Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lord Browne calls for climate agency

January 29 2008

BP'S former chief executive, Lord Browne of Madingley, has called for the creation of an international climate agency with the power to force national governments to tackle carbon emissions.

In a speech last night, he said the agency was essential to help deal with two of the greatest challenges mankind has faced - energy security and climate change.

Lord Browne said that in an uncertain world of competing interests it was necessary to have "fixed points" to navigate the "swirling currents" and Europe, which has taken the lead on trying to tackle CO2 pollution, "has the credibility to be a leader in international negotiations".

Lord Browne positioned BP as a "green" company long before it became fashionable.

Now the managing partner in Europe for Riverstone, which invests in power and energy projects, the former BP boss returned to the green theme in a keynote lecture at the European Business School, in London.

Europe needed a common energy policy, he said, but this should include a "stronger, more flexible and cross-border electricity grid [which] would make the delivery of power in Europe far more efficient, reducing overall consumption and lowering costs." He criticised the lack of "clear, unbiased data" on energy matters and "cumbersome planning laws" within Europe. "Common standards will be critical," Lord Browne said.

Europe's lead on climate change will be key in persuading the rest of the world. "As a global first mover on climate change targets, the EU has the credibility to be a leader in international negotiations...

"This is critical. I believe addressing climate change will be impossible without a new international climate change agency: an organisation with the power to lay down and enforce terms on national governments," he said. More >>>

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Climate change Vs War in Iraq

Compare Bush‘s $2 billion contribution to the climate change fund to the cost of war in Iraq.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will commit $2 billion over the next three years for a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, President George W. Bush will tell Congress on Monday in his annual State of the Union speech.

"Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources," Bush said in excerpts of his speech released by the White House. More >>>

[To date the Cost of U.S. War and Occupation of Iraq has cost $489,646,132,314.

Is there something wrong with this picture? Editor]

Monday, January 28, 2008

Act before its too late: Tick Tick Tick

In Hot Water: Ice Age Defrosted by Warming Ocean, Not Rise in CO2

Warmer waters in the deep Pacific triggered the end of the last ice age, preceding the rise in greenhouse gas levels

Earth's climate can be sensitive, changing after a variety of events. A volcanic eruption or meteorite impact, for instance, can send enough particles into the air to block the sun and cool the climate. A thickening blanket of greenhouse gases can trap heat. And, more commonly, according to some scientists, slight changes in Earth's orientation toward the sun can cause it to cool or warm in so-called Milankovitch cycles (named after the Serbian engineer who first described them). Now, new evidence from a marine sediment core from the deep Pacific points to warmer ocean waters around Antarctica (in sync with the Milankovitch cycle)—not greenhouse gases—as the culprit behind the thawing of the last ice age. More >>>

PepsiCo Foundation makes $6 Million grant for water sustainability

January 22, 2008

PepsiCo Foundation announces major new grant to the Earth Institute at Columbia University to promote global water sustainability

January 22 – Projects designed to address the emerging challenges of global water scarcity received a $6 million boost today with the announcement of a new grant from the PepsiCo Foundation to the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Targeted solutions towards more efficient water use and sustainable supply development will be explored in critical settings in India, Brazil, China and several countries in Africa. The grant demonstrates how private companies can work with academic institutions to practice sustainable development and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals -- eight globally endorsed targets that seek to help the world's poor including halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

"Water is at the core of economic development and human well being," said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute. "With water there can be productive agriculture, good nutrition, sanitation, and health. Without water there is only poverty and disease. Yet water is under unprecedented stress, from inadequate farm practices, climate change, population pressures, and pollution. New technologies, new business strategies, and new public policies can overcome the growing water crisis. Our new project and partnership will help to develop and demonstrate the best options for future years in the Americas, Africa, and Asia." More >>>

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Big business says addressing climate change 'rates very low on agenda'

Poll of 500 major firms reveals that only one in 10 regard global warming as a priority

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies, despite world leaders' hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week.

Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates.

