Aug 31, 2012

Update announcement and agenda on the 2012 GreenGov Symposium,

Update announcement and agenda on the 2012 GreenGov Symposium

This year's agendafeatures over 60 sessions, including panel discussions with leading experts, best practice case studies, 101-education sessions and a suite of post-Symposium activities including workshops, roundtables and tours.

Speakers this year include:
 *   Tom Armstrong -- Executive Director, U.S. Global Change Research Program
 *   Vicki Arroyo -- Executive Director, Georgetown Climate Center, Georgetown University Law Center
 *   Gavin Bloch -- Chief Asset Officer, U.S. General Services Administration
 *   Wendell Brase -- Vice Chancellor, Administrative and Business Services, UC Irvine
 *   Kateri Callahan -- President, Alliance to Save Energy
 *   Dan Delurey -- President, Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition
 *   Olga Dominguez -- Assistant Administrator, Office of Strategic Infrastructure & Senior Sustainability Officer, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
 *   Brodi Fontenot -- Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration & Senior Sustainability Officer, U.S. Department of Transportation
 *   Jon Freedman -- Global Government Relations Leader, GE Power & Water, Water & Process Technologies
 *   Nancy Gillis -- Director, Federal Supply Chain Emissions PMO, U.S. General Services Administration
 *   Jim Gowen -- Chief Sustainability Officer, Verizon
 *   Jonathan Greenblatt -- Special Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation, White Office of Social Innovation
 *   Katherine Hammack -- Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment (ASA IE&E), U.S. Army
 *   Stephen Harper -- Global Director, Environmental and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation
 *   Heather Henriksen -- Director of Sustainability, Harvard University
 *   Lou Hutchinson -- Vice President, Public Sector & Energy Efficiency, Constellation
 *   Kathy Jacobs -- Assistant Director for Climate Assessment and Adaptation, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
 *   Lawrence Jones -- Vice President Grid Regulatory Affairs, Policy and Industrial Relations, Alstom
 *   Kevin Kampschroer -- Director - Office of Federal High Performance Buildings , U.S. General Services Administration
 *   Richard Kidd -- Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy & Sustainability), U.S. Army
 *   Cliff Majersik -- Executive Director, Institute for Market Transformation
 *   Jeff Marqusee -- Executive Director, SERDP/ESTCP, U.S. Department of Defense
 *   Dennis McGinn -- President, American Council on Renewable Energy
 *   Erin Meezan -- Vice President of Sustainability, Interface
 *   Gwen Migita -- Vice President, Sustainability & Community Affairs, Caesars Entertainment
 *   Steve Nicholas -- Vice President of US Climate & Environmental Programs, Institute for Sustainable Communities
 *   Melanie Nutter -- Director, San Francisco Department of the Environment
 *   Todd Park -- Assistant to the President and Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
 *   Valerie Patrick -- Sustainability Coordinator, Bayer Corporation
 *   Tom Perrigo -- Sustainability Officer, City of Las Vegas
 *   Edwin Pinero -- Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Veolia Water Americas
 *   Curtis Ravenel -- Global Head, Sustainability Group, Bloomberg
 *   Eleni Reed -- Chief Greening Officer, U.S. General Services Administration
 *   Dorothy Robyn -- Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment & Senior Sustainability Officer, U.S. Department of Defense
 *   Josh Silverman -- Director, Office of Sustainability Support, U.S. Department of Energy
 *   Nick Sinai -- Senior Advisor, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
 *   Diane Sullivan -- Lead Sustainability Planner, National Capital Planning Commission
 *   Susi Torriente -- Assistant City Manager, City of Fort Lauderdale
 *   Peter Tseronis -- Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Department of Energy
 *   Christophe Tulou -- Director, District Department of the Environment
 *   Kathleen Turco -- Associate Administrator, Office of Government-wide Policy, U.S. General Services Administration
 *   Tim Unruh -- Program Manager for the Federal Energy Management Program, U.S. Department of Energy

For the most up-to-date information on the 2012 GreenGov Symposium, please visit

Audit of Apple’s Chinese Factories Reveals Bandaid Reforms

Apple wants you to know it’s working hard to fix the biggest bruise on its reputation: the treatment of workers in its vast production chain. So for the past several months, the company has partnered with the Fair Labor Association, a mainstream watchdog group, to audit factory conditions at Apple's most notorious supplier company, Foxconn. FLA says in its "remediation verification" report that Foxconn has tightened oversight of its ultra-efficient machine.

But the changes have mostly aimed to clean up some of the excesses of Apple's labor system without shifting its fundamental structure.

The FLA audited three of the Taiwan-based company’s facilities, Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu, and called for 360 remedial actions, 284 of which had been officially completed by the factories as of the end of May. The remaining 76 actions are due by July 2013. The report highlighted progress on regulation of the company's internship program and reforms on workplace health and safety (responding to longstanding controversy over stressful working conditions that activists blame for mental despair and several worker suicides).

