2011Apr07.doc - About UNEP by wulinqing

VIEWS: 28 PAGES: 88

									                         THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                              Thursday, April 7, 2011

                        UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

        FOX News (US): Looming Financial Crisis Forces U.N. to Mull Less-Than-Radical
         Cutbacks
        Eco- Business (Singapore): World plugs-in to new renewables agency
        IPS: World Bank Under Fire for Role in New Global Green Fund
        ACR News (UK): Arctic ozone loss hits record levels
        International Business Time (UK): Arctic ozone depletion unprecedented, but not
         unexpected: WMO
        All Headline News (UK): U.N. warns Arctic ozone depletion at record 40 percent
        The Gazette (Canada): Protective ozone layer dwindles to record low
        Huffington Post (UK): Earth, We Have a Problem -- Failure Is Not an Option
        PressTV (Iran): UN: Fukushima not as bad as Chernobyl
        Diario Xlapa (Mexico): Recicla Pemex 11 mil toneladas de aceite y solventes




                               Other Environment News

       Reuters: Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis
       BBC News (UK): Japan quake: Nitrogen pumped into nuclear reactor
       Reuters: Democrats raise concern about nuclear plant
       AP: Asia stocks mostly lower as Portugal seeks bailout
       AP: Senate Dems reject attacks on EPA climate efforts
       Guardian (UK): Investment in US clean technology highest since 2008
       Guardian (UK): Feed-in tariff cuts result in scrapping of government's own solar
        project
       Guardian (UK): Superbug gene rife in Delhi water supply
       The Independent (UK): 'Super Sherpa' on Everest cleaning climb
       Guardian (UK): Poland's environmentalists fight foresters for heart of primeval
        forest
       BBC News (UK): Thunderstorm numbers calculated
       BBC News (UK): Australian rats scurry to desert en masse after rains




                                                                                           1
                  Environmental News from the UNEP Regions

      ROA
      ROAP
      RONA

                                    Other UN News

      Environment News from the UN Daily News of April 7th 2011
      Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of
       April 7th 2011




                  UNEP and the Executive Director in the News


FOX News (US): Looming Financial Crisis Forces U.N. to Mull Less-Than-Radical
Cutbacks

6th April 2011

Top executives of the United Nations, facing a looming financial crisis caused by their
ever-expanding agenda, have come up with some less-than-radical ideas about how to
save money --including telling more U.N. staffers they have to fly coach.
From the New York-based Secretariat to such little-known outfits as the International
Civil Aviation Authority, managers of various U.N. agencies have tossed out cost-saving
ideas like a hiring freeze and actual, if unspecified, reductions in the U.N.‘s dense array
of upper-middle managers and their support staff.
Other suggestions seemed highly unlikely to be accomplished in a short time, if at all,
including the notion of new mergers within the sprawling bureaucracy to ―form more
coherent and strengthened entities‖ in the name of efficiency.
A copy of the suggested quick-fix changes was obtained by Fox News. They were
considered by the CEOs of 28 U.N. agencies at a two-day closed door meeting in
Nairobi, which ended April 2. How many of the suggestions were actually adopted is not
known.
Click here to view the list of suggested cutbacks.
The Nairobi meeting of the U.N.‘s Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), which
brings together the heads of 28 U.N. organizations worldwide under the chairmanship of
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was focused on belt-tightening because the top
bosses face the likelihood that many of the wealthy nations that provide most of their
cash are likely to cut back soon.
The government of Britain was the first to deliver that message last month, when its
ministry for international development announced it would cut off four minor U.N.
organizations entirely from funding at the end of next year, and put others on warning
that they would face the same fate if they did not improve performance. Other generous
U.N. funders, like Norway, have started financial reviews that could lead to similar
results.


                                                                                          2
Then there is Japan, which faces huge and still escalating costs for recovery from its
treble disaster of earthquakes, tsunami and damaged nuclear reactors. Japan is the
second largest donor, after the U.S., for the U.N. Secretariat budget, and pays
generously for a wide variety of other U.N. agencies.
One country that has not yet taken the austerity approach is the U.S., which provides at
least $6.4 billion for the U.N., according to U.S. government compilations.
What most of the suggestions sent to the Nairobi meeting reveal is that despite years of
a widely-touted effort to ―deliver as one‖ united organization in its humanitarian and other
efforts, the U.N. is still a widely disparate array of uncoordinated bureaucracies, ranging
from such giants as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World
Food Program, to such relative backwaters as the International Labor Organization and
the International Maritime Organization.
They do not use the same rules and procedures for buying goods and services, often fail
to use modernized record keeping, and have not harmonized such sensitive -- and
possibly money-saving -- activities as how they manage their cash.
In an organization that spends an estimated $1.1 billion annually on travel, many of the
suggestions provided to the Nairobi meeting sound embarrassingly rudimentary: ―taking
advantage of restricted fares,‖ for example, and ―reduced late booking travel.‖
Among other things, the top executives were given suggestions that they could cut the
U.N.‘s $3 billion procurement bill by creating joint logistics services and centralizing their
communications technology across agency lines.
They also call for ―intensification of audits of operations at country, regional and global
level,‖ which would reinforce ―the sense of fiscal discipline, responsibility and cost
consciousness.‖ The suggestion does not note, though another systemwide U.N. study
does, that U.N. auditors are already over-stretched, under-qualified for their work, and
often impeded and ignored by their bosses.
Click here to read that story from Foxnews.com.
None of the ideas presented to the Nairobi meeting included a drastic change in the
ramshackle way the U.N. system itself has grown in the past six decades. Notably,
nothing in the suggestions addresses the inefficiency of having 28 international funds,
agencies, programs, regulatory agencies and other major global bureaucracies in the
first place, many with overlapping and competing mandates for their activities, especially
in such rapidly expanding areas as environmentalism.
Click here to read more on that story from FoxNews.com.
Changes in that overall bureaucratic challenge likely are beyond the pay-grades of even
the top-most U.N. executives -- not to mention, perhaps that the changes might not be in
their personal or bureaucratic interest.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Eco- Business (Singapore): World plugs-in to new renewables agency

7th April 2011

Renewable energy was given a boost with the opening of the first General Assembly of
the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which opened in Abu Dhabi on
Monday.
The two-day meeting with 800 delegates from 150 countries confirmed in its first session
that Abu Dhabi would host the new intergovernmental organization that will advocate for
renewable energy worldwide.


                                                                                            3
Established two years ago, IRENA is backed by both the developed and developing world
as a key new catalyst towards the expansion of renewable energy.
Abu Dhabi will now be IRENA‘s HQ: The city prides itself on sustainable urban
development and has been at the forefront of renewable energy events and initiatives. It
hosts the World Future Energy Summit and the Zayed Future Energy Prize for
distinguished achievements in the areas of renewable energy and sustainability.
The desert city is also the home of the Masdar initiative, an international center launched
five years ago to develop new clean technology and renewable energy in and beyond the
urban environment while raising awareness in the private sector and in academia on the
solutions renewable energy offers.
―UNEP looks forward to working in close partnership with IRENA in mainstreaming
renewable energy worldwide. This is a key sector of UNEP‘s Green Economy work and
both agency are natural allies in accelerating a transition at the national and global level in
order to meet the multiple goals of sustainable development, poverty eradication, green
growth and decent job generation,‖ said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and
Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP‘s Green Economy work, which is an echo to many of IRENA‘s objectives puts
environmental sustainability as one of the prerequisites for evolving economies that meet
the needs and aspirations of six billion people, rising to nine billion by 2050.
According to its Green Economy report released in February, by investing two per cent of
global GDP in ten key sectors, the world can kick-start a transition towards a low-carbon,
resource-efficient economy. And investing about one and a quarter per cent of global GDP
each year in energy efficiency and renewable energies, energy demand worldwide would
drop by nine per cent in 2020 and nearly 40 per cent by 2050.
The meeting also voted in Adnan Amin as IRENA‘s first director general. A Kenyan
national, Mr. Amin, who was UNEP‘s representative in the UN Headquarters, and will run
IRENA for the next four years.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

IPS: World Bank Under Fire for Role in New Global Green Fund

6th April 2011

The World Bank is facing mounting opposition from a broad network of green and
grassroots activists over its role in a new global Green Climate Fund (GCF) aimed at
helping developing countries combat the ravages of climate change.

"In spite of the climate and economic crises, the World Bank continues to finance fossil
fuel projects at an alarming rate, promote false solutions to the climate crisis, and use
funding instruments that increase indebtedness of developing countries," charged a
coalition of nearly 100 local and international civil society organisations in a letter released
here during on- going negotiations at the first of three U.N. climate change conferences to
be held in the lead up to the Durban COP17 summit in late November.

"The World Bank is not suited to advise in the design of a fund that must ensure fair and
effective long-term financing based on the principles of environmental integrity, equity,
sustainable development and democracy," noted the two-page letter, whose signatories
included global groups like Action Aid and International Rivers, regional groups like the
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and local groups like the Bolivian Climate Change


                                                                                               4
Platform.

The letter was addressed to Patricia Espinosa, Mexico‘s secretary of foreign affairs, and to
Christina Figueres, the head of the Bonn-based climate change secretariat of the U.N.
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It was at last December‘s UNFCCC summit in Cancun, Mexico that a landmark blueprint
emerged creating the GCF, which is aimed at financing efforts to reduce emissions of
greenhouse gases (GHG) and to help communities adapt to the havoc created by climate
change in the developing world.

The Bank was named as the new fund‘s interim trustee for the first three years, until a
more permanent financial architecture is built to steer much needed assistance to the
world‘s poorer nations.

A report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon‘s climate financing advisory group
released on the eve of the Mexico climate change summit estimated that 100 billion dollars
a year is needed for climate change initiatives in the developing world.

Other estimates point to a higher figure - upwards of 400 billion dollars annually in the
South - reveals the Jubilee South Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
(JSAPMDD), a regional network of grassroots activists.

The GCF has been mandated to start forking out these new funds by 2020, which,
according to the UNFCCC, will take the form of grants or concessional loans.

But the Bank‘s record of programmes under the guise of ‗development‘ in the poorer
nations makes it the wrong choice to play a permanent role in administering the GCF, says
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, convener of the Asian Indigenous Women‘s Network, a regional
grassroots group based in Manila. "They are not a trusted institution in the developing
world."

"There is a fear among activists and some developing country governments that the Bank
will secure approval to run the day-to-day operations of the GCF," Tauli-Corpuz told IPS.
"That will result in more obstructions for the poor and the vulnerable victims of climate
change."

"Climate finance is part of the reparations for climate debt owed by rich, industrialised
countries to the peoples and countries of the South," argues Ahmed Swapan of
JSAPMDD. "The climate debt must be collected, managed and disbursed by an institution
that is democratic, accountable, transparent and governed by a board with a majority
coming from [the] South."

Activists are concerned about a potential conflict-of-interest if the Bank secures the role as
the secretariat of the GCF, since the Washington, D.C.- based multilateral financial
institution will also have a part as a co-financier and implementer of projects.

As troubling is the Bank‘s record in existing climate change funds, such as the Global
Environmental Facility (GEF), which was established in 1991 to help developing countries
adapt to the challenges of climate change. "To get funds from the GEF, countries had to
go through implementing agencies like the United Nations Development Programme


                                                                                             5
(UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank," said
Matthew Stilwell, policy adviser at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable
Development, a Geneva-based think tank. "They had to jump through hoops, making it
difficult to access funds."

Consequently, developing countries are "advocating for more direct access to the funds"
of the GCF, Stilwell told IPS. "They have learnt lessons from the past."

But in the rooms of the U.N. conference centre here, where climate change negotiators
from 190 countries are meeting from Apr. 3 - 8 to shape a new global environmental deal,
the sources of funding for the GCF are also on the table.

"It will be new sources of funding," Jozsef Feiler, the chief climate change negotiator for
Hungary, currently the president of the council of the European Union, told IPS.

Yet activists are not convinced, given suggestions by negotiators from the developed
world that funding would be from a combination of public and private sector sources.

"Funding should be from public sources, new and additional to official development
assistance," says Michelle Maynard of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance. "The
principles are simple: providing climate finance is a legal and moral obligation for rich
countries."

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

ACR News (UK): Arctic ozone loss hits record levels

6th April 2011

DESPITE efforts to phase-out ozone depleting gases like CFCs and HCFCs, depletion of
the ozone layer over the Arctic has reached an unprecedented level this spring, according
to the UN's World Meteorological Organisation.

Very low winter temperatures in the stratosphere combined with the continuing presence
of long-lifetime ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere are blamed.

The Arctic region is said to have suffered an ozone column loss of about 40 per cent from
the beginning of the winter to late March. The highest ozone loss previously recorded was
about 30 per cent over the entire winter.

At the opposite end of the Earth, the so-called Antarctic ozone hole is an annually
recurring winter/spring phenomenon due to the existence of extremely low temperatures in
the stratosphere. In the Arctic the meteorological conditions vary much more from one
year to the next and the temperatures are always warmer than over Antarctica. Hence,
some Arctic winters experience almost no ozone loss, whereas cold stratospheric
temperatures in the Arctic lasting beyond the polar night can occasionally lead to
substantial ozone loss.

Even though this Arctic winter was warmer than average at ground level, it was colder in



                                                                                              6
the stratosphere than for a normal Arctic winter.

Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer outside the polar regions is projected to
recover to its pre-1980 levels around 2030-2040 according to the WMO/UNEP. In
contrast, the springtime ozone layer over the Antarctic is expected to recover around
2045-60, and in the Arctic it will probably recover one or two decades earlier.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

International Business Time (UK): Arctic ozone depletion unprecedented, but not
unexpected: WMO

6th April 2011

The Arctic region has suffered an ozone column loss of about 40 percent from the
beginning of the winter to late March this year, but the unprecedented ozone destruction
was rather expected, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

A plane takes off from an ice runway near the Applied Physics Lab Ice Station to return to
Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska March 18, 2011
Guides and Reports
The unprecedented level of the depletion of the ozone layer was owing to the continuing
presence of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the
stratosphere, the UN weather agency said in a press release.
"Ozone scientists have foreseen that significant Arctic ozone loss is possible in the case of
a cold and stable Arctic stratospheric winter," WMO said.
It also said that without the Montreal Protocol, this year‘s ozone destruction would have
been worse. Ozone depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons
which were present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, have been phased
out under the Montreal Protocol.

However, this has not fully translated into lower levels of ozone depletion. "The slow
recovery of the ozone layer is due to the fact that ozone-depleting substances stay in the
atmosphere for several decades," WMO said.
The beneficial impact of the Montreal Protocol will be visible over a period of time. "Thanks
to this international agreement, the ozone layer outside the polar regions is projected to
recover to its pre-1980 levels around 2030-2040 according to the WMO/UNEP Scientific
Assessment of Ozone Depletion."
The agency also warned that increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation unusual for the season is
possible if the ozone depleted area moves away from the pole and towards lower
latitudes.
"As the solar elevation at noon increases over the next weeks, regions affected by the
ozone depletion will experience higher than normal UV radiation. The public is
recommended to stay informed through national UV forecasts," WMO said.
ARCTIC VULNERABILITY
The WMO said the Arctic stratosphere continues to be vulnerable to ozone destruction
caused by ozone-depleting substances linked to human activities. ―The degree of ozone
loss experienced in any particular winter depends on the meteorological conditions. The




                                                                                             7
2011 ozone loss shows that we have to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on the
situation in the Arctic in the coming years,‖ WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said.
The ozone in the stratosphere is called the ozone layer. It is the shield that protects life on
Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays. About 90 percent of the ozone in the
atmosphere is found in the stratosphere, while the remaining 10 percent is found in the
troposphere. The stratosphere starts at about 10 km altitude and reaches up to an altitude
of about 50 km.
Persisting cold temperatures at the stratosphere lead to the speeding up of ozone
depletion, WMO says. "In Antarctica such conditions prevail every winter/spring season,
whereas in the Arctic the variability from one year to the next is much larger. Large ozone
loss is therefore not an annually recurring phenomenon in the Arctic stratosphere. While
increased amounts of longlived greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane,
are expected to cause some cooling of the stratosphere in the long term, it cannot explain
the large variations in temperature that is observed from one year to the next in the Arctic
stratosphere."
Satellite observations and the findings of ozonesondes have shown that almost two thirds
of the ozone in a crucial region of the stratosphere has already been destroyed, WMO
said. It says ozone loss takes place between 15 and 23 km above the ground with an
ozone minimum around 19-20 km. It is in this region that most destruction has happened.
The agency also says that this 'ozone poor region' has shifted away from the pole and
covers Greenland and Scandinavia as of late March.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

All Headline News (UK): U.N. warns Arctic ozone depletion at record 40 percent

6th April 2011

There was an unprecedented thinning of the ozone layer over the Arctic region last winter,
according to the United Nations' meteorological agency. Scientists had anticipated the
depletion, which is separate from another one in Antartica, but nonetheless urged
vigilance to keep harmful ultraviolet light from rising.

The Arctic's ozone layer in stratosphere, the second major layor of the Earth's
atmosphere, thinned by 40 percent during the season, up from a record of 30 percent,
according to the World Meteorological Organization.
The depletion resulted from an extremely cold winter in the stratosphere and the
continuing presence of chlorofluorocarbons, which destroy ozone molecules.
Ozone is an invisible form of oxygen that protects life from the sun's ultraviolet light. But
the benefits from it end in the stratosphere, which starts at an altitude of 6 miles and ends
at 31 miles.
At lower levels in the atmosphere, ozone is corrosive. It emits thermal radiation, and
together with other gases such as carbon dioxide cause temperatures to rise much like in
a greenhouse.
The WMO, which has 189 member-states, made clear the seasonal ozone loss was
expected if there was an unusually cold winter in the stratosphere.
The effects of ozone in the lower atmosphere were officially recognized in 1987, when
nations banned the use chlorofluorocarbons in manufacturing spray cans, styrofoam and
refrigerator coolants under the Montreal Protocol.



                                                                                                8
However, chlorofluorocarbons will remain in the atmosphere for decades. The ozone layer
over Antartica in the South Pole, where a hole was discovered in the 1970s, is expected to
recover between 2045 and 2060.
The Antartic ozone hole is an annual phenomenon that happens when temperatures in the
stratosphere drop during winter. According to NASA, its size varies but in 2007 was bigger
than the whole of North America.
In the Arctic, a region that spans all or parts of Canada, Denmark , Russia, Sweden and
the United States, the recovery of the ozone layer is expected between 2025 and 2040.
According to WMO, ozone loss occurs in the Arctic and Antartic when temperatures fall
below -78°C. During such conditions, chemical reactions in the stratosphere turn clouds
into ozone-depleting gases, much like chlorofluorocarbons.
There is less depletion in the North Pole because the Arctic is always comparatively
warmer than the Antartic.
"The degree of ozone loss experienced in any particular winter depends on the
meteorological conditions," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement.
"The 2011 ozone loss shows that we have to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on
the situation in the Arctic in the coming years."

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

The Gazette (Canada): Protective ozone layer dwindles to record low

6th April 2011

The ozone layer shielding the planet from ultraviolet rays has deteriorated to
unprecedented lows over the Arctic, the World Meteorological Organization said on
Tuesday.
Much of the destruction occurred over northern Canada last month and the depleted air
mass has now shifted to Europe, but could swing back during the next few weeks, said
scientists.
"It was over Canada, and now it's rotated round and peaked over Scandinavia," said
atmospheric scientist James Drummond, at Halifax's Dalhousie University, whose team
has been monitoring the destruction from a research station in Eureka on Ellesmere
Island.
Measurements from the ground, atmospheric balloons and satellites show that the Arctic
region lost about 40 per cent of its ozone layer from the beginning of the winter to late
March. The WMO said the highest loss previously recorded was about 30 per cent over
the entire winter.
David Tarasick, whose team at Environment Canada launches several ozone measuring
balloons a week as part of the international monitoring program, said some station
readings have been "nearly 50 per cent below normal."
The scientists said the intriguing and worrying phenomenon may be linked to rising carbon
dioxide levels in the global atmosphere -but it does not, at this stage, pose a serious
hazard.
Tarasick said the sun is so low in the sky that only low levels of ultraviolet light can get
through to hit the ground. But he said the "record" springtime depletion could result in a
one to two per cent increase in UV levels this summer.
The protective ozone is located in the stratosphere, which starts about 10 kilometres
above the ground. The ozone molecules absorb ultraviolet light and help shield people



                                                                                           9
and ecosystems from harmful solar radiation that has been linked to skin cancer, cataracts
and crop damage.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Huffington Post (UK): Earth, We Have a Problem -- Failure Is Not an Option

6th April 2011

Dave's 88-year-old father has been involved in the space program most of his career. We
have always been interested and supportive of the space program and the benefits that it
has brought to all humankind. When Dave served as John Denver's environmental and
political advisor, support for the space program was one of his top six priorities.
Recently, at the Kennedy Space Center, Dave picked up an Apollo 13 hat for his dad. It
had the wording, "Failure is not an Option". The hat seemed fitting as his dad had been
told a couple years ago that he had only three days to live. He didn't accept the prognosis
and sought other treatment. For him failure was not an option so the hat seemed quite
fitting for him to wear in the event he has to go to the hospital again.
Recently we heard a podcast where the NASA Space program was used as a metaphor
for how we might better respond to critical environmental issues of our time.
This naturally caught our attention.
The story begins with the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. This was the mission where Neil
Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. The landing for this mission was
tense and uncertain but they made it. The famous words were spoken by Neil Armstrong:
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The Apollo 12 mission then followed with a second successful mission to the moon.
The astronauts were able to land much easier this time, spend more time on the moon,
and gained more knowledge, skills, and furthered the NASA Apollo project.
Apollo 13 began its journey to the moon with the goal of further gains. Once again the
launch was successful. Before the crew could land on the moon an explosion crippled the
service module. The famous words were then relayed, "Houston, we have a problem".
At first there was disbelief in Houston; the thinking was that some technical glitch was
probably just giving false information. 15 full minutes past before Mission Control in
Houston realized this was now a critical life and death crisis.
At that point the Apollo 13 mission was abandoned and the new mission was survival. The
astronauts had to shift their priorities to the all out task of making the space craft life
sustaining until they could return to Earth. This meant they needed to conserve water, get
the carbon dioxide out of the air they were breathing, conserve the energy from the
batteries, conserve the air needed for the last hours of the journey, learn how to adapt to
uncomfortable temperature changes, conserve the limited potable water, and find ways to
use the resources of the lunar module not for exploration but as a lifeboat for their survival.
Despite the great challenge and uncertainty of the return voyage, failure to both Mission
Control and the astronauts was not an option.
With Mission Control putting all their focus on a new mission, and the courage and support
for each other among the astronauts, all were brought home safely to what NASA called a
"successful failure".
Our state of planet Earth continues to become more perilous as we are fast approaching
and in some cases have already surpassed the planetary boundaries for sustainability.




