It is with great sadness that we wish to announce that Alan passed away unexpectedly on January 30, 2012.  He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and the environmental advocacy community.

Alan felt very passionately about the future of the environment.  We hope that his dedication and hard work toward raising awareness for this vitally important cause continue to live on in all his contributions to the environmental advocacy community.  His website  remains a testimony to his passion for the cause.


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Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies ‘could provide half of global carbon target’

Such a move could save the equivalent of Germany’s annual emissions by 2015, says chief economist at the IEA

Eliminating subsidies for coal, gas and oil could save as much as Germany’s annual greenhouse gas emissions each year by 2015, according to one of the world’s leading energy experts.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA), said such a move could provide half of the carbon savings needed to stop dangerous levels of climate change.

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Climate, health and food

How to tackle the climate, health and food crises, all at the same time.

Reducing the soot pumped out by cars and cooking fires and the methane from coal mines and oil wells would rapidly curb global warming, prevent air pollution deaths and boost crop yields.

From coal mines to rice paddies and cooking fires to diesel exhausts, 14 highly cost-effective measures could quickly curb global warming and save millions of lives, while also boosting global food production. That is the striking conclusion of a new study published in Science and the most authoritative look yet at the opportunities offered in tackling methane and black carbon – soot – pollution.

The headline findings are striking. The measures would reduce warming by 0.5C by 2050, very useful indeed with the world failing to get to grips with carbon dioxide emissions. And that’s only half the tale. They would also avert between 0.7 and 4.7 million premature deaths caused by air pollution every year and bump up crop yields by 30 to 135m tonnes a year.

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World greenhouse gas flow-chart

World GHG Emissions Flow Chart (click on image for full-size image)

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Natural-gas plans threaten greenhouse-gas targets

Global Temperature History 1979-2008 - NCDCIn a comment made 7:09 PM on January 5, 2012 to an article titled “Natural-gas plans threaten greenhouse-gas targets”  “GlynnMhor of Skywall” claimed “All four of the major global temperature datasets show how temperature increases have stalled over the past decade, and those are actual facts … And no CO2 dataset that I am aware of fails to show the monotonic year-over-year increases at the same pace as seen during the late 20th century warming period.

This was stated with his usual innumerate eyeballing of 4 low  resolution sites, ignoring two of the most dependable – NCDC and RSS. So I  have prepared a mathematical assessment. The graphs and analysis follow.

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Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?

Agreements to bail out banks happen in days – but despite some good progress at Durban, we still don’t have a legally binding deal to bail out the planet?

Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?

The US and other nations began talking seriously about tackling climate change in 1988 – yet we still don't have a legally binding global agreement. Photograph: Corbi

They bailed out the banks in days. But even deciding to bail out the planet is taking decades.

Nicholas Stern estimated that capping climate change would cost around 1% of global GDP, while sitting back and letting it hit us would cost between 5 and 20%. One per cent of GDP is, at the moment, $630bn. By March 2009, Bloomberg has revealed, the US Federal Reserve had committed $7.77 trillion to the banks. That is just one government’s contribution: yet it amounts to 12 times the annual global climate change bill. Add the bailouts in other countries, and it rises several more times.

This support was issued on demand: as soon as the banks said they wanted help, they got it. On just one day the Federal Reserve made $1.2tr available – more than the world has committed to tackling climate change in 20 years.

More (Click here), , Friday 16 December 2011 ,

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Environment : 2011 rewrote the record books

The ecologically tumultuous year saw record greenhouse gas emissions, melting Arctic sea ice, natural disasters and extreme weather – and the world’s second worst nuclear disaster.

2011 rewrote the record book on the environment

2011 rewrote the record book on the environment - sustainablity, energy and climate

The year 2011 was another ecologically tumultuous year with greenhouse gases rise to record levels, Arctic sea ice nearly equalling 2007’s record melt, and temperatures the 11th highest ever recorded.

It was marked on the ground by unparalleled extremes of heat and cold in the US, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and Africa and record numbers of weather-related natural disasters.

