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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Judge keeps tight leash in BP litigation

Judge keeps tight leash in BP litigation

Everything about the impending trial over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is big — the potential damages, the range of legal issues, the thousands of exhibits, the cast of lawyers. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans has made it clear that he intends to prevent the case from getting too big.

A Peak Oil Professor Debates Shell's Former CEO On The Subject Of Peak Oil

A Peak Oil Professor Debates Shell's Former CEO On The Subject Of Peak Oil

University Of Texas Researchers Find No Direct Link Between Fracking And Contaminated Groundwater

University Of Texas Researchers Find No Direct Link Between Fracking And Contaminated Groundwater


Researchers at the University of Texas have concluded hydraulic fracturing used to extract natural gas does not directly contaminate groundwater, the AP reports.
The study, however, does not exonerate the shale drilling industry, noting that contamination can and often does occur from spills or mishandling of wastewater.
Gas well failures from faulty causing or liners have also been shown to cause contamination and home explosions.

Friday, February 17, 2012

More water shortages for China?

More water shortages for China?

Beijing (UPI) Feb 16, 2012
China faces worsening water shortages, a government official warned. The country's water shortages, along with serious river pollution and a deteriorating aquatic ecosystem, pose a growing threat to economic and social development, Hu Siyi, China's vice minister of water resources said Thursday, state-run news agency Xinhua reports. China's population of 1.3 billion people consum

Superfund: Status of EPA's Efforts to Improve Its Management and Oversight of Special Accounts -- GAO

Superfund: Status of EPA's Efforts to Improve Its Management and Oversight of Special Accounts -- GAO

Understanding China's Rising Coal Imports

Understanding China's Rising Coal Imports

Understanding China's Rising Coal ImportsSeveral factors could be contributing to China’s sudden entrance into coal import markets, including transportation bottlenecks, environmental and safety considerations, economic factors, and concerns about depleting coking coal reserves.

China Holds Key to Climate Change

China Holds Key to Climate Change

China Holds Key to Climate ChangeThe nature of the climate challenge in the immediate future will be determined by China and the world’s largest carbon emitters—not U.N. summits.

The silent famine pandemic sweeping the planet

The silent famine pandemic sweeping the planet

February 17, 2012INDIAA quarter of young children around the world are not getting enough nutrients to grow properly, and 300 die of malnutrition every hour, according to a new report that lays bare the effects of the global food crisis. There are 170 million children aged under five whose development has been stunted by malnutrition because of lack of food for them and their breastfeeding mothers, and the situation is getting significantly worse, according to research by the charity Save the Children. In Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Peru and Nigeria – countries which are the home of half of the world’s stunted children – recent rises in global food prices are forcing the parents of malnourished children to cut back on food and pull children out of school to work. According to the report, A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition, a third of parents surveyed said their children routinely complain they do not have enough to eat. One in six parents can never afford to buy meat, milk or vegetables. It suggests that six out of 10 children in Afghanistan are not getting enough nutrients to avoid stunted growth. “If no concerted action is taken,” warns Justin Forsyth, the charity’s chief executive, “half a billion children will be physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years.” Over the past five years the price of food has soared across the globe, thanks to extreme weather conditions, diverting farmland to grow bio-fuels, speculative trading of food commodities and the global financial crisis. The poor, who spend the bulk of their income on food, are hit hardest. One in four parents in the countries surveyed have been forced to cut back on food for their families. One in six have had children skip school to help their parents at work. In India, half of all children are stunted from malnutrition with a quarter often going without food entirely. In Afghanistan, the price of food has risen 25 per cent – the average rise worldwide in 2011. In places like Kenya it is up 40 per cent. -Independent

Why Not Frack?

Why Not Frack?

Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books
In one sense, the analysts who forecast that “peak oil”—i.e., the point at which the rate of global petroleum extraction will begin to decline;would be reached over the last few years were correct. The planet is running short of the easy stuff, where you stick a drill in the ground and crude comes bubbling to the surface. The great oil fields of Saudi Arabia and Mexico have begun to dwindle; one result has been a rising price for energy. . .

