[JR: I participated in a recent Defense Science Board study of the military’s energy use — and it became quite clear that wasteful use of energy in a war zone means more convoys of fuel trucks, perhaps the prime target for roadside bombs/attacks, which meant more American lives lost.]
The US Marines Corps ordered the first ever energy audit in a war zone today to try to reduce the enormous fuel costs of keeping troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
General James T Conway, the Marines Corps Commandant, said he wanted a team of energy experts in place in Afghanistan by the end of the month to find ways to cut back on the fuel bills for the 10,000 strong marine contingent.
US marines in Afghanistan run through some 800,000 gallons of fuel a day. That’s a higher burn rate than during an initial invasion, and reflects the logistical challenges of running counter-insurgency and other operations in the extreme weather conditions of Afghanistan….
He said he was looking to his energy auditors to find ways of cutting back energy consumption at operating bases, and also to pare down the equipment carried by each individual marine. An average marine carries about 9lbs of disposable batteries in their kit to power equipment such as night vision goggles and radios.
One immediate target of the auditors is likely to be climate control. Some 448,000 gallons alone are used to keep tents cool in the Afghan summer, where temperatures reach well over 40C, and warm in the winter, said Michael Boyd, an energy adviser to the Marine Corps.
The marines have been exploring ways to reduce that consumption by spraying tents with a foam coating.
“That’s a huge saving and you are no longer putting trucks on those roads, and tanker drivers in harm’s way and everyone else involved on the way,” Boyd said.
While policymakers across of the globe are relying on environmental restoration projects to fuel emerging market-based environmental programs, an article in the July 31 edition of Science by two noted ecologists warns that these programs still lack the scientific certainty needed to ensure that restoration projects deliver the environmental improvements being marketed.
Markets identify the benefits humans derive from ecosystems, called ecosystem services, and associate them with economic values which can be bought, sold or traded. The scientists, Dr. Margaret Palmer and Dr. Solange Filoso of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, raise concerns that there is insufficient scientific understanding of the restoration process, namely, how to alter a landscape or coastal habitat to achieve the environmental benefits that are marketed.
Congress gave a lukewarm reception to Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s plan to create eight “innovation hubs” focused on developing breakthrough technologies. Lawmakers responded far more warmly to requests to fund energy research in their own backyards.
Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees who wrote legislation financing the Department of Energy and water projects tucked into those bills at least $75.2 million in earmarks for research at schools back home.
Decades of languishing industrial pollution, combined with emerging threats like invasive species and a spike in a new chemical compounds known as endocrine disrupters, have rendered large sections of the Great Lakes inhospitable to both humans and wildlife.
Yet, years of accumulated knowledge on such problems has not translated into real solutions for the lakes, whose stature as a national and even global source of freshwater has grown in recent years as climate change and other environmental stresses threaten to dry up freshwater resources in other regions.
Recognizing the clock is ticking on the lakes’ recovery prospects, U.S. EPA is rolling out a new package of restoration programs that could begin shifting the Great Lakes back toward ecological health. The program, known as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is backed by a $475 million pledge from the White House and House of Representatives, which approved full funding for the program in June.
Excessive irrigation and the unrelenting thirst of 114 million people are causing groundwater levels in northern India to drop dramatically, a problem that could lead to severe water shortages, according to a study released Wednesday.
Levels have dropped as much as a foot a year between 2002 and 2008, for a total of 26 cubic miles of water that vanished “” enough to fill Lake Mead, the largest manmade reservoir in the United States, three times.
China accused rich nations at U.N. climate talks on Thursday of increasing pressure on the poor to do more to combat global warming while shirking their own responsibility to lead.
“There has been a general feeling of unhappiness about the level of efforts that (developed nations) say they will take,” China’s climate ambassador Yu Qingtai told Reuters on the sidelines of August 10-14 climate talks in Bonn.
“What is even more worrying is a continuation and even a strengthening of the tendency of trying to shift the burden to the developing countries,” he said. “That must change.”
Leading figures from the French wine and food industries are urging their government to push for a strong global agreement at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December, warning that failure to cut greenhouse gases will devastate their sector.
“The jewels of our cultural heritage, French wines, elegant and refined, are today in danger,” a group of 50 winemakers, sommeliers and chefs wrote in an opinion piece published on Aug. 12 in the newspaper Le Monde and addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
A run of poor earnings has dampened confidence in once-booming solar companies.
For manufacturers, the problem largely boils down to a sharp drop in panel prices amid increased supply and tighter demand. Panel prices have fallen by close to 40 percent from their peak last spring, estimates Chris Whitman, the president of U.S. Solar Finance, which helps arrange bank financing for solar projects.
“Obviously a ton of production, mostly Chinese, has come online in the last year and year and a half,” and the global recession has driven demand down, Mr. Whitman said.
Every spring, fertilizer runoff from the U.S. Mississippi River floods into the Gulf of Mexico, causing a massive algae bloom that leads to a giant oxygen-deprived “dead zone” where fish can’t survive.
Now, this annual problem is getting new attention, not from marine scientists but from entrepreneurs looking for a new domestic source of fuel. And one start-up sees fish themselves being part of the process.
A rare April freeze in 2007 provided researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory with further evidence that climate change could have negative effects on stream and forest ecosystems.
As warm weather arrives sooner in many parts of the nation, forest plants and trees on the banks flourish, shading the stream from sunlight and causing an overall decrease in productivity in the late spring and summer. A new research paper describes how a small change in canopy cover can dramatically impact a stream.
As Typhoon Morakot disappeared off China’s east coast on Wednesday afternoon, leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake, the nation’s emergency relief teams were already preparing for their next challenge: Trying to prevent more secondary disasters.
“¦ While many factors play a part, climate change is the biggest component to the volatile weather in China.