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Brazilian Deforestation Falls Sharply in Past Eight Years

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 77 percent from 2004 to 2011, but carbon emissions did not drop as steeply because of complex processes revealed during on-the-ground studies, scientists say. While analysis of satellite images showed the three-quarters drop in deforestation, researchers said that several factors — including the slow decay of roots and the later burning of wood biomass — meant that carbon emissions from deforestation fell by 57 percent during the same period, according to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology

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Aquaculture Feeding World's Insatiable Appetite for Seafood

Total global fish production, including both wild capture fish and aquaculture, reached an all-time high of 154 million tons in 2011, and aquaculture is set to top 60 percent of production by 2020, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute ( for its Vital Signs Online service. Wild capture was 90.4 million tons in 2011, up 2 percent from 2010. Aquaculture, in contrast, has been expanding steadily for the last 25 years and saw a rise of 6.2 percent in 2011, write report authors Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden. "Growth in fish farming can be a double-edged sword," said Nierenberg, co-author of the report and Director of Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project. "Despite its potential to affordably feed an ever-growing global population, it can also contribute to problems of habitat destruction, waste disposal, invasions of exotic species and pathogens, and depletion of wild fish stock." Humans ate 130.8 million tons of fish in 2011. The remaining 23.2 million tons of fish went to non-food uses such as fishmeal, fish oil, culture, bait, and pharmaceuticals. The human consumption figure has increased 14.4 percent over the last five years. And consumption of farmed fish has risen tenfold since 1970, at an annual average of 6.6 percent per year. Asia consumes two thirds of the fish caught or grown for consumption.

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New York Passes Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know Act

On August 9th, New York State passed the "Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know Act", which requires the operators of publicly owned sewer systems or sewage treatment plants to notify regulators and the public of discharges of untreated sewage or partially treated sewage. This bill adds to existing federal and state spill reporting requirements for sewage treatment plants.

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New Bird-Friendly Bladeless Wind Turbine Design to be Tested and Manufactured in NJ

... there are other options for viable wind turbines that are claimed to be bird- and bat-friendly, including the Catching Wind Power (CWP) device, which will soon be tested, improved upon, and manufactured by Sigma Design.

The CWP Compressed Air Enclosed Wind Turbine is the brainchild of 89 year old Raymond Green, who invented and patented his unique version of wind power generator. Green believes these units can be manufactured in sizes ranging from small personal-use/portable units up to massively sized units that can be installed at wind farms, and that they hold significant advantages over traditional turbine designs.

According to the Green's website,

"Traditional three blade turbines knock the birds out of the sky because the birds can not see the massive, spinning, blades that turn between 80mph and 190mph, therefore hitting them and knocking them to the ground, killing them. Our design does not have any external moving parts to hit the birds. Our unit is easy to see so the birds can avoid it, and all moving parts are internal. The blades are mounted behind the windsock and inner compression cone, therefore making them nonaccessible to birds. Also, our turbines make virtually no noise."

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STUDY: States over $4 trillion in debt (i.e. unsustainable)

Biodiesel From Sewage Sludge - via @Slashdot

Scientists have developed a way to convert lipids from sewage sludge into biodiesel. The low cost and high yield of the sludge process may make it economically feasible as a source of biofuel, the researchers say. Today, biofuel producers use lipids in vegetable oils to derive biodiesel, a mixture of fatty-acid-like molecules. Biodiesel is compatible with existing diesel engines, burns with less pollution than petroleum-derived diesel does, and comes from renewable resources. But current biodiesel feedstocks are expensive, limiting the fuel's widespread use. The researchers from South Korea found that sewage sludge, the semisolid material left over from wastewater treatment, can yield 2,200 times more lipids than soybeans and costs 96% less to process. To turn the sludge lipids into biodiesel, the researchers heated them with methanol

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Aug 30, 2012

Four times as many publicly employees miss work over private sector in waste collection, costing million$ in lost tax dollars & productivity

National Harbor, Md. – Four times as many publicly employed trash and recycling collectors miss work because of injuries and illnesses than their brethren in the private sector, according to statistics revealed at Wastecon earlier this month.

The startling numbers were unveiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They show an average of 4,017 public workers missed at least one day of work annually between 2008 and 2010. That compares with an annual average of 1,070 collection workers in the private sector, according to David F. Utterback, a senior health scientist at NIOSH.

As safety director of the National Solid Wastes Management Association, David Biderman takes a keen interest in these kinds of statistics. He pointed out that the number of average reported injuries and illnesses reported is not a apples-to-apples comparison because there actually were more private sector collection workers, estimated by Utterback to be 70,950 in 2009, than public sector collection workers, estimated at 50,010 that same year.

Using those employee numbers would mean the per capita ratio of injuries would be even higher than the 4-to-1 that the raw data shows.

