Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sustainability news from national commercial sources for the week ending July 2, 2011

It's Friday night, even if this is posted after midnight on Saturday (I'm trying out the delayed publishing option on Blogspot to see how it works), so it's time to finally post part three of the linkspam. Part one was posted here, part two here, and part four, an update on The CoDominion, was posted here. As with most of the posts in the other parts, most of the articles here were originally posted to last week's Science Saturday on Daily Kos. In this post, the two economy articles are the ones not previously posted.

General Sustainability

Discovery News: AAA to Deploy Electric Car Chargers
Analysis by Emad Hanna
Fri Jul 1, 2011 12:17 AM ET
US motorists have it in the back of their minds that if they run out of gas on the road in an isolated area they can always call on American Automobile Association to come and help them out. But what if you drive an electric vehicle (EV) and you run out of juice? Up until now, even AAA would be at a loss and the best you could have hope for is to have your car towed to the nearest compliant power outlet.

But the luck of stranded environmentally conscious EV drivers is about to change thanks to an initiative AAA is taking to equip their emergency response vehicles with charging units. The plan will be announced in full detail this July at the Plug-in 2011 conference and is expected to take effect within the next few months. The service was tested last month in a joint effort by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) and Nissan, the makers of the LEAF electric car.
That's a sign of progress towards sustainability. If AAA is providing services for electric and hybrid cards, then they have reached critical mass in the marketplace.

Environment, including science and technology

Discovery News: Smaller Salton Sea Silences Seismic Shocks
by Tim Wall
June 29, 2011
Diverting the Colorado River took a load off the faults that run underneath California, literally.

In the past, the Salton Sea in Southern California periodically flooded, which may have caused small “stepover” faults beneath the Sea to trigger the much larger San Andreas Fault.

The smaller faults run perpendicular to the San Andreas Fault, and when then rupture, they can have a domino effect on the San Andreas causing it to unleash massive quakes. The first domino in the line may have been the flooding of the Salton Sea in the past. But a study published recently in Nature Geoscience suggests human use of the water may have removed that domino.
This article connects two issues close to the heart of Californians, water and earthquakes.

Discovery News:
Human activities generate more of the greenhouse gas in under three days than volcanoes do in a year.
By Jessica Marshall
June 27, 2011
Colossal, mind-bogglingly hot and capable of spewing billowing clouds of flight-grounding smoke and searing, molten lava, volcanoes are spectacular displays of the massive forces at work inside our planet. Yet they are dwarfed by humans in at least one respect: their carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite statements made by climate change deniers, volcanoes release a tiny fraction of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities every year.

In fact, humans release roughly 135 times more carbon dioxide annually than volcanoes do, on average, according a new analysis. Put another way, humans emit in under three days the amount that volcanoes typically release in a year, according to the best estimates of volcanic emissions.
That's an amazing statistic that I plan on using in class.

While I'm on the subject of climate change and its deniers...

Society, including culture and politics

Daily Kos: Climate of Harassment
by tomasyn
Climate change deniers have used many tactics in their fight to prevent action on greenhouse gas emissions. From manufacturing doubt (a tactic borrowed from the tobacco wars) to buying scientists to claiming that climate scientists are part of a global conspiracy to invent climate change in order to obtain grant money, there has been no tactic too sleazy or absurd to be used in defense of the fossil fuel industry's status quo.

Harassment of climate scientists has long been one of those tactics. Scientists who find themselves in the denial industry's crosshairs have been subjected to avalanches of FOIA requests, personal smears in the blogoshpere, hate mail and hackings. Recently these tactics have spread and intensified, with some scientists receiving threats of death and sexual assault against themselves and even their children.
I have nothing but contempt for people who harass scientists whose research discovers "An Inconvenient Truth."

On that note...

Daily Kos: Skeptics of Global Climate Change Gather At Fake Conference
by Hugh Jim Bissell
I heard there was a conference for people who say global climate change is a hoax, but I don't really believe it.

Apparently, the Heartland Institute is holding its sixth annual International Conference on Climate Change at a Marriott Hotel in Washington DC, but that's not actually true.
I wonder if there were creationists there, too. Probably.

Of course, all the above has an economic basis, which is rooted in business as usual.


Reuters: Analysis: Gas, renewables to be future energy sources of choice
By Henning Gloystein and Barbara Lewis
LONDON | Fri Jul 1, 2011 11:28am EDT
Natural gas will fast become the fossil fuel of choice to complement renewable energy for the foreseeable future, after long being regarded as merely a step on the way to a greener energy mix.

Especially in electricity generation, natural gas has so far stood in competition with coal-fired and nuclear production.

But coal's high carbon emission levels have reduced its market allure, while the crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant following an earthquake in March has put a serious dent in the prospects for global nuclear power generation.

At the same time, new technologies in extracting gas have sharply raised reserve forecasts, and it emits less carbon and is not as potentially dangerous as nuclear power.

"Natural gas is a bridge fuel from fossil to renewable, but there is a lot of discussion now of gas as a destination fuel," Steve Bolze, president and chief executive of General Electric's power and water unit (GE Power and Water), said this week.
Natural gas as a bridge is fine, but as a destination fuel? That's business as usual talking.

And now, to complete the circle...

Reuters: Natural gas engine makers to purr as automakers invest
By Gowri Jayakumar and Ben Klayman
BANGALORE/DETROIT | Fri Jul 1, 2011 1:25pm EDT
As natural gas emerges as a feasible near-term alternative to pricy gasoline, major automakers like General Motors and Chrysler are gearing up to invest in companies that make engines and parts for vehicles that run on the fuel.

Natural gas engine and parts makers such as Westport Innovations and Clean Energy Fuel Corp will be among the gainers as the auto industry looks to reduce its dependence on imported oil, and tap into North America's vast natural gas resources.

"(GM CEO) Dan Akerson has made it pretty transparent this is an area we need to get back into in the North American environment," Micky Bly, the GM executive in charge of electric vehicles, told reporters after a Detroit Economic Club event this week.


"Natural gas is clean, it's cheaper, and it provides a domestic source of fuel, so there's energy security involved as well," said ThinkEquity analyst Shawn Severson.

Natural gas-propelled cars are also seen by some as greener than all-electric vehicles, which charge their batteries using electricity often generated by fossil fuel-fired power plants.
With that the linkspams for this week are done. A swim post updating Oak Park's "War on Veggies" is coming up next.

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