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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oil, Gas Reserves In Arctic Comparable To Gulf, Western Siberia - Scientist

MOSCOW, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- The amount of identified hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic is the world's third largest after the Persian Gulf and Western Siberia, Russian news agency, Itar-Tass, reported Saturday.

To this day, six major oil and gas provinces and two oil and gas fields have been discovered, and the most likely estimate of the initial resources in them is 51 billion tonnes of oil and 87 trillion cubic metres of natural gas, the deputy director of the Institute of Oceanology for geological matters, Associate Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Leopold Lobkovsky told the International Arctic Forum in Moscow this week.

"In general, the Arctic is a third world oil and gas province, comparable to the Persian Gulf and Western Siberia," said the scientist.

The size of the natural resources of this region requires international cooperation in their research and development, Lobkovsky remarked with certainty.

In addition, he noted the large deposits of diamonds, nickel, chromium, manganese, tungsten and rare metals and gold. These resources will take large investments and modern technologies to extract, and for that reason there naturally appears what he described as a "territory for dialogue."

As another "natural area of cooperation" the scientist described research and exploration in the shelf zone of the Arctic.

At this point, he said, the best-studied areas are the Barents Sea and Kara Sea. A far worse situation is in the eastern part of the Russian shelf, where "literally blank spots" still remain.

The current pace of offshore operations as it is, it will require 120 years to obtain a sufficient amount of research data", says the geologist.

Therefore, he is convinced that "shelf exploration is in need of a dramatic increase in investment, for which purpose foreign companies should be attracted."

In addition, there exists such a major resource potential, still to be explored, as gas hydrate fields in the Eastern Arctic, said Lobkovsky.
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Spring Cleaning in the Arctic Putin's Environmental Action Plan for the Far North By Christoph Seidler in Moscow

For decades, Moscow ignored environmental degradation above the Arctic Circle. But this week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a massive cleanup effort -- and plans to increase the exploitation of resources in the region.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin loves to travel. And he seems to have a particular soft spot for the Arctic. In April, Putin helped researchers attach a radio transmitter to a sedated polar bear while in August, Putin paid a visit to Russian and German scientists at the research station on Samoilovsky Island in Russia's remote northeast.

The latter trip seems to have made a lasting impression -- so much so that he even felt compelled to mention it during a speech he delivered Thursday at the international Arctic conference held in Moscow. Permafrost and climate change experts at the research station in northern Siberia, Putin said, must battle "very trying conditions" but "their love of science" ensure that "they don't even seem to notice." Given their sacrifice, he went on, he wants to do everything he can to help spruce up their dilapidated station in the enormous Lena River delta. But there is more to do in Russia's north than just renovate researchers' quarters. Putin said that, after years of delay, it is finally time to begin large-scale efforts to clean up the dirty legacy of the Soviet Union. "We will put huge amounts of money into environmental protection," Putin pledged grandly before conference attendees. "We are planning to do a serious spring-cleaning of our Arctic territories," he went on, and spoke of "garbage that (has) been accumulating for decades" there.
Nowhere, is the Arctic as populated as it is in Russia. And nowhere is there as much industrial activity -- and resulting pollution. The worst sites are well known. Like, for example, the double island of Novaya Zemlya which was used for a total of 130 atomic weapons tests between 1955 and 1990. In addition, reactors from Soviet-era nuclear submarines were simply scuttled in the Barents Sea and Kara Sea. And then there are the more than 100,000 fuel barrels that the military has left to rot away on the islands of the Franz Josef Land archipelago

More at: .http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,719443,00.html
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Arctic oil spill could take 'year or more' to clean up Ecologist

Russia and the US are leading the scramble for oil and gas in the Arctic, but Gulf of Mexico pollution highlights danger of oil spills say campaigners

The rush to exploit oil and gas resources in the Arctic needs to take account of the higher environmental risk of an oil spill, campaigners have warned.

Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US are all expected to claim their right to Arctic territory in discussions being held in Moscow this week and, as the arctic ice cap melts due to climate change, the area is becoming more and more accessible for oil and gas exploration and shipping routes to market.

However, campaigners warn there are big risks to industrial activity in the Arctic and that the idea that we could clear up a spill in such a remote and hostile environment was ‘pure fantasy’.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/608705/arctic_oil_spill_could_take_year_or_more_to_clean_up.html
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The link between BP, geoengineering and GM Jim Thomas

The link between BP, geoengineering and GM Jim Thomas

BP won't stop at dangerous deep water drilling: the company is bent on still more dangerous projects, including genetic modification and hacking the planet's atmosphere...

Sometimes you have to notice the silences. Where has Dr. Steve Koonin, Under Secretary for Science at the US Department of Energy, been since the Gulf disaster happened? 

Koonin was intimately acquainted with the very technologies that have failed so spectacularly on the Deepwater Horizon rig in his former job as BP’s chief scientist. While his current employer, Barack Obama is trying to figure out 'whose ass to kick’ over the spill, he might find it instructive to zip back to a presentation by Koonin at MIT in 2005, in which we see Koonin-as-oilman boasting of his company’s technological prowess in taking oil exploration and production into the ultra deep waters of the gulf.

In particular, he says that $50 million to bore a hole in the gulf’s seabed will yield a million barrels a day, describing the technical challenges of depth and pressure. A small note on the bottom of his slide reads ‘marine environment creates integrity challenges’ - engineering-speak for ‘accidents likely’.

Known unknowns

Did senior management at BP such as Koonin know that they were pushing the bounds of environmental safety in deploying these ultra-deep water-drilling technologies? Of course they did. But as Koonin’s MIT presentation makes clear, stretching technological boundaries into risky areas is how BP navigates in an era of peak oil. Koonin’s much lauded role at BP was precisely to apply cutting-edge science to the problem of declining oil reserves and growing climate crisis. Koonin led a team of researchers that would allow for the more economical extraction of hard-to-get oil (e.g. tar sands, deep water drilling).

More significantly, Koonin took a central role in sinking millions of dollars of investment by BP into the new field of extreme genetic engineering known as synthetic biology, where entrepreneurs are building the DNA of entirely novel microbes from scratch in order convert sugar plantations, corn fields and forests into biofuels to keep the car economy gassed up.

It was under Koonin’s tenure at BP that the oil giant invested an undisclosed sum into Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics Inc to develop microbes that could be injected into coal seams and tar sands to release methane. Such methanogenic bacteria exists naturally in parts of the Earth’s crust but the ecological implications of artificially injecting super powerful methane-creating bugs and the potential for an accidental release of powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere has yet to be studied. Of course BP would counter that their experimental technology would not escape, just like hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil was not expected to gush out of the seabed.

Synthetic organisms


Just over a month ago, Venter announced the ‘birth’ of Synthia, the first artificial self-reproducing organism, thereby stimulating further investment in the controversial field and attracting many calls for more regulation and oversight of these new technologies. If we have learnt one thing out of the BP-Halliburton-Transocean disaster it is this: do not trust those who are profiting from the use of a technology with its safety.

And then there is geo-engineering –the biggest technological gamble of all --which Koonin and BP see as a viable backup plan. Geoengineering refers to seemingly outlandish large-scale schemes to re-engineer atmospheric and ocean systems in order to counteract global warming. Like the massive, improbable-sounding concrete caps, nuclear options and ‘top kill’ plans now being played out on the deepwater horizon well head, such schemes have a boyish sci-fi feel to them – dumping iron in the ocean to prompt plankton blooms that would gobble up C02 or whitening clouds to reflect sunlight back to space.

A Plan B for the world

In 2008 David Eyton, BP VP for science and technology announced that a new area of investigation for BP was indeed geo-engineering. ‘We cannot ignore the scale of the challenge,’ he wrote ,‘and we all need to have a plan B if the world is unable to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations and the worst of climate change predictions are realized.’