[Whether this attitude is in the corporate best interest from the point of view of long term financial viability or corporate social responsibility is questionable to say the least. Editor]

More >>>

The Aquaduct: Mobile Water Filtration Vehicle

The Aquaduct is pedal powered vehicle that transports, filters, and stores water for the developing world. A peristaltic pump attached to the pedal crank draws water from a large tank, through a filter, to a smaller clean tank. The clean tank is removable and closed for contamination-free home storage and use. A clutch engages and disengages the drive belt from the pedal crank, enabling the rider to filter the water while traveling or while stationary.

The Aquaduct is the winning entry in the Innovate or Die contest put on by Google and Specialized. The contest challenge was to build a pedal powered machine that has environmental impact. Please see the website ( for more details.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

World Leaders Fortify Commitments to Environment

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 25, 2008 (ENS) - Economic, scientific, and political leaders and entertainers pledged hundreds of millions of dollars and moral support to environmental causes ranging from clean water and climate change to a modern green farming revolution as the World Economic Forum wound up its annual meeting in Davos today.

More than 2,500 participants from 88 countries attended this year's annual forum, including 27 heads of state or government. Around 60 percent of the participants are business leaders drawn from the Forum's members - 1,000 large companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

Today, leaders vowed to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty by redoubling support for the United Nations' Millenium Development Goals, MDGs. Aimed at reducing poverty by 2015, one of the goals is to ensure that 70 million more people are afforded improved access to clean water. More >>>

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hurricanes and global warming devastate Caribbean coral reefs

Storm damage from waves and death of vital algae likely to become more common, report warns

Warmer seas and a record hurricane season in 2005 have devastated more than half of the coral reefs in the Caribbean, according to scientists. In a report published yesterday, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) warned that this severe damage to reefs would probably become a regular event given current predictions of rising global temperatures due to climate change.

According to the report, 2005 was the hottest year on average since records began and had the most hurricanes ever recorded in a season. Large hotspots in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico powered strong tropical hurricanes such as Katrina, which developed into the most devastating storm ever to hit the US.

In addition to the well-documented human cost, the storms damaged coral by increasing the physical strength of waves and covering the coast in muddy run-off water from the land. The higher sea temperature also caused bleaching, in which the coral lose the symbiotic algae they need to survive. The reefs then lose their colour and become more susceptible to death from starvation or disease. More >>>

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Keep climate change on agenda, pleads IPCC

    Rajendra Pachauri pleads with World Economic Forum to remember climate change. 24 Jan 2008,

    DAVOS: The head of the UN's Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change warned on Wednesday that fears about the world economy could put climate change issues in the shade.

    Global warming is a key theme at this year's meeting of the world's business and political elite in Davos, but fears of a US recession and plummeting global stock markets risk overshadowing it.

    "I do realise that there are concerns about recent financial phenomenon that appear to dominate everybody's attention at this point in time, but ... the kind of decision making power here should not lose sight of the reality of climate change," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri told reporters.

    The first day of the 38th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Wednesday saw debate about the global economy dominate amid volatility on world stock markets owing to fears of a US recession. More >>>

    Unilateral behaviour that can no longer be condoned.

    US Censors Arctic Scientists’ Findings as it Prepares for Oil and Gas Auction

    The United States has blocked the release of a landmark assessment of oil and gas activity in the Arctic as it prepares to sell off exploration licences for the frozen Chukchi Sea off Alaska, one of the last intact habitats of the polar bear.

    Scientists at the release of the censored report in Norway said there was “huge frustration” that the US had derailed a science-based effort to manage the race for the vast energy reserves of the Arctic.

    The long-awaited assessment was meant to bring together work by scientists in all eight Arctic nations to give an up-to-date picture of oil and gas exploitation in the high north. In addition to that it was supposed to give policy makers a clear set of recommendations on how to extract safely what are thought to be up to one quarter of the world’s energy reserves.

    Speaking yesterday from Tromso, one of the report’s lead authors, who asked not to be named, said: “They [the US] have blocked it. We have no executive summary and no plain language conclusions.” More >>>

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Trees And Grass May Be Able To Produce Ethanol Without Poisoning The Oceans

    While poplar and aspen are fast-growing trees well suited to the North and Midwest, Dr. Gopi Podila says there are trees that will grow just as fast in the Southeast, including native southern poplar and sweet gum.
    Jan 22, 2008
    Within five to seven years fast growing trees and grasses might become economically viable alternatives to corn as a source of renewable fuel ethanol, reducing the need for pollutants that now cause a massive "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.