Models underestimate future temperature variability: Food security at risk

Models underestimate future temperature variability: Food security at risk

Climate warming caused by greenhouse gases is very likely to increase summer temperature variability around the world by the end of this century, new research shows. The findings have major implications for food production.

Models underestimate future temperature variability; Food security at risk

Models underestimate future temperature variability; Food security at risk
Climate warming caused by greenhouse gases is very likely to increase the variability of summertime temperatures around the world by the end of this century, a University of Washington climate scientist said Friday. The findings have major implications for food production.

Climate change leads to pollution of indigenous people's water supplies

Climate change leads to pollution of indigenous people's water supplies
Indigenous people around the world are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are increasingly susceptible to the pathogen loads found in potable water after heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt.

Deepwater Horizon disaster could have billion dollar impact: new study

Deepwater Horizon disaster could have billion dollar impact: new study
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 will have a large economic impact on the U.S. Gulf fisheries.

Fracking risks, fact or fiction?

Fracking risks, fact or fiction?
A Simon Fraser University researcher known for his expertise on naturally occurring hazards will participate Friday in a shake down of the truth about a new form of human-induced earthquakes.

Chilling climate-change related news

Chilling climate-change related news
A presentation at the world’s largest science fair by a Simon Fraser University earth sciences professor promises to make the skin crawl of even the most ardent disbelievers of the predicted impacts of climate change.

China shale-gas drive looks over-ambitious

China shale-gas drive looks over-ambitious

China, an importer of natural gas for the past four years, is investing heavily in securing technology to develop the country's extensive shale gas reserves. Yet the geological and related technical challenges suggest the recovery target is far too ambitious. - Robert M Cutler

Preventing a Blowout in the Arctic

Preventing a Blowout in the Arctic

Russia's push to explore for oil in the Arctic is bad news.

Biomass: Just Because it's Green Doesn't Mean it's Clean


New Eyes on an Old Industry: Oh, for frac’s sake…

New Eyes on an Old Industry: Oh, for frac’s sake…
No one outside the industry is ever going to be entirely comfortable with fracking. The process is too weird for normal human consumption, and the very nature of how it is performed means someone, and most likely many someones, will always oppose it.
Full Article

Industry responds to proposed fracking chemical disclosure rules

Industry responds to proposed fracking chemical disclosure rules
The oil and gas industry has lashed back against the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management for its proposed rule to require the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Full Article

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Low-carbon technologies 'no quick-fix', say researchers

Low-carbon technologies 'no quick-fix', say researchers
Could replacing coal-fired electricity plants with generators fueled by natural gas bring global warming to a halt in this century? What about rapid construction of massive numbers of solar or wind farms, hydroelectric dams, or nuclear reactors—or the invention of new technology for capturing the carbon dioxide produced by fossil-fueled power plants and storing it permanently underground? Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures teamed up with Carnegie Institution's Ken Caldeira to calculate the expected climate effects of replacing the world's supply of electricity from coal plants with any of eight cleaner options. The work was published online by Environmental Research Letters on February 16.

New study shows no evidence of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing

New study shows no evidence of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing
Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to extract natural gas has no direct connection to reports of groundwater contamination, based on evidence reviewed in a study released Thursday by the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.

Marine protected areas: changing climate could require change of plans

Marine protected areas: changing climate could require change of plans
Marine protected areas (MPAs) may turn out to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result of changing conditions, marine species have been on the move with observed shifts of as much as three kilometres per year over the past 50 years, and forecasts of shifts of as much as 300 kilometres in the coming 50 years.

US launches new coalition to fight climate change

US launches new coalition to fight climate change
Faulting the world for not doing enough to fight climate change, the United States on Thursday announced the formation of a coalition to cut short-lived pollutants that speed up warming and harm health.