"This confirms the injury and illness rates for municipal collection workers is substantially higher than their private sector counterparts," said Biderman. His trade group represents private sector trash companies.

But, as with many statistics, there might be more to the story... please read on at:

Is an International Nuclear Fuelbank a Good Idea? - via @Slashdot

"A roundtable at the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences explores the notion of nuclear fuel banks which would offer nations a guaranteed supply of low-enriched uranium if they renounce the right to enrich on their own. From the article: 'The basic idea behind an international fuel bank is that it would, in a reliable and nondiscriminatory way, make emergency supplies of market-priced low-enriched uranium available to states that sign up to participate. States that opt for membership in a fuel bank would gain increased confidence that their access to reactor-grade fuel would not be interrupted. In return, they would renounce the right to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel on their own. Such an arrangement could be appropriate for a number of states. But for others, it might be less than ideal.'"

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Russia dumped enormous amounts of radioactive waste and nuclear reactors into Arctic seas

Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media.
The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.
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Senior Poverty: Food Insecurity up 78 % from a decade earlier, Among Older Americans

Huffington Post - In 2010, 8.3 million Americans over 60 faced the threat of hunger -- up 78 percent from a decade earlier, according to a 2012 report. The proportion of the seniors affected has grown to one in seven in 2010 from one in nine in 2005 -- even as the hunger risk for the population as a whole declined slightly, the report found.

The biggest jump in poverty rates was among people 50 to 64 in the period studied, but poverty levels are highest for people 85 and older, Banerjee noted, citing medical expenses as the most significant factor. “In all the other categories –- housing, entertainment, food, clothing –- spending goes down with age," he said. "But medical expenses are higher, and for these people, it takes about one-fifth of their budget.”

Study Finds Toxic Chemicals In School Supplies

A new study shows that some school supplies are made of toxic chemicals already banned in children’s toys.

CBS – Consumer Newsstudy found that about 75 percent of children’s school supplies contain high levels of potentially toxic phthalates. New York Sen. Charles Schumer called for new laws to regulate the chemical while discussing the report, which was released by the advocacy group Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) on Sunday. “School supplies are supposed to help our children with their education, they shouldn’t be harming their health,” Schumer said in an emailed press release.

For the investigation, scientists randomly purchased and tested 20 back-to-school items from New York City dollar stores and other retailers. They found Disney’s “Dora the Explorer” backpack contained phthalate levels over 69 times higher than the allowable federal limit for toys. A lunchbox for “The Amazing Spider-Man” contained 27 times the federal limit, while the Disney Princess lunchbox exceeded the toy limit by 29 times.

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Aug 29, 2012

DuPont preparing for new study on Pompton Lakes contamination cleanup

DuPont is just weeks away from launching another study to see if injecting a form of food into the soil to spur microbe growth could be the long-sought solution to clean up contaminated groundwater beneath some 450 homes in Pompton Lakes.

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Green Vets Los Angeles gives veterans jobs making reusable bags.

Green Vets Los Angeles is a nonprofit program designed to help them earn a living and overcome the physical injuries and lingering anxieties of battlefield service by putting together a hot new product in local markets: reusable cloth shopping bags made out of scrap material.

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Our Economy Has Been Collapsing, It Continues To Collapse, and The Collapse Is Going To Accelerate Dramatically

Market Daily News...Yes, the stock market has been soaring, corporate profits have set all-time records in recent years and the big Wall Street banks that were showered with bailout money are absolutely thriving.

But there has been no economic recovery on “Main Street”.

According to the Sentier Research report mentioned above, incomes have been declining in all geographic regions of the country and in all sectors of the economy….

-Median household income for the self-employed has fallen 9.4 percent since June 2009.

-Median household income for private sector employees has fallen 4.5 percent since June 2009.

-Median household income for government workers has fallen 3.5 percent since June 2009.

-Median household income for Americans living in the West has fallen 8.5 percent since June 2009.

-Median household income for Americans living in the Northeast has fallen 4.9 percent since June 2009.

-Median household income for Americans living in the South has also fallen 4.9 percent since June 2009.

-Median household income for Americans living in the Midwest has fallen 1.1 percent since June 2009.

Remember, the recession supposedly ended in June 2009.

Since that time we have supposedly been in a “recovery”.

So if it has seemed to you that American families have been getting poorer it has not just been your imagination.

In a previous article, I detailed 84 statistics that prove that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  If you have not read it yet, I encourage you to go check it out.  At this point it is absolutely undeniable that the middle class in America is declining.  The following are just a couple of the numbers from my recent article….

1. According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.

2. The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today compared with 10 years ago.

3. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

4. The average net worth of a middle class family in America was $129,582 in 2001.  By 2010 that figure had dropped to $93,150.

5. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of all families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.

You can find 79 more statistics just like this right here.

At the same time that our incomes are going down, the cost of living just continues to rise steadily.

