Global environmental challenges
Silicon Valley venture capital fund Khosla Ventures has roped in former British prime minister Tony Blair as senior advisor, hoping to leverage his international connections and geopolictical expertise.
Menlo Park, California-based Khosla Ventures is among the most active early stage investors in renewables and other alternative energy technologies. Founder Vinod Khosla, a well-known figure in the Silicon Valley technology circuit, himself was an early backer of biofuels.
Blair is not the first high-profile politician to join a Silicon Valley venture fund. Former U.S. Secreatry of State Colin Powell is closely associated with Kleiner Perkins and serves on the board of one of its portfolio companes, fuel cell maker Bloom.
Khosla Ventures' many clean technology investments include solar thermal company Ausra, geothermal company AltaRock and biofuels makers Mascoma, Coskata, Range Fuels and Verenium.
A handful of oily sand grabbed from a Louisiana wetland brought back some strong memories for Earl Kingik. As a traditional hunter and whaler in Alaska’s Arctic, it reminded him of the Exxon Valdez spill. As he and other tribal leaders toured the U.S. Gulf Coast for signs of the BP oil spill, they worried that what’s happening now in Louisiana could happen if offshore drilling proceeds off the Alaskan coast.
“There’s no way to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic,” said Kingik, an Inupiat tribal member from Point Hope, Alaska. Compared to Louisiana, where the waters are relatively calm and cleanup equipment and experts are nearby, the Arctic Ocean is a hostile place for oil and gas exploration. The Arctic leaders made their pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast as part of a campaign to block planned exploratory drilling by Shell Oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
Some conservationists and experts on philosophy and ethics reckon that whales and dolphins are so intelligent that they should be given rights to life like humans. That could mean extra pressure on whalers in Japan, Norway and Iceland to end their hunts.
The focus on rights is a shift after conservationists successfully won a ban on almost all whale hunts from 1986, arguing that they had been harpooned close to extinction.
–Jean-Michel Cousteau is an environmentalist, documentary producer, president of Ocean Futures Society and the son of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He has produced over 70 films, including the documentary series Ocean Adventures in 2006. Any views expressed here are his own. –
In the midst of desperate attempts to stem the flow of oil and the agony of waiting to understand its effects, we are left with simple questions like what exactly is happening to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico? And how quickly can we move from dependence on oil to a sustainable, renewable energy policy?
The ongoing struggle in the Gulf of Mexico to contain and remove oil spilling from a ruptured deepwater well is damaging more than the environment, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.
Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines Apr. 23 to May 7 for making or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.
from Tales from the Trail:
Nearly six years ago, Senator John Kerry and Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens were mortal political enemies.
As a major backer of President George W. Bush's re-election effort in 2004, Pickens contributed millions to a right-wing ad campaign questioning Kerry's record as a Vietnam war hero. The ads, which Kerry disputed, put him on the defensive and may have contributed to the Democrat's failure to win the White House.
East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika might be getting too hot for sardines.
The little fish have been an economic and nutritional mainstay for some 10 million people in neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — four of the poorest countries on Earth. They also depend on Lake Tanganyika for drinking water.
But that could change, according to research published in the online version of the journal Nature Geoscience. Using samples of the lakebed that chart a 1,500-year history of the lake’s surface water temperature, the scientists found the current temperature — 78.8 degrees F (26 degrees C) — is the warmest it’s been in a millennium and a half. And that could play havoc with sardines and other fish the local people depend on.
–Dan Howells is deputy campaigns director for Greenpeace USA. Any views expressed here are his own.–
On repeated trips over the last couple of weeks, Greenpeace found the first traces of oil coming ashore at Port Eads, the southernmost tip of Louisiana.
An Arizona biologist who illegally snared an extremely rare borderlands jaguar that later died of kidney failure, has been sentenced to five years probation and fined $1,000, authorities said on Friday.
Emil McCain, 31, a jaguar biologist and co-founder of the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, pleaded guilty to a “prohibited take” of an endangered species in federal district court in Tucson on Friday, the United States Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The U.N. panel of climate scientists came under the microscope on Friday by experts named by the United Nations to figure out how to restore faith in its work after errors including an exaggeration of the thaw of the Himalayas.
They’ll have to write clearly, check their findings and avoid overstating their case (sounds like a journalism manual). But how? And are there only isolated slips, or a wider problem? Also, why hasn’t the panel learn more from past controversies?