UBC researchers use Google Earth to verify Mediterranean fish farming data

UBC researchers use Google Earth to verify Mediterranean fish farming data

Kelowna, Canada (SPX) Feb 14, 2012
The Great Wall of China is not the only thing you can see from space. Fish farming cages are clearly visible through Google Earth's satellite images and University of British Columbia researchers have used them to estimate the amount of fish being cultivated in the Mediterranean.

DuPont to build Beijing seed bank

DuPont to build Beijing seed bank

Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2012
US chemical and agribusiness giant DuPont announced Tuesday it will build a "state-of-the-art" seed bank in Beijing to boost its molecular breeding business in China's rapidly growing agriculture market. DuPont said the facility at the state-owned Beijing International Flower Port would employ about 50 researchers and would focus on producing "high-yielding maize hybrids."

Rainfed-dryland farming needs more investment

Rainfed-dryland farming needs more investment

New Delhi (IANS) Feb 15, 2012
President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday called for more investment in agriculture, especially in rainfed and dryland farming, to achieve food security and inclusive growth

New web tool to improve accuracy of global land cover maps

New web tool to improve accuracy of global land cover maps

Laxenburg, Austria (SPX) Feb 16, 2012
An interactive web tool has been developed to improve the accuracy and extent of global land use and forest cover information. The new 'Geo-Wiki' uses Google Earth and information provided by a global network of volunteers to fill in 'data gaps' and to verify existing land cover information. Developers this week have launched a Geo-Wiki competition to raise awareness of the tool and to encourage

DuPont and Yingli Green Energy Enter Strategic Agreement

DuPont and Yingli Green Energy Enter Strategic Agreement

Wilmington DE (SPX) Feb 16, 2012
DuPont and Yingli Energy (China) have signed a $100 million strategic agreement for photovoltaic materials aimed at accelerating the adoption of solar energy to address one of the world's biggest challenges - reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Territorial Disputes Hamper Offshore Exploration and Production Efforts in Far East

Territorial Disputes Hamper Offshore Exploration and Production Efforts in Far East

London UK (SPX) Feb 16, 2012
Efforts of countries in the Asia-Pacific region to boost their offshore exploration and production (E and P) activities and reduce their rising dependency on imported oil and gas will be hindered by territorial disputes, a report by energy intelligence specialist GlobalData has found

China's pollution related to E-cars may be more harmful than gasoline cars

China's pollution related to E-cars may be more harmful than gasoline cars

Knoxville TN (SPX) Feb 16, 2012
Electric cars have been heralded as environmentally friendly, but findings from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers show that electric cars in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.

The Age of Fossil Fuels is Far From Over

The Age of Fossil Fuels is Far From Over

Having looked at the major alternatives to fossil fuel energy production (summarized here), we come away with the general sentiment that the easy days of cheap energy are not evidently carried forward into a future without fossil fuels.  That’s right, fossil fuels will be dead and gone.  Is it time to pile them on the cart to be hauled away? In the slapdash scoring scheme I employed in the alternative energy matrix, the best performers racked up 5 points, whereas by the same criteria, our traditional fossil fuels typically achieved…Read more...

How the U.S. Can Produce 36 Billion Gallons of Biofuels Annually

How the U.S. Can Produce 36 Billion Gallons of Biofuels Annually

Jim Lane at Biofuelsdigest.com has written an article worthy of serious consideration to answer the U.S. challenge in law to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel annually. Ethanol from corn, now well past the E-10 or 10% blend share and looking to get to 15% and much more E-85 (85%) sales plus various ratios in between, is closing in on a third of the legal requirement.  So far the legal requirement is being waived, as the technology isn’t fully there for cellulosic ethanol production.  The special interests are resisting and the…Read more...