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New AIDS-like disease found in U.S., Asia

CBC News - 
Researchers have identified a mysterious new disease that has left scores of people in Asia and some in the United States with AIDS-like symptoms even though they are not infected with HIV.

The patients' immune systems become damaged, leaving them unable to fend off germs as healthy people do. What triggers this isn't known, but the disease does not seem to be contagious.

...This is another kind of acquired immune deficiency that is not inherited and occurs in adults, but doesn't spread the way AIDS does through a virus, said Dr. Sarah Browne, a scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

She helped lead the study with researchers in Thailand and Taiwan where most of the cases have been found since 2004. Their report is in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

"This is absolutely fascinating. I've seen probably at least three patients in the last 10 years or so" who might have had this, said Dr. Dennis Maki, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

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Good news from the bad drought: Gulf 'Dead Zone' smallest in years, says Texas A&M expert

The worst drought to hit the United States in at least 50 years does have one benefit: it has created the smallest "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico in years, says a Texas A&M University researcher who has just returned from gulf waters.

Oceanography professor Steve DiMarco, one of the world's leading authorities on the dead zone, says he and other Texas A&M researchers and graduate students analyzed the Gulf Aug. 15-21 and covered more than 1,200 miles of cruise track, from Texas to Louisiana. The team found no hypoxia off the Texas coast while only finding hypoxia near the Mississippi River delta on the Louisiana coast.

"We had to really hunt to find any hypoxia at all and Texas had none," he explains.

"The most severe hypoxia levels were found near Terrabonne Bay and Barataria Bay off the coast of southeast Louisiana.

"In all, we found about 1,580 square miles of hypoxia compared to about 3,400 square miles in August 2011. What has happened is that the drought has caused very little fresh-water runoff and nutrient load into the Gulf, and that means a smaller region for marine life to be impacted."

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Aug 28, 2012

Alternative fuels: Competition at the pump.

As the EPA’s regulations stand, it is illegal to convert existing petrol-driven cars to run on ethanol or methanol, or even battery power. Doing so invalidates their emissions certificates. But what if the EPA'S rigid cerification rules were relaxed in a way that allowed the engines in existing vehicles to be made less polluting?

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A high-tech hunt for Asian carp in Great Lakes yields conflicting evidence.

More than $100 million has been spent in a battle to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. The federal government says it is winning. But some DNA evidence shows that Asian carp may have already breached the barriers.

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Smoked Out...last week the tobacco companies won yet another court battle with the FDA, effectively blocking those stronger public health messages.

I took this photo at the Istanbul International Airport at the end of a recent family trip. I wanted to record a double-take moment. Not because  they sell cigarettes in the duty free shops in Turkey. But that the display was so dominated by warnings of death and poisonous consequences.

Came back to the United States to discover that, once again, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration efforts to strengthen tobacco warning labels here have been shot down. Under a 2009 law, the agency was given the power to replace the 25-year-old small text warnings with larger and more graphic images.  But last week the tobacco companies won yet another court battle with the FDA,  effectively blocking those stronger public health messages.

It’s frustrating to see other countries do so much better on this front, moving so firmly to try to better protect their citizens. The FDA’s proposed labels are more graphic than the tidy text boxes we know so well. But they’re not nearly as grisly as labels already approved  in countries like Australia. Still, as I’ve written before, no label really does justice to the misery of a tobacco-fueled death. I wrote about this more than a year ago, after  my mother-in-law died of cancer. But given the tobacco companies success in stalling off that message,  I’m going to tell it again here, just another reminder of why this really does matter.

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Trends in U.S. Military Spending - In 2011, military spending declined by almost $9 billion, the first such decline since 1998.

  • Sequestration scheduled to take effect in January promises about $55 billion in cuts to U.S. military spending, although the baseline against which these cuts will be made remains unclear.
  • The president's 2013 budget requests $728 billion in military spending. If this were used as the baseline, sequestration would mean a 7.5 percent reduction in military spending from the president's requested level in FY 2013.

U.S. National Defense Spending

  • In the post-Cold War world, the U.S. national defense budget has fluctuated within a relatively narrow band. It fell by about three percentage points of GDP as the nation reaped the peace dividend of the 1990s, then rose after the terrorist attacks of 2001.
  • President Obama's budget proposes cutting security spending to 3.7% of GDP in 2018. This would match the 2000 level and represent the lowest allocation of GDP to defense spending in the post-World War II era.

To put U.S. military spending in context, consider GDP and population shares as of 2011. The pie charts demonstrate that the United States accounts for a larger share of military spending than of either GDP or population, and would continue to even if military spending were to revert to 2000 levels as a percent of GDP.

Military Spending, GDP, and Population

If U.S. military spending were to revert to its 2000 level over the next five years, as President Obama has proposed, and the rest of the world were to continue spending the same portion of its GDP on the military, U.S. military spending as a share of the global total would decline sharply, to just under 30 percent.

