Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dear Devoted Reader

A visitor from a Verizon IPS recently spent the better part of a day reading posts on this log.  Please e-mail me -- I'd love to know what you thought. 

June 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

9th Circuit Clashes Over Application of ESA to Approval of Arizona's NPDES Program

The 9th Circuit denied rehearing en banc yesterday in Defenders of Wildlife, a case in which the 9th Circuit panel had concluded that EPA must conduct section 7 consultation regarding approval of Arizona's NPDES program.  The order contains a fascinating clash of Berzon (who authored the panel opinion) against Kozinski and Kleinfeld (who author damning dissents to the denial of rehearing en banc.  DOW.pdf  HT Ross Runkel

June 10, 2006 in Biodiversity, Cases, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, US, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 9, 2006

Clean Development Mechanism Reduces CO2 by 1 Billion Tons

 

The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism has reportedly produced 1 billion tons of emissions reductions (by 2012) thus far. The CDM allows industrialized countries to generate emission credits through investment in emission reductions projects in developing countries.  The one billion tonne mark in emission reductions corresponds to the present annual emissions of Spain and the United Kingdom combined. 

A list of registered projects can be found on the UNFCCC site registered CDM projects along with a great interactive map that allows you to get information on all CDM projects in the pipeline.CDM Project Map 

As with all marketable pollution right systems, key issues remain:

the integrity of baseline emissions inventories and monitoring -- For example, the EUs emission targets were apparently manipulated by industry so they could sell excess credits (1 - 4 %) garnering increased profits for power companies of 15 - 25%.  IHT reported:

The European Commission admitted (on May 15, 2006) that member states had given companies far too generous targets for greenhouse gas emissions last year, raising questions about the Continent's ability to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and triggering chaos in Europe's embryonic market in trading emissions credits. The revelations, some of which had been leaked earlier in the month, prompted Germany and Britain to call for stricter European quotas for greenhouse gas emissions in the years ahead. Although companies polluted less than expected, the move by Germany and Britain indicated that the level of Europe's carbon dioxide emissions was still too high to meet the goals set out by the Kyoto agreement among countries to fight global warming. Europe's market to trade carbon dioxide credits was shaken Friday when the news was leaked in a posting on the commission's Web site. Governments use the market, which opened in January 2005, to curb industrial pollution by allocating permits limiting the amount of carbon dioxide countries can release into the atmosphere. Companies can trade the permits, selling credits they do not need or buying extra ones if they exceed their quotas...Germany said it would cut the number of credits it had handed out, a controversial move that is being opposed in court by the European Union.  Europe's market for trading these credits was worth $10 billion in 2005, and may grow to as much as $30 billion in 2006, the World Bank estimates. Its success, analysts say, is crucial to reaching the Kyoto Protocol goals. "Trading is the only way to reduce emissions economically and efficiently," said Louis Redshaw, head of environmental products at Barclays Capital.  In recent weeks, though, the market has attracted calls for a swift overhaul from participants, environmentalists and governments alike. At the heart of the complaints: Information that filtered out to the market beginning with the Netherlands on April 25 showed that countries had far lower carbon emissions than the market had budgeted for. The European Commission's official figures, released Monday, showed that 21 of the 25 member states produced 44.1 million tons less carbon dioxide, or 2.5 percent less, in 2005 than expected. Taken at face value, this should be good news: After all, lowering carbon dioxide is the goal. But many in the market say the reverse is true: Governments, under pressure from industry, have overestimated the amount of carbon dioxide credits their companies need, making it possible for companies to sell them at a profit.  So far, the permit market appears to have done more for the balance sheets of power companies than for pollution control. The permits, which started trading at about €9, or $11, in January 2005, peaked at €30 last month and have raised the revenues of power companies in the EU 15 percent to 25 percent, according to Point Carbon, a consulting firm specializing in energy markets and emissions trading based in Oslo.  "The electricity sector has had a very good year," said Kristian Tanger, research director at Point Carbon, adding that most improvements in energy efficiency in the past year were unrelated to the trading system. If several countries emitted fewer gases than expected it was because governments had handed out 1 percent to 4 percent more permits than industry had required, Tanger said. One explanation is that the emissions market is unique in terms of the sway governments hold over it. They determine how much their countries get to pollute and which industries get how many permits.  So the fact that European countries have hit, or even come in under, their targets is by no means an indication that they will meet the obligations for emission cuts set in the Kyoto Protocol, he said. "Most countries are off track when it comes to Kyoto," Tanger said. Environmental activists and agencies argue that the recently released year-end figures show that most European governments are more interested in protecting their companies than in reducing carbon emissions. "Governments have been cheated by the big industries, which gave them the wrong assumptions for their emissions," said Stephen Singer, head of the European climate and energy policy unit of the World Wildlife Fund.  François Loos, France's industry minister, disputed this, but said that he and his counterparts from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were working on a proposal for the commission that would avoid carbon prices driving electricity prices - and profits of power companies - higher. The proposal will be submitted in June, he said.  Meanwhile, the banks, brokers, hedge funds and traders that jumped into the rapidly growing market for trading carbon emission credits complain that the big difference between what countries estimated they would use and what they actually used unfairly skews the market. International Herald Tribune