    "Ethanol from cellulose, whether from trees or other sources, will be the way to go in the very near future," says Dr. Gopi Podila, a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) biologist who has been conducting research on high-yield trees for more than a decade. "Trees are cheaper to raise than corn, have a competitive yield and they don't need as much of the fertilizers that are causing all of the problems in the Gulf. "These trees also offer the U.S. a realistic option for producing enough renewable energy to make a meaningful dent in fossil fuel imports." More>>>

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Barroso plea on climate change

    Fight against climate change a business opportunity 21 January 2008

    President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso is set to urge companies to treat the fight against climate change as a business opportunity and not a burden. He will use a speech in London to insist on the need to "incentivise the saving of the planet".
    The call comes ahead of Wednesday's unveiling by Mr Barroso in Brussels of tough news greenhouse gas emission limits - including a controversial demand on Britain to increase its use of renewable energy six-fold by 2020.

    Mr Barroso knows a backlash from business across Europe could scupper the Commission's determination to meet climate change targets the EU pledged at the Bali global summit on the environment last year. Now Brussels wants to spread the message that tackling the issue head-on offers big benefits to business.
    The climate change agenda is a "business opportunity", Mr Barroso will tell about 240 business leaders at an environment conference organised by American investment bank Lehman Brothers.

    We must all contribute to being energy efficient

    A Big Drop In Emissions Is Possible With Today's Technology. Monday, January 21, 2008

    You can flip off your widescreen TV with the remote control. Power down your computer to standby. Unplug your cellphone from its charger. But as you leave the room, the "wall warts" -- those small boxes plugged into the wall sockets that power your electronics -- stare with glowing diode eyes in accusation: You are still using power.

    In homes and offices everywhere, the power drained by idle electronics adds up to what Andy Williams says is a substantial waste.
    Williams is vice president of a company called On Semiconductor. Using more efficient components and design, his company and others make devices that sharply cut the energy appetite of the "wall warts," both on standby and in use. He sees this as a key path to the future that will cut energy use and help curb global warming by ingenious use of technology.
    Florida Public Service Commission Energy Saving Page
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    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    A preview of climate change for China?

    Yangtze hit by drought in China 17 January 2008

    China is facing its worst drought in a decade, with water in parts of the Yangtze River at the lowest level in 142 years, state media has reported.

    Millions of people were short of water, and dozens of ships had run aground in the river since October, reports said.
    Officials said low water levels in the Yangtze were not linked to construction of the massive Three Gorges Dam.
    China faces droughts and floods annually but has seen a recent increase in extreme weather conditions.
    In the major Yangtze port city of Hankou, water levels fell to 13.98m (46ft) in early January - the lowest level since records began in 1866, China Daily said, citing local media "This year's drought is rare," the daily quoted a local farmer as saying.
    "Just days ago, I saw ship after ship running aground. I have never seen that before." More>>>

    Saturday, January 19, 2008

    Climate change is one of history's the greatest security challenges, says think tank study

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Nov 2, 2007. Climate change could be one of the greatest national security challenges ever faced by U.S. policy makers, raising the threat of dramatic migrations, wars over water and resources, and a realignment of power among nations, said a joint study by two U.S. think tanks.

    Over the last two decades, climate scientists have underestimated how quickly the Earth is changing — perhaps to avoid being branded as "alarmists," the study said. But policy planners should count on climate-induced instability in critical parts of the world within 30 years, it said.

    The report by a panel of security and climate specialists, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, will be released in Washington on Monday. The Associated Press received an advance copy. More >>>

    Climate change is likely to breed new conflicts, but it already is magnifying existing problems, from the desertification of Darfur and competition for water in the Middle East to the disruptive monsoons in Asia which increase the pressure for land, the report said.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    San Francisco Mayor Issues Roadmap to a Greener City

    SAN FRANCISCO, California, January 17, 2008 (ENS) - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Tuesday released SForward, the roadmap to achieve his environmental goal of a 20 percent decrease in emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide below 1990 levels by 2010.The plan also aims to achieve carbon neutrality for city government by 2020.