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NTT Facilities' 'Solar UFO' Cleans Pond Water with PV Power

JFS/NTT Facilities' 'Solar UFO' Cleans Pond Water with PV Power
Photo Copyright NTT Facilities, Inc.

Solar UFO, floating on water, purifies the water using solar energy and does not emit any carbon dioxide. It has a floating disc-shaped body five meters in diameter, equipped with 1.3 kilowatt photovoltaic cells and also with filtering and aeration systems inside of the body. It can effectively manage the supply of photovoltaic power which varies with weather conditions and time of day, and by operating each system to be in the optimum condition it is expected to purify about 8,400 liters of water a day.

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Sea Ice in Arctic Measured at Record Low

Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found over the weekend that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is only slightly below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center, a government-sponsored research agency in Boulder, Colo., announced the findings on Monday in collaboration with NASA. The agency bases its numbers on a slightly conservative five-day moving average of sea ice extent. The amount of sea ice in summer has declined more than 40 percent since satellite tracking began in the late 1970s, a trend that most scientists believe is primarily a consequence of human activity.

Please continue reading at: The New York Times 

Children die mining the tin for your smartphone

Businessweek publishes a feature on the hazardous work performed by poor people on an island in Indonesia to mine "The Deadly Tin Inside Your Smartphone." Some of them are 15 and under.

Geothermal Heat Pump Air Conditioning System Launched

Corona Corp., a heating appliance and housing equipment manufacturer and
wholesaler in Japan, announced on April 9, 2012, the planned release of
GeoSIS, a geothermal heat pump air conditioning system by the end of
June 2012. The system uses heat stored in the ground for home heating
and cooling as the temperature in the ground is more stable than it is
in the air.

Aug 27, 2012

Nearly 1 In 5 Americans Have No Money To Put Food On The Table

...In 15 states, at least one in five Americans say they struggled to afford the food they needed at least once during the past 12 months. Nationwide, 18.2% of Americans so far in 2012 say there have been times when they could not afford the food they needed, on par with the 18.6% who had trouble affording food in 2011.

With nutritional food assistance benefits averaging of about $500 for a family in need, the 48.5 million Americans on food stamps and the additional 50 million receiving some other form of government welfare or safety net distribtion may soon find themselves in an even greater struggle.

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Waste Heat Recovery technology for ships; potential for 5–10% fuel savings

Green Car Congress: ...Opcon, in collaboration with Wallenius Marine, recently completed the first reference installation of its Waste Heat Recovery technology for ocean-going vessels in a project supported by the Swedish Energy Agency. (Earlier post.) The company has now received official approval from Lloyd’s Register for use at sea.

The Opcon systems generate electricity from low-value waste heat in the vessel’s steam and cooling system. The aim is to save fuel while reducing emissions of CO2, NOx, sulfur and particles. For this first reference installation aboard the Large Car-Truck Carrier (LCTC) MV Figaro, IMO 9505041, fuel savings are expected to be around 4-6%, but the potential in other installations is 5-10%, according to Opcon.

Opcon Powerbox ORC Marine version. Click to enlarge.

The 227.8-meter (747-foot), 74,258 gross tonnage Figaro, bult by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, can carry 7,879 cars or a combination of 3,508 cars and 432 buses. The main engine is a two-stroke MAN B&W 8S60ME-C8 electronically controlled directly reversible marine diesel with constant pressure supercharging and a maximum output of 19,040 kW (25,533 hp) at 105 rpm.

In a separate compartment of the engine room there are two 450 V, 60 Hz, 1,700 kW AC-generators installed each powered by a STX/MAN-B&W diesel engine, type 9SL21/31H. In addition the vessel is equipped with a 1,100 kW shaft generator and an emergency diesel generator with a capacity of 215 kW.

Behind this success lies some enormous hard work carried out to integrate these systems. This is a milestone in our efforts to adapt our pioneering technology for production of electricity from waste heat for use in marine applications. We will now fine-tune, test and verify the improvement in energy efficiency that this system offers in various operational scenarios at sea. By utilizing waste heat and recovering the energy, significant environmental gains can be made. Considering today’s oil prices and the efforts being made by the IMO, for example with the coming International Energy Efficiency Certificate (IEE), we believe that this product really has come at exactly the right time.

—Rolf Hasselström, President and CEO of Opcon AB

Opcon has developed two marine versions of its Powerbox:

  • Opcon Powerbox ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle), which enables utilization of low-value heat such as hot water in a vessel’s cooling system. Waste heat is used by a heat exchanger to vaporize a working fluid with a boiling point lower than water. The gas expands over an expander, which drives a generator to produce electricity. The fluid is then cooled, and a pump increases its pressure to 30 bar, and circulates it back through the first heat exchanger.