How the US Shale Boom Will Change the World

How the US Shale Boom Will Change the World

A funny thing is happening on the way to the clean energy future–reality is setting in. There is ‘incontrovertible evidence’ about the economic growth and job creating effects of America’s unconventional oil and gas production boom – more than 600,000 jobs directly attributable to shale gas development. Even President Obama is praising the job creating benefits of ‘America’s resource boom’. America is getting its energy mojo back and that is good news but not the entire story. How Much Shale Gas is…Read more...

Bill Gates and Richard Branson Back Geoengineering to Counter Climate Change

Bill Gates and Richard Branson Back Geoengineering to Counter Climate Change

Climate change is real. Few doubt that now. Governments try to impose, rather weak, legislation to combat climate change such as imposing reductions in carbon emissions, but in truth nothing is changing. The Department of Energy reported that the largest increase in carbon emissions ever occurred in 2010, and according to the International Energy Agency the global temperature could reach a dangerous and irreversible level by 2017 if drastic, coordinated action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gases. As time runs out for conventional methods such…Read more...

Tackling China’s Toxic Factories

Tackling China’s Toxic Factories

The week leading up to Chinese New Year is a period during which many Chinese are focused on their preparations to return home for the holidays. But unbeknownst to the citizens of the Southern Chinese city of Hechi, industrial waste discharge, containing high levels of cadmium, was also leeching into a 100-kilometer stretch of the Longjiang and Liujiang rivers in Guangxi Province. Although cadmium contamination was reportedly detected in Hechi as early as January 15, the only specific information made public by Hechi officials was an official media release on January 19. The lack of concrete, reliable and very importantly detailed information impeded disaster relief efforts by city officials further down the river and also led to a panic induced rush by concerned citizens who packed out supermarkets in order to buy bottled water. The reaction from local officials in downstream Liuzhou was considerably better: on January 23 they began releasing data ... Read More...

Obama's Rocky Courtship of Environmentalists

Obama's Rocky Courtship of Environmentalists

Eric Pianin, Fiscal Times
President Obama has had a rocky relationship with environmentalists over the past couple of years, as the administration seemed to be currying favor with utilities, the oil and gas industry and business leaders in preparation for a tough reelection battle this fall. . .

The Heartland Scandal & the Climate Fight

The Heartland Scandal & the Climate Fight

Andrew Revkin, NY Times
The Heartland Institute, a private group backed by industry and independent donors opposed to government regulation, has for years supported an array of efforts fighting restrictions on greenhouse gases.

What Does Joe Nocera Mean by "a Serious Threat"?

What Does Joe Nocera Mean by "a Serious Threat"?

John Fullerton, HP
In his Feb. 10 essay, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera asked a simple question: "Can a person support the Keystone XL oil pipeline and still believe that global warming poses a serious threat? . ."

Climate change threatens tropical birds: Global warming, extreme weather aggravate habitat loss, review finds

Climate change threatens tropical birds: Global warming, extreme weather aggravate habitat loss, review finds

Climate change spells trouble for many tropical birds -- especially those living in mountains, coastal forests and relatively small areas -- and the damage will be compounded by other threats like habitat loss, disease and competition among species, according to a new review.

Low-carbon technologies 'no quick-fix': May not lessen global warming until late this century

Low-carbon technologies 'no quick-fix': May not lessen global warming until late this century

A drastic switch to low carbon-emitting technologies, such as wind and hydroelectric power, may not yield a reduction in global warming until the latter part of this century, new research suggests. Furthermore, it states that technologies that offer only modest reductions in greenhouse gases, such as the use of natural gas and perhaps carbon capture and storage, cannot substantially reduce climate risk in the next 100 years.

Documents Show Direct Link Between Corporate Money, Anti-Science Campaigns

Documents Show Direct Link Between Corporate Money, Anti-Science Campaigns

Internal documents reportedly from a free-market group were published online this week. If they are genuine, the documents reveal that some of the nation’s largest fossil fuel interests are funding attacks to discredit climate science, including in public schools.