In addition, 2011 saw the world population reach 7 billion, the second worst nuclear disaster and record investments in renewable energy.

The 41 sea, land and air indicators used by the US government‘s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to measure sea and land temperatures showed unequivocally that the world continued to warm throughout 2011. In July, NOAA reported that the last 300 months had all been above average temperature and that the 13 warmest years had all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. 2011 was additionally remarkable, it said, because a “La Niña” event was taking place, a naturally occurring oceanic cooling phenomenon that would normally bring temperatures down.

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Shift to clean energy

The following essay was written by Cheryl McNamara, Communications Officer of the Citizens Climate Lobby. I am pleased to present it here.

Hockey PuckEarlier this month, the world convened once again to nail down a post-Kyoto commitment on climate change. And once again the climate talks, held in Durban, South Africa, generated a cacophony of voices and more finger pointing that inevitably led to disappointment on one hand and relief on the other that no deal has been reached yet to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

At the crux of this struggle between committing to science-based reduction targets and continuing business as usual is the tension between pushing for paradigm change and holding fast to the status quo.

Change tends to scare people. People don’t like to see the world in which they grew up – its views and expectations – shift abruptly. But in order to prevent global temperatures from reaching dangerous levels – which will also trigger abrupt societal changes as a result of rising sea levels, compromised agriculture and so on – we are asked to collectively and quickly shift our economies and behaviours.

Is it any wonder that among those contributing to the climate change conversation is a small but highly vocal group who question the science, despite the robust research, declaring global warming to be a lie, dreamt up by devious liberals to take over the world?

More conservative voices, however, are now joining the climate action chorus, including religious, military and business leaders. The Pope, in particular, has been a vocal climate action proponent, calling on negotiators in Durban “to craft a responsible and credible deal to cut greenhouse gases that takes into account the needs of the poor.” Recently Canadian representatives of 30 faith communities and organizations issued a statement calling for global action on climate change and equating climate action with public well-being.

The U.S. military is also taking a lead, foreseeing security threats that will come with a warming world and continued dependency on oil from hostile countries. Recognizing that clean energy development is critical to national security, the U.S. Department of Defence plans to annually spend $10 billion on renewable energy for military application by 2030. Just as the military gave civil society the Internet and GPS, so too will it help fast track innovations and market development of renewable energy technologies.

The business community too sees the writing on the wall. According to Torsten Jeworrek, CEO of reinsurance operations at Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, “switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the prime task this century faces and offers substantial financial opportunities.”

To facilitate renewable energy development, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) is calling for “a broad-based carbon pricing scheme that is transparent and predictable.” Such a mechanism will help change behaviours, and spur innovation and the development of cleaner energy sources, products and services, according to the CCCE.

Rather than heed their advice, Foreign Minister John Baird declared that Canada will never adopt a carbon tax. Never is a long time, particularly when we are running out of it.

In its recently released World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns countries of “locking into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system.”

Even Ed Stelmach, Alberta’s former Premier, recognized the danger of becoming too reliant on its resources, warning that Albertans could find themselves “watching the global economic game from the sidelines – because our resource wealth made us too comfortable, and we lost the drive to achieve and perform at a critical moment.”

The critical moment is now. Wayne Gretsky famously said that the secret to his success was skating to where the puck was heading, not to where it was. With mounting calls to reduce greenhouse gases, diminishing supply from conventional oil wells, and innovation in clean energy technology, it’s clear where the puck is heading.

Canada has a choice. Either lock into an insecure high-carbon system, or legislate a mechanism that sends a clear market signal to nourish an industry poised to surge, bring new life back to our ailing manufacturing sector, create an abundance of quality jobs, and create healthier communities.

Change is difficult. But not when it generates great benefits. By putting a price on carbon that increases annually and giving the proceeds back to citizens to stimulate the economy we can develop a sustainable society for our kids and grandkids. Isn’t that what true conservatism is all about?