BP’s preferred option is a proposal to shoot sulphur particles into the upper atmosphere to mimic the effect of a volcanic plume. In the case of a large volcanic eruption (such as Pinatubo in 1991) such particles reflect sunlight back to space and significantly reduce the Earth’s temperature.

Steve Koonin convened a fraternity of a dozen scientists for a week last year in order to look in detail at the technical research agenda of short-wave climate engineering, through the use of stratospheric aerosols. The study was the first to be sponsored by NOVIM, an outfit that claims to ‘provide clear scientific options to the most urgent problems… without advocacy or agenda’.

The report outlines a decade-long research programme that begins with computers in the lab, and then moves to field experiments to ‘monitored deployment’. The specific goal of the report is to devise a research agenda that will ‘diminish risk and uncertainty’.

Of course, what constitutes an acceptable risk when referring to the Earth’s complex, fragile and already out-of-whack climatic systems should be a political, not a mere technical, question. Oil executives and fishermen are unlikely to respond in the same way. Governments and peoples from the Northern and Southern hemispheres are also likely to disagree. Women and men have also been shown to differ on attitudes to risk.

Just as the oil industry is eager to get on with the exploitation of hard-to-reach sources of black gold, an increasingly vocal and well-organised lobby of geoengineers is anxious to get on with testing a variety of climate intervention schemes. Underlying both is a thinly disguised hubris that the Gulf catastrophe should vividly awake us to. Both oil and geoengineering have strong connections in Washington, sometimes even in the same people. To state the obvious, big oil would certainly benefit if the atmosphere could be engineered to withstand higher concentrations of greenhouse gases.

A growing group of citizens are calling for a halt to such experimentation on planet Earth (see www.handsoffmotherearth.org) and the expanding thick black muck in the Gulf should remind us all to listen to them. It is too late to prevent this disaster; not too late to prevent others. Jim Thomas is research programme manager at the ETC group

  http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/522729/the_link_between_bp_geoengineering_and_gm.html
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Europe seeks to protect mid-Atlantic high seas

Twin brothers Paul and Bode Lesiewicz play in a pool of water in front of the Atlantic Ocean as the area awaits Hurricane Earl in Nags Head, North Carolina September 2, 2010. REUTERS/Richard Clement
BERGEN, Norway | Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:20am EDT
BERGEN, Norway (Reuters) - European nations agreed on Friday to set up fishing-free zones in remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean in the world's first high seas network of protected areas beyond the control of national governments.
 Environment ministers from 15 European states, forming the OSPAR group overseeing the North-East Atlantic, said they would seek recognition of the six areas at the United Nations and from the United States and Canada on the other side of the ocean.
"This is a historic step," Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim told Reuters after the September 23-24 talks in Bergen, West Norway. "We will try to inspire other nations to do the same, like in the Indian ocean, the Pacific and other oceans."
"It will give a new level of protection to species living in the mid-Atlantic," he said. Species include whales, sharks, rays, orange roughy and cold-water corals.
Protection might mean permanent bans on fishing or seabed drilling or mining, perhaps even restrictions on shipping.
The six zones, covering a total 285,000 sq kms (110,000 sq miles) or an area equivalent in size to Italy or the U.S. state of Arizona, are mainly north of the Azores and west of Ireland.
European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik also praised the deal as "a ground-breaking initiative."

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68M3R220100924?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fenvironment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Environment%29
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Losing wild species at rapid pace, warns UN Read more: Losing wild species at rapid pace, warns UN - The Times of India

The world is failing to stop the alarming loss of the Earth's species and habitat, a UN summit was warned on Wednesday amid multinational bickering over who pays for the rescue.

Recent reports have warned that species are disappearing at up to 1,000 times the natural rate of disappearance because of human activity and now climate change.