                                                                                            10
Today, we are threatened with many challenges that science has labeled our planetary
boundaries. In an article in Nature, Johan Rocstrom and his co-authors argue that to avoid
catastrophic environmental change, humanity must stay within defined planetary
boundaries. If one boundary is transgressed, then safe levels for other processes could
also be under serious risk. The planetary boundaries include: climate change, ocean
acidification, atmospheric aerosol loading, chemical pollution, land system changes, ozone
depletion, overload of phosphorus and nitrates, and decreasing fresh water resources.
Just as the Apollo 13 mission aborted its original goals and its passengers focused on
their own survival boundaries, crew aboard Spaceship Earth are being called to change
their mission in order to live within our planetary boundaries. There is a need to abort the
mission of business as usual to a new mission of creating a sustainable planet that
functions within the limits of the planetary boundaries.
Like the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 this will mean using our resources more creatively,
making sure our air is clean without to much ozone or carbon emissions, that there is
potable drinking water for all, that chemicals don't contaminate the space ships water and
food supply, and all passengers are able to be able to have the basic survival needs to
complete the journey.
Like the 15 minute pause in Houston where there was disbelief that the Apollo space craft
was in trouble despite the warning signs, there has been the same kind of disbelief among
many that Spaceship Earth is in trouble.
The question now is: Will enough people on Spaceship Earth realize that we have already
exceeded some of the planetary boundaries and are dangerously close to exceeding
others? Like the Apollo astronauts we need to change our mission.
There are some important lessons that we can learn from the Apollo 13 experience
including:
     The importance of creating a shared vision among the crew members of
         Spaceship Earth. In the Apollo 13 story, Mission Control set a new mission that
         failure was not an option and Apollo Commander James Lovell let the other crew
         members know "I intend to go home". This new shared vision created a context for
         better solving the problems. Creating a shared vision for a sustainable planet
         where people live within the planetary boundaries may be half the battle.
     Creating a sense of community around the vision is also important for success. We
         learn from the Apollo 13 story that conflict over the best approaches to take was
         greatly reduced once everyone agreed to work toward the same vision. The team
         focused on innovation and creativity to jointly solve the problems as opposed to
         focusing on different approaches. Commander Lovell observed that: "Thousands
         of people worked to bring us back home." The more individuals and groups we can
         get to work on a shared vision the stronger sense of a global community will form
         to achieve the goals.
     Developing a positive culture for change helps achieve success. Gene Kranz,
         Flight Director of Apollo 13, said to his co-workers: "work the problem", meaning do
         the research to find the solutions. In solving the Apollo 13 challenges, the team put
         priority on the need for technical proficiency and getting the facts. When the
         explosion happened, one of the first questions was, "what do we have on the
         space craft that is good?" The team also made sure that everyone was getting the
         information they needed. Kranz created a positive culture for solving the problems.

Scientists from around the world have sounded the alarm. Many in government, higher
education, NGO's, and business sectors have started to respond. Some encouraging
examples include:



                                                                                           11
      In government, the United Nations Environment Programme is in the process of
       completing it's 5th Global Outlook Report (GEO-5), a process that engages
       scientists from around the world to detail the needs of the planet and set an
       agenda for what needs to be done. The warnings of the last report, GEO-4, have
       been largely ignored.
      The U.N. Academic Impact, a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher
       education with the United Nations in support of sustainability, human rights,
       literacy, and conflict resolution now has over 500 participating institutions. Each of
       the participating institutions makes a commitment to at least one project each year
       based on the program's principles.
      NGO's such as the International Union of Conservation and Nature, have brought
       together over 1000 NGO's and 11,000 scientists to work on issues such as
       biodiversity, climate change, sustainable energy, human well-being, and a green
       economy.
      Corporations are becoming more sustainable in their practices. In the recent
       Newsweek Green Rankings of the 500 Largest U.S. Corporations, 51 had
       environmental performance rankings above 90 on a scale of 0 to 100. Of the
       Global 100 Corporations, ten percent also scored 90 or higher as well. One of the
       companies that was both a national and global leader in the rankings is the Walt
       Disney Co. The Walt Disney Co. was ranked #11 in environmental performance,
       #2 nationally in environmental performance in its category of Media, Travel, and
       Leisure, and #1 in this category globally. One of the unique things about the Walt
       Disney Co. is that it has proactively set ambitious goals related to each of the 9
       planetary boundaries. It is fast becoming model for others to follow. For example it
       has set goals of reducing its carbon emissions by 50% by 2012 from 2006 levels
       and then becoming a net-zero carbon company thereafter. It has also set a goal to
       reduce its solid waste 50% by 2013 and becoming a net zero waste company
       thereafter.

To bring back the Apollo 13 crew safely, it took the cooperation of mission control, the
astronauts, and many supporting scientists and other experts to use the ship's resources
wisely.
Imagine if there was a coordinated effort of uncompromising integrity between
governments, institutions of higher education, NGO's, and corporations. Imagine if they all
worked together with a shared vision to have Spaceship Earth return to operation within
safe planetary boundaries.
The simple truth is that like the Apollo 13 team, it will take bold leadership willing to
acknowledge that we have serious problems on planet Earth, are willing to work to create
a shared vision, sense of community, a positive culture that is committed to success, and
that they really get it, that failure is not an option.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

PressTV (Iran): UN: Fukushima not as bad as Chernobyl

6th April 2011

The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation released the final two
parts of their 2008 report to the General Assembly.



                                                                                           12
The annexes shed new light on the history of nuclear related accidents world wide, as
well as the long-term effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine on the non-
human biota -- that is, plants and animals.

UNSCEAR, while not part of the IAEA, cooperates with the Agency and the UN
Environment Program in assessing the impact of uncontrolled nuclear radiation.

UNSCEAR teams have visited the city of Chernobyl many times, and seen first hand the
changes within the exclusion zone around the nuclear sarcophagus.

According to UNSCEAR, nature is thriving now in Chernobyl in the absence of human
interference, with trees growing up through the streets making it look like the set of a
disaster movie.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Diario Xlapa (Mexico): Recicla Pemex 11 mil toneladas de aceite y solventes

6th April 2011

Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.- Felipe Guzmán Lezama, en el marco de las conferencias
magistrales CILCA 2011, señaló que Pemex está recuperando en los complejos
petroquímicos Morelos, Cangrejera, Pajaritos e Independencia todos los aceites gastados
y solventes utilizados en sus procesos, con el fin de procesarlos y utilizarlos como
combustible alterno, avalado por las autoridades ambientales, con un ahorro en el
consumo de gas natural de aproximadamente 30 millones de pesos.

El funcionario añadió que la paraestatal cuenta con cuatro centros de reciclaje que le
permiten procesar hasta 25 mil toneladas anualmente y que ya se instrumentan los
mecanismos para dar este servicio de reciclaje al resto de las empresas subsidiarias de
Pemex.

Guzmán Lezama indicó que en los tres años que llevan operando este sistema los
ahorros para la paraestatal alcanzan los 100 millones de pesos.

Anteriormente dependíamos de empresas autorizadas por la Semarnat que generaban
un costo de traslado, tratamiento y disposición. Actualmente, adecuamos algunas
instalaciones y aprovechamos de estos aceites su valor calorífico como combustible
alterno y generamos vapor y energía eléctrica.

En otro contexto, Sonia Valdivia Mercado, del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el
Medio Ambiente (Pnuma), presentó la conferencia "Hacia una Evaluación de
Sostenibilidad de Ciclo de Vida de Productos", en la que explicó cómo aumentar
competitividad en países en vía de desarrollo y economías emergentes, tomando en
cuenta los impactos ambientales, sociales y económicos.

En otras conferencias, Thiago Rodríguez, de Brasil, habló sobre la "Evaluación de Ciclo



                                                                                           13
de Vida en la Producción al Carbón en la Amazona". Por su parte, Arnaldo Carvalho
Filho, procedente de España, habló de bancos sociales y responsabilidad social.

Cabe señalar que en este evento participan especialistas en sustentabilidad de procesos,
productos y servicios que ven en el enfoque de ciclo de vida y las herramientas de
análisis una oportunidad de introducir sistemáticamente mejoras ambientales además de
identificar ahorros en la producción.

Back to Menu
=============================================================




                                                                                      14
                               Other Environment News

Reuters: Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis

7th April 2011

Following are main developments after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated
northeast Japan and crippled a nuclear power station, raising the risk of an uncontrolled
radiation leak.
(*denotes new item)
- Engineers pump nitrogen gas into a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami to prevent an explosive buildup of hydrogen
gas. Earlier efforts stopped highly radioactive water leaking into the sea at another of the
facility's six reactors.
* In a sign of growing international concern over radiation fallout, some schools in
neighboring South Korea close because parents are worried that rain there might be toxic.
Latest data show that foreign tourists were shunning Japan during what would normally be
one of the most popular seasons to visit.
* Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) says its president, Masataka Shimizu,
has left hospital and is back in the office. Shimizu was admitted to hospital late last month
due to overwork.
- TEPCO says a buildup of hydrogen after attempts to cool the reactors with water could
produce an explosion -- as occurred early in the crisis in reactors No. 1 and 3. But the
likelihood of this was "extremely low."
- After using water to cool fuel rods, engineers must still pump 11.5 million liters (11,500
tons) of contaminated water back into the ocean as they have run out of storage space.
- The head of a U.N. Scientific body says the situation at the plant is not expected to have
any serious impact on people's health. Data shows much lower levels of iodine than in the
1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine. Radioactive iodine detected in the sea now
stands at about 600 times the legal limit after being recorded at 4,800 times the limit
previously.
- A top official for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the Commission does not
believe the core of reactor no. 2 melted down.
- The coast guard says the quake shifted the seabed near the epicenter in northern Japan
by a record 24 meters (79 feet).
- TEPCO this week began paying "condolence money" to nearby local governments to aid
people evacuated because of the crisis.
- Authorities do not plan to expand the evacuation zone around the plant, a senior nuclear
official said. The government created a 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone around the site
after the earthquake and tsunami.
- TEPCO has said it will scrap at least four reactors once they are under control, but this
could take years or even decades. The Fukushima Daiichi and nearby Fukushima Daini
plants produce 4 percent of Japan's power and local politicians say reopening them will be
politically difficult.
- A total of 12,554 people were confirmed dead by Japan's National Police Agency, while
15,077 are missing as of Wednesday. A total of 162,481 households were without
electricity and at least 170,000without running water.
- Estimated cost of damage to top $300 billion, making it the world's costliest natural
disaster. The 1995 Kobe quake cost $100 billion while Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused
$81 billion in damage.



                                                                                          15
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

BBC News (UK): Japan quake: Nitrogen pumped into nuclear reactor

7th April 2011

Workers in Japan have begun injecting nitrogen into one of the reactors at the crippled
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent more hydrogen blasts.
The gas is being pumped into reactor 1 of the six-unit plant which was damaged by last
month's quake and tsunami.
Blasts caused by a build-up of hydrogen gas happened in three reactor buildings in the
aftermath of the 11 March quake.
On Wednesday, workers managed to plug a gap leaking highly radioactive water from the
plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Since the earthquake knocked out cooling systems, workers have been pumping water
into reactors to cool fuel rods, but must now deal with waste water pooling in and below
damaged reactor buildings.
The plant's operator, Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co), said it had injected chemical
agents to solidify soil near a cracked pit of the No 2 reactor that was the source of the leak.
Reactor concerns
Technicians began injecting nitrogen, an inert gas, into the number one reactor at 0131
local time Thursday (1631 GMT Wednesday).
"The possibility of a hydrogen explosion in current conditions is not necessarily high," said
government spokesman Yukio Edano. "But by injecting nitrogen, we can make the
possibility very close to zero. So they decided to inject nitrogen."

Fukushima update (7 April)
     Reactor 1: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas
        explosion. Radioactive water detected in reactor and basement, and groundwater.
        Nitrogen injected to tackle hydrogen build-up.
     Reactor 2: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas
        blast. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor and adjoining tunnel. Crack
        identified in containment pit now plugged.
     Reactor 3: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas
        blast; containment damage possible. Spent fuel pond partly refilled with water after
        running low. Radioactive water detected in reactor and basement
     Reactor 4: Reactor shut down prior to quake. Fires and explosion in spent fuel
        pond; water level partly restored
     Reactors 5 & 6: Reactors shut down. Temperature of spent fuel pools now
        lowered after rising high
     Q&A: Health effects of radiation
The injection process is expected to take about six days, officials say.
Hydrogen is building up because, due to low levels of cooling water, fuel rods are partially
exposed, causing them to overheat.
The prevention of further hydrogen explosions is seen as a priority, because blasts could
spew more radiation and damage the reactors.
Engineers said they were considering also injecting nitrogen into the number two and
three reactors.




                                                                                            16
The operation came a day after workers plugged a highly radioactive water leak from a
concrete pit connected to the number two reactor, using sodium silicate - known as ''water
glass''.
The leak is thought to have been the source of high levels of radiation found in seawater
nearby.
Meanwhile, engineers are continuing to pump some 11,500 tonnes of low-level radioactive
seawater into the sea so the more highly contaminated water from reactor No 2 can be
stored in waste buildings.
Officials said the discharged water would not pose a significant threat to human health, but
local fishermen have reacted angrily.
The government has promised compensation for the fishing industry and Tepco has
already unveiled plans to compensate residents and farmers around the nuclear plant.
Late on Wednesday, a UN scientist said he did not expect events in Fukushima to cause
serious health problems.
Atomic radiation expert Wolfgang Weiss said it was too early to assess the full impact of
the situation but traces of radioactivity detected around the world were much lower than
those found after the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.
Japan's neighbours nonetheless remain concerned. In South Korea more than 130
schools in Gyeonggi province cancelled classes or restricted outdoor activities because of
fears of contaminated rain.
But the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said that although small levels of radioactive
iodine and caesium particles had been found in rain falling in part of the country, they were
not enough to cause concern over public health.
The number of people known to have died in the earthquake and tsunami has now
reached 12,494, with another 15,107 still missing, according to police.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Reuters: Democrats raise concern about nuclear plant

6th April 2011

Democratic lawmakers warned a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant would be at risk of a
meltdown in the case of a severe emergency, though top U.S. nuclear officials said the
chances of such an event occurring were not likely.
The Peach Bottom nuclear plant, owned by utilities Exelon and Public Service Enterprise
Group Inc's PSEG Power, has the same kind of reactor design as the failed Fukushima
Daiichi plant, which Japanese authorities are still trying to bring under control since a
March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
In worst-case computer modeling exercises done by the U.S. nuclear regulator, the Peach
Bottom plant came "dangerously close to core damage," Democrats on a House Energy
and Commerce subcommittee said at the hearing on whether changes are needed to
make U.S. plants safer in the wake of the Japanese disaster.
Twenty-three other U.S. nuclear power plants use the same reactor design. The study was
done on only two of the 104 U.S. nuclear plants.
"This is a frightening scenario for the American people, for sure," said Diana DeGette of
Colorado, who noted the plant is less than 40 miles from the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
A top official from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that the computer modeling
exercise ignored the probability of worst-case power loss events happening.



                                                                                          17
"You have to first consider how likely this is to occur," said Martin Virgilio, the deputy
executive director for the NRC's reactor and preparedness programs.
"It doesn't give me concern," Virgilio said, responding to questions from DeGette about the
results of the modeling exercise.
NRC-FUKUSHIMA VESSEL NOT BREACHED
At the hearing, Edward Markey, a prominent critic of the nuclear industry, said the NRC
had warned that Fukushima's No. 2 reactor had likely melted through its vessel, a key part
of the containment for radioactive materials.
But Virgilio said that had not happened yet, based on information from NRC staff in Tokyo.
"We get situation reports from our team multiple times during the day and so far we do not
believe the core has actually breached" the vessel, Virgilio told reporters.
"We believe there is significant fuel damage at all three of the reactors, significant fuel
damage in all four of the spent fuel pools. We don't believe at this point in time that that
core has left the vessel," he said.
Virgilio also said there were differences in the designs of the reactors in the United States
and Japan, both boiling water reactors designed by GE.
"We've done quite a bit to modify that design over the life of the facilities as a result of
operating experience. We don't know for sure, but there are some evidence that the
Japanese designs did not keep pace, they did not make the same modifications that we've
made," he said.
The regulator is currently reviewing the 104 plants in the United States to see whether any
changes are needed after assessing the Japan disaster.
GOP: FOCUS ON FACTS
Republican lawmakers said the review of U.S. plants needs to focus on facts.
"We should not confuse what is happening in Japan with our own preparedness and
assume they are one and the same," said Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican.
"If changes need to be made to our nuclear safety plants and regulations, then so be it.
But, unfortunately sometimes in the past we've had a history of moving a little too quickly
and letting our regulations get ahead of the facts," said Michael Burgess of Texas.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

AP: Asia stocks mostly lower as Portugal seeks bailout

7th April 2011

Asian markets were mostly lower Thursday after Portugal became the latest European
country to plead for a bailout, but Japan enjoyed a mild rally as it appeared to gain the
upper hand in the struggle to contain a toxic radiation leak at a nuclear power plant.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 9,606.03, with investors breathing new life
into shares of the country's embattled export sector.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's biggest automaker, and rival Honda Motor Corp. both
gained 0.9 percent. Electronics giants also bumped upward, including Sony Corp., Canon
Inc., Sharp Corp., and Panasonic Corp.
The economy also got a boost when the Bank of Japan, in a widely expected decision,
kept its key interest rate unchanged at near zero and extended emergency loans to
financial institutions affected by the earthquake and tsunami crisis. Shares of Mitsubishi
UFJ Financial Group Inc., the country's largest bank, were 2.2 percent higher by midday.




                                                                                          18
Meanwhile, workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex in northeast Japan
were racing to cool down the plant's reactors, which have been overheating since a
mammoth earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked the plant offline, spawning the
world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
On Wednesday, workers registered a rare victory by stopping highly radioactive water
from flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down marginally to 24,275.36, while South
Korea's Kospi fell 0.7 percent to 2,112.95. Shares of Samsung Electronics Co. Inc. slid 1.8
percent after the company suffered a sharp fall in first quarter earnings as competition in
the tablet computer market and weakness in its liquid crystal display business offset
strength in semiconductors.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent to 4,903.10. Benchmarks in Singapore,
Malaysia, and New Zealand were also lower, while benchmarks in Taiwan, the Philippines
and Indonesia rose.
Investor sentiment was dampened after Portugal asked for a bailout to relieve its crushing
debt, joining Greece and Ireland by becoming the third nation using the euro common
currency to seek outside help amid a bruising financial crisis.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates went on national television Wednesday to announce that
Portugal must take international assistance to save its rapidly deteriorating economy, after
months of insisting that he would not ask for a bailout.
Central banks outside of Japan are also a focus of attention this week.
Already the People's Bank of China has raised its main interest rate for the fourth time
since October as it tries to keep a lid on rising inflationary pressures. The European
Central Bank is poised to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly three years on
Thursday as it, too, frets about inflation.
"It's likely to be an active day in currency markets as the Bank of Japan, Bank of England
and European Central Bank all deliver their latest interest rate decisions," said Ben Potter
of IG Markets in Melbourne. "What might be of more interest is the accompanying
statement, with traders keen to ascertain the likely timing of further policy moves."
The euro hit a 15-month high against the dollar Wednesday on expectations the ECB will
hike interest rates.
The euro traded as high as $1.4349, its strongest level since January 2010, before scaling
back. In Asia on Thursday, the euro dropped to $1.4298. The dollar fetched 85.17 yen,
down from 85.40 yen.
The dollar weakened against most major currencies as the prospect of the first
government shutdown in the U.S. for 15 years drew near, with Republicans and
Democrats having yet to broker a budget deal.
In the oil markets, the apparent stalemate in Libya, which accounts for a little under 2
percent of daily oil production, kept oil prices high.
Benchmark crude for May delivery was down 57 cents to $108.26 a barrel in electronic
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 49 cents to settle at
$108.83 per barrel Wednesday. It had climbed as high as $109.15 earlier in the day — the
highest since September 2008.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________




                                                                                         19
AP: Senate Dems reject attacks on EPA climate efforts

6th April 2011

Senate Democrats on Wednesday defeated a Republican effort to ban the Environmental
Protection Agency from controlling the gases blamed for global warming.
Republicans still planned to pass an identical bill in the House on Thursday, even though it
has little chance of becoming law.
In a 50-50 vote, the Senate rejected a measure by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of
Kentucky and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that would have repealed a 2009 finding by
federal scientists that climate change caused by greenhouse gases endangers human
health and would have prevented the agency from using existing law to regulate heat-
trapping pollution. The amendment — to a small-business bill — needed 60 votes to pass.
Only four Democrats — Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia,
Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — supported the McConnell bid.
One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against it.
Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House is expected to pass an identical bill
Thursday, but the White House has threatened a veto any bill that reaches the president's
desk. The House voted earlier this year to prohibit the EPA from spending any money to
regulate greenhouse gases as part of a spending bill for the next six months. It is part of
negotiations among the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republicans to keep
the government running.
Senate Democrats proposed Wednesday less aggressive prohibitions on the EPA that
would have delayed regulations for two years, exempted certain industries, or both. But
the most votes any of the three alternatives received was 12. Republicans nearly
unanimously voted against them, and so did most Democrats.
In a statement Wednesday night, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the
administration was "encouraged" by the Senate's actions to defend the EPA "by rejecting
efforts to roll back EPA's common-sense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful
pollution."
But critics of the administration's action on global warming looked at the outcome in a
different light, saying that a majority of senators in some way voted to restrict the EPA's
regulation of heat-trapping gases.
"When all is said and done, a bipartisan majority in the Senate issued a sobering message
to EPA ... suggesting it's time to reverse course and put Congress back in charge of
America's energy policy," Inhofe said in a statement.
Democrats focused their arguments on what they said was an unprecedented reversal by
Congress of a scientific finding.
"The fact is, why should we play doctor? I'm too humble to repeal science," said Sen.
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., taking the position of many Democrats against the McConnell
amendment's overturning of a finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger human
health and welfare. EPA scientists had made the same conclusion under President
George W. Bush, but the White House never acted on the recommendation.
Republicans, in hours of debate Wednesday, painted EPA's regulations as an overreach
of government that will harm the economy and lead to job losses and must be stopped.
They stressed that their efforts to hamstring the agency in the case of global warming
would not affect other parts of the Clean Air Act that protect people from toxic and lung-
damaging pollutants.
"This legislation will remove the biggest regulatory threat to the American economy," said
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee and



                                                                                         20
chief sponsor of the House bill. "This is a threat imposed not by Congress, but entirely by
the Obama Environmental Protection Agency."
Senate Republicans argued the lesser measures protected a handful of Democrats who
could be vulnerable in 2012 elections, but would do little to protect American jobs and
electricity costs in the long run. They also pointed out, as the EPA has acknowledged, that
controlling greenhouse gases in the United States would do little to reduce the
temperature of the planet, since other countries are not addressing the problem.
"Democrats themselves recognize the dangers of these EPA regulations," McConnell said
Wednesday. "Yet instead of voting for the one amendment that solves the problem, they're
hiding behind sham amendments designed to give them political cover."

