Archive for February, 2011

This lengthy New York times article looks at the dangers of hydrofracking for natural gas, particularly radioactive wastewater.

Regulators may greatly scale back lobster fishing off the New England coast (Providence Journal). Meanwhile, this BBC column looks at the future of Japanese whaling.

Some solar projects face tests on greenness (NY Times).

Here’s another article on the benefits of cutting soot and methane (BBC). And speaking of the UN, it’s asked Hollywood for help on the climate change issue (LA Times).

Could a house produce as much energy as it uses?  A “net zero” test house in Maryland will try to find out (Washington Post).

The Commerce Department clears NOAA scientists of manipulating climate data (NY Times).

Wal-Mart bans a controversial flame retardant from its consumer goods (Washington Post).

If you consistently make small meals, get a toaster oven because it uses less energy.

The EPA scales back emissions rules for boilers and incinerators (NY Times).

Virginia’s AG is skeptical on climate change (NY Times).

Controlling 2 pollutants could halve the global warming rate, a UN study says (Washington Post).

A lawsuit claims that solar projects in California could affect sacred Native American sites (LA Times).

Ah, the sun – so powerful we don’t need lights sometimes. That’s why it seems so smart to use it to generate electricity. There’s a few recent developments that could help humans move even quicker toward using solar panels as one of the solutions to stopping climate change.

The first is happening in Massachusetts as landfills are using all the space they have to install solar panels. The panels have failed to gain popularity atop homes or in open space, where many folks have declared them ugly – but nobody likes the look (or smell) of landfills either, so why not litter landfills with working solar panels.

Victor Del Vecchio, chairman of Canton’s Board of Selectmen, said the town began accepting bids for the solar project last year after it decided that plunking panels on the landfills made sense. He said that over the next 25 years, the project could generate up to $70 million for the town from a combination of new revenues and energy savings. “From our perspective, it’s a no-brainer,” he said. Southern Sky Renewable Energy, the company that plans to install the 24,000, three-foot by five-foot panels, is also hoping to cash in. The panels are expected to generate up to 5.6 megawatts of power by 2012, making it the largest installation in the region.

What else is a bit of an eyesore that can be used for solar panels? It could be any number of things, but one answer is roads – or more specifically highways. Scientists are working on building highways that have solar panels in them. Not only would it generate electricity, but it would also melt the roads, leaving no reason to fear snow. Here’s the info on the panels:

Each encased panel generates 7.6 kilowatt hours of electricity per day, and can be connected to smart grids to power homes and business. Wireless LED lights embedded in the glass create road signs and weight-sensitive crosswalks. They also contain heating elements that can melt snow and ice.

Oil remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf (MSNBC). Meanwhile, Russia embraces Arctic drilling (NY Times)/

Wind and kites power this car across Australia (MSNBC).

Shareholder resolutions address both sides of the climate issue (NY Times).

The Columbia River is at the center of a number of environment-energy debates (NY Times).

Replace single-glazed windows with double-glazed ones.

A study finds a link between human activity and increases in heavy rainfall (NY times).

Chevron is hit with a $9 billion judgment in Ecuador (Washington Post, also see BBC). Meanwhile, BP complains that the Gulf spill settlements are too generous (NY Times).

Greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2009 (NY Times).

While climate change is sometimes viewed from a national lens, the events of the past week have shown a wider view on global warming.

The latest survey to point out the obvious comes from the U.N.: Global warming will be bad for the economy overall, according to most projections. Reuters gets down to the nitty-gritty on what will happen in less than 20 years.

It also found that investment needs could top $5 trillion by 2030 for low-carbon technologies such as energy efficiency, biofuels, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage. It found that the cost of impacts on the environment, health and food security could exceed $4 trillion by 2030, with longer policy delays bringing rising costs, mostly from adaptation spending such as building sea walls.

This no longer that far out – 2030 is closer to us than 1990 is behind us. But while we wait for costly “policy delays,” there remains hope in the individual responsibility. It was shown to the world once more this past weekend. After weeks of rioting in Egypt, protesters spent the day after their victory cleaning up Tahrir Square. The protesters were:

Sweeping the streets, scrubbing graffiti off walls and bridges, clearing burned cars and garbage and generally trying to restore the city to order. … Across the crowded square, young men walked with paper signs taped to their chests that read: “Sorry for the disturbance, we’re building Egypt.”

The hope is that the same type of care-taking of one’s country can happen across the globe. Treat the environment like you’d treat your house. Don’t litter it, try not to get it too smoky and remember to clean up after yourself – the power bill on the environment is paid in greenhouse gas emissions, not money.

Energy efficiency efforts often don’t account for people’s living habits, a study suggests (BBC). Meanwhile, the rising frequency of major storms may cause building codes to be reassessed (NY Times).

Here’s another column on the EPA’s precarious position (MSNBC). Meanwhile, House Republicans release a report assailing federal regulations (Washington Post).

DOT finds multiple safety risks in the Trans Alaska Pipeline (MSNBC).

Wind power comes to Texas’s Gulf coast (NY Times).

Clean tech companies in Massachusetts get a boost from federal funds (Boston Globe).

The Obama administration proposes new planning rules for national forests (LA Times).

A solar energy decathlon is kicked off the National Mall (Washington Post).

A gas oven with an electric ignition is 50% more efficient than an electric oven.