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Governments must plan for migration in response to climate change, researchers say

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Governments around the world must be prepared for mass migrations caused by rising global temperatures or face the possibility of calamitous results, say University of Florida scientists on a research team reporting in the Oct. 28 edition of Science.

If global temperatures increase by only a few of degrees by 2100, as predicted by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, people around the world will be forced to migrate. But transplanting populations from one location to another is a complicated proposition that has left millions of people impoverished in recent years. The researchers say that a word of caution is in order and that governments should take care to understand the ramifications of forced migration.

A consortium of 12 scientists from around the world, including two UF researchers, gathered last year at the Rockefeller Foundation‘s Bellagio Center to review 50 years of research related to population resettlement following natural disasters or the installation of infrastructure development projects such as dams and pipelines. The group determined that resettlement efforts in the past have left communities in ruin, and that policy makers need to use lessons from the past to protect people who are forced to relocate because of climate change.

“The effects of climate change are likely to be experienced by as many people as disasters,” UF anthropologist Anthony Oliver-Smith said. “More people than ever may be moving in response to intense storms, increased flooding and drought that makes living untenable in their current location.”

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Space Debris, More Efficient LEDs, and Thinner, Cheaper Solar Cells

Advancing the Science and Technology of Light

Advancing the Science and Technology of Light

The Optical Society’s Renewable Energy & the Environment Congress highlights the role of optics in energy generation and conservation

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25—Scientists and engineers from around the world will convene in Austin, Texas next week as experts gather to discuss recent advances in optics and photonics—the branch of physics dealing with the science of light—affecting renewable energy and environmental research.

Journalists are invited to the Optical Society’s (OSA) Optics and Photonics Congress: Renewable Energy & the Environment, which will be held at the Omni Austin Hotel Nov. 2-3. Four co-located meetings will cover optics for solar energy, solid-state and organic lighting, photovoltaics, and instrumentation for energy and environmental applications . Press registration details are below.

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Weather satellite budget cuts a ‘disaster in the making’

Jane Lubchenco, head of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, criticises GOP moves to cut funding for critical satellite

The weather satellite – shown here over Cuba

The weather satellite – shown here over Cuba – provides 90% of the data used by the National Weather Service and the UK Met Office. Photograph: Getty Images

«America and Europe face a “disaster in the making” because of Congress budget cuts to a critical weather satellite, one of Barack Obama’s top science officials has warned.

The satellite crosses the Earth’s poles 14 times a day, monitoring the atmosphere, clouds, ice, vegetation, and oceans. It provides 90% of the information used by the National Weather Service, UK Met Office and other European agencies to predict severe storms up to seven days in advance.

But Republican budget-cutting measures would knock out that critical capacity by delaying the launch of the next generation of polar-orbiting satellites, said Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

“It is a disaster in the making. It’s an expression of the dysfunction in our system,” said Lubchenco, who was speaking at a dinner on the sidelines of the Society of Environmental Journalists meeting in Miami.

It would cost three to five times more to rebuild the project after a gap than to keep the funds flowing. “It’s insanity,” Lubchenco said.”»

More (Click here),, US environment correspondent,, Monday 24 October 2011

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Reports of the death of solar power are greatly exaggerated

US solar company Solyndra‘s bankruptcy filing was a result of a drop in the cost of silicon, not scandal and impropriety

Solar Power in California

US solar company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy recently, but should not be read as the death of the US solar industry. Photograph: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The solar company Solyndra recently filed for bankruptcy, which media reports have depicted as the end of solar power in the U.S. This is like saying there is no future for the internet because Netscape went out of business.

The molar-grinding irony of it all is that Solyndra was the victim of a big success — the price of solar power has fallen rapidly, making more expensive technologies like theirs uncompetitive, but more importantly, making solar power a real player in the U.S. energy economy.