"Too many people still fail to grasp the implications of this destruction," UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon warned. "I urge all leaders present today to commit to reducing biodiversity loss." UN states have missed an agreed 2010 deadline to achieve "a significant reduction" in the rate of wildlife loss, the UN chief said.

That's because the international community is locked in a battle on how to set up a panel to assess the Earth's biodiversity. The mooted organization, the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, would list Earth's species at global and regional level, and spell out the value of them.

But diplomatic sources said the establishment of the group could be delayed, with developing countries holding out for a system that would give poor countries payments for the use of genetic "patrimony" – unique species of plants or animals that are found to have a commercial or medical use.

Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/Losing-wild-species-at-rapid-pace-warns-UN/articleshow/6617176.cms
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New study finds groundwater pumping for irrigation contributes to one-quarter of the sea-level rise observed in today's oceans. By Douglas Fischer

A source of sea-level rise to rival glaciers

irrigation-768
Groundwater irrigates a field near Mencosta, Mich. A new study finds runoff from groundwater pumping is raising sea levels as much as melting from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica. Photo by bnicholephoto/flickr

Melting glaciers aren't the only reason coastal cities need to worry about sea-level rise.
Agriculture is pumping groundwater for irrigation at such a rate that the runoff equals the contribution from melting of glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica, according to a new study looking at groundwater depletion.
 It also exceeds or falls into the high-end of previous estimates of groundwater's contribution to sea-level rise, the researchers found.
Most water extracted from underground aquifers ends up in the ocean. The ceaseless pumping contributes about 0.8 millimeters of sea-level rise annually, about a quarter of the 3.1 millimeters per year scientists are observing worldwide, researchers reported.
depletion-500The study, headed by Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, is to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the publication announced Thursday.
The study's main point was to assess the depletion rate of the vast underground stores that billions of people depend on for agriculture and drinking water and that sustain countless streams, wetlands and ecosystems.
The news wasn't good: The depletion rate has more than doubled between 1960 and 2000, with aquifers losing almost 70 cubic miles of water per year.
Because the amount of groundwater is unknown, scientists can't say how fast the global supply will vanish at this point. But if water was siphoned just as rapidly from the Great Lakes, they would go bone-dry in 80 years, according to the study.
"The rate of depletion increased almost linearly from the 1960s to the early 1990s," Bierkens said in a statement. "But then you see a sharp increase which is related to the increase of upcoming economies and population numbers; mainly in India and China."
Groundwater represents about 30 percent of the available fresh water on the planet, with surface water accounting for one percent. The rest of the world's potable, ag-friendly supply is locked up in glaciers or polar ice caps, according to the report.
DailyClimate.org is a nonprofit news service covering climate change.

http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2010/09/irrigation
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European countries reject Atlantic oil drilling ban proposal

OSLO (AFP) – Countries bordering the north-east Atlantic rejected a ban proposal on deep-sea offshore drilling destined to avoid an environmental disaster comparable to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Norway said Friday.
The ban was proposed by Germany at a meeting in the western Norwegian city of Bergen of the OSPAR commission, a body through which the 15 countries with western coasts and catchments of Europe, together with the European Union, cooperate to protect the environment of the North-East Atlantic.
The proposal was quickly withdrawn following pressure from the region's oil-producing countries, namely Norway, Denmark and Britain, Greenpeace said.
"Instead, another proposal was presented ... before taking any other decision, we will wait for the reports on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to be presented to President Obama in January ," Gard Nybro-Nielsen, a spokesperson of Norway's environment ministry, told AFP.
Shortly after the BP-leased Deepwater Horzion oil rig exploded in April, killing 11 and causing a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, US President Barack Obama ordered a six month freeze on deepwater offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The freeze was annulled by a court in July and promptly reinstated by the government. It expires on November 30.
Germany's failure to push a common ban for all OSPAR countries means eventual bans would have to be put in place by individual countries.
Environmental organisation Greenpeace, which is pushing for a ban of deep-sea offshore oil drilling, said the failed proposal was a "total victory for the oil industry."
Officials meeting in Bergen "did not have the political courage to protect us against another accident like Deepwater Horizon, while it was in their reach to do so," said Truls Gulowsen of Greenpeace Norway.http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100924/sc_afp/norwaygermanyusoilenvironmentpollution
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Dividing Up The Arctic Russia's Putin Says He Wants Peaceful Division Of Arctic -- Christian Science Monitor


