"Energy and Global Warming News for July 15th: Following fraud case, U.S. unlikely to hit 2010 cellulosic target; Melting Alps forces Italy, Switzerland, others to redraw national borders"
Biofuels have been overhyped as a climate solution for a long time — see “Are biofuels a core climate solution?“ The holy Grail, cellulosic biofuels, remain as distant as ever:
Grassoline it ain’t. After a jury ordered a leading cellulosic biofuel company to pony up millions for defrauding investors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will likely come in 60 million gallons shy of its 100 million gallon target next year.
Late last month, a federal court in Mobile ordered Cello Energy of Bay Minette, Ala., to pay $10.4 million in punitive damages for fraudulently claiming it could produce cheap diesellike fuel from hay, wood pulp and other waste….
Cellulosic biofuel technology is still in its infancy, and the agency and Congress required gasoline blenders to purchase and sell just 100 million gallons next year, less than 1 percent of the nation’s proposed renewable fuel mandates….
For George Huber, the University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineering professor who wrote Scientific American‘s July cover story about cellulosic biofuels, Cello is a lesson to be learned. “There are no magic processes for conversion of biomass into liquid fuels,” he says, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.”
In the past, national borders were determined by war, revolution, or, as is the case with many former colonies, someone in a pith helmet doodling on a map. But in the 21st century, the job could be done by global warming.
For instance, the 463-mile border between Italy and Switzerland runs mostly through the Alps, and has remained more or less fixed since Italy became a unified state in 1861.
Seeking to define the border more precisely, a 1941 convention between the two countries established the demarcation as running along the ridge crest of the glaciers in the mountain range.
But as the Alps experience the warmest period in 1,300 years, those glaciers are beginning to recede, moving the border northward. As the Discovery Channel reported in May, measurements taken at the Monte Rosa massif found that the border has shifted hundreds of feet in some places, with most of the change in the past five years. Now the two countries are at work redefining their boundaries, this time basing them on rock, not ice. Italy plans to make similar arrangements with France and Austria.
People here are finally seeing a bright side to the catastrophic damage done four years ago by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The city is being rebuilt slowly as what many hope will be a clean, green model for the nation.
“After the storm events happened, now everybody is interested in the environment,” said Wynecta Fisher, director of the city’s Office of Environmental Affairs. “I hate to say that it came at a good time, but because of the storm, we’ve been able to build on that momentum.”
London in particular needed to be protected against a potentially devastating storm surge, Lovelock said yesterday (MON).
“It’s not going to take much of a sea-surge to knock out London. We should be spending money strengthening defences there rather than vain efforts to improve renewable energy,” he told an audience at the Ways With Words literary festival at Dartington Hall, near Totnes, Devon.
Senator John F. Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, responded on Tuesday to a Washington Post op-ed piece by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which slammed President Obama’s push for a cap-and-trade system.
Writing at the left-leaning Huffington Post Web site, Mr. Kerry argued that Ms. Palin never addressed the “crisis” of climate change “” the underlying issue that prompted legislation now pending in Congress that would create just such a cap-and-trade program.
With the developing world now generating half the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, one of the thorniest challenges facing climate change negotiators in Copenhagen will be apportioning national reduction targets in coming decades.
Leaders from the Group of 8 leading industrialized nations “” United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia “” agreed in L’Aquila last week that developed nations should aim to reduce emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 – a formula that essentially requires the developing world to make a 20 percent cut.
The environmental community is backing Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, despite the federal appeals court judge’s sparse record in dealing with environmental cases.
Environmental issues have not been a hot-button issue during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings this week. But green advocates expect a glut of environmental cases to hit the highest court in the next few years, as industry and environmental groups challenge various aspects of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and a new climate bill currently being debated in Congress. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business associations have threatened a “landslide of lawsuits” if the climate legislation passed by the House last month becomes law.
World leaders are talking a lot about climate change, not least in their flashy statement on controlling global temperatures at the recent Group of Eight summit in Italy. One of the smarter ways they can put this determination into effect will be to protect the intellectual property of green innovators from a growing onslaught by developing-world politicians and mistaken activists.
Intellectual property rights are the underappreciated link in the environmentalist chain. By rewarding inventors and entrepreneurs, well-enforced patents provide the right incentives for the innovation that will produce technologies necessary to manage climate change. Yet this fact is getting lost. Access to low carbon technologies has become a central issue in international climate change negotiations as rich countries put more pressure on the poor to cut their emissions. Understandably the poor aren’t prepared to do so unless they are given cheap access to technologies. Patents are increasingly viewed as the main obstacle to cheap technology transfer.
China’s greenhouse-gas emissions growth is on course to wipe out gains from Western conservation efforts unless it intensifies clean-up efforts, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told audiences in China Wednesday.
In meetings with senior Chinese energy officials and in a speech at prestigious Tsinghua University, Mr. Chu continued the Obama administration’s efforts to push for greater action on climate change. China recently surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Throughout the marshes, the reed gatherers, standing on land they once floated over, cry out to visitors in a passing boat.
“Maaku mai!” they shout, holding up their rusty sickles. “There is no water!”
The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Syria; a two-year drought; and years of misuse by Iraq and its farmers, the river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now.
Sweden has urged the EU to “pool efforts and show leadership” to secure a global deal to curb climate change.
Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt was briefing the European Parliament on his country’s priorities as the new holder of the six-month EU presidency.
“I want to write the story of how the climate threat was averted, together with you,” he told newly-elected MEPs.
Sweden wants an EU deal on green measures ahead of a key UN conference on climate change in December.
Suntech Power Holdings, one of the world’s largest photovoltaic module makers, yesterday announced plans for four new on-grid photovoltaic solar projects in China with a combined capacity of 1.8GW.
The New York Stock Exchange-listed company said it had signed solar plant construction deals with the governments of Shaanxi province and Shizuishan city in Ningxia Autonomous Region.
The Shaanxi facility will have an installed capacity of 300MW, while the other three developments will have a capacity 500MW each, delivering a total of 1.8GW of solar capacity from the new projects.
Every day, Adirondack forests soak up and store about 1,600 tons of carbon to help slow global warming. But even tens of millions of trees can’t keep up with greenhouse gas emissions from a much smaller number of cars, homes and businesses.
That was the finding of a first-ever energy and greenhouse gas audit for the park, which at 6 million acres is the largest intact forest in the northeast. As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas released by the burning of fossil fuels that an international scientific consensus blames for global warming.