Since October of 2008, the average price of solar modules has fallen from $4.20 per watt to around $1.20 to $1.50 per watt today. These are mind-boggling reductions. And these new prices are resulting in extraordinary market development. As of June, California utilities have signed over eight gigawatts of solar contracts … half of which are below the price of new natural gas generation. That’s right. Gigawatts of solar cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives. …

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Climate action a ‘moral responsibility’

Chinese climatologist says the world must work together on global warming.

Qin Dahe

Qin Dahe. - Stephen Shaver/UPI Photo/Newscom

Global warming is causing changes in glaciers, permafrost and snow cover in Central Asia, threatening the livelihood of millions of people in the region. Nature spoke with Qin Dahe, a glaciologist at the Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou and co-chairman of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the International Symposium on Changing Cryosphere, Water Availability and Sustainable Development in Central Asia held last week in Urumqi, China, where he gave un update on the IPCC’s work. Qin tells Nature how the panel is working to ensure scientific rigor in the upcoming assessment report, and what the world must do to tackle global warming. …

Given the deadlock of recent rounds of climate negotiation, what must the world do to limit and mitigate climate change?

Despite uncertainties, one thing is absolutely clear: global warming is real and poses a significant threat to civilizations worldwide, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases can mitigate the problem. The process of climate negotiation has been frustratingly slow, but it’s encouraging that the world has committed to a goal of keeping temperature increases to less than 2 ºC. Both developed and developing countries must work together to share the obligation of emissions reduction. We must act now. This is our moral responsibility towards future generations.”

More (Click here), Jane Qiu, 20 October 2011 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2011.604

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Ottawa Solar Power Installs FIT Compliant Solar Energy System at Drouin Farms

One of first FIT projects installed in Ontario with Conergy’s FIT Compliant Conergy ON modules

Ottawa Solar Power installing Conergy ON modules at Drouin Farms

Ottawa Solar Power installing Conergy ON modules at Drouin Farms

Toronto, Ontario (PRWEB) October 06, 2011

Drouin Farms, a large family run egg producer who has made the commitment to move to organic farming, is now taking its operations solar with a 250 kW solar energy system. The solar energy system was installed by Ottawa Solar Power, the largest provider of solar solutions in Eastern Ontario. Leveraging Ontario’s FIT program, the new solar energy system will provide Drouin Farms an additional revenue stream to diversify its income and expands its operations. The Drouin Farms solar project will produce energy generation revenue that is expected to achieve up to 11% return on their investment and will reach its financial break even point in less than 8 years. Producing over 300,000 kWh per year, the project achieves significant environmental benefits by reducing CO2 emissions from non renewable power generation by 2,800 tons annually and produce the energy equivalent to the power consumption of 30 average homes.

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EarthTechling also reports on the Drouin installation: “Solar FIT A ‘Good Egg’ For Ontario Farm” (Click here), by Lauren Craig, October 20th, 2011

Ontario likes its eggs sunny-side up – literally. The province’s aggressive feed-in tariff (FIT) program has prompted Drouin Farms, a large family-owned organic egg producer, to install a 250-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system. Producing over 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year, the project will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,800 tons annually and produce enough electricity to power about 30 homes.

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Andasol Now Europe’s Biggest Solar Plant

Andasol 3

Andasol 3 - image via Solar Millennium

As reported at EarthTechling by Lauren Craig, October 18th, 2011, the largest solar power plant in Europe is officially up and running. The 50-megawatt (MW) Andasol 3 parabolic trough plant, together with the Andasol 1 and 2 plants, creates a 150-MW behemoth in Andalusia, Spain.

Andasol 3 is expected to generate approximately 165 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, and save about 150,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

During construction the project employed nearly 600 people and continuing operation and maintenance of the facility will create about 50 permanent jobs. The power plant has about 205,000 parabolic reflectors that concentrate solar heat into a heat transfer fluid, transmitting the heat through a steam circuit to drive a turbine, producing electricity. A thermal storage tank holding 30,000 tons of a special blend of salts can store heat for eight hours, allowing Andasol 3 to continue to generate electricity at night.

