20% of the population lives in "severely polluted" areas, according to SEPA estimates, and 70% of the country's rivers and lakes are in grim shape, figures the World Bank.

Jun 20, 2006

Some facts and figures about ethanol

Some numbers concerning ethanol production:

- 97 plants operating in the United States.

- 33 plants under construction.

- 4.5 billion gallons of production capacity.

- 1.9 billion gallons of additional capacity when plants under construction are completed.

- 7 operating plants in Illinois.

- 30 plants in various planning stages in Illinois.

- 887 million gallons of production capacity in Illinois.

- 24 operating plants in Iowa.

- 1.5 billion gallons of production capacity in Iowa.


Sources: Renewable Fuels Association, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association.

MillionsDie Annually from Preventable Environmental Causes

The U.N. agency said the study broke new ground because it developed a "hit list" of environmental causes of disease that could best be tackled by a coordinated approach to reduce threats.

"The four main diseases influenced by poor environments are diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries and malaria," the report said.

It recommended promoting better management of water resources including safer household storage, the use of cleaner fuels, better built housing and more careful use of poisons in the home and workplace.

Many road traffic injuries resulted largely from poor design of urban areas and transport systems, it said.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which leads to a gradual loss of lung function, often results from exposure to workplace dusts and fumes and other forms of indoor and outdoor air pollution, the report said.

"Preventing environmental risk could save as many as 4 million lives a year, mostly in developing countries," the report said.

"We call on ministries of health, environment and other partners to work together to ensure that these environmental and public health gains become a reality," said Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO's Department for Public Health and Environment.

WHO said the report was based on systematic review of scientific literature as well as surveys of more than 100 experts worldwide.

Source: Associated Press

Ethanol plant to rob 100's million's of worlds fresh water

The proposal for a 100 million gallon-per-year ethanol plant is just one of many that have popped up in the past several months across Illinois, which already has seven operating plants and is the nation's No. 2 ethanol producer after Iowa.

High oil prices and support from Washington have inspired such interest in the corn-based gasoline additive that the Illinois Corn Growers Association now says at least 30 plants are in various stages of planning across the state.

All will use a lot of water.

It would take about 300 million gallons of water for processing the product and cooling equipment to make 100 million gallons of ethanol each year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

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While water scientists in Illinois and Iowa say they're concerned about the impact of that much demand, they're not sending out alarms yet.

"On a statewide scale, it's not a huge amount of water," says Allen H. Wehrmann, director of the Center for Groundwater Science at the Illinois State Water Survey. "Illinois is a fairly water-rich state, so I don't think this is going to drain us."

The demand for water by the two dozen operating ethanol plants in Iowa has not damaged water sources or supplies, said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Improving technology means new plants use as much as 80 percent less water than plants built just five years ago, and most plants recycle their water so it has more than one use, he said.

Still, the draw on Midwest water supplies is a concern.

U.N. Scheme to Save One Billion Tonnes of Greenhouse Gas

By giving rich nations incentives to invest in green energy ranging from hydro to solar power, the programme aims to brake a build-up of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fuels such as coal or oil.

"The known project potential ... is presently estimated to generate around a billion tonnes of emission reductions by the end of 2012," the Bonn-based secretariat said in a statement.

That is the estimated reduction between now and end-2012.

Annual world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities -- mainly from fossil fuels burnt in power plants, vehicles and factories -- exceed 25 billion tonnes. About a quarter is from the United States.

"The one billion tonne mark in emission reductions corresponds to the present (annual) emissions of Spain and the United Kingdom combined," the secretariat said. Britain emits about 650 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, Spain 350 million.

Source: Reuters

Minnesota law makes it illegal to trash old TVs

WLSSD banned televisions and monitors from garbage back in in 2000. When the items are found in the WLSSD transfer station, haulers are warned or fined. Sometimes the items are traced to their owners.

But starting July 1, and you'll be breaking the law the same as if you threw it into a grassy ditch.

You'll also be fined if you get caught.

But if you take that old TV to a recycling center, as the new law requires, it could cost you more than $100 to have the recycler take it.

Most people do the right thing and pay to recycle, Anderson said. And many consumers may be holding on to their old TVs and computers, waiting for the day when disposal is cheaper or free.

Chemical Industry's Performance Leaders

Through the Responsible Care initiative, the chemical industry has reduced environmental emissions by more than 75 percent and achieved a worker safety record that is four and a half times better than the average of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

"This performance," Gerard noted, "can be tracked online at the U.S. Responsible Care Web site, which ACC created over two years ago to allow public access to industry and individual company data on environment, health, safety and security performance."

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Be self-sufficient: recycle your own sewage

The bacteria and fungi would eat the waste, using oxygen from the air to remove nutrients and toxins. So, it was also "a stomach and a lung". "We are aiming at reducing water consumption at the house by 40 to 60 per cent. You would still have sewage leaving the house, but it would first go around two or three times."

While existing sewage treatment plants already use bacteria, the new technology was significantly more efficient, and a fifth the cost.

Conventional treatment systems also use oxygen, creating bubbles in the sewage. "But bubbles are very expensive to make," Dr Taylor said. "They use a lot of electricity, producing lots of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels."

The technology could make money by linking sewage recycling with prawn, yabby and fish farming. Organisms grown on the bio-reactor could be harvested as their food.

Dr Taylor, who conceded that diners might not want to know how their seafood had been raised, said his team was looking for commercial partners.

Initially, he predicted, the biggest market would be in rural areas, where water had to be trucked in.