At a conference that included the US, Canada, Denmark, and Norway, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the area should be a 'zone of peace.' But Russia is bolstering its claim to a large tract of the Arctic seabed.

Russia is staking its economic future on its controversial territorial claim to a huge slice of the fast-melting Arctic, which holds up to a quarter of the world's untapped energy resources, and is set to launch an unprecedented diplomatic campaign to achieve its goals.

Read more ....
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0923/Russia-s-Putin-says-he-wants-peaceful-division-of-Arctic
More News On Claims In the Arctic

Putin Calls for 'Trust' in Developing a Thawing Arctic -- New York Times
Vladimir Putin calls for calm in battle for Arctic energy reserves -- The Telegraph
Russia likely to resolve Lomonosov Ridge dispute in its favor says diplomat -- RIA Novosti
Russia confident its Arctic claim will succeed -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Putin plays down talk of battle for Arctic resources -- BBC
Arctic summit in Moscow hears rival claims -- BBC
The struggle for Arctic riches -- BBC
Russia's Arctic holds 100 Bln tons of oil, gas -- AP

Nothing Can Escape a Black Hole (Except Water, Gas, Energetic Particles, and ....) - by Washington's Blog - 2010-09-24

Everyone knows that nothing can escape a black hole, right?
Actually, as I noted last year:
Scientists say they have discovered a black hole in a distant galaxy that spouted water in a powerful jet:
Indeed, scientists say that "surveys of ... younger galaxies show that ... about 5% have powerful water masers".
Now, scientists have found a black hole which shoots out jets of gas and highly energetic particles into a neighboring galaxy, speeding up star formation in nearby.
Blackholejetshires
As Wired reports:
Astronomers have spied a distant black hole in the act of creating the galaxy that will eventually become its home.
By sending a jet of gas and highly energetic particles into a neighboring galaxy, the black hole has touched off star formation at a rate 100 times the galactic average.
“Our study suggests that supermassive black holes can trigger the formation of stars, thus ‘building’ their own host galaxies,” David Elbaz, lead author of a paper on the work in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, said in a press release. “This link could also explain why galaxies hosting larger black holes have more stars.”
I am not sure whether the water, gas and particles emanate from inside the black holes themselves, or from right outside the black holes. I haven't interviewed the scientists who made the above-described discoveries. If the later, consider this poetic license.
For ore mind-blowing science facts, see:
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China top in world seafood consumption: study

A new model to measure fisheries shows China has overtaken Japan to lead the world in seafood consumption, researchers said. American and Canadian marine scientists compared the resources needed by different kinds of fish to the total consumption of all seafoods worldwide, finding that China, Japan and the United States were the top three seafood-eating nations.
The report headed by Daniel Pauly, director of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia here, warned Wednesday however that global fisheries are increasingly unsustainable and their product is unequally consumed by wealthy countries.
Japan was previously considered the top seafood-consuming nation, mainly because China consumes less high-value fish like tuna or salmon, said the study.
But when total resources needed to produce seafood are tallied, the study showed the Asian giant at the top of the ocean food chain.
"Though the average Chinese consumer generally eats smaller fish than the average Japanese consumer does, China's massive population gives it the world's biggest seafood print, 694 million metric tons of primary production," said National Geographic, which co- funded the research.
Pauly's team developed a measuring tool called "SeafoodPrint" modeled on the "ecological footprint" concept that measures the area of land needed to sustain a person depending on their location and lifestyle.
The researchers' model compares fish by the amount of algae it takes to produce them, said study co-author and PhD economics student Wilf Swartz.
"By expressing everything in terms of kilograms of algae... we can measure how much of the ocean's production is being consumed by humans," Swartz told AFP. "A kilogram of herring would be the equivalent of 100 kilograms of algae, and one kilogram of tuna would be equivalent to 1,000 kilograms of algae."
The measurement gives regulators a means to measure the total human impact on the oceans, and the report hopes to encourage consumers to eat species with a less harmful impact.
"Hopefully we can change the demands on fish such as salmon, to less impactful species, like mackerel," said Swartz.http://www.terradaily.com/reports/China_top_in_world_seafood_consumption_study_999.html