“Andasol 3 proves that converting Europe’s electricity production methods can be achieved far more efficiently if we take an international approach, rather than pursuing national concepts,” said Hans Bünting, chief financial officer of RWE Innogy, one of the collaborating builders. “I see this power plant as a role model for the rest of Europe; it may even generate the impetus needed for the development of a European market with common regulations for renewable energy sources.”

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No simultaneous warming of northern and southern hemispheres as a result of climate change

New study shows no simultaneous warming of northern and southern hemispheres as a result of climate change for 20 000 years

Temperatures in the past 2000 years

This image is a comparison of 10 different published reconstructions of mean temperature changes during the last 2000 years. More recent reconstructions are plotted towards the front and in redder colors, older reconstructions appear towards the back and in bluer colors. An instrumental history of temperature is also shown in black. The medieval warm period and little ice age are labeled at roughly the times when they are historically believed to occur, though it is still disputed whether these were truly global or only regional events. The single, unsmoothed annual value for 2004 is also shown for comparison.

A common argument against global warming is that the climate has always varied. Temperatures rise sometimes and this is perfectly natural is the usual line.

However, Svante Björck, a climate researcher at Lund University in Sweden, has now shown that global warming, i.e. simultaneous warming events in the northern and southern hemispheres, have not occurred in the past 20 000 years, which is as far back as it is possible to analyse with sufficient precision to compare with modern developments. Svante Björck’s study thus goes 14 000 years further back in time than previous studies have done. “What is happening today is unique from a historical geological perspective”, he says

Svante Björck has gone through the global climate archives, which are presented in a large number of research publications, and looked for evidence that any of the climate events that have occurred since the end of the last Ice Age 20 000 years ago could have generated similar effects on both the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously. It has not, however, been possible to verify this. Instead, he has found that when, for example, the temperature rises in one hemisphere, it falls or remains unchanged in the other.

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Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics’ concerns

Independent investigation of the key issues sceptics claim can skew global warming figures reports that they have no real effect

Berkeley Earth Temperatures

Berkeley Earth's land surface temperature data from 1800 to 2009, showing deviation from the mean temperature over that period – and overall global warming since the industrial revolution. Video: Berkeley Earth - click on the image to go to the video

The world is getting warmer, countering the doubts of climate change sceptics about the validity of some of the scientific evidence, according to the most comprehensive independent review of historical temperature records to date.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, found several key issues that sceptics claim can skew global warming figures had no meaningful effect.

The Berkeley Earth project compiled more than a billion temperature records dating back to the 1800s from 15 sources around the world and found that the average global land temperature has risen by around 1C since the mid-1950s.

This figure agrees with the estimate arrived at by major groups that maintain official records on the world’s climate, including Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), and the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, with the University of East Anglia, in the UK.

“My hope is that this will win over those people who are properly sceptical,” Richard Muller, a physicist and head of the project, said.

“Some people lump the properly sceptical in with the deniers and that makes it easy to dismiss them, because the deniers pay no attention to science. But there have been people out there who have raised legitimate issues.”

Muller sought to cool the debate over climate change by creating the largest open database of temperature records, with the aim of producing a transparent and independent assessment of global warming.

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Washington’s Failure To Act On Climate Change Is Blameworthy & The Consequences Profound

With thanks to Christine at “350 or Bust”  here’s a speech by US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on climate change:

Washington’s Failure To Act On Climate Change Is Blameworthy & The Consequences Profound

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave a powerful speech in the U.S. Senate last week, making a thorough and well-supported argument for immediate comprehensive action to mitigate the effects of human-caused climate destabilization and ocean acidification:


Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Video on YouTube)

Watch the video on YouTube (click here)

A transcript copied from the Congressional Record follows:

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Urban ‘heat island’ effect is a small part of global warming

Urban ‘heat island’ effect is a small part of global warming; white roofs don’t reduce it