    SForward incorporates the environmental goals, programs and strategies of all key city departments, including the Public Utilities Commission, Municipal Transportation Authority, Department of Public Works, and the Recreation and Parks Department. "San Francisco's environmental future is already unfolding," said Mayor Newsom. "When fully realized, the San Francisco of the future will be a place where words like 'green' and 'sustainable' are meaningless, because it will simply be understood that any action includes best practices for the environment." More >>>

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Lifestyle changes can curb climate change: IPCC chief

    15 January 2008

    PARIS (AFP) — Don't eat meat, ride a bike, and be a frugal shopper -- that's how you can help brake global warming, the head of the United Nation's Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change (Rajendra Pachauri - above) said Tuesday.

    The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued last year, highlights "the importance of lifestyle changes," said Rajendra Pachauri at a press conference in Paris.

    "This is something that the IPCC was afraid to say earlier, but now we have said it."

    A vegetarian, the Indian economist made a plea for people around the world to tame their carnivorous impulses. "Please eat less meat -- meat is a very carbon intensive commodity," he said, adding that consuming large quantities was also bad for one's health.

    Studies have shown that producing one kilo (2.2 pounds) of meat causes the emissions equivalent of 36.4 kilos of carbon dioxide. More >>>

    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Antarctic ice sheet shrinking at faster rate

    January 13, 2008 at 1:00 PM EST

    One of the biggest worries about global warming has been its potential to affect the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet, a vast storehouse of frozen water that would inundate the world's coastal regions if it were to melt because of a warming climate.

    The southern continent contains enough ice to raise ocean levels by about 60 metres, a deluge that would put every major coastal city in the world deep under water and uproot hundreds of millions of people.

    The huge implications posed by the health of the ice sheet have prompted major scientific interest into whether it is growing, shrinking, or stable, with no clear consensus among researchers about its overall trend.

    But a new study released today, based on some of the most extensive measurements to date of the continent's ice mass, presents a worrisome development: Antarctica's ice sheet is shrinking, at a rate that increased dramatically from 1996 to 2006. More >>>

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Human Activities Endangering Caribbean Coral Reefs

    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Canada, January 9, 2008 (ENS) - Coral reefs in the Caribbean are being degraded by human activities - coastal development, fishing, pollution, and agricultural land use - according to a new study of 322 sites across 13 countries throughout the region.

    "The continuing degradation of coral reefs may be soon beyond repair, if threats are not identified and rapidly controlled," said author Camilo Mora at Dalhousie University, Halifax. "In the Caribbean alone, these losses are endangering a large number of species, from corals to sharks, and jeopardizing over four billion dollars in services worth from fisheries, tourism and coastal protection."

    "The future of coral reefs in the Caribbean and the services they provide to a growing human population depend on how soon countries in the region become seriously committed to regulating human threats," Mora said. More >>>

    Healthy corals near Puerto
    Rico (Photo courtesy CCRI)

    Drought-Hit Cyprus Eyes Water Imports

    CYPRUS: January 10, 2008

    NICOSIA - Drought-stricken Cyprus may import water from Greece to cover a shortage that has forced the government to ration supplies to farmers, its agriculture minister said on Wednesday. The Mediterranean island has seen little rainfall this winter, marking the fourth consecutive year of drought. Reservoirs are less than 10 percent full.
    The decision to bring water in sea tankers from the Greek island of Crete would depend on the weather over the next two months, but the outlook for rain was not promising, Agriculture Minister Photis Photiou said.
    "It's January 9. It's supposed to be winter, and it feels like summer," he told Reuters.