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Guardian (UK): Investment in US clean technology highest since 2008

6th April 2011

Rising oil prices and increasing investor confidence have encouraged US clean
technology market, says report by Cleantech Group
Global investment in US clean technology has reached its highest level since 2008, while
investment in UK companies has dropped sharply, quarterly figures show.
Increasing investor confidence and rising oil prices have helped investment in North
American companies more than double compared with the previous quarter, according to
a report by Cleantech Group, an international firm that works to accelerate the
development and market adoption of clean technologies.
Sheera Haji, CEO of Cleantech Group, said: "I absolutely think rising oil prices have had
some important impacts. We've seen decent uptake in transportation."
He added: "We're seeing a good rebound as public markets are doing well, companies are
doing well, and investors are raising funds and investing them. We're also seeing a real
skew towards bigger deals."
While North America flourishes, investment in companies in Europe and Israel dropped by
60% compared with the previous quarter. Investment in British companies has plummeted
to its lowest level since 2003, with only nine deals secured all year.
Haji described the period as a "very weak" quarter for the UK. He said: "I have not been
following the UK closely, but there's been some uncertainty around what's happening in
the UK – around the economic recovery and growth – and that has impacted on the
vibrancy of the start-up economy."
The news comes a week after a report from the US Pew Environment Group showed that
Britain's private investments in green energy projects fell by 70% last year, causing it to fall
from third to 13th place in the league of countries developing clean technology.
Haji said Japan's nuclear crisis could have a "pretty significant impact" on the next set of
quarterly figures, and that it may boost investment in clean technology and coal.
He added: "We think it's a setback for the building of new reactors."

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________




                                                                                             21
Guardian (UK): Feed-in tariff cuts result in scrapping of government's own solar
project

6th April 2011

In an apparent own-goal, the coalition's deep proposed cuts to subsidies for larger solar
installations have made decking out state-owned buildings unviable

The government has cancelled its own flagship solar energy project because the
Department of Energy and Climate Change's (DECC) proposed cuts to solar feed-in
tariff incentives will make the scheme unviable.

That is the charge from "stakeholders" who contributed to a Whitehall project to assess
the potential for fitting solar panels across the government estate, following a workshop
on the topic at the Cabinet Office last November.

BusinessGreen has learned that the project was quietly cancelled last month, just a
week after the government launched a controversial review of feed-in tariffs for solar
installations with over 50kW that proposes deep cuts to the incentives of between 40
and 70 per cent.

At the original Cabinet Office meeting in the autumn, Whitehall departments were told
how hospitals, council buildings and other land owned by the government could earn
additional revenue through the feed-in tariff scheme by installing solar panels on roofs
and unused land.

Government procurement body Buying Solutions also began work on a more detailed
solar project proposal on the back of the meeting.

But it appears that the plans were floored by last month's feed-in tariff consultation,
which proposes deep cuts to the support solar panels receive through the scheme.

"All stakeholders were told that it has been decided not to proceed with the Solar PV
Project because of the impending changes to the FiTs for solar PV and therefore it
wouldn't be prudent to continue," said Katie Moore, co-founder of the Solar Club, a
community whose members are planning to invest in a solar project.

The proposed feed-in tariff cuts have been roundly criticised by many within the solar
industry, who have accused the government of trying to kill off all solar installations with
over 50kW capacity, including mid-sized community, public sector and business
projects.

Speaking to BusinessGreen following the launch of the review, Climate Minister Greg
Barker insisted that it was not the government's intention to bring an end to larger solar
installations. But he maintained that cuts to incentives were necessary for projects with
over 50kW capacity in order to stop larger projects eating up the bulk of the available
feed-in tariff funding for smaller household solar installations.




                                                                                           22
The proposed cuts are currently subject to consultation, but the decision of the
government to axe its own solar project ahead of the results of the review will fuel fears
across the industry that deep cuts to incentives will now be finalised.

In response to questions about the scrapping of the solar project the Cabinet Office
referred BusinessGreen to the Buying Solutions procurement body, where a
spokeswoman confirmed that the project had been cancelled. However, she declined to
give a reason as to why the initiative had been ditched.

DECC declined to comment on the cancelling of the project, but a spokesman said that
its view remained that the feed-in tariff scheme was primarily designed to support small
installations rather than solar farms, and as such cuts to incentives for larger projects
were necessary.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Guardian (UK): Superbug gene rife in Delhi water supply

7th April 2011

Global implications as NDM-1 gene is found to be widespread in water used for cooking,
washing and drinking

A gene that causes a wide range of bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics has been
found in the water supply in Delhi, with worrying implications for the rest of the globe.
A paper by Timothy Walsh from Cardiff University and colleagues, published in the Lancet
Infectious Diseases journal, reveals that the gene, known as NDM-1, is widespread in the
water used for cooking, washing and drinking in Delhi. It will inevitably be brought into
hospitals in the gut flora of patients. The potential for movement around the world is high.
NDM-1 can cause many types of bacteria – including E coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae –
to become resistant to powerful antibiotics called carbapenems, which are used when
other antibiotics fail to work. The team also found the gene had spread to bacteria that
cause cholera and dysentery. "Worryingly, dysentery caused by this particular isolate is
currently untreatable," said Mark Toleman, one of the authors.The findings are published
on World Health Day, which this year is dedicated to preserving the healing powers of the
antibiotics we still have. The World Health Organisation warns that more than 25,000
people die every year in the EU alone from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant
bacteria.
"We need to raise the alert that we are at a critical point where antibiotic resistance is
reaching unprecedented levels and new antibiotics are not going to arrive quickly enough,"
said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.
She said antibiotics were being taken for granted and overused. "There are now
superbugs that do not respond to any drug. Given the growth of travel and trade in Europe
and across the world, people should be aware that until all countries tackle this, no country
alone can be safe."
There are few new antibiotics in the pharmaceutical pipeline, because they have proved
hard to discover and are not lucrative investments for drug companies – new drugs would
be kept as a last resort and used very infrequently to begin with.




                                                                                          23
International travel and medical tourism have already brought NDM-1 to the UK. The same
team of scientists reported last year that they had found NDM-1 positive bacteria in a small
number of patients who had visited India for kidney or bone marrow transplants, dialysis,
pregnancy care or burns treatment, while others had undergone cosmetic surgery.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

The Independent (UK): 'Super Sherpa' on Everest cleaning climb

7th April 2011

A top Nepalese mountaineer who holds the record for the number of successful summits
of Everest left for another attempt on Wednesday on a mission to clean garbage from the
world's highest peak.
Apa Sherpa, 51, who has climbed the mountain a record 20 times, is leading the Eco
Everest Expedition 2011, which aims to collect four tonnes of garbage under a "Cash for
Trash" programme funded by a private trekking company.
A team of 58 people, including 23 foreigners, will take part, earning 100 rupees ($1.40) per
kilogram (2.2 pounds) of garbage brought to the basecamp. Empty oxygen bottles, ropes
and tents are the most frequently discarded items.
"If my ascent would promote the cause and help protect the mountain, I am always ready
to climb," the man nicknamed "Super Sherpa" told AFP before his flight to the Everest
region.
Apa, who completed his first Everest summit in 1990, started his mountaineering career as
a porter in his early teens.
He said the latest expedition would seek to set an example of how to climb in an eco-
friendly manner.
"We will not use fossil fuel. We will cook using solar-enabled cookers and drink sterilised
water instead of boiling it," he said.
Around 3,000 people have climbed the 8,848-metre (29,028-foot) Himalayan peak, which
straddles Nepal and China, since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing
Norgay in 1953.
Japanese climber Ken Noguchi will also take part in the cleaning mission. He hopes to
bring down another tonne of garbage, taking the total collection to five tonnes.
This climbing season, which runs from spring to the summer monsoon, will also see a
diverse group of Nepalese civil servants scale the mountain in a bid to raise awareness
about climate change.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

Guardian (UK): Poland's environmentalists fight foresters for heart of primeval
forest

6th April 2011

Most Poles may feel connected to nature, but the battle for Białowieża lays bare their
belief in their right to exploit the forest




                                                                                         24
It is a spectacle of savage beauty: splintered stumps and trunks lie like battlefield corpses
between soaring oak and lime trees. Ochre-fringed bracket fungus feasts on the dead
wood, while the first green shoots of spring pierce the leaf mold, amid the tracks of wolves
and bison.
For ecologist Janusz Korbel, standing in the forest he loves and surrounded by decaying
logs and branches, it is this life springing from death that is at the heart of this untouched
place. "It's a kind of Eden," he says. "It was not created by humans."
The Białowieża forest is a time capsule, protected for centuries by Polish kings and
Russian tsars as a royal hunting ground. To walk among the giant, slender trees – the
tallest in Europe – is to glimpse the primeval forest that once blanketed all of the
continent's lowlands. "It began about 8,000 years ago and has existed since then without
any meaningful interference from people," says Korbel. But Białowieża is the last
significant fragment of that vast forest, and while a 10 sq km wood is fully protected, a
mighty battle is being fought over the 84% of the forest that lies outside the national park.
It is an almost biblical battle of philosophies, pitting those who believe nature has to be
actively managed to prosper in the 21st century, and those who think nature can only be
truly natural if left alone. Korbel is firmly in the latter camp: "This forest has lived for
thousands of years without humans."
Opposing him is the powerful state forestry service, which manages 30% of all Poland's
land and exerts deep local influence. "To keep the habitat in its proper state it needs to be
managed and foresters try to manage natural forces," says regional director Marek
Maslowski. "It is necessary to cut some trees to help nature work faster."
The key question today is whether the successful protection the national park provides
should be extended, to protect the ancient trees and myriad species that live outside its
boundaries. For example, white-backed woodpeckers, whose resonant knocking booms
over the spring chatter, have lost 30% of their population in the past 20 years in forestry-
managed areas.
"This is the best moment in many years for change," says Robert Cyglicki, director of
Greenpeace Poland, as we survey a clear-felled copse. There is a Polish general election
in October, the Polish presidency of the European Union in July 2012, as well as the
drafting of a new forest management plan and a crucial change in legislation to ease the
extension of national parks. The latter was prompted after Greenpeace collected 250,000
petition signatures in November and follows its three-day occupation of the environment
ministry roof in August. The forest has been a Unesco world heritage site since 1979.
In coal-dependent Poland environmentalists are rare, with little national sympathy for
action on climate change. Adam Wajrak, nature correspondent for Poland's biggest daily
paper Gazeta Wyborcza and Białowieża resident, says: "Polish people are very different to
those in the west. They don't save energy. But they are very connected to nature. Most of
us have grandparents in the countryside, some farmers, some foresters, and spend
holidays there. I am surprised how much emotion comes out. If they tried to cull wolves
here, as they did in Sweden, there would be demonstrations in the street."
But that connection to the land cuts both ways. Unlike in the UK, where broad public
protest overturned government plans to sell off England's national forests, there is
entrenched local opposition to enlarging the national park. The neat woodpiles by the
timber homes in the villages around Białowieża, and the smell of woodsmoke, show the
visceral connection of the people to the forest. As well as heating their homes through
winters in which temperatures plummet below zero for months, many have worked as
foresters for generations.
Near the village of Sorocza Nóżka, foresters are clear felling a stand of trees planted 80
years before. Environmentalists do not oppose the cutting of earlier plantations, but these
areas of low ecological value blend into more natural forest. Within earshot of the


                                                                                           25
chainsaws there are mighty oaks, some 140ft tall, and abundant evidence of the
woodpeckers that, with owls, eagles and other birds, attract thousands of British
birdwatchers every year.
The forestry foreman, who asked not to be named, is blunt in his opposition to enlarging
the national park and allowing its natural wonders to reclaim the entire 60,000 hectares
(148,200 acres) of the Białowieża forest on the Polish side of the Belarus border. "Look,
the ecologists and campaigners get their salaries for what they do, I get mine for what I do.
I employ 20 men, 60 people with their families, and they can't imagine any other job," he
says. "If you had been here two days ago, you would have seen the villagers fighting for
the small amount of wood we can give. I said 'go and ask the ecologists for your wood'."
Most environmentalists agree that a small amount of timber could be taken sustainably
from outside the current national park, but only if rules such as protecting trees more than
100 years old are observed. Adam Bohdan, of the campaign group Workshop for All
Beings, spends hours in the forest using GPS to record rule breaches, such as felling
trees with hollows used by birds to nest, or felling in the breeding season.
As we leave Sorocza Nóżka, he finds a bronze beetle larva nestled in the bark of a log
stacked by the track. "That's Cucujus cinnaberinus," he says of the 15mm creature, which
like many of the 8,000 insect species in Białowieża specialises in eating dead wood. "It's
protected under the EU habitats directive, and is already extinct in some countries." His
GPS-tagged photo, sent to the nature protection unit, should prompt officials to return the
dead wood to the forest. "If it is not stolen in the night," he adds. To date, there have been
no prosecutions for breaking management rules, but Bohdan was himself taken to court
last year, unsuccessfully, for collecting a small sample of a new lichen for scientific
identification. "They are getting desperate," says Cyglicki. "They want to try to prevent
ecologists and activists going deep into the forest."
The dead wood is vital to life in the most natural part of the forest, the strictly protected
zone within the national park where the only entry is on foot and with a permit and a guide.
Korbel says almost half of all the wood in the forest is dead, 10 times more than in
managed forests, and that half the 12,000 species depend on decaying logs. In managed
forests, the dead wood is removed by foresters who see it as a sign of an ecosystem in
danger, or as a fire risk. Such forests are mere gardens, Korbel scoffs, no more natural
than a manicured lawn. It is the balanced rhythm of life and death, Korbel says, which
supports a full ecosystem, headed by the largest herd of European bison in the world, and
featuring wolves, lynx and eagles that keep the numbers of deer, moose, boar and
beavers in proportion.
Foresters, of course, disagree and nowhere more vehemently than over the bark beetle.
This modest-looking insect strikes terror into the hearts of woodmen. The spruce stripped
of their bark die quickly and lie scarred on the forest floor, the trunks resembling the
backbones of slain giants.
Zdzisław Szkiruć, director of the Białowieża national park, gives an example from another
national park he previously worked in. "The bark beetles struck and huge areas were
covered by dead spruce. If they were cut and replanted with the same species, in 50 years
we will have proper forest. But if we left the dead trees in the forest, it will take 300-400
years for the same type of forest to come back. So some people say we should kickstart
nature, but some say we can wait for nature to act. This is the key discussion point."
Ecologists say cutting and replanting makes sense in conventional, managed forests but
not in the unique primeval forest of Białowieża. "In nature, all is connected and the beetles
– a food for birds – attack only the weakest trees, helping to establish good relations
between all the species," says Korbel.
Like Szkiruć, the person with the ultimate responsibility for the Białowieża forest,
environment minister Andrzej Kraszewski, wants an extension of the existing protections.


                                                                                           26
"I will try to establish protection over the whole area, but as a first shot I would like to do
another 12,000-14,000 ha," he told the Guardian. "There are two obstacles: the opinion of
the local communities – they have very firm opinions that they can exploit this area as they
have for hundreds of years – and the opinion of the forestry service, who believe there is
no harm in exploiting the forest in a modest way. I have to convince both of them."
An offer by a previous environment minister of 100m zlotys (£22m) for local enterprise in
return for a 20% extension of the national park was rejected. "Local politicians think that if
they accept money from the ministry of environment, they will not be elected next time,"
says Kraszewski. "I intend to start negotiations with the local societies from scratch."
While the latest efforts to overcome the mistrust of local citizens play out, the scientists
prepared to speak out continue to protest against the gradual attrition of the forest. "It has
an incredible richness, which should be protected at all costs," says Professor Tomasz
Wesołowski, at Wrocław University, who has researched the Białowieża forest for 30
years. He likens it to the Hubble space telescope, which revolutionised astronomy by
allowing scientists to peer back in time with unprecedented clarity, but with a key
difference. "In the event of damage to [Hubble], it can be replaced. This primeval forest
cannot be bought or reconstructed."
Wajrak has another reason why the forest must be protected: "We are a country destroyed
by wars and there is not much heritage left, apart from nature. This is the one unique thing
we can give to the world."
• This article was amended on 6 April 2012. The original said that the Polish presidency of
the EU would begin in January. This has been corrected.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

BBC News (UK): Thunderstorm numbers calculated

6th April 2011

The Earth sees about 760 thunderstorms every hour, scientists have calculated.
The figure, unveiled at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, is
substantially lower than numbers that have been used for nearly a century.
The new research uses a global network of monitoring stations that detect the
electromagnetic pulses produced by major bolts of lightning.
It confirms that thunderstorms are mainly a tropical phenomenon - and the Congo basin is
the global hotspot.
Thunderstorms also track the passage of sunlight across the world, with sunny conditions
producing greater convection in the air.
"The monitoring stations might miss some bolts of lightning, but we think we're getting the
big ones - and that's enough to tell you where the thunderstorms are," said Colin Price,
head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences department at Tel Aviv University in
Israel.
"And so with this global network we're able to improve on numbers that have been in
standard use since the 1920s."
Global network
The first attempt to estimate thunderstorm numbers is thought to have been made by CEP
Brooks in 1925.
At that time, it was customary for weather stations to note days when thunderstorms
occurred nearby.



                                                                                            27
Collecting records where he could, the British climatologist calculated there were around
1,800 per hour on average across the world.
But his research suffered from incomplete data and mistaken assumptions - including that
storms were equally distributed over land and sea, whereas the vast majority occur over
land.
In the 1950s, OH Gish and GR Wait flew over the top of 21 thunderstorms in the US in
aeroplanes carrying equipment capable of measuring voltages and currents in the air.
Extending their readings to the rest of the world, they came up with a global figure of
2,000-3,600 per year.
More recently, satellites have been deployed - but they do not see the whole world.
The new research uses a completely different technique, with more than 40 stations
around the world geared up to detect electromagnetic pulses produced by strong lightning
bolts.
Daytime peaks
Triangulating from groups of stations enables the World Wide Lightning Location Network
(wwlln.net) to pinpoint flashes.
When they are clustered, a computer algorithm is deployed to assign flashes to their
separate parent storms.
Analysing this data for September 2010 produced the average hourly figure of 760.
Each continent shows peaks during its daytime - and globally, the peak time is around
noon GMT.
Thunderstorms cluster in the centre of continents in the tropics, with the Congo basin
standing out.
"That's perhaps because it's drier there than in the Amazon, for example - thunderstorms
seem to form more easily in drier conditions," Dr Price told BBC News.
The network is looking to add new observation points to improve results, and recently
initiated a programme to detect explosive volcanic eruptions via the lighning flashes that
occur in the ascending plumes of hot ash.

Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________

BBC News (UK): Australian rats scurry to desert en masse after rains

7th April 2011

A mass migration of rats is under way into the inland deserts of Australia after a run of
high rainfall seasons, scientists say.
The native long-haired rat, or rattus villosissimus, normally lives in the Barkly Tableland of
the Northern Territory and in western Queensland.
But now it has been spotted in Alice Springs for the first time in 25 years.
"Some of them get up to about 30cm [12in] long - fair lump of a rat," livestock manager
Chris Giles said.
"They will run around and hide under a little bit of shrub there, and you can get pretty close
to them," Mr Giles, a stockman on the Northern Territory's Lake Nash Station, told
Australia's ABC News.
"I nearly caught one the other day."
'Red Centre nomads'




                                                                                           28
Peter McDonald, acting scientist with Northern Territory Biodiversity Conservation, said
the phenomenon was a "huge event" which he attributed to a run of consecutive good,
high rainfall seasons.

"It is unusual in the rodent world but rattus villosissimus are unique in that way and they
are pretty famous for their eruptions," he added.
"Probably the only similar expansion by a rodent is seen in the lemmings in the northern
hemisphere with their eruptions. There is nothing else in Australia which erupts over such
a large area."
Alice Springs generally has no rats because of its arid climate.
The long-haired rodent was first sighted around the middle of last year on the edge of the
Simpson Desert, south-east of the town, Mr McDonald said.
Its ability to produce 12 babies every three weeks gives it the highest reproductive
potential of any rodent in Australia, he noted.
For those anxious about a plague of rats, the scientist also pointed out that they were
unlikely to stay put in the country's "Red Centre".
"It's not really ideal for them," he said. "The chances are they are just moving through and
they won't set up camp or be too much of a nuisance."

Back to Menu
=============================================================




                                                                                           29
                               ROA MEDIA UPDATE
                         THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                              Thursday, April 7, 2011


                            General Environment News
      Gambia: NEA Sensitizes Refrigeration Technicians in URR
      Rwanda: Rema Trains Journalists in Environmental Reporting
      Kenya: Dirt Blamed for Diseases in Thika
      Rwanda: Police Move to Curb Vehicle Gas Emissions



Gambia: NEA Sensitizes Refrigeration Technicians in URR

Daily Observer (Banjul) – As The Gambia Government is committed to phasing out the
importation and consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) as enshrined in the
Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention, of which the country is a party, the
National Environment Agency, (NEA) has recently embarked on a three-day training
programme for refrigeration technicians in the Upper River Region (URR), Basse.

The training was centered on retrofitting, recycling and control of Ozone Depletion
Substances. ODS are refrigerants emitted from refrigerators, freezers, and air
conditioners that deplete the gaseous ozone layer that serve as a protective shield for
the planet earth from the hot rays of the sun. Momodou Mendy, a trainer from the
Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) said the training is aimed at strengthening
the capacity of refrigeration technicians to enhance proper identification, use and
detection of ODS from the points of entry and to the end users.
http://allafrica.com/stories/201104050530.html



Rwanda: Rema Trains Journalists in Environmental Reporting

New Times (Kigali) – Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) have
organized a training of local journalists on how to report environmental stories. The two-
day workshop under the theme 'Environmental Education for sustainable development'
was held in Kigali. The Director General of REMA, Dr Rose Mukankomeje, who opened
the seminar, requested journalists to take a lead in teaching the public the best way to
preserve the environment.

"The main objective of this workshop is to equip you as media practitioners with
necessary skills and knowledge on how we can achieve sustainable development
through protecting the environment," Mukankomeje said. She encouraged the
participants to work with REMA in changing people's mindset towards protecting the
environment and to also expose those who may cause any hazard. Mukankomeje also
called upon the media fraternity to always sensitize the public to effectively use available
natural resources. http://allafrica.com/stories/201104050418.html




                                                                                          30
Kenya: Dirt Blamed for Diseases in Thika


Nairobi Star (Thika) - Eighty per cent of the diseases troubling residents of Thika
District are related to poor environment, a public health officer Julius Inyingi disclosed.
Speaking at Witeithie Estate after a cleanup exercised organized by his department in
conjunction with Nema, Inyingi said the ailments could be avoided if the community
conserved the environment at the grass-roots. He said that through collaboration with
other stakeholders, they have been able to fight the above diseases. He said children
had become useful agents in the conservation of the environment. Nema district co-
ordinator Ken Odhiambo urged local residents to plant trees in the estate.

Students from Kenyatta University, Thika Medical Training Institute and pupils from
select primary schools participated in the cleanup. Social workers from Malaba
community health unit will be collecting garbage twice a week in the estate. Tenants
agreed          to     pay      Sh10     to    fund     collection    of      refuse.
http://allafrica.com/stories/201104040281.html



Rwanda: Police Move to Curb Vehicle Gas Emissions

New Times (Kigali) – The Police's Motor Vehicle Inspection Centre (MIC) has
introduced Engine gas emission inspection to the already existing tests it carries out.
The new inspection will contribute to the country's environmental protection efforts, since
vehicles that emit toxic gases will not be allowed to operate. The inspection comes along
with the introduction of a third lane to increase the capacity of the centre. The lane will
service private cars which will increase the number of vehicles inspected daily from 120
to over 200.