what projects count -- For example, current projects are heavily weighted toward  HFC destruction.  The UN CDM chief opposes funding the destruction of a super-greenhouse gas and byproduct of air conditioning, HFC 23, which has nearly 12,000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).  His comments could worry the emerging carbon market, however, which saw 58 percent of $2.5 billion CDM investment last year directed into HFC projects, which investors like because of the high multiple pollution cuts they yield compared to CO2. Reuters CDM article  Some countries are also trying to claim credit for forests that they do not cut.

distribution of impacts -- Given the global impact of greenhouse gases, the problem is not distribution of costs, but rather distribution of benefits.  The United Nations Climate Change Secretariat today claimed that there is some progress towards a "slightly more equitable geographic distribution of the projects. In Africa, there are currently 27 activities in the CDM pipeline of which 5 have been registered. This constitutes a five-fold growth within a year. More than 800 projects are presently in the pipeline, of which 210 are registered and another 58 are requesting registration. Last year, only around 140 activities were registered or being considered for registration." UNFCCC press release  But even a quick glance at the CDM project map reveals an African continent with virtually no projects (red, orange, or yellow dots) compared to the multitude of projects in Central America, South America, Southern Asia, and Southeast Asia.

June 9, 2006 in Climate Change, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Law, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Genetic Argument for Diversity: Oddballs Survive Better so that Populations Remain Diverse

Link: : ScienceShots.

Why do populations remain diverse? According some evolutionary theorists, it's because oddballs often enjoy advantages over their run-of-the-mill mates. A study of wild guppies now supports that idea. Biologists collected guppies from puddles in a forest in Trinidad and then redistributed them so that each puddle contained a small minority of males with color patterns very different from the rest. Sure enough, those outsiders were more likely to survive the next 2 weeks, the researchers report 31 May in Nature. They propose that predators, such as the killifish, may focus on the dominant color patterns and overlook the exceptions.

June 9, 2006 in Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Science of Global Warming: Evolutionary Response to Rapid Climate Change is Occurring Too Slowly

Link: Evolutionary Response to Rapid Climate Change

Bradshaw and Holzapel have reviewed the literature on evolutionary responses to seasonal and thermal changes associated with global warming.  They indicate that animals are responding to seasonal changes with both adaptive behavior and genetic changes:

The effects of rapid climate warming have penetrated to the level of the gene in a diverse group of organisms. These genetic changes in populations affect the timing of major life history events: when to develop, when to reproduce, when to enter dormancy, and when to migrate. Small animals with short life cycles and large population sizes will probably adapt to longer growing seasons and be able to persist; however, populations of many large animals with longer life cycles and smaller population sizes will experience a decline in population size or be replaced by more southern species. Questions remain about the relative rates of environmental and evolutionary change.  But it is clear that unless the long-term magnitude of rapid climate change is widely acknowledged and effective steps are taken to mitigate its effects, natural communities with which we are familiar will cease to exist

June 9, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bird Flu Blues: Wild Birds Contribute but Commercial Poultry Trade is Main Culprit

Link: Wild Birds Only Partly to Blame in Spreading H5N1

Science reports that the Rome FAO meeting of experts studying the H5N1 avian influenza epidemic reached a consensus: Wild birds play a role in the virus's huge geographic jumps, but the main means of transmission is the commercial poultry trade.

