"Energy and Global Warming News for October 7th: China winning race for green jobs; West Virginia sues Obama, EPA over coal-mining regulations"
China’s green jobs from solar and other cleantech industries are growing faster than the US and other countries, says Clean Edge annual report
China is prevailing in the global race for green jobs in sectors from solar panels to advanced lighting, and appears to be on an unstoppable upward path, an annual report by cleantech research firm Clean Edge said on Wednesday.
The Chinese government spent $34.6 billion last year to propel its low-carbon economy, more than any other nation and almost double what the U.S. invested. The country is now headquarters for six of the biggest renewable energy employers””up from three in 2008″”according to Clean Tech Job Trends 2009.
Ron Pernick, managing director of Clean Edge and a report author, called the economic giant’s “meteoric” surge “very striking.” But, he said, it is “not a fait accompli that China will dominate” across the entire industry.
There is “serious competition on the global playing field,” Pernick told SolveClimate News.
West Virginia, at the direction of Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, sued the Obama administration today to overturn new federal rules on mountaintop removal mining.
The lawsuit, filed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, accuses U.S. EPA of overstepping its authority and asks the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to throw out the federal agency’s new guidelines for issuing Clean Water Act permits for coal mines.
“Over the past year and a half, we have been fighting President Obama’s administration’s attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia,” Manchin said today. “We are asking the court to reverse EPA’s actions before West Virginia’s economy and our mining community face further hardship.”
The suit has been filed at a politically sensitive time in West Virginia, as Manchin competes in a tighter-than-expected special Senate election where his ties to national Democrats have become a primary issue.
In recent decades documented biological changes in the far Northern Hemisphere have been attributed to global warming, changes from species extinctions to shifting geographic ranges. Such changes were expected because warming has been fastest in the northern temperate zone and the Arctic.
But new research published in the Oct. 7 edition of Nature adds to growing evidence that, even though the temperature increase has been smaller in the tropics, the impact of warming on life could be much greater there than in colder climates.
The study focused on ectothermic, or cold-blooded, organisms (those whose body temperature approximates the temperature of their surroundings). Researchers used nearly 500 million temperature readings from more than 3,000 stations around the world to chart temperature increases from 1961 through 2009, then examined the effect of those increases on metabolism.
“The expectation was that physiological changes would also be greatest in the north temperate-Arctic region, but when we ran the numbers that expectation was flipped on its head,” said lead author Michael Dillon, an assistant professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming.
Hungary’s toxic sludge spill, which has killed four people, reached the Danube river Thursday, threatening to contaminate the waterway’s entire ecosystem, officials told AFP.
“The red mud pollution has reached the Danube — its so-called Mosoni Branch, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the main branch of the river — this morning,” said Tibor Dobson, the local head of the disaster relief services.
“At 09:27 am (0727 GMT), the pH level stood at 9.3. The experts are still measuring the pollution levels and the pH levels are descending.”
Water authority official Jozsef Toth told AFP earlier that samples taken at the confluence of the Raba river and the Danube showed “alkalinity slightly above normal, with a pH value of 8.96-9.07,” against a normal tally of 8.0.
More money is being invested in alternative energy start-ups here than anywhere else in the world. But the state’s dominant position is threatened by Proposition 23 and competition from China.
The clean-tech industry is booming in California, with more money being invested in solar and other alternative energy start-ups than anywhere else in the world.
But the state’s dominant position is being threatened by competition from China and an upcoming ballot initiative that could undercut the industry’s growth, according to two new studies unveiled Wednesday.
So far, the state’s green-tech industry, which includes electric vehicles, eco-friendly buildings and solar energy projects, has provided California with a much-needed economic boost.
More than 40% of all clean-tech venture capital funding worldwide went to firms in California as investments in those companies more than tripled to $2.9 billion in the first half of 2010 compared with a year earlier, according to a study from nonprofit research group Next 10.
Manufacturers of products that claim to be environmentally friendly will face tighter rules on how they are advertised to consumers under changes proposed Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission.
The commission’s revised “Green Guides,” last updated in 1998, warn marketers against using labels that make broad claims that cannot be substantiated, like “eco-friendly.” Marketers must qualify their claims on the product packaging and limit them to a specific benefit, such as how much of the product is recycled.
“This is really about trying to cut through the confusion that consumers have when they are buying a product and that businesses have when they are selling a product,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the commission.
One of the most notable updates to the guides concerns the use of environmental seals and certifications seen on many packages. According to the Ecolabel Index, there are currently 349 seals and certifications for marketing green products worldwide, with 88 used in North America alone. While the commission does not require the use of a specific label, it considers them endorsements that should be substantiated.
The Obama administration is set to release new rules for offshore oil drillers as it prepares to lift a ban on deepwater drilling.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce the new rules, including some that address workplace safety, at a speech on Thursday.
The rules are likely to include many of the recommendations made in a report Salazar released in May, including requirements that rigs certify that they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing wells. The well and blowout preventer failed in the massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Salazar has said new rules must be in place before the Interior Department lifts its temporary ban on exploratory drilling. The ban is set to expire Nov. 30, but officials have said they hope to end it early.
Researchers from the University of Illinois have developed a proprietary corn-based composite board that can be used instead of particle board, plywood of fiberboard. Called CornBoard, the invention is not one of those still-in-development laboratory hothouse flowers. The product has been patented for use by a company called Corn Board Manufacturing, Inc. Aside from providing a new use for corn stover (corn husks and stalks), CornBoard could play a role in trapping excess CO2 that would otherwise be released when corn stover decomposes.