Since the Rwanda National Police took over the centre from the Ministry of Infrastructure
in 2008, there has been a 60% reduction in accidents. This has been achieved by
ensuring that only vehicles in good mechanical condition are allowed on public roads. So
far, 89,076 vehicles have been inspected since 2008. According to Supt. Benoit
Nsengiyumva, the commanding officer of MIC, accidents caused by mechanical defaults
have greatly reduced. http://allafrica.com/stories/201104060497.html

Back to Menu
________________________________________________________________




                                                                                        31
                              ROAP MEDIA UPDATE
                         THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                              Thursday, April 7, 2011

                                UNEP or UN in the news

        UN body pats Haryana on the back for green drive – Hindustan Times

                                     Japan Media update

        Tepco succeeds in plugging leak – Japan Times
        Gov't considers using Y1 tril TEPCO reserves for compensation – Japan
         Today
        Long-term power loss not foreseen in nuclear guidelines – Japan Times
        Food import ban may not affect eateries – The Times of India
        Japan firm to draft water masterplan – The Times of India
        Radioactive fish found off Japan's Ibaraki prefecture – Today Online
        Seawater radiation shoots far past limit – Japan Times

 Flood in Southern Thailand

        North under threat of mudslides – Bangkok Post




                                UNEP or UN in the news


UN body pats Haryana on the back for green drive – HindustanTimes

Thursday 7th April 2011 -- Six months after 20,000 trees were planted at Jaunapur by
the Haryana Forest Development Corporation (HFDC), it got a word of praise from the
United Nations‘ Environment Project director Satinder Bindra who visited the green site
on Wednesday. ―I am delighted to see that the trees are still healthy . The fencing which
was done to avoid any encroachment on land seems to have worked. No down dropping
has happened ever since they were planted in September,‖ Bindra said.

In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, which was held in the capital last year,
Delhi government‘s forest department had nominated HFDC to plant, and later, maintain
the trees for five years.

While moving around the green field, the official sounded content to see the gradual
after effects of the plantation.

―The biodiversity is returning gradually. A fully grown tree provides sufficient oxygen to a
family of four. One can imagine how many families (20,000X4 = 80,000) will stand to
benefit from this drive,‖ added Bindra.


                                                                                          32
While cautioning the HFDC about the potential threat faced in the summer which looms
large over these young plants, Bindra said: ―Summer would be a challenge as the
temperature reaches 46 degree Celsius here.‖

The forest department officials, however, are geared up to take on the summer heat.

―We have installed two bore wells only to beat the heat. Once these plants survive until
the first rain of season, they will be settled for life,‖ informed Subhash Yadav, regional
manager, HFDC.

The massive afforestation drive was carried out by HFDC in collaboration with the United
Nations which incorporated Jaunapur project under their Billion Trees Campaign.

Apart from this project, HFDC is partnering Delhi in more than a dozen green drives
which include plantations in Aya Nagar, Shikarpur, Pandwala, Rewala and Rangpuri
among others.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/UN-body-pats-Haryana-on-the-back-for-green-
drive/Article1-682172.aspx#


                                    Japan Media update


Tepco succeeds in plugging leak – Japan Times online

Reactor to be injected with nitrogen to avert hydrogen blast

Thursday 7th April 2011 -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. finally succeeded in stopping the
main leak of highly radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant
into the ocean Wednesday morning and workers were preparing to inject nitrogen into at
least one reactor in a bid to prevent another hydrogen explosion.

Tepco said it confirmed at 5:38 a.m. that a crack in the No. 2 reactor storage pit had
been plugged after workers injected 1,500 liters of sodium silicate and another agent to
solidify a layer of small stones under a cable trench.

"I have been told that it is being thoroughly looked into whether the leak has completely
stopped and whether there are other (cracks)," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano
said. "We have not stopped worrying just because the leak supposedly stopped."

The highly radioactive water is believed to have come from the No. 2 reactor core, where
fuel rods have partially melted, and ended up in the pit. The pit is connected to the No. 2
reactor turbine building and an underground trench connected to the building, both of
which were found to be filled with high levels of contaminated water.

To make room to store the highly radioactive water that is hampering repair work at the
plant, Tepco continued to discharge massive amounts of low-level contaminated water
from inside a nuclear waste disposal facility at the site and from around the No. 5 and 6
reactor buildings.



                                                                                         33
As of 6:30 a.m., about 10,000 tons of low-level radioactive water had been discharged
and about 600 tons were left, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Edano meanwhile apologized to fishermen and said those whose catches have been
affected by the release of low-level radioactive water should be compensated. He also
apologized to neighboring countries, including South Korea, which have expressed deep
concern at the lack of information from the Japanese government prior to its decision
Monday to release low-level radioactive water from the nuclear plant into the sea.

"We must earnestly accept words that we should have explained the situation in detail
and more thoroughly to related ministries and neighboring states before the release,"
Edano said. "It was to prevent further leaking of (highly radioactive) water into the sea,
but we should have thoroughly explained the situation beforehand."

Meanwhile, excessive levels of radioactive cesium were detected in young sand lances
in the sea off northern Ibaraki Prefecture.

Given the development, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations
issued a statement Wednesday slamming Tepco and the government.

"It is natural that the damage to and effects on the marine industry be included in the
compensation" program along with the agricultural products, Edano said.

Tepco revealed Tuesday it hopes to provide provisional compensation to locals and
farmers near the plant. Details have yet to be worked out but the utility said it has begun
consulting with the government.

Tepco said Wednesday that workers were set to inject nitrogen into reactor No. 1 later in
the day to prevent another hydrogen explosion like the one in the reactor on March 12.
They are also considering injecting nitrogen into reactors 2 and 3.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110407a1.html


Long-term power loss not foreseen in nuclear guidelines – Japan Times

Thursday 7th April 2011 -- Design guidelines for nuclear plants do not require that utilities
take steps against long-term power loss, according to rules published in 1990 and
obtained by The Japan Times. The apparent lapse was based on the assumption that in
case of an emergency, electricity would be quickly restored or backup power would
suffice.



Still in effect, the "Regulatory Guide for Reviewing Safety Design of Light Water Nuclear
Power Reactor Facilities," compiled by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan in 1990,
covers 59 issues, including the safety of reactor facilities, fuel handling systems and
radiation control.

An article under Guideline 27, on the reactor cooling system, stipulates that facilities
"shall be so designed that safe shutdown and proper cooling of the reactor after shutting



                                                                                             34
down can be ensured in the case of a short-term total AC (alternating current) power
loss."

A note to this clause adds that "no particular considerations are necessary against a
long-term total AC power loss because the repair of troubled power transmission lines or
emergency AC power systems can be expected in such cases."

The March 11 quake and tsunami cut off the power to Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s
Fukushima No. 1 plant and knocked out its backup generators, and thus the cooling
systems.

A NSCJ spokesman said the rules aren't binding.

However, University of Tokyo professor emeritus Kenzo Miya, an expert on nuclear
plants, said utilities must strictly follow the guidelines on matters of safety to receive
permission to construct new plants.

"When the guide was compiled, (the NSCJ) did not consider 'severe accidents' in the
premise," Miya said, adding that this clause, and the guidelines as a whole, will need to
be revised.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110407a2.html


Gov't considers using Y1 tril TEPCO reserves for compensation – Japan Today

Thursday 7th April 2011 - TOKYO — The government is considering using around 1
trillion yen in funds contributed by Tokyo Electric Power Co to finance part of the
compensation for damage caused by the crisis at the utility‘s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
complex, government sources said Wednesday.

TEPCO and other utilities are required to set aside funds to cover the costs of
reprocessing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste.
The government is closer to a decision on utilizing over 900 billion yen that TEPCO has
so far contributed, the sources said.

The damage caused by the crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is
widespread, ranging from the suspension of businesses to fears of radioactive
contamination of food, and could possibly total more than 10 trillion yen.

The government has started looking at how to fund compensation as it is widely believed
that it will be impossible for TEPCO to shoulder the costs alone.

The government is looking to tap the funds set aside by the nuclear plant operators to
limit the use of taxpayers‘ money.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-eyes-using-tepco-reserves-for-
compensation


Food import ban may not affect eateries – The Times of India




                                                                                             35
Thursday 7th April 2011 -- PUNE: Speciality restaurants serving Japanese cuisine in the
city said that suspension of food import from Japan will have negligible or no impact on
business, since a limited amount of food products are actually imported from Japan. The
government suspended food imports from Japan over fears that these may be
contaminated by radiation from tsunami-hit reactors.

Sources in the restaurant industry said that a bulk of Japanese food products is imported
from countries such as Norway, Europe and even Southeast Asia.

Moreover, the market for Japanese food in the city is very small, said Suku Shah, from
the Olive Tree Trading firm based in Camp, who supplies Japanese food products to
hotels and restaurants across the country. Only 2-3 % of his supplies are used up by
restaurants and stores in Pune. "We have enough stock to last us for three to four
months -- as many as 40 food products, right from 'nori' sheets, 'red miso paste',
Japanese rice, 'udon' and 'soba' noodles -- that we have imported from different factories
in Japan," Shah said.


The ban, however, would affect his business, Shah said, predicting a decline in sales in
the coming months. "However, I feel that this issue will fizzle out soon. The Japanese
are very meticulous about their food. Once they decide that their products are fine, they
would start local distribution as well as exports."

Sources from a Japanese restaurant in Koregaon Park said that the ban will have
negligible or no effect on business. "Not all ingredients we use are from Japan, except
the wasabi, wakami, soya sauce and rice. Several countries manufacture these products
and they have long shelf-life. We currently have stock for three months. It is a supply
chain, which means that even my distributors and importers have enough stock," he
said.

"Some ingredients, such as pickled ginger, do come only from Japan. But, they can be
substituted. For instance, the pickled ginger replaced by Vietnamese ginger," he added.

Richard Gurung, restaurant manager at an oriental restaurant on Bund Garden Road,
has over 30-40 Japanese cuisine on his menu. These are made from products imported
from Southeast Asian countries. Therefore, the ban will not affect the restaurant's
Japanese food stock. "Our fishes such as tuna, red snapper, salmon and mackerel for
sushi come from Norway and European countries. Glutinous rice and 'yaki nori' seaweed
come from Thailand and Indonesia."

Gurung added: "In addition, Japanese food products are costly. So it is always feasible
to import Japanese food products from Thailand. Gutinous rice from Japan costs Rs
600/kg while, if imported from Thailand, the price is Rs 250/kg.

A gourmet food store in Wanowrie specialises in Japanese food products, but has only
one per cent of them imported from Japan. "The ban would not affect business because
most of the Japanese food products can be substituted. The 'kikkoman' sauce can be
substituted with 'leekumkee' sauce, which comes from Hong Kong. Our 'tempura' batter,
a Japanese ingredient, comes from Thailand. The Indian market has not graduated to
the level of consuming hard-core Japanese food. In fact, only one per cent of our
clientele buys Japanese food products," said Api Mirpuri, the owner of the store.


                                                                                        36
A Mumbai-based importer and distributor of Japanese food products supplies 3-4 per
cent of its imports to retail shops in Pune. "We are well-stocked for three to four months.
Our retail stock, which comprises products such as 'wasabi' paste, sushi vinegar, 'miso'
soup and the like will last for four to six months," said Anuj Jodhani, director of the firm.


Judhani, however, added that the ban will affect his firm's business, but not that of
restaurants, as 50-60 per cent of products that go into making Japanese food in India
are locally produced. "40 per cent of the products are sauces, which are still in stock and
are also manufactured in countries other than Japan," said Judhani.


A gourmet speciality store in Koregaon Park expects 1-2 per cent decline in business if
at all Japanese food products stop coming to the store. "Only one per cent of our stock is
Japanese, because market for these products has not yet picked up in the city," said
Ramchand Melwani, owner of the store.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Food-import-ban-may-not-affect-
eateries/articleshow/7887335.cms



Japan firm to draft water masterplan – The Times of India

Thursday 7th April 2011 -- NEW DELHI: The city government on Wednesday informed
Delhi high court that it has decided to rope in a Japanese company to prepare a master
plan for tackling the water crisis in the national capital.

Delhi Jal Board (DJB) submitted before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice
Reva Khetrapal that its officials were in consultation with Japan International Co-
operation Agency (JICA) for preparing the master plan, and that this would be ready by
June this year as JICA has already prepared a set of suggestions.

According to the DJB, the plan will provide infrastructure in existing and new areas of the
city in accordance with the Delhi Master Plan 2021. Once JICA's suggestions are
accepted, DJB will start constructing underground reservoirs at various places. The court
was also informed that Delhi government has already paid Rs 200 crore to Himachal
Pradesh and Rs 160 crore to Haryana so that the city gets sufficient water.

The HC was hearing a plea by advocate Surender Kumar Sharma, who alleged that DJB
has failed to supply adequate water to the public in Mohalla Gangaram area of
Shahadara. "Despite directions from the high court for construction of an underground
reservoir in the area, no step has been taken to address the issue," said Sharma.

Meanwhile, the bench directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi ( MCD) to allot land for
construction of the reservoir in Mohalla Gangaram and also asked DJB officials to visit
the area and find a solution to curb misuse of water in the area.

Earlier, HC had widened the ambit of Sharma's petition to address water shortage
concerns of the entire capital. It had asked DJB to inform it about agencies that were not


                                                                                           37
co-operating in mitigating water woes in the city so that a direction in this regard could
be issued by the court itself.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Japan-firm-to-draft-water-
masterplan/articleshow/7892143.cms



Radioactive fish found off Japan's Ibaraki prefecture – Today Online

Thursday 7th April 2011 -- TOKYO - Fishermen in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan's fifth-largest
seafood producer, halted operations after tainted fish were detected south of Fukushima,
where radioactive water from a stricken nuclear plant contaminated the sea.

About 96 per cent of fishing off the coast of Ibaraki was suspended after sand-lance
contaminated with higher-than-acceptable levels of cesium were discovered late on
Tuesday, said Mr Tomoki Mashiko, assistant director at the fishing policy division of the
prefectural government.

Fishing in Ibaraki had been suspended since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami,
restarted as early as last Monday, and then suspended again yesterday. Among the fish
caught in Ibaraki are ice fish, clams, Japanese needlefish, blue bonito, flatfish, saury,
sardines and smelt.

A fishing industry group in Fukushima asked Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) yesterday
to stop dumping toxic water into the sea from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear
plant.

TEPCO officials offered apologies and vowed to improve the situation at a meeting with
the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations but, hours after the
meeting, the cooperative issued a scathing statement calling TEPCO's handing of the
crisis insulting and incompetent.

Mr Ikuhiro Hattori, the cooperatives' chairman, also told NHK state television that the
release of radioactive water into the sea is "unforgivable in any circumstance".

TEPCO managed to stop highly radioactive water from leaking into the sea yesterday,
stemming the leak using liquid glass at one of the plant's six reactors.

Despite the breakthrough in plugging the leak, engineers need to pump 11.5 million litres
of contaminated water back into the ocean because they have run out of storage space
at the facility. The water was used to cool over-heated fuel rods.

Experts insisted the low-level radioactive water to be pumped into the ocean posed no
health hazard to people.



Fresh Fukushima threats

Meanwhile, United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis are warning
that the troubled Fukushima plant is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could


                                                                                             38
persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the
very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential
assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Among the new threats that were cited in the assessment, dated March 26, are the
mounting stresses placed on the containment structures as they fill with radioactive
cooling water, making them more vulnerable to rupture in one of the aftershocks rattling
the site.

The document also cites the possibility of explosions inside the containment structures
due to the release of hydrogen and oxygen from seawater pumped into the reactors.

The document, obtained by The New York Times, provides a more detailed technical
assessment than Japanese officials have provided, even though it appears to rely
largely on data shared with American experts by the Japanese.
http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC110407-0000415/Radioactive-fish-found-off-
Japans-Ibaraki-prefecture


Seawater radiation shoots far past limit – Japan TImes

Experts fear pollution may affect seafood abroad

Wednesday 6th April 2011 - Radioactive iodine-131 readings taken from seawater near
the water intake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant's No. 2 reactor reached 7.5 million
times the legal limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted Tuesday.


Measured response: Prefectural workers monitor radiation levels at an elementary
school in the city of Fukushima on Tuesday. The checks at schools across the
prefecture were prompted by inquiries from concerned parents. KYODO PHOTO



The sample that yielded the high reading was taken Saturday, before Tepco announced
Monday it would start releasing radioactive water into the sea, and experts fear the
contamination may spread well beyond Japan's shores to affect seafood overseas.

The unchecked radioactive discharge into the Pacific has prompted experts to sound the
alarm, as cesium, which has a much longer half-life than iodine, is expected to
concentrate in the upper food chain.

According to Tepco, some 300,000 becquerels per cu. centimeter of radioactive iodine-
131 was detected Saturday, while the amount of cesium-134 was 2 million times the
maximum amount permitted and cesium-137 was 1.3 million times the amount
allowable.

The amount of iodine-131 dropped to 79,000 becquerels per cu. centimeter Sunday but
shot up again Monday to 200,000 becquerels, 5 million times the permissible amount.




                                                                                           39
The level of radioactive iodine in the polluted water inside reactor 2's cracked storage pit
had an even higher concentration. A water sample Saturday had 5.2 million becquerels
of iodine per cu. centimeter, or 130 million times the maximum amount allowable, and
water leaking from the crack had a reading of 5.4 million becquerels, Tepco said.

A total of 60,000 tons of radioactive water is believed to be flooding the basement of
reactor buildings and underground trenches.

"It is a considerably high amount," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for the Nuclear
and Industrial Safety Agency.

Masayoshi Yamamoto, a professor of radiology at Kanazawa University, said the high
level of cesium is the more worrisome find.

"By the time radioactive iodine is taken in by plankton, which is eaten by smaller fish and
then by bigger fish, it will be diluted by the sea and the amount will decrease because of
its eight-day half-life," Yamamoto said. "But cesium is a bigger problem."

The half-life of cesium-137 is 30 years, while that for cesium-134 is two years. The
longer half-life means it will probably concentrate in the upper food chain.

Yamamoto said such radioactive materials are likely to be detected in fish and other
marine products in Japan and other nations in the short and long run, posing a serious
threat to the seafood industry in other nations as well.

"All of Japan's sea products will probably be labeled unsafe and other nations will blame
Japan if radiation is detected in their marine products," Yamamoto said.

Tepco on Monday began the release into the sea of 11,500 tons of low-level radioactive
water to make room to store high-level radiation-polluted water in the No. 2 turbine
building. The discharge continued Tuesday.

"It is important to transfer the water in the No. 2 turbine building and store it in a place
where there is no leak," Nishiyama of the NISA said. "We want to keep the
contamination of the sea to a minimum."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano apologized for the release of radioactive water into
the sea but said it was unavoidable to prevent the spread of higher-level radiation.

Fisheries minister Michihiko Kano said the ministry plans to increase its inspections of
fish and other marine products for radiation.

On Monday, 4,080 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine was detected in lance
fish caught off Ibaraki Prefecture. Fishermen voluntarily suspended its shipment. The
health ministry plans to compile radiation criteria for banning marine products.

Three days after Tepco discovered the crack in the reactor 2 storage pit it still hadn't
found the source of the high radiation leak seeping into the Pacific.

Tepco initially believed the leak was somewhere in the cable trench that connects the
No. 2 turbine building and the pit. But after using milky white bath salt to trace the flow,


                                                                                               40
which appeared to prove that was not the case, the utility began to think it may be
seeping through a layer of small stones below the cable trench.

To halt the radioactive water leak, Tepco injected sodium silicate to solidify the stone
layer Tuesday.

Meanwhile, efforts were also under way to prevent contaminated water from spreading
to the outer sea.

Tepco ordered a silt fence, an underwater curtainlike structure, to be draped around the
leak and is considering putting big steel fences, often used for constructing bridges, in
the perimeter to prevent further contamination.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110406a1.html



North under threat of mudslides – Bangkok Post

 Thursday 7th April 2011 - Northern provinces should be prepared for more landslides in
the coming rainy season, the Department of Mineral Resources has warned.

Soil stability in the North is lower than in the South. This means that landslides in the
North have far more devastating impact than in the South, Adisak Thongkhaimuk, the
department's acting chief, said on Tuesday.

The department has instructed officials and landslide surveillance volunteers in the
northern provinces to prepare for natural disasters before the wet season begins late
next month.

Mr Adisak said landslide surveillance volunteers worked effectively when flash floods
and landslides struck southern provinces last week.

Without prompt landslide warnings from these volunteers, trained to watch for signs of
trouble, the death toll could have been higher, Mr Adisak said.

There are 6,230 members of the landslide monitoring network in 15 northern provinces
at the moment.

Adichart Surinkham, the department's spokesman, said Chalerm Prakiat, Bo Klue, Pua
and Santisuk districts of Nan are among the department's top concerns as hilly areas
have been turned into corn plantations.

There are 6,450 landslide-prone villages in 51 provinces and an estimated 1 million
residents are at risk.

The number of villages at risk has increased from 2,371 in 51 provinces in 2006 mainly
due to expansion of agricultural land. Rapid expansion of mono-crop plantations,
including rubber and palm oil, has been a major factor contributing to landslides in the
South.
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/230727/north-under-threat-of-mudslides



                                                                                            41
Less rainfall in South; Nakhon Si Thammarat airport reopens – MCOT

Wednesday 6th April 2011 -- NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, April 6 -- The overall flooding in
southern Thailand has improved slightly, little rainfall is reported, and the airport in
Nakhon Si Thammarat province resumed operations Wednesday.

Scattered showers were reported in about 30 per cent of the South, according to the
Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

Concerned officials were busy repairing public utilities in the three provinces of
Phangnga, Narathiwat and Satun, of the 10 flood-ravaged provinces hard hit by flash
floods and mudslides since the disaster began March 23, the department said.

As the total death toll stood unchanged at 51, repairs on public utilities have begun in
certain provinces, but it is expected that it would take months before they could be
completed.

Initial surveys found that about 4,500 roads, 400 water drainage systems, 75 dykes, 420
bridges, 370 temples and schools, and 90 government offices in the region were
damaged by floods and mudslides, the department said.

By Wednesday, it was estimated that 1.09 million rai of crops were destroyed by flood, it
said.

The airport in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, closed due to severe flooding, reopened
early Wednesday while train services from Bangkok could go as far as Surat Thani‘s
Chaiya district. Train services between Nakhon Si Thammarat and Sungai Kolok district
bordering Malaysia are now also resumed.

A lack of clean water supplied through household taps persists. The waterworks in Surat
Thani‘s Phunphin district for example is still closed while another one in the provincial
seat produces only 800 cubic metres per hour while demand is at 3,000 cubic metres the
department said.