June 9, 2006 in Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

French Investigate Chernobyl "Cover-up"

Link: Twenty Years After Chornobyl, Legal Fallout Lingers

In another round of the nuclear power debate in France, a French court has begun an investigation of the French government's response to Chernobyl, amidst allegations that the former head of the French nuclear safety agency minimized dangers and the government therefore failed to take precautions such as banning produce from affected areas,

June 9, 2006 in EU | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

This Could Be Really Big News: Sulfur Scrubbing Made Easy

Link: Sulfur .

Robert Service reports in Science on a new sulfur scrubbing technology that may make fuel cells a practical reality and clean up coal gasification plants:

Fuel cells and coal-burning plants may seem worlds apart technologically, but they share a common enemy: sulfur. Even a trace of it in the hydrogen gas that feeds fuel cells will poison the catalysts that convert hydrogen into electricity. Next-generation coal plants that will convert coal into a hydrogen-rich gas must also remove sulfur before the gas can be transformed into liquid fuels or used in fuel cells. Current technologies for capturing sulfur have made some progress, but often at a high cost. Now, new work with compounds called rare earth oxides could shift sulfur removal--and energy-generating technologies potentially stymied by sulfur--into high gear...Chemical engineer Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos and colleagues at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, report turning a type of ceramic powder into a chemical sponge that quickly sops up sulfur and then can be "wrung out" and reused over and over...The need for a cheap way to remove sulfur from fuel gases has spurred engineers for decades. In many countries, coal-fired electric plants are required to install smokestack scrubbers to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, a chief component of acid rain. And many developers would like to be able to use a wide range of hydrocarbon fuels as a feedstock for generating the molecular hydrogen that powers most fuel cells. But even the trace amounts of sulfur that remain create havoc...One option for removing sulfur has been using another spongelike ceramic called zinc oxide, which readily grabs on to sulfur, converting the zinc oxide to zinc sulfide. But it's far from a perfect solution. Once the outer surface becomes coated with zinc sulfide, the interior of the ceramic has trouble grabbing more sulfur. And zinc sulfide is not easily converted back to zinc oxide. So zinc oxide-based filters must be replaced regularly.

Researchers have explored using lanthanum and other rare earth oxides for years. Like zinc oxide, these ceramics also readily grab sulfur, but unlike zinc oxide they can later release it, making them reusable. In previous studies, researchers have exposed the ceramics to sulfur for long periods, allowing gases to percolate completely through the crystalline structure of the material. But such heavily saturated ceramics give up their sulfur too slowly to be practical for real-world use.  The Tuft s researchers tried exposing their rare earth oxides to sulfur-bearing gases for relatively brief periods, so they became coated with sulfur only on their surface. They found that lanthanum-based oxides, in particular, both grabbed and released a full surface complement of sulfur in just minutes. Moreover, they could reduce the sulfur content in fuel streams to the parts-per-billion range--good enough to protect even the most sensitive fuel-cell catalysts. When the researchers ran their materials through about 100 such charging and discharging cycles, they found little change.

An industrial plant could use multiple filters, switching back and forth so some sop up sulfur while others discharge it. In their paper, the Tufts researchers outline such a system for use with solid oxide fuel cells, which are being developed as backup power sources for hospitals and other industrial users. If such a design can keep fuel-cell catalysts working, it could go a long way toward making such fuel cells reliable enough to succeed in the real world.

June 9, 2006 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Energy, Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome to Environmental Law Prof Blog

Please use this post as an open thread to comment on any aspect of environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.

Find your way to help achieve the Millenium Development Goals.  Drink water for life! 

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June 9, 2006 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Terrorism case published on Westlaw

Today, Westlaw published the San Luis Obispo NEPA terrorism case that I published last week. Westlaw link

June 9, 2006 in Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 5, 2006

Canadian scientists critique Canada's new government approach to climate change

Link: Group calls for action on climate change.

OTTAWA (CP) - More than 600 scientists attending an international meeting have called on the federal government to stay the course in trying to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol.

"We recognize the challenge of implementing the current agreement," the annual congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society said in a statement Thursday.

"Nonetheless, we urge Canada to contribute effectively to this global effort."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the emissions-cutting targets in the climate treaty are impossible to meet, and has dismantled the Kyoto-implementation plan set up by the former government.