    The unit comprises a Lysholm turbine with a synchronous generator and auxiliary systems. The key factor in the ORC system is the reliable Lysholm turbine, developed by Opcon’s Svenska Rotor Maskiner (SRM

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Beryllium Oxide for Nuclear Fuel will enable 4% efficiency increase for uranium and 25% enhanced safety margin

The eff ect of the inclusion of BeO to the fuel pellets has been modelled. The system modelled kept the mass of uranium-235, the energy generating isotope, constant as compared to a normal pellet , but included 10% BeO by volume. The modelled results of this composition pellet are dramatic. At the simulated average power density, the temperature at the centerline of the pellet, the hottest point, was decreased by 200oC from 800oC to 600oC while keeping the surface temperature constant. This is crucial as it is the surface temperature of the pellets which determine their power output. Therefore, the same power is generated, but with a far lower centerline temperature than in a tradition UO2 fuel pellet. This reduces the likelyhood of cladding interaction as well as cracking of the pellets due to uneven thermal expansion. It also means that the average temperature of the pellet is reduced by approximately 100oC.

The fuel pellets, at a given amount of U-235, can last longer, requiring less frequent refueling, or the amount of U-235 could actually be decreased, allowing the same refueling schedule to be used. It is currently estimated that these improvements could directly lead to a 4% reduction in fuel consumption.

GE’s Tier 4 Locomotive Cuts Emissions ‘More than 70%’ · save customers more than $1.5 billion

GE Transportation has unveiled the prototype for its next-generation freight locomotive that it says will decrease emissions by more than 70 percent compared to 2005 engines and save railroad customers more than $1.5 billion in infrastructure and operational costs

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How methane becomes fish food

Methane is an organic carbon compound containing the fundamental building block of nearly all living material: carbon. It provides an important source of energy and nutrients for bacteria. Methane is produced in oxygen-free environments and is found in abundance at the bottom of lakes.

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Healthy lifestyle reduces risk of hypertension by two thirds

Healthy behaviors regarding alcohol, physical activity, vegetable intake and body weight reduce the risk of hypertension by two thirds, according to new research.

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Pesticides endanger bats

Bats are a highly threatened group of animals and many people are concerned with their conservation. The entire group of animals is protected in Europe. Therefore it is worrying that bats are not included in the EU-wide authorization procedures for plant protection products. A new study has revealed that pesticide contamination of their diet can lead to long-term effects in bats.

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Aug 26, 2012

Why we are on the brink of the greatest Depression of all time

Fox News...This time the results are going to be dramatically worse than 1929. This time we are facing The Greatest Depression ever.

Why? Because The Great Depression had NONE of the structural, economic, and social problems, nor the massive obligations we are now facing. Read the facts:

In 1929 America was not $16 trillion in debt, plus facing over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilitiesThat’s over $360,000 in debt per citizen. 

In 1929, most of our states were not bankrupt, insolvent and dependent on federal government handouts to survive. One county (Cook County which includes Chicago, Illinois) now owes over $108 billion in debt (the biggest part of it in unfunded government employee pensions). 

In 1929, we did not have 21 million government employees with bloated salaries, obscene pensions, and free health care for life. Today 1 out of 5 federal employees earn over $100,000.

Today, 77,000 federal employees earn more than the governors of their states.

Staggering numbers of federal government employees retire at a young age with $100,000 pensions for life.

Unfortunately on the state and local levels it’s even worse. There is now nearly $4 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities for state government employees. 

Protected by their unions and the politicians they elect, government employees are bankrupting America. In Illinois there are retired government employees making over $425,000 per year...

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Venezuela Ramps up China Oil Exports Unsettling Washington... U.S. oil prices in future will skyrocket

The biggest geostrategic change of the past decade overlooked by Washington policy wonks in their fixation on their self-proclaimed "war on terror" is that Latin America has been throwing off the shackles of the Monroe Doctrine.

These ignored developments may well soon refocus Washington's attention on the Southern Hemisphere, as Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez reorients his country's to China.

It is not an inconsiderable element of concern for the Obama administration. According to the U.S. Energy Administration, the United States total crude oil imports now average 9.033 million barrels per day, with the top five exporting countries being Canada (2.666 mbpd), Mexico (1.319 mbpd), Saudi Arabia (1.107 mbpd), with Venezuela in fourth place at 930 thousand barrels per day. Note that two of America's top four energy importers are south of the Rio Grande.

Furthermore, Venezuela's reserves according to OPEC now top those of Saudi Arabia, with Venezuela now estimated to have the largest conventional oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere. Two years ago OPEC reported that of the organization's 81.33 percent of the globe's known oil reserves Venezuela had 24.8 percent, exceeding Saudi Arabia with 22.2

So, why is Chavez in Washington's bad books? Well, among other reasons, for the company he keeps, as the Russian Federation, Iran and Cuba are all allies. Note that the first two are also major oil exporters.

