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Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: December 2, 2012

December 2, 2012

Our Earth

Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: December 2, 2012

The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.


The Fight Against Fracking

There’s a war going on that you know nothing about between a coalition of great powers and a small insurgent movement. It’s a secret war being waged in the shadows while you go about your everyday life.

In the end, this conflict may matter more than those in Iraq and Afghanistan ever did. And yet it’s taking place far from newspaper front pages and with hardly a notice on the nightly news. Nor is it being fought in Yemen or Pakistan or Somalia, but in small hamlets in upstate New York. There, a loose network of activists is waging a guerrilla campaign not with improvised explosive devices or rocket-propelled grenades but with zoning ordinances and petitions.

See Also: Fracking Our Food Supply

As Great Lakes plummet, towns try to save harbors

ONEKAMA, Mich. — For more than a century, easy access to Lake Michigan has made Onekama a popular place for summer visitors and a refuge for boaters fleeing dangerous storms. Now the community itself needs a rescue, from slumping lake levels that threaten its precious link to open water.

Battle lines drawn as climate talks dig in

DOHA, Qatar – Climate talks got down to the nitty-gritty in Doha on Tuesday as developing countries and the European Union staked out rival positions on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.Separately, the U.N.’s Environment Program (UNEP) urged negotiators to heed the risk from melting permafrost, which could spew billions of tons of greenhouses gases into the air and accelerate global warming at a stroke.

Pressing on the key issue at the 12-day annual parlay, which began on Monday, poorer countries called on the EU to shore up the Kyoto Protocol, a beleaguered and contested treaty on climate change.“Together we face a man made disaster of epic proportions,” said Marlene Moses of the Pacific island of Nauru, heading the Association of Small Island States, which are vulnerable to rising seas.

Biofuels

When compared to fossil fuels, manufactured liquid biofuels do not necessarily produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Wind energy blowing away nuclear power

Wind energy supplies 3 percent of global electricity needs and will soon supply more electricity than nuclear power. In 2011, some 50 billion euros were invested in wind, leading some to say it’s cheap and creates jobs.

Wind energy is booming and it is gaining in significance worldwide. It supplies some 20 percent of electricity in Spain and Denmark as well as about 10 percent in Germany. By 2020, the share of wind energy will have risen to between 20 percent and 25 percent in Germany, according to estimates.

Famine fuels German debate on bioenergy

Germany’s development minister is demanding an end to sales of biofuel, which critics say contributes to famine. Relief organizations welcomed the move as drought grips the US, Russia and other countries.

New study shows how climate change could affect entire forest ecosystems

The fog comes in, and a drop of water forms on a pine needle, rolls down the needle, and falls to the forest floor. The process is repeated over and over, on each pine needle of every tree in a forest of Bishop pines on Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara. That fog drip helps the entire forest ecosystem stay alive. Thousands of years ago, in cooler and wetter times, Bishop pine trees are thought to have proliferated along the West Coast of the U.S. and Mexico. Now, stratus clouds — the low-altitude clouds known locally as “June gloom” — help keep the trees growing on Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, and on one island off Baja California. Other than these locations, Bishop pine trees grow only farther north in California where it is cooler and wetter.

Math detects contamination in water distribution networks

None of us want to experience events like the Camelford water pollution incident in Cornwall, England, in the late eighties, or more recently, the Crestwood, Illinois, water contamination episode in 2009 where accidental pollution of drinking water led to heart-wrenching consequences to consumers, including brain damage, high cancer risk, and even death. In the case of such catastrophes, it is important to have a method to identify and curtail contaminations immediately to minimize impact on the public. A paper published earlier this month in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics considers the identification of contaminants in a water distribution network as an optimal control problem within a networked system.

Study IDs kerosene lamps as big source of black carbon

The primary source of light for more than a billion people in developing nations is also churning out black carbon at levels previously overlooked in greenhouse gas estimates, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois. Results from field and lab tests found that 7 to 9 percent of the kerosene in wick lamps — used for light in 250-300 million households without electricity — is converted to black carbon when burned. In comparison, only half of 1 percent of the emissions from burning wood is converted to black carbon.

UI researcher predicts more intense North Atlantic tropical storms

Tropical storms that make their way into the North Atlantic, and possibly strike the East Coast of the United States, likely will become more intense during the rest of this century. That’s the prediction of one University of Iowa researcher and his colleague as published in an early online release in the Journal of Climate, the official publication of the American Meteorological Society.

Gulf of Mexico clean-up makes 2010 spill 52-times more toxic

If the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill was a ecological disaster, the two million gallons of dispersant used to clean it up apparently made it even worse — 52-times more toxic. That’s according to new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico. The study found that mixing the dispersant with oil increased toxicity of the mixture up to 52-fold over the oil alone. In toxicity tests in the lab, the mixture’s effects increased mortality of rotifers, a microscopic grazing animal at the base of the Gulf’s food web. The findings are published online by the journal Environmental Pollution and will appear in the February 2013 print edition.


Here are some other links you may find worthwhile:
Climate Change News Digest
Climate Progress from Center for American Progress
Rocky Mountain Institute “an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources.”


At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.

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