Archive for January, 2011

Should the military be looking into alternative fuels? A report from RAND says no (NY Times).

Urban planners clash over differing approaches to sustainability (Boston Globe).

The UK makes plans for adapting to climate change (BBC).

California faces some key environment-related decisions (LA Times).

Car-pooling fades away (NY Times).

Melting ice forces one polar bear to swim a long way for food (LA Times).

Climategate did not cast doubt on climate science conclusions, a review finds (BBC). But getting good climate data could be jeopardized by aging satellites (Washington Post).

Planting conifers and place a bird feeder in back yard can help birds endure the winter.

It may be a record-breaking winter in the Northeast, but in the Arctic it’s freakishly warm (NY Times).

The coordinator for energy and climate change policy joins the list of White House departures (NY Times).

Achieving President Obama’s clean energy goals could be a tall order (LA Times).

A Canadian company’s plans for a major pipeline has some Texans turning to the Sierra Club (honestly) for help (LA Times).

While the greatest minds of the world are focusing on weening humans off fuels created from gas and oil, there is an even older method that consumers need to make sure they’re not using anymore. It’s wood.

Not only are the obvious effects of chopping down a carbon-sucking tree rather self-evident, but there’s more environmental danger behind that invention from millions of years ago. A warning for Western Mass, which often occurs, told residents to be worried of the air pollutants caused from burning wood.

This comes on the heels of a story about fireplaces losing their coolness for most people:

Hard as it may be to believe, the fireplace — long considered a trophy, particularly in a city like New York — is acquiring a social stigma. Among those who aspire to be environmentally responsible, it is joining the ranks of bottled water and big houses.

Let’s hope using wood stoves and fireplaces to produce warmth is an idea that is finally burning out.

The lack of transmission lines hurts wind power (NY Times).

Emissions permits are stolen in Europe (BBC).

Greenland’s ice sheet had record-high melting last year (MSNBC). Rising temperatures also threaten many small species (NY Times).

If rooftop solar panels are too expensive, leasing them may be an option (MSNBC).

Incandescent bulbs burn out in California (NPR).

LA looks into establishing green zones (LA Times).

The EPA approves fuel with 15% ethanol for a wider range of vehicles (MSNBC).

Aluminum is highly recyclable – in fact, two-thirds of aluminum ever produced is still used today.

Not very much happening this week (again). The climate issues seem to be fading into the background, or else the policy aims are to roll back prior efforts. This article says the GOP may try to rewrite the Clean Air Act so that it can’t be used to fight climate change (Miami Herald). And Minnesota wants to protect incandescent light bulbs (St. Paul Pioneer Press).

In Massachusetts this past week, there has been a firestorm over Evergreen Solar’s cutting of 800 jobs and moving its production to China just a few years after gaining major tax breaks. Why did they do it? The falling market prices of solar panels.

The majority of uproar has stemmed from an economic viewpoint: How did the governor allow the company to take the money and run? But looking at this from an environmental viewpoint, you’ll see two things: 1. It’s likely to happen more often to green companies; 2. It might be a good thing for the environment.

One reason you can expect it to happen more often to green companies is that prices are going to be dropping quick. A factory that now sells its hybrid car battery for $6,000 each will soon see its prices fall to $1,200 or so many pundits believe. It’s the simple fact of producing more – and the eventual next step is to produce it cheaper elsewhere. It happened with all other industries and it will happen with green industries.

This chain of events, while bad for the U.S. economy, is a good sign for the environment. If LED bulbs cost $20 each to produce here – and they will eventually cost $5 to produce on U.S. soil, then perhaps producing them in China means consumers can buy the bulbs for $1 or $2. This is good for the environment since it means energy-saving tactics will be more affordable. The only downside would be if the greater amount of shipping would come at an environmental cost, but not one large enough to offset all the good.

Farewell Evergreen Solar, may your departure lead to more affordable panels and a greater use of them across the world.

Evergreen Solar closes its new plant in Massachusetts (Boston Globe, also see this follow-up article).

Researchers find a correlation between climate instability and the rise and fall of past civilizations (BBC, also see MSNBC). Meanwhile, the melting of snow and ice reveals some secrets from the past (NY Times).

A grove of oaks and sycamores is felled in California (LA Times).

Climate models try to project conditions in the year 3000 (MSNBC).

Explore the green concept of “pre-cycling”; stopping waste before it happens.