Environment Forum

from The Human Impact:

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday?

 

Before you pack the bags for this year's holidays, it's worth considering how you're going to get there - and how much of a problem that might create for the world's climate. Turns out there's some unconventional wisdom from scientists - and if you can stand a little company, a road trip might be greener than you think....

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday this year?

Turns out the answer is much the same whether you live in London, Los Angeles or Lagos – and it doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your car at home.

New research by the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway and the Austria-basedInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis tracked the climate impacts of various ways of taking trips of 500 to 1,000 kilometres (300 to 600 miles).

Turns out that car trips aren’t too bad – as long as you share the car with two or three other people and opt for a small vehicle rather than a big one.

“Traveling alone in a large car can be as bad for the climate as flying, but driving with three in a small car could have an equally low impact as a train ride,” said Jens Borken-Kleefeld, one of the study’s lead researchers from the Austrian institute.

The power of a soccer ball

Anyone who watched the women’s World Cup final might have wondered if it’s possible to harness that pure human energy. Turns out, it is. There’s enough power in a soccer ball to light the night — or at least a part of it.

It’s done via sOccket, a soccer ball that kids kick around all day, where its movement generates energy. When the sun sets, plug an LED lamp into the ball and it turns into a light for reading or other purposes. Play with the sOccket for 15 minutes and use the light for up to three hours. Sustainable, non-polluting, safe.

SOccket was created to solve a pervasive problem — the lack of reliable electricity — with a pervasive game. More than one-fifth of the world’s population, about 1.4 billion people, lack electric power, but kids almost everywhere play soccer.

from The Great Debate:

Senate retirements narrow cap-trade window

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

kemp
LONDON - Yesterday's announcement by Senator Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota) that he would not seek a fourth term in November, coupled with today's expected announcement by Senator Chris Dodd (Democrat, Connecticut) that he won't seek a sixth term, will remove two veterans, once secure legislators from the Democratic caucus.
It highlights the mounting problems confronting congressional Democrats facing voters in November's midterms amid high unemployment, a relatively unpopular agenda led by the administration, and concerns about the party's capture by special interests.

Dodd's retirement is not surprising, given his plummeting poll numbers and criticism for being too close to the banking and insurance industries he regulates as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee but which have been major campaign contributors.

Despite trying to reinvent himself as a populist in recent months, the legislation he has worked on has sometimes appeared to show too much favouritism for the industry. He has also run into criticism for receiving VIP mortgages in 2003 from Angelo Mozilo's failed Countrywide Financial.

Fishing for information

The research vessel Professor Khromov is just a few kms off the easternmost point of Siberia, and U.S. technologist Kevin Taylor is struggling to reel in an orange buoy that had been deep beneath the Bering Strait for nearly a year.

The first time he tries, the ship veers too far away from the prize and must make a slow, wide turn for another pass. The second time, Taylor’s hook is not quite ready and the float bobs again into the Khromov’s wake. This takes practice, even in calm waters.

A main task of the RUSALCA expedition, a joint-U.S.-Russian scientific effort taking place in August and September, is to retrieve data-gathering moorings that were dropped 50 meters to the bottom during stormy weather last October, and to leave new ones.

Carbon ahoy! Who should pay to clean up ships, and what they carry?

The U.S.  is out to create a clean-air zone around its coastlines, targeting diesel ships that look pretty dirty from shore. The cost will be only a penny per pair of sneakers, the EPA advises. Of course the cost of shoes can sneak up on you — the total is $3.2 billion per year by 2020. Health savings will more than compensate for costs, they say.

The idea of who should pay for carbon in the course of trade is getting a bit hazier, it seems. China only a couple of weeks ago said importers should pay for the carbon costs of goods they buy which are produced in China. The thinking largely has been you-make-it-you-pay-for-the-carbon, but maybe it will become you-bought-it-you-bought-the-carbon. It’s all up for grabs as nations talk about what to do once the Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012. At least the U.S. and China are making nice noises at each other as discussions in Germany get under way.

BTW — to be fair that Reuters pic is of a cruise ship’s laundry room on fire.  Perhaps another issue to debate is how many changes of clothes should be allowed in international waters.

  •