Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lizards vs. families (families lose); Deja Vu all over again; World Bank wants global levy on jet fuel; Wind turbines killing golden eagles; We build in floodplains; More problems with wind turbines; Noxious bush to provide biofuel; Green homes could be hazardous to our health

Weekly Standard writes: “This is a lizard versus families,” says Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, the state’s largest business interest group. “Nothing is more important than a job.”
Setting 1980s Dallas stereotypes aside, oil and gas production is between 12 and 15 percent of the Texas economy. It’s more than 70 percent of the economy in the vast and sparsely populated Permian Basin.
n its proposal to list the lizard as endangered, U.S. Fish and Wildlife argues that several activities fragment the creature’s habitat. Together these constitute a clean sweep of the region’s economic drivers: oil and gas (particularly exploration), wind turbine erection, and agriculture. The dunes sagebrush lizard resides only in areas with sandy dunes covered by low-lying shinnery oak trees.
Watts Up With That reports: A Washington, D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.
The article mentions “great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones,” and “at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway.
Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.
If Yogi Berra were here to comment on the hullabaloo over the changes in the arctic today, I’m pretty sure he’d say. “It’s Deja Vu all over again”.
 (Reuters) - The World Bank will suggest a global levy on jet and shipping fuel in recommendations to G20 governments later this year on raising climate finance, a senior official said on Sunday.
Developed countries have already written off chances of agreement on a new binding deal at a U.N. conference in Durban this year, placing a new focus on piecemeal efforts including fund-raising.
Binding targets under the Kyoto Protocol cap the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 40 industrialised countries but expire in 2012 and now look unlikely to be extended in time.

LA Times reports: Scores of protected golden eagles have been dying each year after colliding with the blades of about 5,000 wind turbines along the ridgelines of the Bay Area's Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, raising troubling questions about the state's push for alternative power sources.  

The death count, averaging 67 a year for three decades, worries field biologists because the turbines, which have been providing thousands of homes with emissions-free electricity since the 1980s, lie within a region of rolling grasslands and riparian canyons containing one of the highest densities of nesting golden eagles in the United States.

"It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production," said field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District's wildlife program. "We only have 60 pairs.",0,4078175.story
The Week writes that about 10,000 people were displaced from their homes during May by floods.  This is far fewer, according to the magazine, than the floods of 1927, which left 600,000 homeless or the 1993 floods destroying 50,000 homes.  As to the question as to why the Mississippi River keeps flooding: "because mankind has built so many communities, power stations and farms along riverbanks, we now funner the natural flow through narrow man-made channes, raising the water's height and speed."
"This began in 1724 when French settlers built levees in New Orleans"
People who use protected floodplains forget the risk they face," says Craig Colten, a geography professor at LSU.   "It's a fool's errand to confine the river permanently."
"The levee infrastructure siphons river sediment through a single waterway out into the sea, preventing it from building up to form natural defenses for Louisiana's wetlands......  The only solutions may be to let the river run wild, but that would displace thousands of people and harm industries that rely on the river."
The UK Telegraph reports: At the weekend, I was speaking to campaigners against the Bodmin Moor scheme who are gearing up for the public inquiry: for them, this is an all-consuming issue. In Wales, there has been uproar over plans for 800 turbines across the Cambrian Mountains. In fact, from the Isle of Wight to northern Scotland, local people are coming together to fight the windmills.
The impression is given that since wind is free, plentiful and doesn't produce CO₂, then it must be the answer to our renewable-energy conundrum.
If this were true, then it might be worth sacrificing a few views: but it isn't. To produce the same amount of electricity as one coal-fired power station, you'd need a wind farm the size of Greater London. And when there is no wind – or even when there is too much – the power produced is minuscule or the turbine has to be switched off while fossil-fuel stations take up the slack. They can be useful in powering a collection of farms, or a small industrial site, but that is about it.
The Washington Times reports: A plant that some have scorned as a predator might well turn out to be part of the answer to rising fuel bills for consumers.
Jatropha curcas, a poisonous, semi-evergreen shrub that can grow as high as 20 feet, produces seeds laden with oil that backers say is an ideal biofuel. One company that maintains 194,000 acres of the plant under cultivation in India is looking to expand farming, and fuel production, in the United States.
Mission NewEnergy, an Australian-based firm with operations in India and Europe and a recently opened branch in San Antonio, says it can deliver refined Jatropha oil at about $40 to $50 a barrel. The firm’s U.S. entry also included listing its shares on Nasdaq, complementing its Australian Stock Exchange presence. 
Mixed with traditional jet fuel, Jatropha oil already has been used on test flights by Continental Airlines, Air New Zealand and other carriers. Once approved for general use, Jatropha could help cut one of the aviation industry’s highest costs.
Jatropha can provide “environmentally responsible fuel without compromising the food supply, so we can help the Earth while helping the public,”
Fox News reports: The buildings commonly referred to as "green" could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report.
That's one of many warnings out of a new report from the Institute of Medicine, which tracked the potential impact of climate change on indoor environments. 
The report cautions that climate change can negatively and directly affect indoor air quality in several ways. But the scientists behind the study warn that homeowners and businesses could also be making the problem worse by pursuing untested or risky energy-efficiency upgrades. 

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