About 30,000 households in the 10 provinces were without electricity as of early
Wednesday after roads were submerged and electricity poles collapsed, it added.
http://www.mcot.net/cfcustom/cache_page/191749.html

Back to Menu
________________________________________________________________




                                                                                           42
                            RONA MEDIA UPDATE
                       THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                            Thursday, April 7, 2011


                               UNEP or UN in the News
      UPI: U.N.: Arctic sees record ozone loss
      Reuters: Arguments over agenda stall U.N. climate talks
      Huffington Post: Earth, We Have a Problem -- Failure Is Not an Option
      Vancouver Sun: Ozone depleting at record pace




                            General Environment News
United States

      New York Times: White House Promises Veto of Anti-E.P.A. Bill
      New York Times: Better Cleanup Planned at Former Chrome Plant
      New York Times: The Rich Are Different: They Can Buy More Sand
      New York Times: Republicans Open Inquiry on Yucca Mountain Shutdown
      Washington Post: The White House defends environmental policy...by talking
       about the environment
      The Hill: Cantor balks at omitting EPA riders from spending deal
      The Hill: Obama vows veto of House bill to kill EPA greenhouse gas rules
      Fox News: Google Wades Into Global Warming Debate
      Huffington Post: Energy and a Needed Czar
      Huffington Post: A Government Shutdown Affects The Environment As National
       Parks, Toxic Waste Cleanup, EPA Work Is Halted
      Huffington Post: What the Heck Is a Methane Hydrate?
      Forbes: Should We Feed Hungry People, Even If It's Bad For The Environment?
      Forbes: Reining In The EPA‘s Reign Of Error
      Wall Street Journal: Why Fukushima Won't Kill Nuclear Power
       Reuters: Shift fossil fuel subsidies to back clean tech: IEA
      Climatewire: Budget fight and squabble over energy riders intensify as shutdown
       nears
      Climatewire: U.S. EIA boosts global gas resource estimate by 40 percent
      Greenwire: Shutdown would mean 800K furloughs, EPA permitting halt -- White
       House
      Greenwire: European study finds noise can kill, as EPA lies dormant

Canada

      Calgary Herald: Environmentalists want to see more green from politicians
      Edmonton Journal: Environment groups blast Athabasca plans
      Globe and Mail: Group launches urban tree renewal program




                                                                                    43
                                UNEP or UN in the News


U.N.: Arctic sees record ozone loss
UPI, 5 April 2011
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/04/05/UN-Arctic-sees-record-ozone-loss/UPI-
30961302044624/

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 (UPI) -- A United Nations weather and climate agency says
ozone loss over the arctic reached record levels this spring because of ozone-depleting
substances and weather.

The arctic region has suffered an ozone loss of about 40 percent from the beginning of
the winter to late March, a release by the World Meteorological Organization said
Tuesday.

The highest loss previously recorded was about 30 percent over the entire winter, the
organization said

"The arctic stratosphere continues to be vulnerable to ozone destruction caused by
ozone-depleting substances linked to human activities," organization Secretary-General
Michel Jarraud said.

The record loss is despite the success of the Montreal Protocol cutting production and
consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons and halons
once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers.

"Without the Montreal Protocol, this year's ozone destruction would most likely have
been worse," the meteorological group said. "The slow recovery of the ozone layer is
due to the fact that ozone-depleting substances stay in the atmosphere for several
decades."

The depletion of the ozone layer is also due to a very cold winter in the stratosphere, the
organization said, noting that even though this arctic winter was warmer than average at
ground level, it was colder in the stratosphere than for a normal arctic winter.

Significant arctic ozone loss is possible in the case of a cold and stable Arctic
stratospheric winter, it said.




Arguments over agenda stall U.N. climate talks
Reuters, 6 April 2011, David Fogarty
http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7F61WO20110406

U.N. climate talks remained deadlocked on Wednesday over a debate on the agenda for
negotiations, with developing countries pushing hard for a greater focus on the fate of
the Kyoto Protocol.


                                                                                         44
The April 3-8 talks in the Thai capital are part of a long and often troubled negotiation
trying to strengthen the global fight against climate change by deepening greenhouse
gas curbs by the world's major economies.

Delegates have expressed hopes the Bangkok meeting will build on a series of
agreements reached in Cancun last December.

The talks adjourned on Wednesday after day-long meetings and an intense 3-hour
closed door plenary failed to win agreement on an agenda meant to shape negotiations
for the rest of the year. Negotiations resume on Thursday.

"It's unfortunate we aren't able to start so early. But this is our first meeting since
Cancun. We will have an agenda and we will have a work plan tomorrow," Dessima
Williams of Grenada, who represents a 43-member alliance of small island states, told
Reuters.

"I'm confident we will be able to have a plan for the year," added veteran negotiator Artur
Runge-Metzger, the European Union's director of international climate strategy.

Russia disagreed, doubting there will be a breakthrough.

December's meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun led to a series of agreements
widely seen as saving the process from collapse.

But developing country delegates say the current gathering must focus on the issues
that Cancun put to one side, including the fate of Kyoto and the need for rich nations to
step up carbon cuts.

The agenda should also ensure there's a clear path to reach agreement on key issues
by the next major meeting in the South African city of Durban at year's end, they said.

Kyoto is the only pact with legally binding targets for about 40 rich nations up to 2012.
No successor agreement is in sight and many developing nations say the talks need to
step up a gear to decide on a pact to begin in 2013 to avoid a gap.

SLIPPAGE

This leads to the risk that the talks could slip back into a mindset of trying to solve all
issues at the same time, a step the United Nations last year said could cripple the
negotiations. The Cancun agreements enshrined a step-by-step process to win
agreement on different issues.

Poorer nations want Kyoto extended into a second commitment period from 2013.

"Without some political solution to that issue, it may be impossible to move forward with
implementing the Cancun Agreements," said Elliott Diringer of the Pew Center on Global
Climate Change.




                                                                                              45
Many rich nations say they want a broader climate agreement that binds all big emitters
to steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Japan, Canada and Russia are firmly
opposed to the pact entering a second commitment period while developing nations say
Kyoto must be preserved.

The 131-member G77 group of developing nations plus China said while Cancun was a
good basis for talks, the tougher issues must be given much more focus and challenged
the agenda presented by the chair of the meeting.

Russia said it was disappointed by the deadlock on the agenda, with its head of
delegation saying it was keen to see progress on the Cancun Agreements.

"We are now trapped and locked into purely procedural discussions about the agenda
that could have been avoided," Oleg Shamanov told Reuters in an interview
[ID:nL3E7F62DE]

"That highly disappoints me that we are pulling back from the dynamics that we achieved
in Cancun."




Earth, We Have a Problem -- Failure Is Not an Option
Huffington Post, 6 April 2011, Dave Randle and Reese Halter
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-dave-randle/earth-we-have-a-problem-
f_b_845491.html

Dave's 88-year-old father has been involved in the space program most of his career.
We have always been interested and supportive of the space program and the benefits
that it has brought to all humankind. When Dave served as John Denver's environmental
and political advisor, support for the space program was one of his top six priorities.

Recently, at the Kennedy Space Center, Dave picked up an Apollo 13 hat for his dad. It
had the wording, "Failure is not an Option". The hat seemed fitting as his dad had been
told a couple years ago that he had only three days to live. He didn't accept the
prognosis and sought other treatment. For him failure was not an option so the hat
seemed quite fitting for him to wear in the event he has to go to the hospital again.

Recently we heard a podcast where the NASA Space program was used as a metaphor
for how we might better respond to critical environmental issues of our time.

This naturally caught our attention.

The story begins with the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. This was the mission where
Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. The landing for this
mission was tense and uncertain but they made it. The famous words were spoken by
Neil Armstrong: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

The Apollo 12 mission then followed with a second successful mission to the moon.



                                                                                      46
The astronauts were able to land much easier this time, spend more time on the moon,
and gained more knowledge, skills, and furthered the NASA Apollo project.

Apollo 13 began its journey to the moon with the goal of further gains. Once again the
launch was successful. Before the crew could land on the moon an explosion crippled
the service module. The famous words were then relayed, "Houston, we have a
problem".

At first there was disbelief in Houston; the thinking was that some technical glitch was
probably just giving false information. 15 full minutes past before Mission Control in
Houston realized this was now a critical life and death crisis.

At that point the Apollo 13 mission was abandoned and the new mission was survival.
The astronauts had to shift their priorities to the all out task of making the space craft life
sustaining until they could return to Earth. This meant they needed to conserve water,
get the carbon dioxide out of the air they were breathing, conserve the energy from the
batteries, conserve the air needed for the last hours of the journey, learn how to adapt to
uncomfortable temperature changes, conserve the limited potable water, and find ways
to use the resources of the lunar module not for exploration but as a lifeboat for their
survival.

Despite the great challenge and uncertainty of the return voyage, failure to both Mission
Control and the astronauts was not an option.

With Mission Control putting all their focus on a new mission, and the courage and
support for each other among the astronauts, all were brought home safely to what
NASA called a "successful failure".

Our state of planet Earth continues to become more perilous as we are fast approaching
and in some cases have already surpassed the planetary boundaries for sustainability.

Today, we are threatened with many challenges that science has labeled our planetary
boundaries. In an article in Nature, Johan Rocstrom and his co-authors argue that to
avoid catastrophic environmental change, humanity must stay within defined planetary
boundaries. If one boundary is transgressed, then safe levels for other processes could
also be under serious risk. The planetary boundaries include: climate change, ocean
acidification, atmospheric aerosol loading, chemical pollution, land system changes,
ozone depletion, overload of phosphorus and nitrates, and decreasing fresh water
resources.

Just as the Apollo 13 mission aborted its original goals and its passengers focused on
their own survival boundaries, crew aboard Spaceship Earth are being called to change
their mission in order to live within our planetary boundaries. There is a need to abort the
mission of business as usual to a new mission of creating a sustainable planet that
functions within the limits of the planetary boundaries.

Like the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 this will mean using our resources more creatively,
making sure our air is clean without to much ozone or carbon emissions, that there is
potable drinking water for all, that chemicals don't contaminate the space ships water



                                                                                            47
and food supply, and all passengers are able to be able to have the basic survival needs
to complete the journey.

Like the 15 minute pause in Houston where there was disbelief that the Apollo space
craft was in trouble despite the warning signs, there has been the same kind of disbelief
among many that Spaceship Earth is in trouble.

The question now is: Will enough people on Spaceship Earth realize that we have
already exceeded some of the planetary boundaries and are dangerously close to
exceeding others? Like the Apollo astronauts we need to change our mission.

There are some important lessons that we can learn from the Apollo 13 experience
including:

      The importance of creating a shared vision among the crew members of
       Spaceship Earth. In the Apollo 13 story, Mission Control set a new mission that
       failure was not an option and Apollo Commander James Lovell let the other crew
       members know "I intend to go home". This new shared vision created a context
       for better solving the problems. Creating a shared vision for a sustainable planet
       where people live within the planetary boundaries may be half the battle.
      Creating a sense of community around the vision is also important for success.
       We learn from the Apollo 13 story that conflict over the best approaches to take
       was greatly reduced once everyone agreed to work toward the same vision. The
       team focused on innovation and creativity to jointly solve the problems as
       opposed to focusing on different approaches. Commander Lovell observed that:
       "Thousands of people worked to bring us back home." The more individuals and
       groups we can get to work on a shared vision the stronger sense of a global
       community will form to achieve the goals.
      Developing a positive culture for change helps achieve success. Gene Kranz,
       Flight Director of Apollo 13, said to his co-workers: "work the problem", meaning
       do the research to find the solutions. In solving the Apollo 13 challenges, the
       team put priority on the need for technical proficiency and getting the facts. When
       the explosion happened, one of the first questions was, "what do we have on the
       space craft that is good?" The team also made sure that everyone was getting
       the information they needed. Kranz created a positive culture for solving the
       problems.


Scientists from around the world have sounded the alarm. Many in government, higher
education, NGO's, and business sectors have started to respond. Some encouraging
examples include:

      In government, the United Nations Environment Programme is in the process of
       completing it's 5th Global Outlook Report (GEO-5), a process that engages
       scientists from around the world to detail the needs of the planet and set an
       agenda for what needs to be done. The warnings of the last report, GEO-4, have
       been largely ignored.
      The U.N. Academic Impact, a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher
       education with the United Nations in support of sustainability, human rights,
       literacy, and conflict resolution now has over 500 participating institutions. Each


                                                                                        48
       of the participating institutions makes a commitment to at least one project each
       year based on the program's principles.
      NGO's such as the International Union of Conservation and Nature, have brought
       together over 1000 NGO's and 11,000 scientists to work on issues such as
       biodiversity, climate change, sustainable energy, human well-being, and a green
       economy.
      Corporations are becoming more sustainable in their practices. In the recent
       Newsweek Green Rankings of the 500 Largest U.S. Corporations, 51 had
       environmental performance rankings above 90 on a scale of 0 to 100. Of the
       Global 100 Corporations, ten percent also scored 90 or higher as well. One of the
       companies that was both a national and global leader in the rankings is the Walt
       Disney Co. The Walt Disney Co. was ranked #11 in environmental performance,
       #2 nationally in environmental performance in its category of Media, Travel, and
       Leisure, and #1 in this category globally. One of the unique things about the Walt
       Disney Co. is that it has proactively set ambitious goals related to each of the 9
       planetary boundaries. It is fast becoming model for others to follow. For example
       it has set goals of reducing its carbon emissions by 50% by 2012 from 2006
       levels and then becoming a net-zero carbon company thereafter. It has also set a
       goal to reduce its solid waste 50% by 2013 and becoming a net zero waste
       company thereafter.


To bring back the Apollo 13 crew safely, it took the cooperation of mission control, the
astronauts, and many supporting scientists and other experts to use the ship's resources
wisely.

Imagine if there was a coordinated effort of uncompromising integrity between
governments, institutions of higher education, NGO's, and corporations. Imagine if they
all worked together with a shared vision to have Spaceship Earth return to operation
within safe planetary boundaries.

The simple truth is that like the Apollo 13 team, it will take bold leadership willing to
acknowledge that we have serious problems on planet Earth, are willing to work to
create a shared vision, sense of community, a positive culture that is committed to
success, and that they really get it, that failure is not an option.



Ozone depleting at record pace
Vancouver Sun, 6 April 2011, Stephanie Nebehay
http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Ozone+depleting+record+pace/4566997/story
.html

Record loss of the ozone, the atmosphere layer that shields life from the sun's harmful
rays, has been observed over the Arctic in recent months, the World Meteorological
Organization said on Tuesday.

"Depletion of the ozone ... has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this
spring because of the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances in the




                                                                                            49
atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere [upper atmosphere]," the WMO
said in a statement.

Observations from the ground, balloons and satellites show that the region has suffered
an ozone column loss of about 40 per cent from the beginning of the winter to late
March, according to the United Nations agency.

The highest ozone loss previously recorded over the Arctic, about 30 per cent, occurred
in several seasons over the past 15 years or so, according to a WMO spokeswoman. "If
the ozone depleted area moves away from the pole and towards lower latitudes one can
expect increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation as compared to the normal for the season,"

But any increase in UV radiation over lower latitudes away from the Arctic, which could
affect parts of Canada, Nordic countries, Russia and Alaska in the United States, would
not be of the same intensity as one suffers in the tropics, it said.

The protective ozone is located in the stratosphere, which starts about 10 kilometres
above the ground. The ozone molecules absorb ultraviolet light and help shield people,
plants and ecosystems from harmful solar radiation that has been linked to skin cancer,
cataracts and crop damage.

"Some crops and forms of marine life can also suffer adverse effects," the agency said.

Unlike over Antarctica, large ozone loss is not an annually recurring phenomenon in the
Arctic stratosphere, where meteorological conditions vary much more each year.

The record ozone loss over the Arctic comes despite the "very successful" Montreal
Protocol aimed at cutting production and consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals
such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, the WMO said.

The substances were once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers,
but have been phased out.

Nevertheless, due to the long lifetimes of these compounds in the atmosphere, it will
take several decades before their concentrations return to pre-1980 levels, the target
laid down in the 1987 pact, it said.

Some scientists have suggested the new culprit in ozone loss is carbon dioxide, which is
being pumped into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.



                              General Environment News




                                                                                         50
White House Promises Veto of Anti-E.P.A. Bill
New York Times, 5 April 2011, John M. Broder
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/white-house-promises-veto-of-anti-e-p-a-
bill/?hpw

In case there was any doubt, the White House on Tuesday issued a formal statement
opposing a bill now before the House that would bar the Environmental Protection
Agency from regulating greenhouse gases for the purpose of combating climate change.

The bill, known as the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, could come up for a vote as
early as Wednesday and is almost certain to pass when it does. It has virtually
unanimous support among the Republican majority and will probably draw votes from a
few Democrats from coal and oil producing states.

The measure, sponsored by Representatives Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan, and
Ed Whitfield, Republican of Kentucky, would overturn the E.P.A.‘s finding that carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health and the
environment. That finding, based on a broad scientific consensus, is the basis for
pending regulation of carbon emissions from vehicles and large stationary sources like
power plants, factories and refineries.


Republicans assert the new rules are a hidden energy tax that will significantly raise
production costs and drive jobs offshore.

Administration officials have spoken out against the bill in speeches and congressional
testimony, but President Obama had not formally threatened to veto it. On Tuesday, the
White House issued a strongly worded statement that erases any doubt.

―The administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 910, which would halt the
Environmental Protection Agency‘s common-sense steps under the Clean Air Act to
protect Americans from harmful pollution,‖ the statement says. ―H.R. 910 would also
increase the nation‘s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels as well as contradict the
scientific consensus on climate change.‖

Senator James Inhofe, the most outspoken climate change skeptic in Congress, has
introduced identical legislation in the Senate. The Senate is also considering a number
of amendments that would eliminate or delay any federal regulation of greenhouse
gases. The timing of votes on those measures remains up in the air.

The White House statement says that over its 40-year history, the Clean Air Act has
markedly cleaned the nation‘s air and saved hundreds of thousands of lives, while
electricity production and prices have remained stable. It also says that the bill would
undercut efforts to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient and would worsen the threat
of global warming.

―Finally, H.R. 910 would contradict public health experts and scientists and strip E.P.A.
of its authority to develop sensible standards for currently unchecked carbon pollution
and thus prevent E.P.A. from following its statutory obligations as interpreted by the
Supreme Court,‖ the statement concludes.


                                                                                         51
―If the president is presented with this legislation, which would seriously roll back the
Clean Air Act authority, harm Americans‘ health by taking away our ability to decrease
carbon pollution and undercut fuel efficiency standards that will save Americans money
at the pump while decreasing our dependence on oil,‖ the statement says, ―his senior
advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.‖



Better Cleanup Planned at Former Chrome Plant
New York Times, 5 April 2011, Mireya Navarro
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/nyregion/06chromium.html?_r=1&ref=earth

Some 25 years ago, Ellen Wright was driving home through her neighborhood of single-
family wood-frame houses here when she noticed that the streets were slick with ―green
water.‖

―It was a terrible thing,‖ said Mrs. Wright, now 77, recalling her unease.

The liquid turned out to be runoff from the site of a former chrome production plant that
operated for decades in Jersey City in Hudson County, once a major center for the
nation‘s chromium ore processing and manufacturing industry. Residents like Mrs.
Wright, who were already organizing through their churches to demand better police
protection and other basic community services, decided to take on the polluters.

It took years, but they won — so far, twice.

 Under a federal court settlement announced on Tuesday, PPG Industries
of Pittsburgh has again committed itself to removing chromium waste from a 17-acre site
in a densely populated area of Jersey City where the company and its predecessors ran
a chromium manufacturing complex from 1924 to 1963. The project includes pollution
that reached homes in the neighborhood. The new deal sets a higher standard for the
cleanup than was previously agreed to.

The property, near the Holland Tunnel and a stone‘s throw away from two-family homes
and a health clinic, is one of the last major sites in New Jersey contaminated with
hexavalent chromium still to be addressed. The Environmental Protection Agency
describes hexavalent chromium as a human carcinogen.

The settlement resolves a citizens‘ lawsuit filed in 2009 in Federal District Court by the
Natural Resources Defense Council and two community groups — the Interfaith
Community Organization and the Graco Community Organization — whose members
had been fighting for the removal of chromium waste from their mostly African-American
neighborhoods since the 1980s.

Cleanup began at the site recently under the supervision of the New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection as a result of an earlier court settlement. The new
settlement calls for a more stringent cleanup than required by the state. It also requires
PPG to pay for an expert hired by the community to monitor the progress.




                                                                                        52
Jeremy Neuhart, a PPG spokesman, called the settlement ―a positive development‖ that
reflected a decision by the plaintiffs to focus ―on remediation rather than litigation.‖

For the church-based Interfaith Community Organization, it is a second legal victory; it
was also a plaintiff in a case that ended in a 2003 federal judgment forcing Honeywell
International to clean up another legacy of Jersey City‘s industrial past: 34 acres that
had been used as a dumping ground for chromium along the waterfront.

The group, now part of an interfaith organization called New Jersey Together, went to
court after years of what it viewed as foot-dragging by companies and the state on
cleanups mandated under previous agreements with the Department of Environmental
Protection. Some of the group‘s members contend that their willingness to go to court
provided the pressure needed for the state to reach its own, earlier court settlement with
PPG.

―When a company leaves a community, it shouldn‘t leave behind an open wound,‖ the
Rev. Willard W. C. Ashley Sr., co-chairman of the Interfaith Community Organization,
told his congregation at Abundant Joy Community Church in Jersey City at a recent
Sunday service.

 ―Our goal has been very simple: less death and more life — new life for Jersey City ,‖ he
said to a chorus of ―Yeah!‖ and ―Amen!‖ ―We wanted a complete cleanup so that fewer
people in our community would get cancer. It means new development, new jobs.‖

Yet Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for the state environmental department, played down
the significance of the latest settlement. An earlier one, he said, ―calls for complete
excavation; It doesn‘t get much better than that.‖

New Jersey officials have identified more than 160 sites in Hudson County, most of them
in Jersey City, contaminated by chromium. Most of it came from the production of
coatings for machine parts and from chromium-laced waste used as fill material in
construction in the 1950s and the 1960s.

Ingesting and inhaling hexavalent chromium, the most toxic form, through air and water
can result in lung and intestinal cancers and other health problems.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the settlement, which will become final when signed by a
federal judge, does not interfere with other pending legal claims. They include a class-
action lawsuit filed in May in state court against both Honeywell and PPG seeking
compensation for landowners whose properties have been devalued and payments for
regular medical screenings.

In the years since Mrs. Wright first spotted the green liquid, she said, the fight has taught
her that ―you don‘t have to take what they give you.‖

―You can organize,‖ she continued. ―It makes a difference.‖

Mrs. Wright, a founder of the Interfaith Community Organization, and her husband,
Melvin, 80, raised two sons in the five-bedroom house where they have lived for 45



                                                                                          53
years in the Bergen-Lafayette section of Jersey City, just a few blocks from the former
PPG site.

They have been talking about moving to a smaller place, but first Mrs. Wright wants her
backyard, whose soil tested positive for chromium exceeding safe levels a few years
ago, cleaned up under the terms of the settlement. ―I‘m old,‖ she said, but ―I‘m thinking
about the kids.‖



The Rich Are Different: They Can Buy More Sand
New York Times, 6 April 2011, Felicity Barringer
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/the-rich-are-different-they-can-buy-more-
sand/?ref=earth

An economist, an oceanographer and an expert in complex systems have just published
a study posing a question: What happens if physical predictions about the erosive force
of future storms are entwined with economic predictions of how coastal towns deal with
the loss of their beaches?

Their models essentially yield this answer: If the cost of replacement sand increases as
the supply decreases, richer communities will use up most of the sand. That will hold
true whether or not the wealthier towns are more prone to erosion than those with lower
property values.