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Ocean cooling contributed to mid-20th century global warming hiatus

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- An abrupt cooling event centered over the North Atlantic around 1970 might play a role in the hiatus of global warming in the Northern Hemisphere during the mid-20th century, a new study suggests.
"We knew that the Northern Hemisphere oceans cooled during the mid-20th century, but the sudden nature of that cooling surprised us," said David W. J. Thompson, an atmospheric science professor at Colorado State University, who led an international team on the subject.
The team discovered an unexpectedly abrupt cooling event that occurred between roughly 1968 and 1972 in Northern Hemisphere ocean temperatures. The research indicates that the cooling played a key role in the different rates of warming seen in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in the middle 20th century.
While the temperature drop was evident in data from all Northern Hemisphere oceans, it was most pronounced in the northern North Atlantic, a region of the world ocean thought to be climatically dynamic.
"Accounting for the effects of some forms of natural variability - such as El Nino and volcanic eruptions - helped us to identify the suddenness of the event," said team member Phil D. Jones of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.
The different rates of warming in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in the middle 20th century are frequently attributed to the larger buildup of tropospheric aerosol pollution in the rapidly industrializing Northern Hemisphere. Aerosol pollution contributes to cooling of the Earth's surface and thus can attenuate the warming due to increasing greenhouse gases.
But the new study offers an alternative interpretation of the difference in mid-century temperature trends.http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/sci/2010-09/23/c_13526102.htm
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Environment key to U.S. security: Congress briefing By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

(Reuters) - Environmental degradation and waning natural resources threaten U.S. security in the 21st century, in a shift from "kinetic" security threats, defense experts told a Capitol Hill briefing Wednesday.
The loss of renewable natural resources, including forests, fresh water, fish and fertile soils, can drive political instability and conflict in the developing world, according to the briefing.
"We can't just send in the Army and the Marines and the Air Force and the Navy to resolve these problems, and they can't all be security problems," said retired General Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command.
"Whether it is climate change, whether it is disruption of the environment in other ways ... we're going to see more failed and incapable states."
Zinni cited a report from the non-profit Center for a New American Security that linked depletion of fish stocks off Somalia, the drop in water and oil resources in Yemen, frequent droughts in Afghanistan and scarce and polluted water in Pakistan to instability and security.
Lieutenant Colonel Shannon Beebe, a senior Army Africa analyst, contrasted the traditional threats to U.S. and global security with those posed by environmental woes and natural resource problems. He noted that he offered his personal opinion, not that of the U.S. Defense Department.
"An American security narrative is very much based on the kinetics ... planes, tanks, guns, armed forces," Beebe said, saying these kinetic threats would be replaced by "creeping vulnerabilities."
"You think we're going to continue to face state-based threats?" he asked rhetorically. "Might I remind you of the two greatest attacks on the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, and neither of those was from a state-based threat: 911 and Hurricane Katrina."
Both men cited their own experience in the Europe, Asia and Africa with defense leaders who recognized that integrating environmental problems into security policy was essential. Beebe said the United States has yet to understand that a coordinated narrative on this is key.
"When you talk to Africans ... ministers and chiefs of defense, they will talk to you in terms of security as food, as environmental degradation, natural disasters, environmental shocks," Beebe said.
"Until we get the narrative correctly, it's going to be a lot like putting an American baseball umpire at a cricket match and expecting the outcome to be positive," Beebe said.
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A Growing La Nina Chills Out The Pacific