The toxic debate over climate science

By Marc Gunther, February 16, 2012
 Can the climate-science debate get any more toxic? The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that challenges the scientific consensus about climate change, was embarrassed by the release yesterday (Feb. 14) of confidential documents, including the names of corporate donors. They were published by environmental bloggers led by the DeSmog Blog, which describes its purpose as “clearing...  » Continue...

Army Corps of Engineers Revises and Renews Nationwide Permits

Army Corps of Engineers Revises and Renews Nationwide Permits

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced today revised and renewed nationwide permits necessary for work in streams, wetlands and other waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.  The permits are necessary to replace existing permits, which expire on March 18, 2012.  The new NWPs will take effect March 19, 2012.
These new nationwide permits will be published in the Federal Register on or about February 21, 2012 and have been posted to the USACE Web site at http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/RegulatoryProgramandPermits/NationwidePermits.aspx

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

20 Times More Japanese Earthquakes in the 6 Months Following March 2011 than in the Previous 9 YEARS … Quake May Have “Awakened” Fukushima Fault

20 Times More Japanese Earthquakes in the 6 Months Following March 2011 than in the Previous 9 YEARS … Quake May Have “Awakened” Fukushima Fault

Pandora’s Box?

We have extensively documented the fact that engineers knew that Fukushima was built in an area which was highly-susceptible to giant earthquakes, and that it would fail in a large earthquake.
Unfortunately, Pandora’s Box may now have been opened.

Climate change may increase risk of water shortages in hundreds of US counties by 2050

Climate change may increase risk of water shortages in hundreds of US counties by 2050

More than one in three counties in the US could face a "high" or "extreme" risk of water shortages due to climate change by the middle of the 21st century, according to a new study. The report concluded seven in 10 of the more than 3,100 counties could face "some" risk of shortages of fresh water.

Continental US: Extreme summer temperatures occur more frequently now

Continental US: Extreme summer temperatures occur more frequently now

Extreme summer temperatures are already occurring more frequently in the United States, and will become normal by mid-century if the world continues on a business as usual schedule of emitting greenhouse gases. By analyzing observations and results obtained from climate models, a new study has shown that previously rare high summertime (June, July and August) temperatures are already occurring more frequently in some regions of the 48 contiguous United States.

Fracking and Water: A New Way To Profit from the Industry's Biggest Problem by schaeferk@oilprice.com (Keith Schaefer)

Fracking and Water: A New Way To Profit from the Industry's Biggest Problem

Regenerative Agriculture: Feeding the Future by profs@oilprice.com (Professor Chris Rhodes)

Regenerative Agriculture: Feeding the Future

Cuts at Environment Canada put treaties in jeopardy by Eric Hand

Cuts at Environment Canada put treaties in jeopardy

Questions raised about natural-gas emissions study by Jeff Tollefson

Questions raised about natural-gas emissions study

6.0 magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of Oregon

** *February 15, 2012* – *OREGON* - A *6.0* magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Oregon at the shallow depth of 10 km (6.2 miles) and was about 256 km (159 miles) off the coast of Oregon’s closest point, which is Coos Bay, Oregon.

Fukushima at Increased Earthquake Risk, Scientists Report Science Daily

Fukushima at Increased Earthquake Risk, Scientists Report Science Daily

Could Fukushima Daiichi Be Ground Zero for the Next Big One?

Could Fukushima Daiichi Be Ground Zero for the Next Big One?
Wall Street Journal (blog)
By Yoree Koh The heft from last year's powerful March 11 earthquake shocked a sleeping fault line close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant back to life, according to a new scientific study. And based on their findings, the scientists who conducted ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Scientist suggests life began in freshwater pond, not the ocean

Scientist suggests life began in freshwater pond, not the ocean
(PhysOrg.com) -- For most everyone alive today, it's almost a fundamental fact. Life began in the ocean and evolved into all of the different organisms that exist today. The idea that this could be wrong causes great discomfort, like discovering as an adult that you were adopted as a child. Nonetheless, a team of diverse scientists led by Armen Mulkidjanian is suggesting that very thing; instead of life beginning in deep thermal vents in the ocean, the prevailing view, they say it perhaps instead started in landlocked freshwater pools created by thermal vapor. Their theory is based, as they explain in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mostly on the idea that the sea is just too salty to provide the ideal conditions necessary to spur life into existence.