Atlanta Thermal

On May 11-12, 1997, NASA used a specially outfitted Lear Jet to collect thermal data on metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. The city saw daytime air temperatures of only about 26.7 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) on those days, but some of its surface temperatures soared to 47.8 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit). In this image, blue shows cool temperatures and red shows warm temperatures. Pockets of especially hot temperatures appear in white. (Image courtesy NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

Cities release more heat to the atmosphere than the rural vegetated areas around them, but how much influence these urban “heat islands” have on global warming has been a matter of debate. Now a study by Stanford researchers has quantified the contribution of the heat islands for the first time, showing that it is modest compared with what greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

“Between 2 and 4 percent of the gross global warming since the Industrial Revolution may be due to urban heat islands,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who led the study. He and graduate student John Ten Hoeve compare this with the greenhouse gas contribution to gross warming of about 79 percent and the black carbon contribution of about 18 percent.

Black carbon is a component of the soot created by burning fossil fuels and biofuels and is highly efficient at absorbing sunlight, which heats the atmosphere.

Gross global warming is the total amount of warming that has taken place from all sources, mainly greenhouse gases, black carbon particles and heat islands. Net global warming is gross global warming minus the cooling effect of light-colored atmospheric particles that reflect sunlight back into space, which offsets about half of global warming to date. Net, or observed, global warming is what is typically reported in the media.

Responding to skeptics

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U.S. Rivers and Streams Saturated With Carbon

Significant amount of carbon in land is leaking into streams and rivers, then to the atmosphere

A satellite view of the Mississippi River shows a mosaic of riverbank land-use patterns.

A satellite view of the Mississippi River shows a mosaic of riverbank land-use patterns. - Image from NASA

October 16, 2011

Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing substantially more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than previously thought.

This according to researchers publishing their results in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

Their findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon among land, water and the atmosphere.

“Direct measurements of carbon dioxide concentrations and fluxes in streams and rivers are still extremely rare,” said Henry Gholz, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

“This study demonstrates that both are much higher than assumed. The research should enable more predictive and precise models of carbon cycling at regional to global scales.”

The researchers found that a significant amount of carbon contained in land, which first is absorbed by plants and forests through the air, is leaking into streams and rivers and then released into the atmosphere before reaching coastal waterways.

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US row threatens Chinese links

Dispute intensifies over a ban on some types of scientific cooperation with China.

Eugenie Samuel Reich, 18 October 2011 | Nature | doi:10.1038/478294a

When US presidential science adviser John Holdren hosted a dinner and meetings between US and Chinese science officials in May, he must have known it would lead to a high-level stand-off. That came to pass on 11 October, when the Govern­ment Accountability Office (GAO), an arm of Congress, concluded in a report that those activities violated legislation banning scientific cooperation with China by NASA and by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which Holdren directs.

Frank Wolf (Republican, Virginia), the congressman who chairs the subcommittee that funds science agencies including the OSTP and NASA, inserted the ban into a spending bill that was passed last spring. Now, backed by the GAO report, he has asked the US Department of Justice to rein in Holdren’s China-related activities; if the department refuses to do so, the matter could end up in the courts. …

Relations between the United States and China have their roots in a historic 1972 visit to Beijing by US president Richard Nixon. That led to a 1979 agreement between the two govern­ments for cooperation on scientific activities. Suttmeier estimates that US agencies now have more than 30 agreements on scientific cooperation with their equivalents in the Chinese government. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) opened an office in Beijing in 2006, and the US Department of Energy founded a US$150-million Clean Energy Research Center with China in 2009. Chinese researchers are now more likely to collaborate and co-author papers with scientists from the United States than with those from any other country.

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Links in the chain: Global carbon emissions and consumption

Washington, D.C. — It is difficult to measure accurately each nation’s contribution of carbon dioxide to the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon is extracted out of the ground as coal, gas, and oil, and these fuels are often exported to other countries where they are burned to generate the energy that is used to make products. In turn, these products may be traded to still other countries where they are consumed. A team led by Carnegie’s Steven Davis, and including Ken Caldeira, tracked and quantified this supply chain of global carbon dioxide emissions. Their work was published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of October 17.

