Energy and global warming news for February 3, 2011: Over 85% of oyster reef ecosystems have been lost; Germany recycles 70% of its waste, the U.S. 33%.

85% of oyster reef ecosystems have been lost

A survey of oyster habitats around the world has found that the succulent mollusks are disappearing fast and 85% of their reefs have been lost due to disease and over-harvesting.

Most of the remaining wild oysters in the world, or about 75 percent, can be found in five locations in North America, said the study published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences….

“Oyster reefs are at less than 10 percent of their prior abundance in most bays (70 percent) and ecoregions (63 percent),” said the study.

“They are functionally extinct — in that they lack any significant ecosystem role and remain at less than one percent of prior abundances in many bays (37 percent) and ecoregions (28 percent) — particularly in North America, Australia and Europe.”

By averaging the loss among all regions, the researchers came up with an estimate that 85 percent of oyster reef ecosystems have been lost, but said that figure was likely low because some areas lacked historical records for comparison….

The one bright spot in the oyster world was in the Gulf of Mexico, where native oyster catches are “the highest in the world despite significant declines in abundance and reefs,” according to the study.

Thanks to BP, I wonder how long that will last.

Germany recycles 70% of its waste, the U.S. 33%.

Germany leads the European nations in recycling, with around 70 percent of the waste the country generates successfully recovered and reused each year. To put that figure into perspective, consider this: In 2007, the U.S. was able to recover only about 33 percent of the waste generated that year.

To operate such a successful waste management system nationwide is certainly no small feat, but for the past several years the Germans have made it look easy. So how do they do it?

“Recycling is very important in Germany,” says G¼nseli Aksoy, a 24-year-old mechanical engineering student at the Braunschweig University of Technology. “The people here are very conscientious.”

And while the country’s conscientious waste management strategy requires cooperation from the government, the industry and the citizens, it starts at the very beginning of the waste creation process – with the product manufacturers.

There are three simple components the manufacturers must consider: waste avoidance, waste recovery and environmentally compatible disposal.

By incorporating waste avoidance into industry, much of Germany’s waste management becomes “invisible,” as corporations are forced to re-think every aspect of manufacturing. Packaging, processes and disposal of items are all engineered with recycling and elimination of waste in mind.

n 1996, German lawmakers who were concerned about the country’s growing number of landfills passed the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act, which requires businesses to eliminate waste production by implementing one or more of the three management strategies. Waste avoidance is first priority because it encourages companies to design their manufacturing processes and packaging with elimination of wastefulness in mind….

EPA: Contamination in NYC canal could pose threat

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says widespread contamination in a New York City canal could pose a threat to people and the environment.

The federal agency announced Wednesday it had completed a thorough assessment of the Gowanus (goh-AH’-nuhs) canal, which runs 1.5 miles through a narrow industrial zone near some of Brooklyn’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Its investigation found the canal is contaminated by various metals and toxic chemicals suspected of being carcinogens.

The EPA also warns people who consume fish and crabs caught in the canal are at risk of exposure.

Last year it named the canal a Superfund site, meaning the government can force polluters to pay for its restoration. The cleanup could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg worried the Superfund label would scare away developers.

EPA chief slams bills to block climate rules, affirms Obama’s veto threat

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday attacked bills piling up in Congress that would block the agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and reiterated the White House veto threat.

Jackson, speaking to reporters, initially declined to address whether President Obama would veto bills that stop climate rules, but later said that past threats still stand.

“What has been stated from the White House is that the president’s advisers would advise him to veto any legislation that passed that would take away the EPA’s greenhouse gas authority,” Jackson told reporters. “Nothing has changed.”

Jackson defended the agency’s initiatives to regulate emissions from power plants and other facilities.

“Those [bills] would halt EPA’s common-sense steps under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from harmful air pollution that until now has not been regulated at all from any sources in this country,” Jackson told reporters after testifying at a Senate hearing on drinking-water safety.

She reiterated her view that EPA’s Clean Air Act rules are not a drag on the economy.

“I want to point out that we already regulate carbon from automobiles, we already regulate it from the really large sources, those that burn the equivalent of a railroad car of carbon a day, and the economy is fine,” Jackson said, adding that regulations help steer investment into the “clean energy economy.”

Forests Are More than Sinks that Inhale Carbon, Study Warns

With their ability to soak up heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, forests are front and center in international discussions about slowing climate change. But a growing chorus of researchers says the planet’s trees have plenty more to offer the world beyond acting as sinks that inhale carbon.