He has promised a new "made-in-Canada" plan to cut emissions, but it is not clear when the plan will be announced or what priority it will be given.

In April, 60 dissident scientists published a letter questioning the science of climate change, saying it would be irrational to commit government funds to the problem.

None of the dissenters showed up at the science congress this week, said Ian Rutherford, the association's executive director.

"They never present their arguments at a forum like this which is a completely open, free forum. They just don't come here.

"They want to make their arguments in the press or in front of an uneducated public. They don't submit their stuff to the scrutiny of their peers.

"They don't make their arguments with the people who say they're wrong. They just go away and hide and then they come out and issue press releases."

Media reports in the United States have documented numerous funding links between the oil industry and scientists opposed to action on climate change in that country.

The congress statement Thursday calls on governments around the world to work together toward a single international agreement to address climate change, describing the Kyoto Protocol as an important first step.

June 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Today: Celebrate World Environment Day

Link: UN: CHALLENGES OF LIFE ON DESERT MARGINS.

The theme of this year’s observance of World Environment Day, “Don’t Desert Drylands!”, reminds us all, in the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, of the importance of caring for the world’s vast areas of arid and semi-arid land.

    Drylands are found in all regions, cover more than 40 per cent of the Earth and are home to nearly 2 billion people -- one third of the world’s population.  For most dryland dwellers, life is hard and the future often precarious.  They live on the ecological, economic and social margins.  It is essential that we do not neglect them or the fragile habitats on which they depend.

    Across the planet, poverty, unsustainable land management and climate change are turning drylands into deserts, and desertification, in turn, exacerbates and leads to poverty.  It is estimated that between 10 and 20 per cent of drylands are already degraded.  The problem is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where dryland degradation is a serious obstacle to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and is jeopardizing efforts to ensure environmental sustainability.  These goals, which the world’s Governments have pledged to achieve by 2015, are essential components of a broader commitment to achieve a more secure future for humankind.

    There is also mounting evidence that dryland degradation and competition over increasingly scarce resources can bring communities into conflict.  Furthermore, people whose livelihoods and survival depend on drylands are swelling the ranks of environmental and economic refugees who are testing the already stretched resources of towns and cities across the developing world.

    Desertification is hard to reverse, but it can be prevented.  Protecting and restoring drylands will not only relieve the growing burden on the world’s urban areas; it will contribute to a more peaceful and secure world.  It will also help to preserve landscapes and cultures that date back to the dawn of civilization and are an essential part of our cultural heritage.

    On this World Environment Day, in the 10th anniversary year of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, I urge Governments and communities everywhere to focus on the challenges of life on the desert margins so the people who live there can look forward to a future of peace, health and social progress.

June 5, 2006 in Biodiversity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Environmental Risk Perception and Culture

Here's an interesting excerpt of Dan Kahan's discussion of cultural cognition studies on Empirical Legal Studies:Environmental Risk Perception

We found a similar relationship between the cultural status anxiety and the white male effect in environmental risk perceptions. To begin with, there are no differences in risk perception across race once cultural worldviews are controlled for. Gender differences do persist. But they are due entirely to the wide discrepancy in the views of extremely risk-skeptical white hierarchical males and considerably less risk-skeptical hierarchical women. There are no gender (or race) based differences in environmental risk perception among relatively individualistic or egalitarian persons.

Again, these patterns suggest the impact of culture-specific gender differences in status-conferring social roles. Within a hierarchic way of life, men tend to earn esteem by achieving success in civil society, while women earn it by successfully occupying domestic roles. Accordingly, it is hierarchic men, not hierarchic women, who experience the greatest status threat when commercial and industrial activities are challenged as dangerous. But within an individualist way of life, success in the market is status-conferring for men and women. Accordingly, individualistic men and individualistic women react with status-protecting skepticism when commerce and industry are attacked as dangerous. Commerce and industry are symbolic of social inequality and unconstrained individualism within egalitarian and solidaristic ways of life. Accordingly, as a means of promoting their status, men and women alike within these cultural groups tend to embrace claims of environmental risk.

June 5, 2006 in Social Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TURN DOWN. SWITCH OFF. RECYCLE. WALK. CHANGE

Link: Climate Change.