If the communities with higher property values are on northern outcroppings of a cape,
thus vulnerable to greater erosion, they will spare no effort, responding most
aggressively to maintain their beaches. In so doing, they will use so much of the
available reservoir of sand that the cost of sand will go up for everyone, write the authors
of the study, which was published online Tuesday in the journal Geophysical Research
Letters.

Poorer communities will tolerate more beach loss over time rather than pay the
increased cost of replenishing the sand, which in the scientific lexicon is known as
―nourishment.‖

―Eventually, lower property-value towns reach a point at which nourishment becomes too
expensive to justify,‖ write the authors, Dylan E. McNamara of the University of North
Carolina at Wilmington‘s Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography; A. Brad
Murray of the Center for Nonlinear and Complex Systems at Duke‘s Nicholas School for
the Environment; and Martin D. Smith, an economist at the Nicholas School.

―Rising nourishment costs not only alter behaviors of low and high property-value
towns,‖ the authors write, ―but rising costs also intensify inequality in distribution of sand
resources.‖

If the town with lower property values is on the northern flank of that small cape, it will
use more of the available sand than if it were less vulnerable. But it will slacken its
efforts to control erosion sooner than a richer neighbor would. ―Consequently, higher



                                                                                              54
property-value towns, whether located along the northern or southern flank, use a higher
proportion of the sand reservoir,‖ the study said.

Underlying these conclusions are extensive models of wave action over a century along
an increasingly scalloped coastline, the movement of sediment as a result of the wave
action and models of the economic behavior of communities whose beaches are central
to their value. Changes in wave action driven by climate change, the authors note, ―can
be at least as significant in some locations as changes due to sea-level rise.‖

The study does offer an alternative policy prescription to allowing less wealthy seaside
communities to decay as their beaches disappear: regional management strategies in
which communities band together to address the problem.

―In the current management paradigm along much of the U.S. East Coast,‖ the authors
write, ―each town operates by considering what is best for itself without consideration of
future nourishment in other towns.‖

―Regional management strategies could alter the rate of resource depletion, perhaps
allowing more time for development of new technologies that could make new sources of
sand economically viable,‖ the authors suggest.



Republicans Open Inquiry on Yucca Mountain Shutdown
New York Times, 5 April 2011, John Collins Rudolf
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/republicans-open-inquiry-on-yucca-
mountain-shutdown/?ref=earth

Republican leaders have begun a formal inquiry into the Obama administration‘s
decision to halt development of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in
Nevada.

The investigation is led by Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, who on Thursday demanded documents and written answers from Energy
Secretary Steven Chu and Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, detailing their agencies‘ decision-making process in moving to block
construction of the controversial project.

The investigation was criticized by Representative Shelley Berkley, Democrat of
Nevada, who took to the House floor on Friday to denounce the inquiry as a ―political
stunt.‖

Those pushing this review are lying about the dump‘s safety,‖ The Hill quoted Ms.
Berkley as saying. ―They know Yucca Mountain is smack in the middle of an earthquake
zone. There‘s volcanic activity. There‘s groundwater issues. Have we learned nothing
about what‘s happening now in Japan?‖

In a statement, Mr. Upton and Fred Shimkus, chairman of the newly formed Environment
and Economy subcommittee, said there was ―no scientific or technical basis‖ for the
administration‘s move to withdraw a construction application for the Yucca project.


                                                                                           55
―Despite the scientific community‘s seal of approval, extensive bipartisan collaboration,
as well as nearly three decades and billions of taxpayer dollars spent, this administration
has recklessly sought to pull the plug on the Yucca repository without even the
sensibility of offering a viable alternative,‖ the congressmen said.

Yucca Mountain was identified by Congress as its first choice for a nuclear waste
repository in the 1980s, but local opposition and questions over the site‘s suitability for
long-term storage have long stalled its development.

As a nuclear crisis unfolds in Japan, where spent reactor fuel stored inside reactors
appears to have overheated and leaked radioactive material, enthusiasm has grown in
Congress for finding a long-term solution for the growing stockpiles of nuclear waste in
the United States.

But the push to renew construction on Yucca Mountain has met with staunch resistance
from the Obama administration, which proposed eliminating the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission‘s funds for the project in its 2012 budget.

A spending bill approved by the House, meanwhile, would bar the nuclear commission
from halting its licensing review for Yucca Mountain ―without due cause‖ and block the
agency from using budgeted funds to pay termination costs associated with shutting
down the project.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada slammed that proposal when it was passed by a House
committee in February. ―Let me be clear,‖ he told The Las Vegas Sun. ―Any attempt to
restart the Yucca Mountain project will not happen on my watch as Senate majority
leader.‖

―If House Republicans are genuinely interested in fiscal responsibility, they should stop
trying to waste more taxpayer money on an irretrievably bad project,‖ he said.




The White House defends environmental policy...by talking about the environment
Washington Post, 6 April 2011, Stephen Stromberg
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/the-white-house-defends-
environmental-policyby-talking-about-the-
environment/2011/03/04/AFCRcmmC_blog.html

Last week, President Obama gave a big — and disappointing — speech on energy,
leaving almost any mention of climate change out of a plan that doesn‘t make much
sense without climate change. This week, Washington speculated that the president
would give up one of the only tools he has left to fight carbon emissions —
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases — as part of
his dealing with House Republicans over the budget. This had the ring of believability
because Obama rarely mentions his EPA‘s carbon-slashing efforts. Some
environmentalists worried: Can‘t the president even talk about global warming?



                                                                                              56
Here‘s a more promising sign. The White House late Tuesday released a policy paper
on a standalone Republican bill that would stop those EPA regulations, and it is among
the most straightforward statements on major environmental policy the White House has
offered in months.

The statement argues that, despite some costs, EPA‘s decades of work under the Clean
Air Act have reduced pollution — its regulation has saved or made healthier millions of
lives. It points out that EPA crackdowns on the sources of greenhouse emissions —
such as coal plants — also decrease other nasty effluences that pollute the air around
them. Most importantly, it repeatedly mentions climate change — the threat that really
makes green energy make sense. The White House couldn‘t help throwing in a few lines
about gasoline costs, but, thankfully, those aren‘t the focus of the statement.

EPA regulation isn‘t perfect. But it‘s worth upholding, and on its own terms, especially
while Congress does little about climate change and other environmental problems.
Imagine that — defending environmental policy for the sake of the environment.

Update, 9:30 a.m.: I should note, however, that the White House hasn‘t said that it will
refuse ―compromise‖ proposals to attenuate EPA‘s regulatory power, despite its
heartening defense of the agency on Tuesday. Don‘t expect to hear much about climate
change when it decides not to veto one of those.



Cantor balks at omitting EPA riders from spending deal
The Hill, 5 April 2011, Ben Geman
http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/153985-cantor-balks-at-omitting-epa-riders-
from-spending-deal

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) signaled Tuesday that House Republicans
aren‘t ready to bow to Democratic demands that any final spending deal omit provisions
that would block funding for Environmental Protection Agency climate change rules and
other policies.

The House GOP‘s fiscal year 2011 spending plan would stop EPA from implementing
greenhouse gas permitting rules through September, and thwart other pollution rules
such as air toxin standards for cement kilns.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday ruled out accepting any ―riders‖ in
a final spending deal that would thwart EPA rules. The White House is also opposed.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a top strategist for Senate Democrats, has also said
such measures are not acceptable.

But Cantor suggested that a deal without EPA provisions would be difficult to steer
through the GOP-controlled House.

―I have a lot of difficulty accepting that myself or, I think, getting the acceptance of our
members,‖ Cantor told reporters in a briefing.

Cantor‘s comment is another sign of the political chasm between the parties as the clock


                                                                                               57
ticks down toward a partial government shutdown after April 8, when the current stopgap
spending plan expires.



Obama vows veto of House bill to kill EPA greenhouse gas rules
The Hill, 5 April 2011, Ben Geman
http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/154005-obama-waves-veto-pen-at-house-
bill-to-kill-epa-climate-rules

The White House is reiterating its threat to veto legislation slated to pass the House on
Wednesday that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) power to
regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

―If the President is presented with this legislation, which would seriously roll back the
CAA [Clean Air Act] authority, harm Americans‘ health by taking away our ability to
decrease carbon pollution, and undercut fuel efficiency standards that will save
Americans money at the pump while decreasing our dependence on oil, his senior
advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,‖ states the formal ―Statement of
Administration Policy‖ released Tuesday.
The bill, which is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton
(R-Mich.), is expected to pass the House but faces huge Senate hurdles in addition to
the veto threat.

Republicans who claim the EPA rules will hinder the economy have made undermining
regulation of power plants, refineries and other industrial greenhouse gas sources a
pillar of their wider battle against White House environmental policies.



Congress on wrong side of history in denying climate change
The Hill, 6 April 2011, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and John Abraham
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-a-environment/154197-congress-on-
wrong-side-of-history-in-denying-climate-change

Right now in our hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, we are preparing for what might
possibly be record-breaking floods due to winter‘s heavy snowfall and the threat of
heavier spring downpours. Minnesota has already experienced two 100-year floods in
the Red River Valley within the past 13 years. Local doctors report an increase in cases
of children with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Lake Superior has seen record
low water levels in recent years, threatening not only drinking water supplies but the
Duluth-Superior port that receives more than 1,200 ships and 48 million tons of cargo.

All of these public health, economic, and environmental trends have been strongly linked
to climate change. Multiple studies have shown that 97 percent of the most qualified
climate scientists are in agreement that humans are causing the planet to warm. If this
was an illness, and 97 percent of doctors recommended a certain treatment, we would
take appropriate action.




                                                                                        58
Instead, the majority party in the House of Representatives is choosing to willfully defy
the diagnosis and overturn established science by voting on a bill (H.R. 910) that will gut
the Clean Air Act and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from ever
protecting the American people from the disastrous impacts of climate change.

During the committee markup of H.R. 910, not a single Republican voted to even
acknowledge the validity of EPA‘s scientific finding that ―warming of the climate system
is unequivocal,‖ caused by human activities, and a threat to public health. The rejection
of those amendments is shocking to scientists who understand the serious risks
Americans face from global climate change.

This places the climate deniers on the same side as those fringe extremists who denied
the harmful impacts of cigarette smoking and DDT, and the causes of acid rain and
ozone depletion. Proponents of H.R. 910 are denying science and dangerously on the
wrong side of history.

We believe now is the time to confront climate change. If we act wisely, we can
simultaneously protect the environment, create jobs, diversify our energy supplies, and
improve national security.

A recent report by Pew Environment Group shows the U.S. has now fallen to number
three behind China and Germany for clean energy private investment. Passage of H.R.
910 will guarantee America loses out on the jobs of the future by obstructing efforts to
build the new clean energy economy. It will deepen America‘s dependence on dirty coal
and imported oil instead of creating American jobs through investments in renewable
resources and energy efficiency.

Our country must turn the problems presented by climate change into an opportunity.
Instead of devoting its time to discrediting scientists and undermining the EPA, Congress
should put more faith in the genius of the American spirit to protect our environment and
human health while creating economic growth. With the right clean energy incentives
and framework, we believe America can out-innovate and out-build anyone in the world.
The proponents of H.R. 910 not only deny climate change, they undermine America‘s
ability to find solutions that benefit consumers, workers and the environment.

Every single member of Congress has a choice: deny the science of climate change or
take real steps to confront a changing climate. Congress must accept scientific reality
and act on climate change.




Google Wades Into Global Warming Debate
Fox News, 5 April 2011, John Brandon
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/05/google-wades-global-warming-debate/

Google is diving headfirst into the climate-change debate with a "21 Club" of hand-
picked experts that the search engine giant hopes will drive the conversation -- and
guide investments -- in climate change.




                                                                                         59
But it's a discussion that even the club's members say is meant to be one-sided.

―If Google included people who challenged that debate, they would be wrong to do so,‖
said Matthew Nisbet, an associate professor for the School of Communication at
American University and one of the 21 Google Science Communication Fellows.

―As to whether climate change is happening, humans are a cause and it is a problem --
there is no scientific debate over that," Nisbet told FoxNews.com.

A review of the 21 Club confirms Nisbet's comment. The group includes meteorologists,
communication specialists, and even weather forecasters, as well as few scientists who
research climate change for a living. None argue that the planet isn't in imminent danger.

Simon Donner, with the University of British Columbia, recently wrote that unless coral
reefs learn to adapt, climate change may rapidly bring on their demise. Noah
Diffenbaugh of Stanford University recently concluded that "global warming exacerbates
poverty vulnerability in many nations," arguing that the cost of food staples in
Bangladesh, Mexico, Indonesia and other countries will jump with the temperature.

"There is consensus amongst scientists that humans are changing the Earth's climate,"
reads the mission statement on the Helmuth Lab website, headed up by Brian Helmuth
of the 21 Club.

From food to rocks to plants to sea life, the 21 Club believes climate change to be a
dramatic problem -- one that requires dramatic action.

Eugene Cordero with San Jose University even created the Green Ninja, a climate-
action superhero who fights global warming.

 ―Our goal is to foster an open dialogue and provide the tools,‖ argued Amy Luers, the
senior environment program manager at Google.org, the non-profit funded by Google,
speaking to FoxNews.com.

Depending on what the scientists learn, they may develop a system that shows where
climate change is occurring on the globe. Or, using technology such as Google Earth,
they might map out detailed models showing the effects of climate change.

In other words, some day you might be able to find out that the water near Costa Rica is
1 percentage point warmer since 1980, or that Alaska's glaciers have melted … slightly.

Google's position toward climate change should not come as a surprise; the company
has historically shown a penchant for Democratic causes. As FoxNews.com reported
last October, Google gives more to Democratic politicians than to Republicans, for
example.

Follow the money

So what's Google up to, anyway?




                                                                                         60
Part of the motivation seems to be funding new climate change research.

Jack Gold, a research analyst, told FoxNews.com that promoting new research often
ends up generating new product ideas. He said having good models for climate change
can also feed into the company's own data visualization efforts.

The company likely sees the search term ―climate change‖ popping up in search results,
too. ―They are probably reacting to what people are interested in,‖ Gold said.

Jon Peddie, a consumer analyst with Jon Peddie Research, told FoxNews.com that
Google may have other motives in mind. ―They are pursuing offshore wind farms along
the East Coast of the U.S. and probably want to build a solid case for the need to get off
oil,‖ said Peddie.

Whatever the reason for the project, Google has big ambitions: Google.org has already
doled out about $100 million in grants, mostly to green tech start-ups and alternative
energy consortiums.

Google to the rescue?

Climate studies also involve enormous data sets from many sources and massive
computing requirements for data collection. Google has the computing muscle to help
analyze that data and make sense of it.

―It includes conventional weather data collected by the meteorological services of the
world, at the surface of the Earth and in the atmosphere from balloon-borne instruments
and satellites," said Richard C. J. Somerville, a research professor at Scripps Institution
of Oceanography, one of the primary sources of climate-change data. "It also includes
satellite and ship and buoy data to give ocean temperatures. It includes measurements
of glaciers and ice sheets and sea ice, made from satellites and on the ice itself.‖

Another key purpose is to make climate-change data more ―accessible,‖ to use the
parlance of Google's mission statement -- and more discoverable, of course.

The company likely has pure motives, tech analyst Roger Kay told FoxNews.com. But
Google is also interested in important issues that make the company look good. ―This
promotes Google‘s overall brand, to be associated with problems and perhaps
solutions.‖

And finally, don't forget that it may all come down to business consideration. Remember
all those people searching for "climate change"?

―Google won‘t be able to sell ads if we wipe ourselves out by not mitigating the effects of
climate change,‖ joked Kay.




                                                                                         61
Energy and a Needed Czar
Huffington Post, 6 April 2011, Ed Koch
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-koch/energy-and-a-needed-czar_b_845227.html

Like many other Americans, I simply do not believe the statements our government
makes to calm us down during a catastrophe.

I can understand and accept -- and believe others can as well -- the government not
telling us all it knows. There are a host of reasons for keeping secrets, security of the
nation being the primary one. But we must beware of deliberately false statements from
government leaders and agencies.

During the 9/11 crisis and the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan, we were told primarily
by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman that the air
in the neighborhood of Ground Zero where the World Trade Center had been was safe
for residents and those living in nearby areas. The only official that I can recall who
warned New Yorkers, particularly pregnant women, not to remain in, or move to, the
affected area was Congressman Jerry Nadler. I don't know if we have ever had a final
ecological and medical report on the effects of the polluted environment of lower
Manhattan, and what, if any, adverse impact occurred on the population there following
9/11. The danger when a layman like myself with no expertise on the subject speculates
on the effects of contamination produced by the implosion of the two towers and the
release of contaminants such as asbestos and heavy metals into the air is that
uninformed speculation might be added to the brew. But without a universally accepted
credible authority providing information, there will be such speculation.

Interestingly, today's New York Post reported, "A city official for the first time is revealing
a rise in cancer among firefighters who served at Ground Zero."

I suspect that very few people in Japan or worldwide believe we are getting the whole
truth from our governments, particularly the Japanese government. We know that
contaminants and radiation have been and are still being released, extending as far east
as the Atlantic coast. We are constantly told by government spokesmen that whatever
levels of contaminants and radiation there are in the air are not dangerous to human
beings. But we know that radiation is cumulative in effect, so if a plume - a descriptive
word used in describing winds carrying contaminants and radiation - sits overhead for
any period of time in a geographical area, there is an increasing exposure to the
population below, before the plume moves on.

Similarly so with the milk and vegetables carrying the poisons of radiation which we drink
and eat every day. Aren't they, too, accumulating? What we desperately need is the
appointment of a truly blue ribbon panel universally respected as free from government
dictation and intellectually honest to examine all of the information and report to the
American people, and quickly.

Remember, when the Japanese plant first exploded and Americans in Japan asked our
government whether they should leave Japan, President Obama urged Americans to
heed the advice of the Japanese government. That was, I believe, not sound advice,


                                                                                             62
since the Japanese government would certainly be reluctant to urge anyone to leave
Japan. Today, I suspect Americans are told by our government they should leave Japan
or at least send their children home to the United States.

I am in my 87th year and do not fear the effects of the Japanese devastation for myself,
but I am fearful for America's population, young and adult. Shouldn't we know the true
dangers ahead? The President should appoint that blue ribbon panel immediately.

No one has discussed that Japan may now have a swath of land from west to east that
will be dangerous to cross, affecting if not closing traffic from Tokyo to northern Honshu.
What will the economic impact be?

***

The New York Times had a superb article assessing our response to the energy crisis
we appear to be facing because of escalating oil prices and shortages resulting from the
turmoil in the Mideast in Muslim countries, euphemistically described by the media as
the Arab Spring.

The Times article describes our natural resources which include huge amounts of
natural gas and coal with far smaller quantities of crude oil, as opposed to oil extracted
from tar and sands which environmentally is subject to problems and danger to the
environment. Other resources described include nuclear energy, wind and solar
resources and renewable sources using agricultural crops converting them to alcohol. In
addition, available in dealing with the energy problems are increased car gas mileage
requirements set by the government and conservation.

Requiring all existing 18-wheel trucks to use natural gas instead of diesel fuel, I've been
told, would reduce oil imports from OPEC nations by half. The cost of conversion for
current trucks would be approximately $64,000 per truck. Why not mandate the change,
providing subsidies if required and appropriate? Why not require auto companies to only
manufacture natural gas using trucks in the future?

President Obama points out that presidents before him starting at least with Nixon back
in 1973 when OPEC embargoed oil to the U.S., and his successors, have talked of
energy self-sufficiency and while there have been improvements in our supplies and
sources, we still are importing 50 percent of our oil from abroad. Two countries that are
truly friendly to us are Mexico and Canada. Most of the others in the world cannot be
counted on at all times and under all conditions to continue to supply us with oil.

I believe we can indeed become self-sufficient, but only if there is a true national effort
directed by a czar appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate with the
necessary financial resources and authority to get the job done. Someone who would
create a Manhattan Project and the think tanks needed. Someone with the energy,
ability and spine of steel needed. Surely, the President can find such a person.



A Government Shutdown Affects The Environment As National Parks, Toxic
Waste Cleanup, EPA Work Is Halted


                                                                                              63
Huffington Post, 6 April 2011, Joanna Zelman
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/06/government-shutdown-environment-epa-
_n_845451.html

How would a government shutdown affect the environment, and in turn, affect
Americans?

According to CNN, 368 National Park Service sites were closed during the last
government shutdown.

Indiana is a case in point. Yahoo! News reports on the impact of a government shutdown
in Indiana:

The National Park Service in Indiana would be severely affected by a federal
government shutdown. Indiana has three national parks and 30 national natural
landmarks. A shutdown would close all the national parks and have a large impact on
the local economy.

Figures from 2009 reveal the positive impact of national parks on Indiana's economy. In
2009, more than 2 million people visited the parks and spent more than $51 million
during their visits. Indiana is still recovering from the recession, so the loss of visitor
spending would not come at a good time for the state. During the previous federal
government shutdown that lasted 21 days, 7 million people across the U.S. were not
able to visit national parks.

No visitors means less money and support for the parks.

The Washington Post reports that toxic waste cleanup work also was halted during the
last shutdown. 609 sites reportedly stopped their cleanup projects, and 2,400 Superfund
workers were furloughed.

Also during the last shutdown, climate research at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was halted, and NOAA had to shut down its 12
national marine sanctuaries.

As for the EPA, most of its 18,000 employees were prohibited from entering the agency's
premises, and The New York Times reports that headquarters were like a ghost town.

A government shutdown carries widespread ramifications. Will environmental centers
and agencies turn into ghost towns once again?




                                                                                         64
What the Heck Is a Methane Hydrate?
Huffington Post, 5 April 2011, Rebecca Anderson
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-anderson/methane-global-
warming_b_845018.html

Okay, what is a methane hydrate (or methane clathrate, as it's also called)? If a picture
is worth a thousand words, it's this.

Yes, it looks like ice that's on fire, which is why one nickname is "fire ice" but it's not
really ice. It's methane, surrounded by a cage of water molecules that forms a solid. Yes,
weird. Gas + liquid = solid. Who knew?

Where do you find these guys?

For a long time, the idea of a clathrate (a gas trapped in a cage of another molecule)
was just a wacky science experiment -- people had made them in a lab, but no one
thought they actually existed on Earth naturally. It wasn't until the 1960s that methane
hydrates were found in the real world -- in a gas mine in Siberia. Gradually, scientists
realized that methane hydrates existed all over the world, most of them buried in mud at
the bottom of the ocean where temperatures are cold enough and pressure is high
enough for them to form. The methane to make them comes from the same plankton
getting deposited on the seafloor over millions of years that form fossil fuels, except that
in this case the methane gets locked up in a hydrate. Methane ending up as a fire ice is
actually much more common that you might think -- the USGS estimates that the amount
of carbon in methane hydrates is more than twice as much as in all other known fossil
fuels on the planet. (Obviously, this is a really hard number to quantify, but the USGS
calls their estimate "conservative.")

Why should we care about them?

In my research about these kooky critters, I found two different camps: One that's
interested in methane hydrates as a possible energy source and another that's
interested in them as a future cause of climate change. In the first camp is the U.S. Dept.
of Energy, which has a National Methane Hydrates R&D Program whose purpose is to
study these phenomena in order to learn how best to extract them and use them as an
energy source. They're concerned with how to drill for them safely, how to determine
where they exist and in what kinds of deposits, etc. Some deposits are large mounds of
fire ice and some just fill in tiny cracks in mud.