This point was borne out by a new report presented in New York this week during the Ninth Session of United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF).

Discussions at the meeting will feed into UN talks on the formal forestry agreement taking shape, known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, said Jeremy Rayner, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan Graduate School of Public Policy.

“Forest governance, although it covers most of the issues, is very complex and badly coordinated,” Rayner told SolveClimate News. “And as a result, it is difficult to find a specific instrument that is forest-related, instead of forest-focused.”

By “forest-focused,” Rayner is referring to international pacts that narrowly focus on forests as carbon sinks. Most of the well-meaning efforts intended to protect forests, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the global boycotts of tropical timber, ignore forests’ contributions to agriculture, energy, medicine, and the livelihoods of millions of indigenous individuals, Rayner said.

A Giant Pipeline Carrying Dirty Oil From Canada to Texas. What Could Go Wrong?

Last year was quite a year for oil and gas disasters. In addition to the BP blowout, there was a leak on BP’s TransAlaska pipeline, a million-gallon oil spill in Michigan, and a gas explosion that destroyed 37 homes and killed eight people in California. So it would seem like a lousy time for a Canadian company to propose building a pipeline, the Keystone XL, right through the middle of the continent””especially one that may be unnecessary and that even some oil companies think is overpriced.

Starting in Hardisty, Alberta, TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline would pump 900,000 barrels of crude a day to refineries in Texas. Extracted from Canada’s tar sands, the crude is some of the dirtiest in the world, with a carbon footprint 20 percent higher (PDF) than conventional oil’s.

Because the pipeline crosses the border, it needs State Department approval. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she’s “inclined to” okay the project in early 2011. Environmental groups are pleading with her to wait. Last July, the EPA flagged the Keystone XL proposal (PDF) for further review, citing concerns over air pollution, public safety, and spills.

The Keystone XL would cross more than 70 rivers and streams (PDF), including the Missouri, Platte, and Arkansas.

TransCanada has told Nebraska landowners (PDF) it will claim eminent domain if they don’t let its pipeline pass through their land. “Some of the neighbors, they just said, ‘There’s no way to fight an oil company””we just have to sign off,'” says Merrick County farmer Randy Thompson.

57 Responses to Energy and global warming news for February 3, 2011: Over 85% of oyster reef ecosystems have been lost; Germany recycles 70% of its waste, the U.S. 33%.

  1. catman306 says:

    Strip Oil Pipeline Distribution corporations of the ‘right of eminent domain’. MAKE them buy the land, and present an offer that the landowner can’t refuse. Or one the property owner can refuse and the pipeline goes somewhere else. Just a cost of doing business, you know.

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Last year’s drought in the Amazon raises concerns about the region’s capacity to continue absorbing carbon dioxide, scientists say.

    Researchers report in the journal Science that the 2010 drought was more widespead than in 2005 – the last big one – with more trees probably lost.

    The 2005 drought had been termed a “one in a century” event.

  3. Michael Tucker says:

    REDD is a proposed agreement where ‘rich’ counties pay ‘poor’ countries to not cut down their forests. But some ‘poor’ countries that have already taken money to preserve the forests need more money. They want to be able to use the resource. Cut some trees and replant. Rayner, who is a public policy professor, says the REDD agreement needs to consider “forests’ contributions to agriculture, energy, medicine.” Yep, they do when it is no longer a forest and you have converted it to lumber. Have you ever been to a tree farm? Have you ever walked in a replanted forest? They will work as a carbon sink but biodiversity is lost.

    A forests’ contribution to agriculture is its demise. A forests’ contribution to energy and medicine is to become a tree farm. The amount of money paid to ‘protect’ a forest will never be enough. The demand for grazing and crop land will be too profitable to ignore. We may be able to keep a few farmed trees around and they will take up some carbon but no one has any kind of realistic plan to prevent species loss. Rayner thinks that is just too narrow a focus.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    For this research, scientists used data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), a US/Japanese satellite that monitors rainfall in a belt extending either side of the Equator.

    Its observation showed that whereas the 2005 drought covered an area of nearly two million sq km, in 2010 it stretched for three million sq km.

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    Michael Tucker @ 3 –
    The Philippines banned all logging today. The 1.8 meter rain fall at the first of the week pushed them over the edge.