A Growing La Nina Chills Out The Pacific

La Nina continues to strengthen in the Pacific Ocean, as shown in the latest satellite data of sea surface heights from the NASA/European Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 satellite. The image is based on the average of 10 days of data centered on Sept. 3, 2010. Higher (warmer) than normal sea surface heights are indicated by yellows and reds, while lower (cooler) than normal sea surface heights are depicted in blues and purples. Green indicates near-normal conditions. Image credit: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team
by Staff Writers Pasadena CA (JPL) Sep 17, 2010 The tropical Pacific Ocean has transitioned from last winter's El Nino conditions to a cool La Nina, as shown by new data about sea surface heights, collected by the U.S-French Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 oceanography satellite. This OSTM/Jason-2 image of the Pacific Ocean is based on the average of 10 days of data centered on Sept. 3, 2010. A new image depicts places where the Pacific sea surface height is higher (warmer) than normal as yellow and red, with places where the sea surface is lower (cooler) than normal as blue and purple.
Green indicates near-normal conditions. Sea surface height is an indicator of how much of the sun's heat is stored in the upper ocean.
La Nina ocean conditions often follow an El Nino episode and are essentially the opposite of El Nino conditions. During a La Nina episode, trade winds are stronger than normal, and the cold water that normally exists along the coast of South America extends to the central equatorial Pacific.
La Nina episodes change global weather patterns and are associated with less moisture in the air over cooler ocean waters, resulting in less rain along the coasts of North and South America and the equator, and more rain in the far Western Pacific.
"This La Nina has strengthened for the past four months, is strong now and is still building," said Climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It will surely impact this coming winter's weather and climate.
"After more than a decade of mostly dry years on the Colorado River watershed and in the American Southwest, and only one normal rain year in the past five years in Southern California, water supplies are dangerously low," Patzert added.
"This La Nina could deepen the drought in the already parched Southwest and could also worsen conditions that have fueled Southern California's recent deadly wildfires."
NASA will continue to track this change in Pacific climate.
The comings and goings of El Nino and La Nina are part of a long-term, evolving state of global climate, for which measurements of sea surface height are a key indicator. JPL manages the U.S. portion of the OSTM/Jason-2 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.
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Installing Solar Fields On Brownfield Sites Across North America