To date, I found only one example of methane hydrate being actually mined for
methane. In 2007 and 2008, Canadian and Japanese researchers successfully drilled a
well into a hydrate deposit off the coast of Canada's Northwest Territories that brought a
stable flow of methane to the surface, proving that methane hydrates are a potential
energy source for the future. This success brings with it all sorts of issues about the
advisability of mining hydrates for a fuel source... some analogy about using gas




                                                                                         65
(methane gas, that is) to put out a fire comes to mind here, but I'm terrible about mixing
up metaphors...

The other research around methane hydrates concerns their potential to effect future
climate change. There's a narrow range of temperature and pressure conditions where
these things can exist beneath the ocean. Most locations are more or less stable, but in
the Arctic, especially cold water allows the hydrates to form at lower pressures, aka
shallower depths. Being closer to the surface makes these hydrates more vulnerable as
the Arctic warms up. The main cause for concern is that the Arctic Ocean could warm up
to the point where the methane hydrates aren't stable any longer and could melt and
release their stored methane to the atmosphere. Realclimate.org calculates that
although this is a possibility we can't rule out, it would more likely be a slow process,
gradually releasing methane into the atmosphere and not actually the dramatic upheaval
of the ocean floor that comes to mind.

Methane hydrates also live buried in permafrost on land. In one spot on the coast of
Siberia, the ocean has eaten into the coastline, breaking off chunks of permafrost into
the sea. Methane concentrations in the ocean off this spot are 25 times higher than
normal, indicating that methane from the permafrost is leaking out into the ocean and
then the atmosphere. So melting permafrost is a worry, too.

In Realclimate's calculations, there's no single event, like the melting of methane
hydrates, that could catastrophically release so much methane into the atmosphere that
could trigger a doomsday scenario. All single point sources of methane are well below
that level. However, the far less dramatic (but way more likely) scenario of steady,
ongoing release of methane to the atmosphere from lots of sources, like permafrost, rice
paddies, cows, etc. does have the potential to make or break whether we cross a tipping
point or no.

One final interesting note I learned is that the CO2 that's produced once the methane in
the atmosphere breaks down is just as important for causing climate change as the
methane itself. (Methane lasts in the atmosphere for less long than CO2, with a lifetime
of about a decade.)

So, to wrap it up, here are my Top 5 Things to Know About Methane Hydrates. They
are...

1. Cool and mysterious
2. A very big, but badly quantified, reservoir of carbon
3. A potential fuel source
4. Something to keep an eye on for future climate change
5. And an exciting party trick (if you can get your hands on one)


Should We Feed Hungry People, Even If It's Bad For The Environment?
Forbes, 5 April 2011, Alex Berezow
http://www.forbes.com/2011/04/05/environment-hunger-population-opinions-alex-
berezow.html




                                                                                          66
"When it comes to saving human life or destroying the environment, I pick saving human
life."

That seemingly innocuous comment I gave at an informal talk elicited a few gasps from
my environmentally sensitive Seattle audience. Unintentionally, I exposed in a mere
utterance everything that was wrong with the modern environmental movement.

My discussion was on the benefits of genetically modified organisms. Most of the
questions I received were typical for an organic-friendly city. Are GMOs safe? Is organic
food better for the environment? Everything was going as expected, until I got this
question: "Are we solving our population problem by creating ways to increase our
population?"

Weird. What exactly was she asking? I pressed for an explanation. A friend of hers
elaborated, "Aren't we just artificially increasing the carrying capacity of the world?"

Ah. Now it was crystal clear. Their concern was human overpopulation. By finding ways
to generate more food, we were simply "feeding a monster" (her words, not mine)--a
vicious cycle in which making more food has the unpleasant side effect of allowing poor
people to procreate, creating more hungry children. The implication was slap-in-the-face
obvious: Maybe we shouldn't feed so many people.

I was stunned that someone could think like that. Actually, I was stunned that two people
in the same room could think like that and have the audacity to express those beliefs out
loud. On videotape. Do they really represent how modern environmentalists think?

Environmentalism should be a very good thing. Who would disagree with the sentiment
that humans should be good stewards by responsibly managing the planet's resources?
Sustainability is both ethical and vital for the planet, but clearly this concept can be easily
perverted. Indeed, some environmentalists believe that humanity itself is little more than
a parasite sucking the life out of Mother Earth. The only "sustainable" action would be to
decrease the human population.

Maybe that explains environmentalists' opposition to DDT.

DDT--dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane--is perhaps the most effective tool in the arsenal to
combat the deadly malaria pandemic. However, in the 1970s environmental concerns
led to dramatically scaled back usage of and even outright bans on DDT. These actions
had devastating consequences. Malaria surged in many places around the globe. Today
there are approximately 250 million new infections each year and 1 million deaths, many
of them children.



To be fair, DDT is not a magical solution. It poses a serious health risk for both humans
and the environment. Regions in need of DDT should carefully consider a cost-benefit
analysis before using the pesticide. But worsened health from DDT in the long term is
better than death from malaria in the short term.




                                                                                            67
The same cost-benefit reasoning applies to genetic modification and other methods to
combat global hunger. Unlike DDT, GMOs pose little to no environmental risk. But
suppose they did. Concern for the welfare of others should take precedence over
concern for the environment. Any other viewpoint is not just wrong, but cold-blooded in
its inhumanity.

The failure of modern environmentalists to fully comprehend this point will keep them
relegated to the fringes of American political discourse. Frankly, this is where they
belong until they can propose solutions to global hunger, climate change, animal
research, energy consumption and biodiversity loss that are not just environmentally
friendly, but people-friendly.

Ecological solutions are never simple, but one principle should be paramount: Save and
promote humanity at all costs. This is the only ethical solution. The desire to minimize
environmental damage is honorable and right, but it should not eclipse human
prosperity. The needs of our planet--though obviously important--still come in a distant
second place to the needs of fellow human beings.

When the greens finally figure this out, then everyone will be an environmentalist.

Alex B. Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.



Reining In The EPA’s Reign Of Error
Forbes, 5 April 2011, Larry Bell
http://blogs.forbes.com/larrybell/2011/04/05/reining-in-the-epas-reign-of-error/

Dramatic man-made climate change, one political in nature, endangers yet another
species: the predatory Tyrantosorus Bureaucraticus. A harsh Congressional cold wave
now threatens to end its free reigning domination of American industries and
businesses.

Twin Republican-sponsored proposals, one in the House and the other in the Senate,
are aimed at preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) without
explicit Congressional permission. The House bill, termed the Energy Tax Prevention
Act (H.R. 910) is sponsored by Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the
House Energy and Commerce Committee. It is tentatively scheduled to come up for a
vote on April 6, with virtually assured passage.

The identical Senate version was attached by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
as a surprise amendment to a small business bill (S.493) introduced by Majority Leader
Harry Reid. The rider incorporates language of an earlier bill sponsored by Sen. James
Inhofe (R-Okla.). Although the amendment is unlikely to receive the 60 votes required for
passage, it has at least some chance of winning a symbolically important 51 vote
majority. Scheduling of that vote has been repeatedly delayed, but might possibly occur
within the next week.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) originally planned to introduce an amendment to delay
EPA regulatory actions for two years. Many Republicans suspected that this was


                                                                                        68
primarily a Democrat ploy to provide political cover. After an internal vote count indicated
that McConnell‘s amendment might possibly pass, Reid had Senate Finance Chairman
Max Baucus (D-Mont.) draft another competing amendment to exempt some farms and
businesses from EPA overreaches, while endorsing everything else.

This would essentially codify a ―Tailoring Rule‖ established by the EPA to justify an ever-
growing ensemble of climate initiatives under the Clean Air Act. In other words, it would
officially sanction continued bureaucratic end-runs around constitutionally delegated
Congressional legislative processes.

Congress has never authorized the EPA to regulate GHGs for climate change purposes.
Sen. Baucus should be very aware of this from his experiences during the 1990 House-
Senate conference committee on Clean Air Act amendments, when he failed to
persuade the Senate to adopt language requiring the EPA to set CO2 emission
standards for motor vehicles. He also failed to persuade committee conferees to adopt
GHG emission reduction as a national goal, or to require the EPA to regulate
manufactured substances based upon their ―global warming potential.‖

H.R. 910 and the McConnell amendment to S.493 would overturn all of the EPA‘s GHG
regulations except for two: the GHG/fuel economy standards that the EPA and the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly issued for new motor
vehicles covering model years 2012-2016, and GHG/fuel economy standards the
agencies have proposed for medium and heavy-duty trucks covering model years 2014-
2018. The NHTSA‘s separate authority to regulate fuel economy standards for
automobiles after model year 2016 and trucks after model year 2018 would remain
unaffected. The National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) strongly supports the
legislation as a means to establish a true single national fuel economy standard under
the CAFÉ program where rules are set by Congress, not by unelected officials.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) offered a proposal to suspend EPA regulations for two
years and to also create a national standard for motor vehicles. This would preempt
attempts by California to impose tougher standards than the rest of the country after
2016.

As things presently stand it appears likely that all 47 Senate Republicans will vote for the
McConnell amendment, along with three publicly committed Democrats: Joe Manchin
(West Virginia), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) and Ben Nelson (Nebraska). Two other
Democrats may be sympathetic, namely Debbie Stabenow and Claire McCaskill
(Missouri), although the former may be disinclined to join because of her own competing
amendment.

It is clear, however, that House and Senate Republicans battling to end the EPA‘s
regulatory rampage are finding increasing support from previously uncommon
confederates. Many Democrats and their allied Big Labor union leaders now recognize
compelling reasons to jump on board. Those from coal-producing and coal-using states,
especially senators facing tough 2012 re-election races, have particularly strong
incentives. Included, along with Mary Landrieu, Claire McCaskill , Joe Manchin, Ben
Nelson and Debbie Stabenow, are Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pennsylvania),
Tim Johnson (South Dakota), Tom Carper (Delaware), Kent Conrad (North Dakota),




                                                                                         69
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Jim Web (Virginia), Carl Levin (Michigan) and John
Rockefeller (West Virginia).

A proposed new EPA ruling to impose reductions in mercury emissions is adding to coal
industry consternation. An analysis by the United Mine Workers union concluded that
this plan, along with other EPA regulations, could put as many as 250,000 jobs at risk.
Many of those would come from utility, mining and railroad sectors, with the greatest
impact upon Rust Belt states that have many old plants (as well as electoral votes).

An August letter from the Unites Steelworkers to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson stated
that ―tens of thousands‖ of factories whose employees are represented by the union ―will
be imperiled‖ by the rule, along with other related jobs.

Those impacts will be far-reaching. A report from Credit Suisse in September projected
that the EPA‘s rule alone could lead to closure of nearly 18% of the nation‘s coal-fired
generating capacity. This at a time when oil and natural gas drilling is being stifled, and
long-delayed nuclear development is more uncertain than ever in the aftermath of the
Japanese Fukushima plant break-downs.

Stewart Acuff, chief of staff to the president of the Utility Workers Union of America, put
Democrats who don‘t already get the message on notice: ―If the EPA issues regulations
that cost jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Republicans will blast the president with it
over and over.‖ He went on to clarify ―Not just the president. Every Democratic
[lawmaker] from those states.‖

It‘s hardly worth mentioning that unions who are lobbying against the EPA are large
longtime Democratic Party supporters through political action committee funding and
employee get-out-the-vote campaigns. That continued support will be vital if Democrats
hope to hold a Senate majority next year.

And what about the public? Gallup‘s annual environment poll conducted last month
showed that ―Americans continue to express less concern about global warming than
they have in the past…‖ even as their ―self-professed understanding of global warming
has increased over time-from 69% (2001) -to 74% (2006) – and 80% now. Given that
carbon-based climate hype has been promoted to justify the EPA‘s regulatory rampage,
how long can most voters be expected to accept higher energy costs, economic
casualties and unemployment pains in exchange for improbable climate benefits
espoused by political ideologues that are based upon scandalously flawed scientific
premises?

Democrats who persist in pushing current anti- fossil, business-hobbling Obama
administration policies are likely to find out next year. Others who resist are already
finding themselves in a difficult position between a Barack and a hard place.




                                                                                          70
Why Fukushima Won't Kill Nuclear Power
Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2011, Richard K. Lester
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576244492633730376.html?
mod=googlenews_wsj

The accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is still far from
resolved. A major public health disaster seems to have been avoided, and the long-term
impact on health and safety will be dwarfed by the devastating loss of life caused directly
by the huge Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But the nuclear crisis has badly scared
people around the world.

Predictably, longtime antinuclear activists are calling for an end to any further nuclear
development. Equally predictably, spokesmen for the industry say the Japanese
earthquake was a once-in-a-millennium event and point to the greater safety of newer
reactors.

In the U.S., the most urgent need in the wake of the accident is to assess the safety of
existing nuclear power plants. Plans to extend the operating life of some 40-year-old
reactors for another two decades should be reviewed, and costly upgrades may be
required. We must also revisit the longstanding issue of how and where to store spent
nuclear fuel. The sensible solution would be to store it in dry concrete casks at one or
two central locations. Instead, decades of political dithering have produced only gridlock,
so spent fuel remains in increasingly densely-packed storage pools at dozens of sites
around the country.

Still, the overall impact of the accident will be fairly small here. The so-called nuclear
renaissance wasn't really going anywhere in the U.S. even before the Japanese
earthquake. For most utilities, new nuclear plants are simply too big and expensive to
contemplate. Only a few such plants would have been built over the next decade. Now
some of those may be scrapped.

But that's hardly the end of the story. This year is the 100th anniversary of the discovery
of the atomic nucleus, and a little over 70 years since nuclear fission was first
demonstrated. In historical terms, that puts the field of nuclear engineering today roughly
where electrical engineering was in 1900. Consider what followed: the creation of the
electric power grid, television and telecommunications, the revolutions in
microelectronics and computation, and much more. None of it was anticipated by the
electrical engineers of 1900.

Likewise, no one today can foresee the future of nuclear energy technology at the end of
the 21st century. All that can be said with confidence now is that the nuclear power
plants of the year 2100 will have about as much resemblance to today's workhorse light-
water reactors as a modern automobile has to a 1911 Model T.

In the aftermath of Fukushima, some new technologies already in the pipeline look more
promising. New fuel "cladding" materials are being developed that don't react with high-
temperature steam to produce hydrogen—the cause of the shocking explosions in
Japan. Other new plant designs rely on natural heat conduction and convection rather
than electric-powered pumps and valves and human intervention to cool the fuel in
reactors that have shut down.


                                                                                            71
Today's most advanced designs go even further toward the goal of "walkaway safety,"
that is, reactors that can shut themselves down and cool themselves off without electric
power or any human intervention at all. Longer-term possibilities include lifetime fueling,
which would allow a single charge of fuel to power a reactor for its entire life—making it,
in effect, a nuclear battery. Integrated power plant/waste disposal systems are another
promising concept. Here, used fuel never leaves the site and is disposed of directly in
stable, dry bedrock several kilometers below the earth's surface (more than 10 times as
deep as the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada.)

Huge gains in computing power already enable far more precise simulations of nuclear-
reactor behavior than ever before. Computational advances will also make it possible to
design radiation-resistant materials literally atom by atom and, perhaps, specially
tailored nanostructures that could store long-lived nuclear waste safely for tens of
thousands of years. All of this can be foreseen today, and much greater advances surely
lie over the horizon.

The innovators here will not be today's industry leaders or officials at the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, but rather the young men and women who for the last decade
have been entering university nuclear engineering programs in growing numbers. They
see great engineering challenges in designing new nuclear power systems that are safe
and economical, and they see an opportunity to help ameliorate the grave threat of
climate change. They know that nuclear energy is the only low-carbon energy source
that is already generating large amounts of electricity and can meet the world's fast-
growing appetite for power.

After the accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, many of the
brightest nuclear scientists and engineers left the field. The management of existing
nuclear reactors improved, but technological innovation was slow and incremental.

We shouldn't allow that experience to be repeated. This is not the time for the nuclear
industry to circle the wagons: The need for intellectual vitality, flexibility and creativity
has never been greater. An already safe technology must be made demonstrably
safer—and less expensive, more secure against the threats of nuclear proliferation and
terrorism, and more compatible with the capabilities of electric power systems and the
utilities that run them. The advantages of nuclear power in displacing fossil fuels are
simply too great to ignore.

Mr. Lester is the head of the department of nuclear science and engineering at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.




                                                                                            72
Shift fossil fuel subsidies to back clean tech: IEA
Reuters, 6 March 2011, Nina Chestney
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/06/us-iea-clean-energy-
idUSTRE7352YU20110406

Fossil fuel subsidies worth $312 billion should be realigned to ensure the growth of
renewable energy and curb the world's reliance on carbon-intensive fuels, the
International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report.

Demand for fossil fuels is outstripping the deployment of cleaner technologies.
Renewable energy has seen growth rates of 30 to 40 percent over recent years but coal
has met 47 percent of global new electricity demand over the past decade, the IEA said
in its "Clean Energy Progress Report" on Wednesday.

To change this, the IEA suggests realigning fossil fuel subsidies to support clean energy,
providing more incentives for private sector investment and market mechanisms.

Fossil fuels received $312 billion in subsidies as of 2009 compared to $57 billion for
renewable energy, the report said.

"A number of countries have shown that achieving rapid transition to cleaner
technologies is possible and can be done from the bottom up," said IEA deputy
executive director Richard Jones.

"We must see more ambitious, effective policies that respond to market signals while
providing long-term, predictable support."

RENEWABLES

To halve global carbon emissions by 2050 from 2005 levels, power from renewables will
have to reach 7,000 terrawatt hours (TWh) by 2020 from 3,700 TWh. Wind power must
experience an annual growth rate of 17 percent and solar 22 percent.

"While these levels have been exceeded in the past few years, this level of high growth
must be sustained for the long term," the report said.

Global wind power capacity grew 24 percent last year, the Global Wind Energy Council
said on Wednesday.

To make coal a cleaner fuel source, carbon capture and storage will be critical. Around
100 large-scale plants are needed by 2020 and over 3,000 by 2050. Currently, there are
five large-scale demonstration projects operating, the report said.

"The currently available public funding for large-scale demonstration projects ($25
billion) is not enough," it said.



                                                                                         73
Nuclear expansion is likely to be slower than planned after the Japanese tsunami led to
a review of new nuclear plans by some countries, most notably Germany.

Electric vehicles are poised to take off but governments need to commit to building
sustained markets which last for at least the next 10 years.

This would require price incentives for customers, support for recharging infrastructure,
cooperation on systems, research funding and consumer education campaigns, the
report said.

Biofuels only account for 3 percent of global road transport fuel consumption, but biofuel
production will have to increase tenfold to meet climate targets for 2050, the IEA said.

Advanced biofuels will have to be commercialized and production capacity significantly
expanded.



Budget fight and squabble over energy riders intensify as shutdown nears
Climatewire, 6 April 2011, Evan Lehmann, Saqib Rahim and Dina Fine Maron
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2011/04/06/1/

Congress lurched closer to a government shutdown yesterday when negotiations
stumbled over cuts to energy spending and other programs before temporary federal
funding expires on Friday.

President Obama stepped into the debate yesterday and objected to a Republican plan
to extend current spending for one week, through April 15, while slashing $12 billion
between now and then. Among those cuts, $632 million would come from energy and
water programs.

Obama insisted yesterday that the measure be abandoned, so that lawmakers could
focus on negotiating a spending plan for the remaining fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. The
two sides appeared to be making progress last week when Vice President Joe Biden
announced that they had agreed to cut $33 billion through September.

"We are now at the point where there is no excuse to extend this further," Obama told
reporters after yesterday's meeting. "The only question is whether politics or ideology
are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown."

But Republicans dismiss claims that they agreed to limit their cuts to $33 billion. House
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared in a statement yesterday that his party will
"fight for the largest cuts possible."

The deadline clash foreshadows a season of partisan budget battles. The current
squabble will likely be the easiest to navigate. A larger challenge entered the Capitol
yesterday, when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the budget chairman, released a Republican
spending plan for 2012. It proposed deep cuts to energy and environmental programs
prioritized by Obama, who, the document says, is responsible for a "toxic mix of
increased spending and more regulations."


                                                                                          74
"Since his inauguration, the President has promoted a heavy-handed compliance culture
in the energy sector, brimming with regulations and reckless spending on government-
appointed winners and losers," says Ryan's budget.

'Difficulty in accepting' loss of riders

The plan takes aim at U.S. EPA climate rules, regulations on oil and gas drilling, funding
for "politically favored renewable-energy interests," and agencies that seek to "impose a
job-destroying national energy tax."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said "we strongly disagree" with Ryan's approach.
But that's a fight for another day.

The maneuvering by both parties now is to avoid being blamed for a potential shutdown
of the government. Both sides are blaming the other as the likelihood of a partial
shuttering has increased. Republicans claim Democrats are using budget "gimmicks" to
hold down spending cuts for the remaining fiscal year. Democrats say the GOP is being
led into defunding extremes by its tea party members.

The one-week extension offered by Republicans includes a flash point provision that
reduces abortion funding, a policy rider that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
described as "something to just poke us in the eye."

Riders have aggravated the negotiations, and the two parties appear to hold different
views about which ones might be included in the spending packages. Reid insists that
provisions halting EPA's regulations on greenhouse gases are off-limits.

But Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, indicated yesterday that they're
an important element to the party's conservative members. He cast doubt on Reid's
assertions.

"I have a lot of difficulty in accepting that myself or, I think, getting the acceptance of our
members," Cantor said of taking the EPA language out of play. "It is something that I
think most members go home and hear about every week."

Obama: Drop the partisan stuff

Obama urged Republicans to remove the provisions from the negotiating table
yesterday, a move that could prevent him from facing a difficult choice. Some analysts
believe he might sign funding legislation with a rider delaying EPA greenhouse gas rules
rather than risk the consequences of a veto that closes the government.

"What we can't be doing is using last year's budget process to have arguments about
abortion; to have arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency; to try to use
this budget negotiation as a vehicle for every ideological or political difference between
the two parties," Obama said. "That's what the legislature is for, is to have those
arguments, but not stuff it all into one budget bill."




                                                                                             75
The one-week continuing resolution, offered by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of
the Appropriations Committee, doesn't include any EPA riders, or those that would forbid
the president to hire "czars" for climate or international environmental talks.

Instead, it cuts $192 million in environmental cleanup programs at the Department of
Energy -- programs that Obama has signaled he's willing to trim in the fiscal 2012
budget.

It begins reducing the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning
Fund, which Obama had also suggested in his fiscal 2012 budget. It funds the Advanced
Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program at $10 million -- just as the House and
Senate proposed in their continuing resolutions.

More energy cuts

Federal funding for high-speed and intercity rail, an Obama priority that H.R. 1 zeroed
out, gets $1 billion in Rogers' bill, the same figure as the Senate's proposal. And the
Clean Technology Fund, a State Department program that fits into Obama's international
work on climate, gets $250 million in Rogers' bill, which is where the Senate ended up.