The Supply Chain of CO2 Emissions

See “The supply chain of CO2 emissions“, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1107409108 PNAS October 17, 2011

Traditionally, the carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels is attributed to the country where the fuels were burned. But until now, there has not yet been a full accounting of emissions taking into consideration the entire supply chain, from where fuels originate all the way to where products made using the fuels are ultimately consumed.

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U.S. Solar Jobs Census Finds Solar Employment Soars As U.S. Economy Lags

Solar Jobs Growing Nearly 10 Times Faster Than Employment as a Whole

The Solar Foundation Press Release, October 17, 2011:

DALLAS – The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar education and research organization, today released its second annual review of the solar workforce in the United States. The report, titled, “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce” found that hiring in the solar workforce is on the rise. More than 100,000 Americans are now employed in the solar industry.

“The solar industry has grown into a major economic force with more than 100,000 employees in the United States,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation. “We expect even greater growth in the foreseeable future. But policymakers, workforce training providers, and the industry must work together to continue creating good jobs for skilled workers.”

As of August 2011, the National Solar Jobs Census 2011 identified more than 17,198 solar employment sites and 100,237 solar jobs in all 50 states. The solar industry’s job growth rate of 6.8 percent is significantly higher than the 2 percent net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide expectation of 0.7 percent growth over the same period. Continue reading

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Sea levels will continue to rise for 500 years

Estimates of Sea Levels to the Year 2500

The graph shows how sea levels will change for four different pathways for human development and greenhouse gas pollution. The green, yellow and orange lines correspond to scenarios where it takes 10, 30, or 70 years before emissions are stabilized. The red line can be considered to represent business as usual where greenhouse gas emissions are increasing over time. - Aslak Grinsted

Rising sea levels in the coming centuries is perhaps one of the most catastrophic consequences of rising temperatures. Massive economic costs, social consequences and forced migrations could result from global warming. But how frightening of times are we facing? Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute are part of a team that has calculated the long-term outlook for rising sea levels in relation to the emission of greenhouse gases and pollution of the atmosphere using climate models. The results have been published in the scientific journal Global and Planetary Change.

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Globe and Mail Censorship of Online Commentary

The Globe and Mail newspaper published an article titled “Ontario’s solar industry seeks its place in the sun” on the evening of Sunday, October 16 2011. Between 12:58 PM and 1:22 AM I posted a series of relevant comments, in all cases but one referring to articles on this website citing related studies. At about 4:00 AM I reviewed their status and found that each had been replied to by a commentator using the pseudonym “LeroyLarson“. The following are quotes of his replies to my comments:

I don’t believe any of your examples are true. This is all hear-sayand doesn’t sound at all likely. You have been fooled by reading only these weird examples and have no proof. In short, you are wrong and you have no credibility.There are too many possible scenarios in your comment and none have passed the economics test. In the real world the tax-payers will have the final say and wind and solar will be used as an example of the gullibility of the left leaning thinkers who tried to bankrupt the province for no reason.

Try to stay on topic here. The papers in the UK moderate slightly differently than the g&m, and when you stray so far off topic they save the time and space by deleting comments that are just a rant and trolling for a link to a different weblog. This story is about Ontario politics and economy so you don’t have the right to try hijacking the space with irrelevant ranting and raving about the most bankrupt state in America.

I think the cheese has slipped off your cracker for sure this time Alan [I reported this reply as abusive but it has not been deleted by the “moderators” in spite of its clear violation of terms and conditions prohibiting personal attack]

The name of the story was ONTARIO’S solar industry seeks its place in the sun. I think somewhat tongue in cheek and was not a forum for more of your ranting and raving. Try to stay on topic if you must abuse the comments section of the globe & mail.

