Global environmental challenges
Anyone familiar with Harry Potter knows as least two things: 1) this is the U.S. opening weekend for the final movie in the blockbuster series about the boy wizard and 2) ultimate villain Voldemort uses horcruxes to hold bits of his soul and extend his life.
Leave it to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to riff on horcruxes to explain energy storage.
“While I confess I haven’t yet seen all of the Harry Potter movies including the “Deathly Hallows Part 2,” a staff member (who might be a bigger nerd than I am) was telling me about Lord Voldemort’s “horcruxes” — objects he used to store his life energy. Without them, he lost his power and couldn’t survive,” Chu said on his Facebook page.
“In the ‘muggle’ world, energy storage is crucial to our future as well, but for more positive reasons. It is the key to greatly expanding the use of renewable energy sources that are intermittent like wind and solar power. Better batteries will mean longer range, lower cost electric vehicles, and will make our entire electricity generation and distribution system more efficient by smoothing out fluctuations in demand.”
At issue is the decision by American Electric Power to put its plans for carbon capture and storage on hold, due to the weak economy and the lack of a U.S. plan to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide. Read the Reuters story about it here.
Some stories, no matter how serious, are just joke-prone. So it was this week with the proposed U.S. BULB act, which aimed to repeal light bulb efficiency standards that became law in 2007. Sponsored by Joe Barton, a Texas Republican congressman, the BULB bill failed to receive the two-thirds vote of those present in the House of Representatives that would have been needed to suspend House rules and pass the measure.
That was the signal for Washington politicians, interest groups and some headline writers to crank up the pun-producing machinery:
When munching on a sumptuous spread of white truffles, sampling almonds tucked into syrupy preserved figs or chomping on a cigar-sized chunky chocolate bar, do you ever wonder about these luxury foods’ environmental impact?
Apparently lots of consumers do — enough that organic, sustainable and otherwise “green” foods are proliferating at this year’s Fancy Food Show.
The long-running tourist slogan has a new meaning for all 40 of the shark species around the Caribbean island chain after the Bahamian government banned all commercial shark fishing in the approximately 243,244 square miles (630,000 square kilometers) of the country’s waters.
What’s good for sharks is good for the Bahamian economy. These big fish bring in about $78 million each year, or more than $800 million over the last 20 years, according to the Bahamas Diving Association — the Bahamas is one of the world’s premier shark-watching destinations for divers.
No question about it: this has been a wild weather year so far in the United States, with record rains, droughts, wildfires and tornadoes. But a new study indicates that even routine weather events like rainstorms and cooler-than-normal days could pack a huge annual economic wallop.
Weather’s effect on all sectors of the U.S. economy may total $485 billion a year, as much as 3.4 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, according to research published in the current Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. It is the first study to apply qualitative economic analysis to estimate the U.S. economy’s weather sensitivity.
Every workstation has a view. Much of the lighting comes from reflected sunshine. It’s so naturally quiet that unobtrusive speakers pipe in “white noise” to preserve a level of privacy. The windows open, and they’re shaded in such a way that there’s no glare. Even with the windows closed, fresh air circulates through vents in the floor. Extreme recycling prevails, not just of bottles, cans and kitchen refuse but beetle-blighted wood.
Welcome to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which contains some of the greenest office space on the planet.
OK, OK, enough fun with acronyms. HIPPO and ICE-T are flying climate laboratories, one in a Gulfstream V jet, the other in a refurbished C-130 military cargo plane.
from Photographers Blog:
It was Saturday, May 21, and I was returning from a tour with nine friends. We had spent 15 hours climbing a 1420 metre (yard) high peak named Midfellstindur near Iceland's Skaftafell national park. While driving back along route 1 from Skaftafell towards our hotel, the organizer of the trip Hans Kristjansson said "This is a strange cloud just above the glacier".
As a hang glider and ultralight pilot I knew right away that this was no ordinary cloud and said to Hans: "My friend, this is not a ordinary cloud but the start of an eruption". We stopped the car and I tried to use well the last seven frames that I had on my memory card in my Canon D300 DSLR camera. I took seven frames in about 20 minutes. I always take my photos in RAW format to be able to post-process them. It paid off this time. The pictures were taken at N 63° 56.712 W 17° 23.729.
Boats cruising near Chevron’s refinery on San Francisco Bay got a friendly reminder from environmentalists that it’s once again annual meeting time for the California oil company.
Three activists rappelled off the Richmond-San Rafael bridge with a neon-green banner saying ”Chevron Guilty; Clean up Amazon,” prompting a flurry of radio chatter on Monday between at least one commuter ferry and the Bay’s vessel traffic authorities.