Rogers' main cuts come from rescinding unspent bucks at DOE, including $30.6 million
from the Fossil Energy program and $18 million from the Clean Coal Technology
program. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE's main office working on zero-
carbon technologies, would have to surrender $11 million.

In total, Rogers' office said, energy and water programs would face $632 million of cuts.

It's unclear when the temporary measure might be voted on, but Sen. Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.), the minority leader, said he expects it to reach the Senate by as early as today.
Reid, however, described the one-week package as dead on arrival.

First, it must pass the House. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 Democrat in the
chamber, said that he will be whipping members to vote against it.

"I hope other Democrats will oppose it," he said yesterday. "I don't know that every
Democrat will oppose it."

Still, Republicans are unlikely to need the help. Conservative members would likely
welcome such deep cuts to spending. Unlike the last temporary funding measure, over
which dozens of GOP lawmakers deserted their leadership, this bill is more aggressive.

Earlier, Republicans sought to slice $2 billion in spending per week. Under those
parameters, the one-week measure would achieve six weeks of cuts.




                                                                                        76
U.S. EIA boosts global gas resource estimate by 40 percent
Climatewire, 6 April 2011, Joel Kirkland
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2011/04/06/3/

The U.S. government increased its estimate of the world's recoverable natural gas
resources by more than 40 percent yesterday after making its initial assessments of 48
shale gas basins in 32 countries.

New gas resources could be massive if the unconventional basins are drilled, said the
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in a 300-page initial report on energy
prospects that have the potential to significantly change the global energy picture.
According to EIA, the estimates are likely to change -- and get bigger.

"The estimates of technically recoverable shale gas resources for 32 countries outside of
the United States represents a moderately conservative 'risked' resource for the basins
reviewed," said the agency. "These estimates are uncertain given the relatively sparse
data that currently exists, and the approach the consultant has employed would likely
result in a higher estimate once better information is available."

EIA commissioned geologists at Advanced Resources International Inc., based in
Arlington, Va., to develop the initial shale gas resource assessments.

The agency said governments in many of the 32 countries are also trying to come up
with more detailed analyses of their shale basins. Some of them are being assisted by
U.S. federal agencies under the Global Shale Gas Initiative launched by the U.S. State
Department in April 2010.

Shale gas development appears most attractive in countries that are already heavily
dependent on natural gas imports and have some gas drilling infrastructure in place,
says the report.

"For these countries, shale gas development could significantly alter their future gas
balance, which may motivate development," it says. "Examples of countries in this group
include France, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, South Africa, Morocco and Chile."

The report also says that developing shale basins in South Africa could come in handy
as an alternate feedstock for its existing gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids plants.

A handful of countries also have large estimated shale gas resources of more than 200
trillion cubic feet. They include Canada, Mexico, Australia, Libya, Algeria, Argentina and
Brazil. All of those countries are strategically important to the United States, either in the
context of the energy trade or for foreign policy reasons.

"Existing infrastructure would [aid] in the timely conversion of the resource into
production, but could also lead to competition with other natural gas supply sources," the
report says.

U.S.-based multinational oil companies are sinking more money into securing and
producing natural gas out of shale-rock basins in the United States and around the
world. Boosters of the resource, particularly the industry and, in recent months, the


                                                                                            77
White House, contend it's a partial answer to energy security issues and for cutting
carbon emissions.

Gas-fired power plants emit about half as much carbon as conventional coal-burning
generators. Gas also produces lower amounts of toxic air emissions like mercury and
smog-forming pollutants.



Shutdown would mean 800K furloughs, EPA permitting halt -- White House
Greenwire, 6 April 2011, John McArdle
http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2011/04/06/1/

With two days left for Congress to make a budget deal, the White House today began
painting a picture of what life would be like under a government shutdown.

Among the details offered by a senior administration official on a conference call late this
morning was the furloughing of somewhere around 800,000 federal employees, the
closure of all national parks, the Smithsonian museums and the canceling of the
National Cherry Blossom festival and parade in Washington, D.C.

At U.S. EPA, all activities related to permitting industrial facilities for air, land and water
pollution limits would cease, as would the conducting of environmental impact
statements for a vast number of projects that are already in development. The official
emphasized that such a scenario could have a major impact on businesses.

"The president has made it very clear across the last few weeks and last few days that
he doesn't want a government shutdown and that it would threaten our economic
recovery," the official said.

Across the government, the official said, activities deemed necessary for the safety of
life and protection of property, would continue under a shutdown.

"EPA will continue to do what is essential to protect life and property, but all other
operations will cease," the official said.

EPA and other agencies would also see some programs spared the shutdown if those
programs are funded through multiyear appropriations or through alternative funding
sources like user fees.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in an email to agency employees today that should
a shutdown become necessary, employees will receive formal notice from their
managers no later than Friday about their furlough status.

"The President and I know that the uncertainty of the current situation puts federal
employees in a difficult position," Jackson wrote. "We are very much aware that a
shutdown would impose hardships on many employees as well as the groups and
individuals our agency serves. I have pledged to keep you informed throughout this
process, and as we approach the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution, we will
provide you with updated information as soon as it becomes available."


                                                                                              78
Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to insist that they want to
come to an agreement that would avoid a shutdown but recent developments have not
made many optimistic.

Yesterday, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that Democrats' target for
$33 billion in federal cuts was not acceptable. Boehner said that any bill must include a
number of policy restrictions -- including several that specifically target EPA -- that
Republicans attached to their February continuing resolution.

President Obama told reporters that finishing the current budget cycle should not be tied
to "arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency" or abortion.

Meanwhile federal employees and their unions are bracing for the impact. Yesterday the
largest union for federal employees blasted both Democrats and Republicans for playing
political games with the jobs of government workers (Greenwire, April 5).

Unions representing a slew of federal agencies including EPA are already planning
rallies this week to protest the cuts including a march scheduled for tomorrow in
Chicago.



European study finds noise can kill, as EPA lies dormant
Greenwire, 6 April 2011, Gabriel Nelson
http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2011/04/06/3/

Living in a noisy neighborhood is more than just annoying. It can be deadly.

So says a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European
Commission's Joint Research Centre.

Most people have lost sleep at some point because of noise from passing cars,
construction projects or airplanes flying overhead. But the new report says steady
exposure to "noise pollution" can also lead to higher blood pressure and in turn, fatal
heart attacks, killing thousands of people every year.

The researchers, led by WHO scientist Rokho Kim at the international health group's
office in Bonn, Germany, compiled data from several epidemiological studies that have
come out over the past five to 10 years. Combined, the studies show noise is to blame
for 1.8 percent of heart attacks across Western Europe.

In places with denser populations and more background noise, the risk could be greater;
about 2.9 percent of heart attacks in Germany could be attributed to noise, the new
report says. Of the country's 133,115 heart attack cases in 1999, noise caused an
estimated 3,860 of them, killing 2,232 people.

"We hope that this new evidence will prompt governments and local authorities to
introduce noise control policies at the national and local levels, thus protecting the health
of Europeans from this growing hazard," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO's director for
Europe.


                                                                                          79
The findings could eventually make ripples in the United States, where about 1.5 million
heart attacks occur each year. Because of little-known laws that were put in place during
the 1970s heyday of environmental legislation, U.S. EPA already has the authority -- if
not the funding or the political will -- to go after noise pollution.

EPA will review the findings, an agency spokeswoman said yesterday. Action on that
front is unlikely in the current political environment, but experts said the new findings
from Europe confirm what many scientists have long suspected: Noise can be harmful,
and not just to people's ears.

At a conference in 1969, former U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart called for swift
federal action, pointing to emerging research on the link between noise and a bevy of
health problems, including high blood pressure, headaches and heart disease.

"Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience," Stewart once said.
"Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere."

A year after Stewart's warning, Congress first ordered EPA to go after noise pollution
under provisions in the Clean Air Act. The agency got more assignments from the Noise
Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978.

One of the agency's first steps was undertaking a survey of noise across the United
States. The level of background noise in the average city was 59 decibels, about as loud
as an ordinary conversation. In the suburbs, the noise level was 49 decibels, and in rural
areas, it was 43.

And today, EPA has a handful of noise rules on the books, such as a limit on noise from
motorcycles. They all date back decades, though, because the White House cut funding
for the program under President Reagan, and it has never been restored.

The Office of Noise Abatement and Control got the ax in the early 1980s, a time -- not
too different from today -- when the economy was in the gutter and many on Capitol Hill
wanted to slash away at red tape. The noise rules were slammed by critics like
syndicated columnist James Kilpatrick, who called it "bureaucracy gone berserk."

"Metaphorically speaking, if you will forgive me, this is garbage," Kilpatrick wrote at the
time.

Critics of federal noise rules have argued that state laws and local ordinances can
handle noisy lawnmowers, air conditioners and highway traffic on their own. If the noise
becomes a nuisance, the police can start writing tickets, they say.

But in the past few years in Europe, new empirical studies have led health experts to pay
a new level of attention to noise pollution. The European Union already has a directive
ordering local governments to reduce noise, and last year, a panel of environmental
officials from six European countries ranked traffic noise as the continent's second-most
pressing threat to public health, after air pollution.




                                                                                              80
Noise follows a different pattern from other kinds of environmental risks, said Mathias
Basner, who studies sleep at the University of Pennsylvania and contributed to the new
WHO report.

"If you look just at the health effects of cardiovascular disease, the increase in risk of
getting a heart attack, or a stroke, or high blood pressure -- it's kind of low," Basner said.
"But on the other hand, there are so many people exposed to noise that this combination
makes it a real public health problem."

It used to be that America was moving more aggressively than Europe to limit noise, but
except for regulations in the workplace, the issue has been dormant in the United States
for the past three decades, said Sidney Shapiro, a law professor at Wake Forest
University who has written a history of federal noise pollution rules.

Though there have been hints for a long time that noise can cause health problems, it
has mainly been described as an aesthetic issue, or at worst, a problem of a few hours
of lost sleep, said Shapiro, a member of the Center for Progressive Reform who has
often called for stronger federal regulations.

If newer research shows that noise is harmful enough to kill, "that puts it in a whole
different light," he said.

Rules in United States

Without an office that is dedicated to noise issues, EPA has assigned its tasks to the
Office of Air and Radiation, where officials spend most of their time crafting new air
pollution standards.

People still contact EPA about noise, but most responsibilities have been handed to
state and local officials, the agency spokeswoman said. The program has no dedicated
funding, but when needs arise, EPA allocates money from its general budget, she said.

That is not to say that the program is entirely dead. In the summer of 2009, EPA
proposed an update to the standards that are used to rate the effectiveness of earplugs
and other devices that people use to protect their ears at firing ranges, construction sites
and concerts.

The current standard, which was set in 1979, does not allow a good comparison
between older devices and newer noise-reduction technologies, EPA said. Its proposal
got support from trade groups such as the International Safety Equipment Association,
as well as end-users such as the Pentagon, which described the update to the testing
rules as "long overdue."

Those standards would complement the rules set by the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, which allows employees to be exposed to noise levels as high as 90
decibels for as long as eight hours. If a workplace is noisier than that, or if workers have
longer shifts, the company needs a training plan and equipment to protect employees'
ears.




                                                                                           81
The current rules are flexible, and "you achieve compliance with the resources you have
available," said Kevin Cannon, director of safety and health services at the Associated
General Contractors of America.

But last year, OSHA proposed updating the rules to require more controls on noisy
equipment. The agency withdrew its proposal before the comment period ended, after
some business groups and lawmakers such as House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa
(R-Calif.) complained.

That was an "encouraging signal that the agency is slowing down on excessive
government regulations that hinder job creation," said Joe Trauger, vice president of
human resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, in a statement at
the time.

EPA could expect a similar backlash if it tried to flex its muscles on noise, but some
people would like to see the agency expand its reach. In theory, the agency could decide
on a safe level of noise exposure for the public or impose rules on individual sources of
noise, such as highways that cut through neighborhoods.

Les Blomberg, director of an advocacy group called the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse,
said EPA should create a program that does for noise what the Energy Star program
does for electricity use. If people knew how noisy a lawnmower, leafblower or vacuum
cleaner is, they could comparison-shop to find the quietest models, he said.

"People honestly feel that noise is the cost of living in the modern world," Blomberg said.
"That's the way it works right now, but we have the technology to quiet all these things
down. I don't think people have made that distinction yet -- that they can have the
benefits of a modern society without the noise."

Motorcycle policies

Robert Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University,
said it usually makes the most sense for noise pollution to be tackled at the state and
local levels. That is because sounds do not usually travel far enough to be a regional or
national concern, and areas have different preferences when it comes to noise.

But he said federal standards could be helpful if some states try to set stricter rules -- for
instance, by putting a limit on the amount of noise that can come from a truck as it
barrels down the highway. In the past, businesses have called for a national standard to
avoid a patchwork of state rules, as when California started setting stricter air pollution
rules for cars than the rest of the country.

California, which has often been the first to adopt new regulations, recently passed a
noise law for motorcycles. It will allow people to be ticketed by police if their motorcycles
do not have labels saying that the noise from the roaring engine will stay below 80
decibels, as a decades-old EPA rule requires.

The law was passed over opposition from the American Motorcyclist Association, which
says it could force motorcycle owners to spend more money if they need to replace their



                                                                                            82
mufflers. As a gag, the group named former Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) its
"Motorcyclist of the Year" for signing the bill last year.

Because he rides motorcycles himself, Schwarzenegger should know that the state's law
won't be a good solution for noise problems, said Pete TerHorst, a spokesman for the
motorcycle group. The group, which has taken a formal position against needlessly noisy
motorcycles, says that biker education programs and industrywide noise standards are
better ways to keep the volume down.

Motorcyclists are now worried that other states will pass something similar to the
California law, TerHorst said.

"Unfortunately, that's a fix that we don't see as practical," he said. "And the momentum
that something like that can create is a big concern to us."

But even without the health effects, policymakers could find it worthwhile to regulate
noise more strictly, Stavins said. He himself gets a great deal of "disutility" when a loud
motorcycle drives down the street.

The new report by WHO compares annoyance and lost sleep to heart attacks using a
statistic called "disability-adjusted life-years." In Western Europe, heart disease causes
61,000 years to be lost, but the harmful effects of lost sleep clocked in at 903,000 years,
while the lost well-being from annoying noise totaled 587,000 years.

"Whether you call it health damage or you call it an annoyance, annoyance can be pretty
serious," Stavins said. "The question is, what is people's willingness to pay to avoid it?
That can be quite significant."

Click here to read the report.




CANADA

Environmentalists want to see more green from politicians
Calgary Herald, 5 April 2011, Misty Harris
http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Environmentalists+want+more+green+from+politicians
/4544281/story.html?cid=megadrop_story

The staggering cost of the federal election has been one of the most widely discussed
topics in these early days of the campaign. The environmental price paid, however, can
be just as vertigo-inducing.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the combined number of kilometres logged
by the three main parties in the last election was the equivalent of circling the globe
three times over, and then some. In fact, in an entire year, the average Canadian
produces about one per cent of the average emissions generated by each of the
Conservative, NDP and Liberal leaders over a single campaign.


                                                                                          83
Virtual door-knocking is being touted as an antidote to such travel, with online media
allowing candidates to connect with voters in a more sustainable way.

The Liberal party's official platform launch, for example, will take place in an online "town
hall" that anyone with an Internet connection not only can attend, but also ask questions
of leader Michael Ignatieff via computer. In addition, the party has pledged to buy carbon
offsets to compensate for the campaign's environmental footprint, and is using USB
sticks and intranet sites "whenever possible" to share election materials.

The NDP likewise, will be buying offsets, as well as leveraging lower-carbon social
media to connect with voters. An app allowing supporters to virtually follow the party's
travels, for instance, was downloaded nearly 5,000 times in the first five days of the
campaign.

The Green party is expected to use social media most of all, with a news release
pointing to the party's national online campaign as a "forward-looking" way of replacing
"out-of-date-polluting travel."

In 2008, leader Elizabeth May's whistle-stop train tour was found by the DSF to have
produced just 0.5 per cent of the average emissions of the Conservative, NDP and
Liberal leaders. This year, Green organizers hope to limit her travel to just 10 days.

The Conservatives didn't respond to requests for comment.

The Bloc Quebecois, for the third consecutive election, has pledged to run a campaign
tour without producing greenhouse-gas emissions. The pledge takes the form of
investments in projects that reduce an equivalent amount of carbon-dioxide emissions
for each tonne of pollution produced by party bus or plane during the campaign.

The Bloc will contribute $34.80 to Planetair to offset each tonne of carbon dioxide-
equivalent emissions produced by leader Gilles Duceppe's tour, until the May 2 vote.
According to its website, Planetair is a Montreal-based not-for-profit service launched in
2005 to help people, businesses and other organizations reduce their carbon footprint.

Tim Hurst, founding editor of Ecopolitology, notes that recent years have seen
networking sites used to organize ride-sharing programs to rallies, to reduce campaign
waste, and even to enable virtual involvement at United Nations events, such as the
Copenhagen Summit on climate change.

"When was the last time you could go to a rally of tens of thousands of people and be
able to get in a question? Social media gives you immediate access to the candidates,"
says Hurst. "Nothing substitutes for that face-to-face interaction or sign-carrying, but
social media does get more people involved in a greener way."

The DSF encourages parties to make environmental commitments in their platforms. But
the Foundation's communications specialist, Sutton Eaves, noted that "if social media
tools are used instead of in-person events or printed materials, then they could
theoretically have some benefit in terms of reducing GHG emissions."




                                                                                           84
The challenge is that Internet politics are opt-in, while voter turnout in the last federal
race saw approximately 41 per cent of electors opt out. Political science expert Tamara
A. Small said Canadians still need the element of surprise.

"Pavement-pounding and television ads get people when they aren't thinking about
politics," said Small, assistant professor at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.
"I'm watching Dancing with the Stars, minding my own business, and there's Stephen
Harper."

Regardless of approach, a political science expert at the University of Guelph believes
that political parties across the board can do better.

"No party wants to be seen as environmentally unfriendly," said Judith McKenzie,
associate professor and author of Environmental Politics in Canada. "But when push
comes to shove, very little is actually done in terms of meaningful policy."




Environment groups blast Athabasca plans
Edmonton Journal, 6 April 2011, Hanneke Brooymans
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Environment+groups+blast+Athabasca+plan
s/4566475/story.html

In its ongoing struggle to balance the economy and the environment in northern Alberta,
the provincial government has boosted conservation areas in the lower Athabasca
region to be 22 per cent of the total.

The move is part of a draft regional plan, which has been in the works for about two
years. It is the first of seven plans slated for the province.

Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight said the protected land would
encompass two million hectares -an area three times the size of Banff National Park.

But environmental groups scoffed at the level of protection these parks would get.
Existing petroleum and natural gas leases will be honoured and new leases will be
allowed, albeit without surface access, in all but a small fraction of the protected areas.
Motorized access is also permitted. All of this would be harmful to sensitive species,
such as woodland caribou, they said.

Knight said he is braced for criticism from all sides. Albertans have 60 days to give the
government their opinion on the draft plan.

Some of the friction could come from the energy sector. Alberta Energy will meet with
about two dozen energy and mining companies to discuss how this would affect their
leases.

While the government plans to honour existing leases, it makes a distinction when it
comes to industrial development activities, such as surface mining for oilsands and
minerals, which is considered too disruptive for the new conservation areas. The draft


                                                                                            85
plan proposes that oilsands and other types of mining companies will be compensated
for any leases they have in those areas. That affects about 14 energy companies and 10
mineral companies.

Industry is not surprised that some companies will be affected because the government
had sent that signal earlier, said Dave Pryce, vice-president of operations for the
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. They've also sent out an early warning
about land in the neighbouring Peace region that they also want to protect, tentatively
blocking it out on the maps handed out Tuesday.

The government said it will com-pensate companies for the amount spent on the rights
for the lease and any money spent on work done on the lease. What has not been
discussed is the lost-opportunity cost, Pryce said. "Companies would have purchased
these leases and, in many cases, would have booked the value into their financial
statements of the reserves that they've acquired." Investors would have bought company
shares on that basis.

This lost-opportunity cost would be worth significantly more than the compensation
currently on the table, especially for smaller companies, Pryce said. "If they're a one-
lease company, it puts them out of business."

A list of affected companies provided by Alberta Energy includes large players, such as
Statoil Canada and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., but there are also less familiar
names, like Cavalier Land Ltd.

Perhaps other compensation options could be considered, such as dollars or land
trading, Pryce said.

In general, the government did a good job of avoiding the bitumenrich areas, he added.

And that's a sore point for environmental groups. About 85 per cent of the new protected
area has no oil and gas, or commercial forestry potential, said Jennifer Grant, oilsands
program director for the Pembina Institute, an environment and energy think-tank. "They
consist mostly of Canadian shield. So the lands that are being protected are not
representative of the lands affected, and the lands affected are often the most favoured
by caribou."

Environmental groups were unanimous in their unhappiness with the plan, saying it
wouldn't be enough to protect woodland caribou herds, particularly in the southern
portion of the Athabasca regions. Both the Pembina Institute and Greenpeace called for
an independent panel of scientific experts to review the air and water quality limits that
are part of the plan.

First Nations also expressed disappointment. "The provincial government consistently
fails to meet even our basic expectations to protect air, land and water within the region
and fails to meaningfully engage First Nations in land management decisions in
accordance with our aboriginal and treaty rights," said Chief Allan Adam of the
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in a statement.




                                                                                           86
Group launches urban tree renewal program
Globe and Mail, 5 April 2011, Omair Quadri
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/group-launches-urban-tree-
renewal-program/article1972066/

Urban forest renewal is an idea that‘s time has come, according to the executive director
of the Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests.

―Trees make our cities liveable. They make our neighbourhoods beautiful, and we need
to start investing in trees,‖ Janet McKay said.

LEAF, along with five other groups across the province, launched the Urban Forest
Stewardship Network at Trinity Bellwoods Park Tuesday. UFSN is a program aimed at
promoting ―an exchange of ideas, resources and contacts for those community groups
and individuals in Ontario interested in improving their local urban forest,‖ Ms. McKay
said. The program is financially supported by Ontario Power Generation‘s biodiversity
management program.

Large price tags outlining the ecological service provided by trees were fastened to more
than a dozen trees surrounding the park. According to the environmental group, a
mature tree provides $162,000 in ecological goods and services over a fifty-year
lifespan, and is the only infrastructure that appreciates in value.

Since its inception in 1996, LEAF has planted more than 16,000 trees and shrubs across
the province, and plants approximately 1,200 trees and shrubs annually.

Ontario‘s trees are facing an increasing threat from development pressure and climate
change and not enough is being done at the government level to protect this vital
resource, Ms. McKay said.

―There is not enough support at the provincial and federal levels for urban forest renewal
programs,‖ she said. ―While this is the responsibility of municipalities and there are tree
protection bylaws, they simply don‘t have enough resources for this.‖

Ms. McKay added that individual citizens also need to take ownership of trees saying
that 60 per cent of Toronto‘s trees are on private property. ―For too long we‘ve taken
trees for granted, but now attitudes are changing.‖

Back to Menu
________________________________________________________________



                             ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE
                                   UN DAILY NEWS



                                                                                          87
                         Other UN News

7 April 2011

Back to Menu
=============================================================

                     ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE
                S.G’s SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
7 April 2011

Back to Menu
=============================================================




                                                           88

								
To top