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    President orders halt on logging in Philippine forests,halt-logging-philippine-forests.html

    What we are having now is a creeping disaster,” the head of the state weather service, Graciano Yumul, on Wednesday told reporters in Manila.

    Yumul said Surigao, a city of 120,000 people, had received 1.8 metres (nearly six feet) of rain in one day. hostednews/ afp/ article/ ALeqM5hchlhfnIMa0RSWPv5OV3bIr9gX8w?docId=CNG.f974d6c828ca767501df0b8103b261c7.891

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    Weather bureau officials said in a briefing in Malacañang that rainfall volume in several areas outside Metro Manila have tripled last month, indicating impending disaster as the situation is seen extending in the first half with stronger typhoons expected in the second half.

  8. Richard Brenne says:

    I recently visited Oysterville, Washington on the famous oyster beds of Willapa Bay, just north of the mouth of the Columbia River. I’ve always said that if John Steinbeck (who studied marine biology at Stanford) had grown up in Castroville instead of nearby Salinas, he would’ve written “The Artichokes of Wrath.”

    (Yes, that was a stretch – Castroville calls itself “The Artichoke Capitol of the World,” but even when I make that joke there they mostly look at me, puzzled. The odd thing is that when I like a joke, even the puzzlement of the vast majority who do not amuses me.)

    Similarly (or not), Oysterville could now call itself “Plasticbagville,” because there are more of the latter than the former in the water now.

    Factory trawlers strip-mining the sea are probably the largest and most obvious reason, but the introduction of non-native species to replenish depleted populations bringing disease with them is another factor in declining oyster populations that the article mentions.

    What they don’t mention is that over enough time, ocean acidification that makes the oceans more like carbonic acid will deplete and quite possibly kill of all the shellfish that can’t build shells and survive with higher concentrations of acid in the oceans. Also warmer waters will also have an effect.

    This is like the list of what’s killing all species: Loss of habitat due to agriculture and then all other development, introduction of non-native species, overfishing and overhunting, pollution, and climate change, which will climb the list to finish off what we haven’t already finished off, perhaps, as Jim Hansen suggests, ultimately creating a dead planet.

    You can deny reality all you want, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come knocking on your door to foreclose your house, then community, then species.

  9. paulm says:

    “We use fossil fuel because it’s cheap, and it’s cheap because Exxon Mobil and Peabody Coal get to use the atmosphere as open sewer to dump their waste for free. And today you can see the results of that particular business model from outer space.”

    This statement fails to highlight another responsible… us, each and everyone of us. I am afraid its not just down to Exxon. They are selling the stuff to us and we are burning it and emitting it also.

    It boils down to us Avoider having to take our responsibility on this issue seriously. We have to think about every gram of CO2 that we allow in to the atmosphere aslo. Its a moral issue…
    >Yes, our lives must be an expression of what we most deeply value.
    >Yes, we can and must make conscience-driven choices about how we spend our money and time.
    >Yes, we must provide a safe and thriving future for our children.

    Please support and pass on….

  10. paulm says:

    The link for that was ….

    Bill McKibben
    A Revolution in Our Atmosphere, From Burning Too Many Fossil Fuels

  11. Michael. says:

    For tomorrow’s news wrap-up, from the front page of MSNBC a story on how the recent Amazonian drought has potentially released a huge CO2 bomb. Quite the story for appearing on the front page of the MSM.

  12. paulm says:

    Tipping points here, tipping point there, tipping point everywhere….

    Mass tree deaths prompt fears of Amazon ‘climate tipping point’

  13. Ziyu says:

    Right of emminent domain was a right that the Constitution only intended when the government was pursuing large projects in the common interest like roads. Corporations are not supposed to have that right. Those who claim they support original intent of the Constitution will of course grant an exception for big corporations.

  14. catman306 says:

    The Plantation and Colonial Pipelines cross several rivers and streams in NE Georgia and have been in place for at least 30 years. These pipelines have leaked from time to time. Information about the leaks was hushed and there’s no computer record at Wiki. But there are plenty of leaks reported on the list:

  15. Malcreado says:

    The landowners should just be allowed to charge them based on the volume goods they wish to transport across their property. Why shouldnt they be allowed to participate in the very profitable venture instead of stealing their land. Say $.10 a barrel per land owner.

  16. Sou says:

    Water (snow) dumps everywhere:

    Bitterly cold temperatures have set in across the United States following a massive storm which dumped snow, ice and sleet over a 3,000-kilometre stretch from Texas to Maine.