    "It is not an easy job (to import water). We looked at this option seven or eight years ago and the costs at the time were very high. Some problems in that respect have now been solved."
    Water shortages have triggered rationing for farmers, and cuts could also be considered to households if the situation does not improve by April, he said. More >>>

    Wednesday, January 9, 2008

    EU, World Bank eye loan for climate change fight

    Wed 9 Jan 2008,

    BRUSSELS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The European Union and the World Bank are discussing raising a major long-term loan to help poorest countries fund essential measures to combat climate change, the EU's development chief said on Wednesday.
    Industrialised countries would borrow the money on the international capital markets and advance it to developing states to help reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and protect them from environmental damage, Development Commissioner Louis Michel told reporters. The size of the fund had not yet been discussed but it could involve the "colossal sums" needed to help poor countries fight against global warming, he said. "I don't agree to use existing development funds to finance the fight against climate change in the least developed countries," Michel said. "My aim is to create a global loan with the World Bank -- we are working with (World Bank President) Bob Zoellick -- to help the LDCs (Least Developed Countries) fight climate change."
    Michel said rich countries would reimburse the loan over a long period, and some of that funding could be raised from the private sector through taxation or other levies. The EU wants to position itself in the vanguard of the fight against global warming and its impact. More >>>

    Japan sees temperatures up 4.7 C on global warming

    January 9 2008

    TOKYO (Reuters) - The average temperature in Japan could rise by up to 4.7 degrees Celsius (8.5 Fahrenheit) this century unless steps are taken to combat global warming, the Environment Ministry said on Wednesday.

    Japan, the world's second-biggest economy, could face a rise in the average temperature of 1.3-4.7 C (2.3-8.5 F) in the 2070-2099 period from levels registered in 1961-1990, the ministry said in a report.

    The rise in temperatures could boost rainfall in Japan by up to 16.4 percent, the report said.

    A panel of experts set up by the ministry will analyze the possible impact of rising temperatures and produce an outline in May of steps Japan could take to combat it.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected a "best estimate" last February that world temperatures would rise by 1.8 to 4.0 C (3.2-7.2 F) this century. More >>>

    Monday, January 7, 2008

    Global Warming Hits China

    8 January 2008

    There are few more startling embodiments of climate change than the current health of China's largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake, in the pic southeastern province of Jiangxi. As is now customary in discussions involving global warming, the following statistics are liable to alarm.

    The surface area of Poyang Lake has shrunk to 50 square kilometers from its peak of more than 3,000 during the summer--it is 1.67% of its size six months ago. Some perspective is needed. A spectacular fluctuation in the lake's area from the summer flood season to the winter dry period has long been commonplace.

    However, the Jiangxi hydrological bureau reported that the area of the lake last winter was 300 to 500 square kilometers, up to 10 times larger than this year's figure. The lake's title would seem to require a caveat: China's largest freshwater lake-- in July. More >>>

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008

    Declining Water Levels In The Great Lakes May Signal Global Warming

    ScienceDaily (Jan. 1, 2008) — Researchers in Michigan report new evidence that water levels in the Great Lakes, which are near record low levels, may be shrinking due to global warming. Their study, which examines water level data for Lakes Michigan and Huron over more than a century.
    In the new study, Craig Stow and colleagues point out that water levels in the Great Lakes, which supply drinking water to more than 40 million U.S. and Canadian residents, have fluctuated over thousands of years. But recent declines in water levels have raised concern because the declines are consistent with many climate change projections, they say. More>>>

    Dependence on pulses, oil imports jeopardises food security: NCF

    New Delhi (PTI): National Commission on Farmers on Tuesday warned that increased dependence on imports of pulses and edible oils is threatening food security of the country and asked the government to take steps to raise farm output.

    Currently, the yield levels of crops like pulses and oilseeds have remained stagnated and as a result, the country's dependence on imports has also risen in the recent months.

    "The increased dependency on imports of pulses and edible oils is threatening food security of the country and the government needs to take steps to increase the agricultural output," Father of India's Green Revolution and Chairman of National Commission on Farmers M S Swaminathan told PTI in an e-mailed interview. More>>>

    Tuesday, January 1, 2008

    In move towards food security China imposes export tax on grains

    China to slap export taxes on grains as prices soar

    by Staff Writers
    Beijing (AFP) Dec 30, 2007
    China said on Sunday it will levy taxes on grain exports in 2008 in the latest move apparently aimed at reining in galloping inflation and ensuring stable domestic food supplies.

    The rates would range from five to 25 percent, according to a brief announcement posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance.

    The move goes even further than one China announced just two weeks ago, when it said it would eliminate export tax rebates on 84 categories of grain and grain products. More >>>