Guest Post: Going Off Grid - Montana Style!

Guest Post: Going Off Grid - Montana Style!

Submitted by Brandon Smith from Alt-Market
Going Off Grid - Montana Style!

The Red Planet looks to have been home to a large body of water billions of years ago

The Red Planet looks to have been home to a large body of water billions of years ago Scientific American

Obama Budget Proposal a Big Net Plus for Environment


Feb 13, 2012 19:26 ET
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EDF Praises Funding Levels for Department of Energy, Sustainable Fisheries

With climate change, today's '100-year floods' may happen every three to 20 years: research

With climate change, today's '100-year floods' may happen every three to 20 years: research
Last August, Hurricane Irene spun through the Caribbean and parts of the eastern United States, leaving widespread wreckage in its wake. The Category 3 storm whipped up water levels, generating storm surges that swept over seawalls and flooded seaside and inland communities. Many hurricane analysts suggested, based on the wide extent of flooding, that Irene was a “100-year event”: a storm that only comes around once in a century.

Earth-facing sunspot doubles in size

Earth-facing sunspot doubles in size
The latest sunspot region to traverse the face of the Sun has nearly doubled in size as it aims Earthward, as seen in the animation above from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Click image to play the animation.)

Climate change causes harmful algal blooms in North Atlantic: study

Climate change causes harmful algal blooms in North Atlantic: study
Warming oceans and increases in windiness could be causing of an abundance of harmful algal blooms in the North Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, according to new research.

Environment Canada cuts threaten science, international agreements

Environment Canada cuts threaten science, international agreements
Recent cuts to the scientific workforce of Environment Canada, a government agency responsible for meteorological services and environmental research, threaten scientific research related to the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere and pollution in the lower atmosphere, according to environmental scientists in the U.S. These reductions in personnel and projected budget cuts also threaten existing international agreements.

Monday, February 13, 2012

World’s water footprint linked to free trade

World’s water footprint linked to free trade

Will the Senate Step Up in Pipe Fight?

Will the Senate Step Up in Pipe Fight?

Bill McKibben, Huffington Post
At least for now, the battle over the Keystone Pipeline -- the most visible environmental cause in many years -- has moved from the scarred boreal forest of Alberta and the Sand Hills of Nebraska to the halls of Congress. Or rather, it's moved to send button on your email application, because that's the best way we've got right now to stiffen the spines of our Senators. . .

Can You Believe in Keystone & Global Warming?

Can You Believe in Keystone & Global Warming?

Joe Nocera, NY Times
Here's the question on the table today: Can a person support the Keystone XL oil pipeline and still believe that global warming poses a serious threat? To my mind, the answer is yes. The crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, which the pipeline would transport to American refineries on the Gulf Coast, simply will not bring about global warming apocalypse. . .

Fish of Antarctica threatened by climate change

Fish of Antarctica threatened by climate change

A study of the evolutionary history of Antarctic fish and their "anti-freeze" proteins illustrates how tens of millions of years ago a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions -- and how today they are endangered by a rapid rise in ocean temperatures.

Study raises fears about fracking's impact on animals

Study raises fears about fracking's impact on animals
Fears about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have been emerging for several years, but now a new concern has been added to the list with a growing number of farmers reporting mysterious symptoms among livestock and pets.
Full Article

Industry responds to proposed fracking chemical disclosure rules

Industry responds to proposed fracking chemical disclosure rules
The oil and gas industry has lashed back against the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management for its proposed rule to require the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Full Article

Amyris Gives Up Making Biofuels by Kevin Bullis

Which Countries Grew the Most GM Crops in 2011? by Mike Orcutt

Sunday, February 12, 2012