    The storm – one of the largest since the 1950s – killed dozens and affected around 100 million people.

    Blizzard, winter storm, freezing rain and wind chill warnings were issued for more than 30 of the 50 US states.

    States of emergency were declared in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma, and the National Guard was called out to help rescue stranded motorists.

    Snow drifts topped more than three metres and some areas reported snowfalls of between 25 and 69 centimetres.

    Travel ground almost to a halt, and in all, more than 18,500 flights were cancelled across the country, according to FlightAware.

    With more freezing conditions on the way, weather maps showed only the west coast and southern east coast were above zero degrees Celsius.

    Wind chill advisories have been issued for Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

    Utility companies have warned of more power outages as the new storm coated power lines with ice.

    Authorities said road conditions remained treacherous.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    I was a carpenter, today they banned all the cutting of all trees in the Philippines, Since the Spanish Conquest, amazing wood has come from the Philippines.

    They cut every tree they could. Today it all stopped.

  18. Michael T. says:

    If There’s Global Warming, Why Am I Freezing?

    “At the moment, during the winter of 2003-2004, it is pretty hard for most people on the U.S. East Coast to take global warming very seriously. Temperatures have been below normal almost continuously for at least a month and there were a few days with record or near record cold. Is global warming the figment of some scientists’ imaginations? How can we reconcile the global warming theory with the reality of what we find when we step outdoors?”

  19. Prokaryotes says:

    Energy Companies Fail to Track Carbon

    Most energy and utility companies do not have any systems in place to measure their carbon emissions, according to a survey.

    A poll by software provider Enviance of attendees at the Energy, Utility and Environment Conference (EUEC) found that 58 percent of those surveyed have no system in place to record carbon emissions – down only slightly from 61 percent last year.

    This year’s survey also found that fewer respondents are concerned about the possibility of legislation introducing a price on carbon, with 65 percent saying there would be no effect on them or they have no plans to address carbon pricing, up from 53 percent in 2010.

    “The very small 3 percent drop in the percentage of companies that have no GHG emissions tracking system in place, and the dramatic rise in the percentage of companies reporting no plans to deal with any price or tax on carbon, suggest that neither the mandatory GHG reporting rule nor the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidance on GHG reporting is causing much of a change in industry,” said Lawrence Goldenhersh, president and CEO of Enviance.

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    Bernanke calls rising oil prices ‘a kind of tax’

    WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday rising oil prices “are a kind of a tax” that could slow the nation’s recovery from recession.
    During a generally upbeat address about the U.S. economy, the head of America’s central bank said higher oil prices are “definitely a negative” for consumers and possible growth in household income, which has fallen over the past decade amid two recessions and stagnant wages.
    A “more serious” threat to the nascent recovery

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Australian disasters spark call for climate action

    CANBERRA Feb 4 (Reuters) – An architect of Australia’s stalled climate-change policy has linked the nation’s recent natural disasters with global warming and called for a new political push to cut carbon emissions.

    Ross Garnaut, releasing updated advice to the government, said extreme weather events like massive Cyclone Yasi, which hit the northeast coast on Thursday, and recent floods were just a taste of what would come if climate change went unchecked.

    “The greater energy in the atmosphere and the seas can intensify extreme events and I’m afraid that we’re feeling some of that today, and we’re feeling that at a time when global warming is in its early stages,” he said in a speech late on Thursday.

    Australia accounts for 1.5 percent of global emissions but is one of the world’s top per-capita polluters because of its reliance on coal for around 80 percent of power generation.

    Canberra has delayed plans to force polluters to pay for carbon-emission permits on an open market and has instead set up a committee to find the best way of putting a price on carbon.

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Ice cores yield rich history of climate change