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Aug 25, 2012

Glycerol additive makes cruise ships greener

A new additive based on glycerol helps reduce pollution in marine bunker fuel used in crui...

The bunker fuel used in cruise liners and freighters is some of the cheapest, crudest fuel available. It’s also among the dirtiest. Scientists from the Maine Maritime Academy and SeaChange Group LLC led by George N. Harakas, Ph.D announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that they have developed what they call "Bunker Green" fuel. This fuel uses an ingredient commonly used in food and medicine to reduce sulfur and other emissions in ocean vessels... Continue Reading Glycerol additive makes cruise ships greener

Aug 24, 2012

Obama's Budget to Add $4.4 Trillion to push Debt over $20 Trillion

Here's a chart illustrating the projected debt over the next four years:

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Infographic: When Dollars Stop Fatalities

Workinginthesetimes - New infographics from E-Training and Compliance and Safety show that as the U.S. budget for workplace safety continues to rise, the number of deaths dramatically falls. In 2010, the United States spent a then-high of $558 million dollars a year on workplace safety, and a record low of 4,600 workers died on the job.
The charts also make the very interesting case that raising the retirement age above the current 67 could be disaster, as workers over the age of 65 suffer fatal workplace accidents at nearly three times the rate of those between 55 and 64.

CBO | Addressing Market Barriers to Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Working Paper 2012-10

A large share of total U.S. energy consumption—40 percent—occurs in homes and buildings. Homes and buildings are less energy efficient than they would be if people could assess the value of energy savings more easily and correctly, and if energy prices provided them with stronger incentives to do so. This paper identifies three reasons why people undervalue energy savings: misperceived energy prices, imperfect information about energy efficiency, and biased reasoning about energy savings. The paper then examines four types of policy options for addressing those underlying market imperfections: prices that reflect the social costs of energy use, financial incentives, energy-efficiency standards, and better information about energy efficiency.Document 

Sea uranium extraction 'close to economic reality'

The Independent...Today, a report presented to a scientific meeting showed that fast progress is being made towards turning the oceans into a uranium reservoir.

Improvements to the extraction technology have almost halved production costs from around 560 dollars (£355) per pound of uranium to 300 dollars (£190).

Dr Robin Rogers, from the University of Alabama, told the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia: "Estimates indicate that the oceans are a mother lode of uranium, with far more uranium dissolved in seawater than in all the known terrestrial deposits that can be mined.

"The difficulty has always been that the concentration is just very, very low, making the cost of extraction high. But we are gaining on that challenge."

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Aug 23, 2012

JOB Posting - Environmental Compliance Consultant opportunity in Plymouth, WI. #jobs

Successful individual will have a minimum of 5 years exp in mfg or the consulting field with a Bachelor's degree in engineering or the sciences. Must have experience in environmental compliance areas applicable to small and medium sized mfgrs including air and air permitting, NESHAP requirements, wastewater, storm water, SPCC, SARA, solid and hazardous waste, and HAZWOPER. Knowledge of EMS, Green Tier and ISO 14000 IS A PLUS, as is knowledge and experience with SPCC AND FRP plans. This position has potential for increased responsibilities and career growth.

Interested candidates should e-mail recent resume to theresa(at) or call 920.207.5344

Batteries Made From World's Thinnest Material Could Power Tomorrow's Electric Cars

Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute made a sheet of paper from the world’s thinnest material, graphene, and then zapped the paper with a laser or camera flash to blemish it with countless cracks, pores, and other imperfections. The result is a graphene anode material that can be charged or discharged 10 times faster than conventional graphite anodes used in today’s lithium (Li)-ion batteries.

Rechargeable Li-ion batteries are the industry standard for mobile phones, laptop and tablet computers, electric cars, and a range of other devices. While Li-ion batteries have a high energy density and can store large amounts of energy, they suffer from a low power density and are unable to quickly accept or discharge energy. This low power density is why it takes about an hour to charge your mobile phone or laptop battery, and why electric automobile engines cannot rely on batteries alone and require a supercapacitor for high-power functions such as acceleration and braking.

The Rensselaer research team, led by nanomaterials expert Nikhil Koratkar, sought to solve this problem and create a new battery that could hold large amounts of energy but also quickly accept and release this energy. Such an innovation could alleviate the need for the complex pairing of Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors in electric cars, and lead to simpler, better-performing automotive engines based solely on high-energy, high-power Li-ion batteries. Koratkar and his team are confident their new battery, created by intentionally engineering defects in graphene, is a critical stepping stone on the path to realizing this grand goal. Such batteries could also significantly shorten the time it takes to charge portable electronic devices from phones and laptops to medical devices used by paramedics and first responders.