TURN DOWN. SWITCH OFF. RECYCLE. WALK. CHANGE

June 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

MORE

Link: EUROPA - European commission - Environment - Climate change.

Additional Suggestions

   1. Look for goods carrying the flower logo of the European eco-label, which signifies superior environmental performance. So far the Eco-label has been awarded to 280 environmentally sound products and services from 25 product groups such as light bulbs, detergents, computers and a range of household appliances. For more information about where to find the "Eco-flower" go to http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ecolabel/index_en.htm
   2. Consume locally produced, seasonal food - it's better for the environment because produce grown in artificial ecosystems or greenhouses requires a tremendous amount of energy for temperatures to be maintained. And transporting goods by plane from one side of the world to the other generates about 1,700 times more CO2 emissions than transporting them by truck over 50km.
   3. Eat your veg! Producing meat is both CO2 and methane-intensive and requires large amounts of water. In fact, ruminant animals such as cattle, sheep and goats are large producers of methane due to the way that their digestive systems process food.
   4. When buying garden furniture or other wooden products, try to make sure the wood comes from a sustainable forest management source and operation. Products carrying the FSC or PEFC labels (www.fsc.org and www.pefc.org) meet these requirements. Unsustainable forest practices contribute to deforestation, which is responsible for around 20% of global CO2 emissions. It usually involves burning down the forests, which causes CO2 emissions, and eliminates their capacity to absorb CO2.
   5. Plant a tree. One tree of average size absorbs about 6kg of CO2 per year, so over 40 years it soaks up about 250kg of CO2.
   6. If you need to buy a new copier or copy machine, buy a duplex-capable one, i.e. one that can print both sides of paper. If you make your copies in copy shops, ask them to set the machine to double-sided. You'll save energy on the production of paper.
   7. Before you print a document or an e-mail, consider whether you really need to print it. A European citizen uses around 20kg of paper per month!

June 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WALK

Link: EUROPA - European commission - Environment - Climate change.

Walk

   1. If you normally drive your car to work, try one of the following alternatives: cycling, walking, car-pooling, taking public transport, tele-working. On average, for each litre of fuel burnt in a car engine, more than 2.5kg of CO2 is released.
   2. Try to avoid in particular short car journeys because fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are disproportionately higher when the engine is still cold. Research shows that one in two urban car journeys is for less than three kilometres - a distance that can be easily cycled or walked, which is also much healthier than sitting in a car!
   3. Try washing your car by hand or using a pressurized water jet instead of going to a car wash. Car washes use more electricity and water than the old fashioned way.
   4. If you replace your car, consider the fuel economy of your new vehicle. Get this: if you drive 15,000km per year (the European average) and you choose a model that consumes 5 litres per 100km instead of 7 litres, you save 300 litres per year. This is worth € 300-400 and 750kg of avoided CO2 emissions year after year. Under European legislation, car manufacturers must display information about CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of new cars in showrooms and advertisements.
   5. It's a bad idea to let the vehicle warm up while stationary - the amount of fuel that warming up consumes is greater than what you save by starting your journey with a cold engine.
   6. Make sure you have correct tyre pressure: if the pressure is down by 0.5 bars, your car uses 2.5% more fuel to overcome the resistance and thus releases 2.5% more CO2.
   7. Consider using low-viscosity motor oil. This lubricates the moving parts of the engine better than ordinary oils, reducing friction. The best oils can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 2.5%.
   8. Having a roof rack on your car when it's empty can increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% due to wind resistance and the extra weight - removing it is a better idea. (When roof racks are fully loaded, fuel consumption can go up by as much as 20-30%).
   9. Don't speed - you will use less petrol and emit less CO2. Driving faster than 120km per hour increases fuel consumption by 30% compared to driving at 80km per hour. 4th, 5th and 6th gears are the most economical in terms of fuel consumption.
  10. Have you heard of eco-driving? It can lower fuel consumption by 5%. Set your car in motion without pressing down the throttle, shift to a higher gear as soon as possible (at 2000-2500 rpm), keep the speed steady, and look ahead to avoid sudden breaking and accelerating. And don't forget to turn off the engine even at short stops!
  11. When the air conditioning in your car is on, it increases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by around 5%. Use it sparingly! When your car is boiling hot, drive for a few minutes with wide open windows, then close the windows and turn on the A/C. This will save you the fuel needed to bring down the initial temperature.
  12. Try to travel by train instead! One person travelling by car alone produces three times more CO2 emissions per kilometre than if this person were travelling by train. Even though trains are run on electricity mostly produced from fossil fuels, they still emit fewer greenhouse gases per passenger transported.
  13. Flying is the world's fastest growing source of CO2 emissions. It's worth considering whether trains are an alternative. If you fly, then consider 'offsetting' your carbon emissions. There are organisations that will calculate the emissions you have caused and invest money in renewable energy, energy efficiency or forestry projects that will save the equivalent amount of emissions. For example, a return flight Berlin - Budapest is 1,400km and causes 200-250kg of CO2 emissions per person. It will cost you around € 6-7 to offset these emissions.