Quebec petroleum companies to pay green tax

The plan is ambitious: reduce greenhouse gases in Quebec by 10 million tonnes a year by 2012. It includes new emissions standards for passenger vehicles. Premier Jean Charest says companies should see it as their contribution to a cleaner environment. "If they don't see it that way, I'd regret that. I think they'd be totally wrong. They're going to be on the wrong side of this issue," Charest said. 'Consumers will have to pay' Fuel firms will end up passing on the extra cost at the pump, according to Carol Montreuil of the Canadian Petroleum Products institute. "Call it whatever you want, at the end of the day, it's a tax, and unfortunately consumers will have to pay for it," Montreuil said. Montreuil says his institute agrees the transportation sector has to contribute more to the effort to fight global warming, but a royalty on gas is not the way to do it. Steven Guilbault of Greenpeace charges it would be greedy to make drivers pay. "I think it's totally indecent for these companies to say we'll pass on the cost to consumers," Guilbault said. Government officials say they are counting on the goodwill of the petroleum industry. Though they admit it will be nearly impossible to tell whether the new carbon tax shows up in the price at the pumps.

Green energy machine is purporting

Mr. Shieldcastle isn't sold on wind as a technology. "It's not the green energy the propaganda machine is purporting," Mr. Shieldcastle said, citing the amount of energy necessary for production of wind turbines and the amount of oil needed for lubricating turbine blades.
The average commercial-sized wind turbine, like the four near Bowling Green, generates 1.7 megawatts of power.
Davis-Besse, operated in Ottawa County by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., generates 950 megawatts. Detroit Edison Co.'s Fermi II nuclear plant in northern Monroe County generates 1,108 megawatts.
Mr. Shieldcastle is one of several high-profile speakers scheduled for Ohio's first major conference about wind power's impact on wildlife. The conference runs June 27 through 29 at the Medical University of Ohio's Dana Conference Center.
Participating agencies include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Ohio DNR.

Gas from heavily chlorinated water could damage young lungs,

Pools can be hazardous to children's lungs

Gas from heavily chlorinated water could damage young lungs, making them more susceptible later to developing asthma.

The elevated incidence of asthma in wealthy Western countries has long puzzled researchers seeking to explain why affluence would be associated with a debilitating respiratory ailment. Now, a handful of studies suggests at least part of the answer may be the exposure of young children to the heavily polluted air emanating from chlorinated indoor swimming pools.

While chlorine is an effective disinfectant, it has a drawback. When it destroys the bacteria and viruses found in water, and does the same to the sweat, urine, and saliva from swimmers, it produces trichloramine, the gas that is the main cause of the pungent odour associated with swimming pools.

Trichloramine, also known as nitrogen trichloride, is a powerful oxidant that, when inhaled, is able to damage the surface of lung tissues, making them more permeable to substances that might ultimately trigger asthma, such as air pollution, pet dander and other allergy-causing substances, according to the researchers investigating the possible link between pools and asthma.

"We suspect this chemical affects the lungs, making the lungs more permeable to these allergens," he said.

The finding may also explain why competitive swimmers and lifeguards at indoor pools also have elevated asthma risks.

There are currently no standards for the amount of trichloramine allowed in the air around pools, except in Brussels, and Dr. Bernard said concentrations can attain such high levels that the gas often is the most intense indoor air pollutant to which young children are exposed.

He is particularly worried about the recent popularity of baby swimming programs, which expose the very young to high levels of pollutant and may contribute to asthma later in life.

The rise in the incidence of asthma and its peculiar international distribution has long perplexed researchers. The respiratory ailment is often 10 times more prevalent in wealthy industrialized countries than elsewhere, making it a disease of affluence.

Canada has one of the world's highest rates -- asthma strikes more than one in 10 children -- a rate that has made it the most common chronic disease of childhood in this country. Although asthma was once rare, the prevalence has soared in recent decades. In the United States, where good statistics are kept, the incidence rate has doubled in only the past two decades.

Genetic changes wouldn't happen quickly enough to be the reason for such a rise.

This has led investigators to look at what has changed in the environment that might be linked to asthma, such as exposure to secondhand smoke, pesticides, and the fumes given off by some plastics -- pollutants that are all able to irritate the lungs and are found in indoor air.

Researchers have also speculated that industrialized countries might be too hygienic, producing such a clean and sterile environment that children don't come into contact with enough germs early in life to strengthen their developing immune systems, leading to allergies, and to asthma attacks when youngsters are exposed to pollutants later in life.

There are disputes about whether excessive cleanliness is the real cause because of the timing of the increase in asthma incidence. The big advances in hygiene occurred before the 1940s, while the asthma incidence rate began rising in the 1960s.

Mr. Bernard said that one intriguing factor in the asthma incidence is that English speaking countries, including the U.K., Ireland, Australia and Canada have the highest rates of the disease, something he says may be linked to the earlier development in these jurisdictions of indoor swimming pools.

Mr. Bernard said pools can also be disinfected using better filtration, ozone, and ultraviolet light, among other ways, avoiding the off-gassing problem from trichloramine.

Asthma rates vary widely around the world, but the highest incidence is usually found in affluent Western countries.

Percentage of population living with asthma

Country Percentage
Scotland 18.4
Wales 16.8
England 15.3
New Zealand 15.1
Australia 14.7
Rep. Ireland 14.6
Canada 14.1
United States 10.9
Germany 6.9
France 6.8
Norway 6.8
Japan 6.7
Italy 4.5
Poland 4.1
Denmark 3.0
India 3.0
Russia 2.2
China 2.1