“Li-ion battery technology is magnificent, but truly hampered by its limited power density and its inability to quickly accept or discharge large amounts of energy. By using our defect-engineered graphene paper in the battery architecture, I think we can help overcome this limitation,” said Koratkar, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer. “We believe this discovery is ripe for commercialization, and can make a significant impact on the development of new batteries and electrical systems for electric automobiles and portable electronics applications.” Results of the study were published this week by the journal ACS Nano in the paper “Photo-thermally reduced graphene as high power anodes for lithium ion batteries.”

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Reducing radiation exposure 74.8% through increasing use of dose-saving measures and evolving scanner technology.

 Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) radiation doses were reduced 74.8% through increasing use of dose-saving measures and evolving scanner technology. The American Journal of Medicine

CBO - Federal budget deficit for 2012 $1.1 trillion, taking 7.3% of (GDP) while unemployment will stay above 8%

For fiscal year 2012 (which ends on September 30), the federal budget deficit will total $1.1 trillion, CBO estimates, marking the fourth year in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion. That projection is down slightly from the $1.2 trillion deficit that CBO projected in March. At 7.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), this year’s deficit will be three-quarters as large as the deficit in 2009 when measured relative to the size of the economy. Federal debt held by the public will reach 73 percent of GDP by the end of this fiscal year—the highest level since 1950 and about twice the share that it measured at the end of 2007, before the financial crisis and recent recession.

CBO expects the economic recovery to continue at a modest pace for the remainder of calendar year 2012, with real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growing at an annual rate of about 2¼ percent in the second half of the year, compared with a rate of about 1¾ percent in the first half. The unemployment rate will stay above 8 percent for the rest of the year, CBO estimates, and the rate of inflation in consumer prices will remain low.

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Inside the military's multibillion-dollar push for renewables


The military's goal? To become more energy independent.

“By diversifying our installation energy sources to include sustainable, reliable energy, we improve our ability to fulfill our mission during energy interruptions and to better manage price volatility,” said Katherine Hammack, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army for installations, energy & environment.

Plans are underway for the Army, Navy and Air Force to each deploy 1 GW of renewable energy on U.S. bases by 2025, an effort announced in April. The 3 GW goal is tied to a 2007 DOD initiative to source 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025.

It’s one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, according to the White House.

Three gigawatts are equivalent to the amount needed to power 750,000 homes, said Hammack.

The military will purchase the power generated through privately owned solar, wind, geothermal or biomass facilities under power purchase agreements.

Companies can build their facilities on military bases or on some of the 16 million acres of military land recently opened for renewable energy development. They will be expected to own and maintain the facilities, as well as arrange private sector financing for its construction and operation.

One aim of the effort is to develop energy security on U.S. military bases, according to DOD spokeswoman Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan.

"Together with smart microgrid and storage technologies, renewable and other forms of on-site energy will allow a military base to maintain its critical operations 'off-grid' for weeks or months if necessary,” said Morgan.

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Cleanup Underway at Site of North Dakota Oil Well Blowout with OSHA investigating tragic death of a worker on site

WILLISTON, N.D. — Cleanup crews baled contaminated vegetation, scraped away affected soil and power washed equipment Monday after an oil well blowout south of here that sprayed oil and salt water into nearby fields.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a worker who was struck by a pickup as a worker drove it away from the spewing oil.

The blowout, which sprayed 400 barrels of oil and 400 barrels of produced water used for hydraulic fracturing, is not believed to have contaminated water sources, said Kris Roberts, an environmental geologist with the North Dakota Department of Health Division of Water Quality.

However, the cleanup contractor expanded the perimeter of the affected area because workers were seeing vegetation that was wilting and turning brown, Roberts said. The area that was most heavily affected is estimated to be about 30 to 40 acres. A mist of oil and salt water is believed to have extended no further than a mile in opposite directions of the well, affecting crop and pasture land.

Go to the Full Story at Jamestown Sun

Washington state: Possible radioactive leak at Hanford tank farm -

A 3-foot-long piece of radioactive material has been found between the inner and outer steel walls of one of the storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, prompting new worries at the troubled cleanup site.

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Solar Shingles Made from Common Metals Offer Cheaper Energy Option

U.S. scientists say that emerging photovoltaic technologies will enable the production of solar shingles made from abundantly available elements rather than rare-earth metals, an innovation that would make 

The Consumption Conundrum:
Driving the Destruction Abroad

The Consumption Conundrum: Driving the Destruction Abroad
High-tech products increasingly make use of rare metals, and mining those resources can have devastating environmental consequences. But two experts look at the consequences of blocking projects like the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska.
solar energy cheaper and more sustainable. Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, a team of researchers described advances in solar cells made with abundant metals, such as copper and zinc. While the market already offers solar shingles that convert the sun’s energy into electricity, producers typically must use elements that are scarce and expensive, such as indium and gallium. According to Harry A. Atwater, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, recent tests suggest that materials like zinc phosphide and copper oxide could be capable of producing electricity at prices competitive with coal-fired power plants within two decades.