June 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

RECYCLE

Link: EUROPA - European commission - Environment - Climate change.

Recycle

   1. Bring used glass to the bottle bank and sort paper & cardboard, plastics and cans from the rest of your waste. Recycling one aluminium can saves 90% of the energy needed to produce a new one - 9kg of CO2 emissions per kilogramme of aluminium! For 1kg of recycled plastics, the saving is 1.5kg of CO2; for 1kg of recycled glass, it is 300gr of CO2; and recycling 1kg of paper instead of landfilling it avoids 900gr of CO2 emissions as well as methane emissions.
   2. What's even better is to prevent waste since most products we buy cause greenhouse gas emissions in one or another way, e.g. during production and distribution. By taking your lunch in a reusable lunch box instead of a disposable one, you save the energy needed to produce new lunch boxes.
   3. When shopping, it saves energy and waste to use a reusable bag instead of accepting a disposable one in each shop. Waste not only discharges CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, it can also pollute the air, groundwater and soil.
   4. Also avoid disposable cleaning wipes and paper towels - they just create additional rubbish and require energy in their production.
   5. By choosing products that come with little packaging and buying refills when you can, you also cut down on waste production and energy use!
   6. Buy intelligently: one bottle of 1.5l requires less energy and produces less waste than three bottles of 0.5l.
   7. Recycle your organic waste - landfills account for around 3% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions through the methane released by decomposing bio-degradable waste. By recycling organic waste or composting it if you have a garden, you can help eliminate this problem! Just make sure that you compost it properly, so it decomposes with sufficient oxygen, otherwise your compost will cause methane emissions and smell foul.

June 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SWITCH OFF

Link: EUROPA - European commission - Environment - Climate change.

Switch Off

   1. Don't forget to switch off the lights when you don't need them. Switching off 5 lights in hallways and rooms in your house when you don't need them can save around € 60 a year and avoid about 400kg of CO2 emissions per year.
   2. It makes sense to switch to energy-saving light bulbs: just one can reduce your lighting costs by up to € 60 and avoid 400kg of CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the bulb - and they last up to 10 times longer than ordinary light bulbs. Energy-saving bulbs are more expensive to buy, but cheaper over their life span.
   3. Remember not to leave appliances on standby - use the "on/off" function on the machine itself. A TV set that's switched on for 3 hours a day (the average time Europeans spend watching TV) and in standby mode during the remaining 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy in standby mode.
   4. Have you noticed that the charger of your mobile phone, plugged into the wall, is warm even when it is not connected to the phone? This is because it is still draining electricity. There are estimates that 95% of the energy is wasted when you leave the charger plugged in all the time.
   5. Air conditioners are real energy gobblers - an average room air conditioner operates at 1000 Watt, causing around 650gr of CO2 emissions per hour and costing around € 0.10 during this hour. Fans might be an alternative, otherwise use air conditioners sparingly and look for the most energy-efficient model.
   6. By switching to green electricity in regions where citizens have the choice, you'll help strengthen renewable energy sources. Currently, only 14% of Europe's electricity is generated from climate-friendly renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, wood, biogas, solar etc. - and demand creates supply! You may also want to think about fitting solar panels on the roof of your home.
   7. Make sure to use the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are full. If you need to use it when it is half full, then use the half-load or economy setting. There is also no need to set the temperatures high. Nowadays detergents are so efficient that they get your clothes and dishes clean at low temperatures.
   8. Try to use a tumble dryer only when absolutely necessary - each drying cycle produces over 3kg of CO2 emissions. Drying clothes naturally is by far the best way to do it: your clothes will last longer and the energy provided is free and non-polluting!
   9. If you only boil just enough water for your cup of tea, you could help save a lot of energy. If all Europeans boiled just the water they needed, thus avoiding 1 litre of unnecessarily boiled water per day, the energy saved could power one third of Europe's streetlights.
  10. Covering a pot while cooking food can save a lot of the energy needed for preparing the dish. Even better are pressure cookers and steamers: they can save around 70%!
  11. Did you know that you save hot water by taking a shower rather than a bath? It can require up to four times less energy. To maximise the energy saving, avoid power showers and use low-flow showerheads, which are cheap and provide the same comfort.
  12. Purifying water for human use takes up a lot of energy. If you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can save several litres of water.
  13. A dripping tap can waste enough water to fill a bath in one month, so make sure to check that they're turned off.