@ss you must be mad to think anyone could afford all of these companies on the shrinking government teat in these economic times.
Is that you again Alan?
[These two in reply to a posting by “sean s.“]

All of my comments were censored by the G&M “moderators” in spite of the fact that none of them violated the commentary terms and conditions. Given the sequence of events, the time of day and a clear ideological bias by LeroyLarson, providing no substantiation for his opinions and allegations, I presume that it was he who reported abuse, probably claiming that my comments were “Advertising/Spam”. The only comment remaining in place is the one which did not refer via URL to backing substantiation on my website (here); that comment continues to display his personal attack, in clear violation of commentary terms and conditions.

This website is entirely self-funded, without advertising, unmotivated by any vested interest and provides no financial compensation to me or anyone else. It is not “Advertising/Spam”. Commentary at the Globe and Mail suffers from a number of ergonomic and technical problems, including limited length of comments, “amnesia” making repetitive posturing commonplace by contrarians hiding behind pseudonyms, migration of past stories behind a “pay wall”, and inability to display graphics. I use my website as a reference source and to try to overcome these limitations. Sustainability, energy efficiency and climate change are too important to be left to the flood of propaganda from astroturfing trolls and delivery boys for the “Merchants of Doubt“.

The “moderators” have been capricious in their application of the commentary terms and conditions, as very often happens for comments made on the weekend or at night. I have discussed the dysfunctional moderation with G&M executives who promised to review the issue with the company performing that function but in over six months I have had no reply nor seen any change. “Moderation” of G&M commentary is capricious and without warning, notification, feedback, justification, explanation, right of appeal or audit trail. A user is not even aware of censorship unless he continually reviews his comments to see whether they have been deleted or even replied to.

What did I post that deserved this censorship?

The G&M article has a focus on the science, technology, business, policy and politics of solar energy in Ontario. While my comments were not all immediately involved with these issues happening specifically within Ontario, each was relevant to at least one aspect. The following are some of the postings on this site which I cited in my commentary or which are relevant but not explicitly identified in my series of comments; have a look yourself if you want to see the relevance:

  1. Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore’s law apply to solar cells?
  2. Improving Cost Effectiveness of Solar with Power Electronics
  3. No wind? No problem
  4. Report Maps California’s Energy Future to 2050
  5. The world can be powered by alternative energy, using today’s technology, in 20-40 years
  6. Panel would change Canada’s research landscape
  7. Rick Perry officials spark revolt after doctoring environment report
  8. Scientists confront Perry administration over censorship in Texas – October 14, 2011
  9. Merchant of Doubt S. Fred Singer
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Panel would change Canada’s research landscape

Innovation Canada - A call to ActionIn an effort to address Canada’s problem with innovation, an independent panel has recommended a radical overhaul that includes the creation of a new funding council and transforms the country’s largest research entity, the billion dollar National Research Council (NRC).

Study after study has shown that Canada’s businesses invest less on R&D, relative to the country’s gross domestic product, than those of many other OECD countries and, unlike others, has actually decreased its spending over the last decade. Many of these business investments include government support in the form tax credits, training programs, or grants.

In an effort to make the best use of the government’s investments the six-member expert panel developed six broad recommendations include appointing a Minister of Innovation and creating the Industrial Research and Innovation Council (IRIC).

According to the panel’s report, to be released on 17 October, the proposed IRIC would be an arm’s-length funding agency to help entrepreneurs bring ideas to the marketplace. Under the plan, the council would focus on business-driven support by expanding some existing programs, such as the Industrial Research Assistance Program, which offers advice and funding to support high-risk R&D, while cutting the tax credits available for business R&D. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the granting agency that funds a large portion of Canadian scientists, but which also hosts a number of business-related support programs, would instead focus its innovation investments on projects housed within universities.

The panel’s recommendations also include breaking up the NRC by sending those of its member institutes that are engaged in more basic research to universities where their funding would be managed by NSERC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The institutes undertaking more applied, industry-oriented research would be rolled into a non-profit research organization, overseen by the IRIC. These proposed changes parallel previous reports that the NRC would focus on industry-driven research.

More (Click here)


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