Installing Solar Fields On Brownfield Sites Across North America

File image
by Staff Writers Shelton CT (SPX) Sep 23, 2010 OPEL Solar and TRUENORTH Solar and Environmental have announced a strategic partnership to install utility-scale solar fields on brownfield sites across North America that have been deemed otherwise unusable. Brownfield sites are generally defined as abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use. Expansion or redevelopment of such sites are usually complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.
By installing solar installations on urban brownfield sites, cities and municipalities will be able to transform blighted, unusable areas of land into productive green energy fields that will address the growing need for energy in urban areas as well as help utilities address clean energy mandates.
"Turning brownfields into solar fields represents more than just a tremendous business opportunity for OPEL Solar and TRUENORTH," stated OPEL Solar's CEO, Leon M. Pierhal, "It's a way for both companies to give back to these communities, generate badly needed municipal revenues by generating green energy and help revitalize blighted and unusable urban land."
"At the same time, we see this initiative as another example of our strategy to enhance shareholder value by continuing to uncover new, expanded market opportunities for providing our solar technology expertise," Pierhal continued.
OPEL's solar solutions for these fields includes a total 'package' of services such as land assessment, engineering, EPA assistance, remediation or mitigation of the land, installation, utility company cutover and funding or power purchase agreement ("PPA") assistance.
OPEL Solar will be providing their patented HCPV solar panels and industry-leading advanced tracker systems to the projects while TRUENORTH Solar will handle the land remediation and installation.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that site cleanup revenue, for the companies doing the clean-up, can amount to approximately $6-8 billion annually as experts forecast that there may be as many as 4,000 brownfields in the United States, roughly the equivalent of 30,000 football fields. Add in Superfund sites and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act sites and the total jumps to more than 14 million acres that could be redeveloped as renewable energy sites.
"TRUENORTH principals see great potential for solar energy and its ability to bring renewable energy to communities throughout North America at a reasonable cost. At the same time we also see the untapped potential for using brownfields as a business development asset for creating clean energy sites," said Roland J. Harris, a Principal of TRUENORTH Solar and Environmental LLC.
"We are very committed to this line of business. In fact three companies formed TRUENORTH exclusively for capitalizing on the solar energy opportunity while also enabling the remediation of brownfields."
"We want to work exclusively with OPEL Solar in New England to transform the land into solar energy fields. We know that OPEL Solar has the expertise to manage the total project and provide the superior products to offer the customers the optimal solar energy solution," echoed Timothy Bartha, another Principal of TRUENORTH.
OPEL Solar intends to be a leading solar brownfield solution provider, according to Pierhal. To that end, OPEL Solar is looking for additional companies like TRUENORTH to be strategically placed throughout North America, and OPEL Solar plans to announce such alliances as they develop.
"Complemented by several world-class partners who share our vision and desire to give back, OPEL Solar can manage the process of transformation for brownfields for communities and agencies that simply do not know where to begin," stated Pierhal.
"Not only will it generate revenue for OPEL and bring positive land remediation for communities across North America, it will also generate jobs for North Americans and get local manufacturers and suppliers moving again to support the solar development of brownfields."
Pierhal commented that since announcing OPEL Solar's Brownfield Initiative, he has received calls from around the world asking for assistance in establishing similar directives.
As the commitment to rejuvenate otherwise 'dead' land deepens, a broad spectrum of federal and state government grants, financing and investment incentives are available for redevelopment and remediation of these sites. A sample of the primary federal agencies involved includes: EPA, DOE, Department of Defense, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forestry Services, Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Reclamation.
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Moscow Forum To Seek Solutions On Sharing The Arctic's Mineral Wealth by Andrei Fedyashin RIA Novosti political commentator




Moscow Forum To Seek Solutions On Sharing The Arctic's Mineral Wealth

Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States - the five countries with Arctic coastlines - have always had claims to the abundant natural resources stored in the Arctic seabed.
by Andrei Fedyashin
RIA Novosti political commentator
Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) Sep 21, 2010 Recent developments in the Arctic, such as the discovery of new oil deposits off Greenland and border delimitation expeditions in the Arctic by various nations, suggest it is time to begin a serious dialogue on the region. Russia intends to do just this with the forum The Artic - Territory of Dialogue. The forum has been organized by the Russian Geographical Society in association with the RIA Novosti news agency.
Proof that Russia takes Arctic issues seriously can be found in the fact that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will attend the forum. Intended as an ongoing event, the forum will bring together dozens of Arctic experts from the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, and the European Union, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations, members of the business community, politicians and lawyers.
Artur Chilingarov, President Dmitry Medvedev's commissioner for international cooperation in the Arctic and the Antarctic, believes that international conferences on Arctic issues, such as protecting its ecosystem and using its natural resources, could be arranged in the format proposed by Russia once a year, or once in two years.
The goal of these meetings will be to strike a balance between national and international interests, with a focus on the state of the environment in the Arctic, which plays a major role in shaping the global climate, said Chilingarov, a noted polar explorer.http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Moscow_Forum_To_Seek_Solutions_On_Sharing_The_Arctic_Mineral_Wealth_999.html