June 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The EU Climate Change campaign: TURN DOWN

Link: EUROPA - European commission - Environment - Climate change.

Turn Down

   1. You can save a lot of energy and money if you don't overheat your home. Reducing the temperature by just 1�C can cut 5-10% off your family's energy bill and avoid up to 300kg of CO2 emissions per household and year.
   2. You can cost-effectively lower the amount of energy you use to heat your home by programming your thermostat so that at night or while you are out of the house, the temperature is set low and by the time you wake up or return home, the temperature is comfortable again. This can reduce your heating bill by 7-15%.
   3. Think about replacing your old single-glazed windows with double-glazing - this requires a bit of upfront investment, but will halve the energy lost through windows and pay off in the long term. If you go for the best the market has to offer (wooden-framed double-glazed units with low-emission glass and filled with argon gas), you can even save more than 70% of the energy lost.
   4. When airing your house, open the windows for a few minutes instead of letting the heat escape over a long period. If you leave a small opening all day long, the energy needed to keep it warm inside during six cold months (10�C or less outside temperature) would result in almost 1 tonne of CO2 emissions.
   5. Good home insulation is one of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions and to save energy in the long term. Heat loss through walls, roof and floor commonly accounts for over 50% of overall space heat loss. Insulate your hot water tanks, the pipes of your central heating as well as your wall cavities and fit aluminium foil behind your radiators.
   6. Remember that it matters where you put your fridge and freezer - placing them next to the cooker or boiler consumes much more energy than it would if they were standing on their own. For example, if you put them in a hot cellar room where the room temperature is 30-35�C, energy use is almost double and causes an extra 160kg of CO2 emissions for fridges per year and 320kg for freezers.
   7. If you have an old fridge or fridge freezer, defrost them regularly. Even better is to replace them with newer models, which all have automatic defrost cycles and are generally up to two times more energy-efficient than their predecessors. When buying new appliances (not only fridges, but also washing machines, dishwashers, etc.), choose those with the European Grade A  label, meaning that it's very efficient - but also compare the energy consumption among A  graded appliances since it can vary.
   8. Be careful which settings you use - if you set your fridge on its coolest setting, you will not only consume more energy; your food will not keep fresh as long since it might be spoilt through freezing.
   9. It makes sense to avoid putting hot or warm food in the fridge. You save energy by letting it cool down first before placing it in the fridge.
  10. You might want to check if your water's too hot. Your cylinder thermostat doesn't need to be set higher than 60�C. The same goes for the boiler of your central heating. Remember, 70% of the energy used by households in the EU is spent on heating homes and another 14% on heating water.

You might find that certain measures you take result in greater or smaller benefits for the climate system (and your purse). All the data used is based on averages, but the energy consumption of household appliances, the fuel consumption of cars, the size of homes varies greatly, and so do energy use patterns and even electricity prices in the EU.

June 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Let's Talk about Sex Instead of Real Issues

The Democratic leadership frequently lacks a coherant message.  But Senator Reid's response to President Bush's gay marriage sideshow has got it right -- whether you are a fiscally conservative Republican or a flaming liberal:

In Nevada today, gas prices are over $3.00 a gallon. Fill-ups at the tank cause emptiness at the bank. This Administration, the most friendly-to-oil Presidency in our history, refuses to buck Big Oil or the auto manufacturers. Our citizens are literally choking on the lack of alternative fuel. Few incentives for energy created by the sun, the wind, or the Earth’s geothermal reserves has this Administration endorsed.

Raging in Iraq is an intractable war. Our soldiers are fighting valiantly, but we have Abu Ghraib and Haditha—where 24 or more civilians were allegedly killed by our own—and no policy for winning the peace. However, Secretary Rumsfeld continues in his job with the full backing of the President. Not a reprimand, not a suggestion that his Defense Secretary is at fault.

We have a national debt that President Bush won’t acknowledge, but our children, their children, and their children’s children will have to acknowledge the generations of debt created by President Bush’s economic policies. Federal red ink as far as one can see. America is becoming continually more dependent on loans from China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and England.

Our world is changing as we speak as a result of global warming—a condition our President does not acknowledge, let alone attempt to reverse.

Today nearly 46 million Americans have absolutely no health insurance. Millions more of our countrymen have inadequate health insurance. This Administration has come forward with nothing of substance to address this national emergency.

Seniors in Nevada and each of the 50 states are struggling to survive. Some physicians refuse to take Medicare patients. The President’s Medicare prescription drug plan has been a gift to HMO’s, insurance companies, and drug companies and a nightmare for seniors.

Education for many of our graduating high school seniors has become a goal too far. Student loans and Pell grants are not a priority of the Bush Administration. The ability to obtain a college education is becoming more and more based on how much money your parents have instead of how much academic potential our youth have.

Crime remains a national worry, but money from the federal government to our states for crime fighting and crime prevention is being drastically cut. Successful anti-crime programs such as the COPS program are being eliminated by President Bush, much to the consternation of police officers across America.

A trade policy that is continually eroding America’s favorable balance of payments seems to be the watchword of the Bush Administration. This trade policy causes America to be less and less globally competitive.

The scientific community cries for help. They believe dread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes could be moderated and prevented, but President Bush emphatically says NO to allowing scientists to study and research the healing powers of stem cells. He refuses to keep hope alive for the suffering people of our great country.

In spite of the many serious problems we have just discussed, what is the United States Senate going to debate this week?

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A new energy policy? NO.
Will we debate the raging war in Iraq? NO.
Will we address our staggering national debt? NO.
Will we address the seriousness of global warming – NO
Will we address the aging of America? NO.
Will we address America’s education dilemma? NO.
Will we address rising crime statistics? NO.
Will we debate our county’s trade imbalance? NO.
Will we debate Stem Cell Research? NO.

But what we will spend most of the week on is a constitutional amendment that will fail by a large margin, a constitutional amendment on Same Sex Marriage—an effort that failed to pick up a simple majority, when we recently voted on it. Remember, an Amendment to our Constitution requires 67 votes.

I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. I believe in our federal system of government, described to me in college as a central whole divided among self governing parts. Those self governing parts—the 50 states—have already decided this on their own in state after state. For example, in Nevada the constitution was amended to prevent same sex marriage. Congress and President Clinton passed a law that gave the states the guarantee that their individual laws regarding marriage would be respected. The Defense of Marriage Act creates an exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution so that no state can force its laws of marriage on another.

So why are we being directed by the President and this Republican majority to debate an Amendment to the Constitution, a document inspired more than two centuries ago? Why would we be asked to change this American masterpiece?

Will it next be to constitutionally dictate the cause of divorce, or military service, or even what America’s religion must be?

So for me it is clear the reason for this debate is to divide our society, to pit one against another. This is another one of the President’s efforts to frighten, to distort, to distract, and to confuse America. It is this Administration’s way of avoiding the tough, real problems that American citizens are confronted with each and every day:

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High Gas Prices.
The War in Iraq.
The National Debt.
Health Care.
Senior Citizens.
Education.
Crime.
Trade Policy.
Stem Cell Research.

Each issue begging the President’s attention, each issue being ignored—valuable time in the Senate spent on an issue that today is without hope of passing.

These issues are not Democratic issues. These issues are not Republican issues. There must be bipartisan efforts to address America’s ills.

I will vote no on the Motion to Proceed, as it is not a measure meant to bring America together. Rather, it is an effort to cover

June 5, 2006 in Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)