    On Friday, Jan. 28 in Antarctica, a research team investigating the last 100,000 years of Earth’s climate history reached an important milestone completing the main ice core to a depth of 3,331 metres (10,928 feet) at West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS). The project will be completed over the next two years with some additional coring and borehole logging to obtain additional information and samples of the ice for the study of the climate record contained in the core.
    As part of the project, begun six years ago, the team, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has been drilling deep into the ice at the WAIS Divide site and recovering and analysing ice cores for clues about how changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have influenced the Earth’s climate over time.
    Friday’s milestone was reached at a depth of 3,331 metres – about two miles deep – creating the deepest ice core ever drilled by the U.S. and the second deepest ice core ever drilled by any group, second only to the ice core drilled at Russia’s Vostok Station as part of a joint French/U.S./Russian collaboration in the 1990s.
    ‘By improving our understanding of how natural changes in greenhouse gas influenced climate in the past, the science community will be able to do a better job of predicting future climate changes caused by the emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity,’ said Kendrick Taylor, chief scientist for the WAIS Divide Ice Core Project.
    The drilling site is about 966 kilometres (600 miles) from the South Pole, at an ice divide (which is analogous to a watershed divide) in West Antarctica, where the ice is flowing out to the sea in opposing directions.
    ‘This location was selected because it is the best place on the planet to determine how greenhouse gases have changed during the last 100,000 years’ said Taylor. Since it began, the WAIS Divide Ice Core Project has continuously collected ice from the surface down to a depth of 3,331 metres. The ice at this depth fell as snow about 100,000 years ago. The high annual snowfall at the site enables individual annual layers of snowfall to be identified and counted (much like counting tree rings) back to about 40,000 years. Below that, the layers become too compressed to allow annual layers to be resolved. Scientists hope for at least decadal resolution to this point, sufficient for the science goals to be achieved.
    The ice cores are 13-centimetre (5-inch) diameter cylinders of ice collected from deep in the ice sheet. Over time, the ice has formed when snow was compacted at the surface by subsequent snowfall. The compacted snow contains dust, chemicals and atmospheric gases, which are trapped in the ice.
    The dust and other impurities in the ice are indicators of past climate, and the gas contained in air bubbles is a sample of the ancient atmosphere. The deeper the ice, the further back in time measurements can be made.
    In addition to measuring what the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases were in the past, the research team can also determine what the surface air temperature was in the past by studying changes in the isotopic composition of the water that makes up the ice. The past atmospheric concentrations of the gases krypton and xenon are used to determine what the average temperature of the ocean was in the past.


    The WAIS Divide Ice Core Project is specifically investigating the small timing offsets between past changes in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and changes in temperature. By understanding these timing offsets, the research team can determine the role that changes in ocean circulation had in the release of carbon dioxide from the ocean and how an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the planet.

    Ice Core Drilling Project is crucial for fine-tuning the researchers’ understanding of how the oceans, atmosphere and climate interact during climate changes. A Danish-led team recovered an ice core from Greenland this past summer with similar time resolution to the WAIS Divide record. The two cores provide an opportunity to compare the response of the northern and southern hemispheres to climate changes. The Greenland ice core cannot be used to study changes in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide because there is too much dust in the Greenland ice, which decomposes and releases non-atmospheric carbon dioxide into the ice.

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Compensation claim continues against climate change activists

    Port Waratah Coal Services hopes its victims compensation claim against seven Newcastle climate change activists will change the protesters behaviour in the future.
    P-W-C-S will be back in court next month, pursuing the Rising Tide environmentalists, who broke into its Kooragang and Carrington coal terminals in September last year.
    Some climbed onto ship-loading machinery, shutting down the site for several hours and preventing 140-thousand tonnes of coal from being loaded.

    This guy is a real Hero

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Senator and Delegate Square Off Against Attorney General Over Climate Change Research
    Two Virginia representatives are raising bills to prevent Ken Cuccinelli from continuing his investigation into a research project

    Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond) and Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) are patrons of a bill which would repeal sections of the Virginia code of law pertaining to the rights of the attorney general.

    The sections grant the commonwealth’s attorney general—currently Ken Cuccinelli (R)—the right to issue civil investigative demands. These demands are frequently compared to subpoenas and require civil offices to provide specific information related to an investigation the attorney general’s office is conducting.

    Cuccinelli’s office has sent out these civil investigative demands to the University of Virginia (UVA) to support his fraud case against former professor Michael Mann. Mann, during his tenure at UVA, used grants provided from taxpayer funds to research climate change and provided ways to determine shifts in global temperatures over time.

    In the past, Cuccinelli has spoken out against the existence of climate change and says Mann’s study falsely gave justification to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s increased regulation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

    According to Cuccinelli, Mann committed fraud while using state grants for his research because of questionable findings, data, and statistical analysis. He issued investigative demands to UVA about the study in order to find proof.

    Cuccinelli the troll

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    How climate change is contributing to Egyptian protests

    Read more:

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate Change and Rise in Food Prices

    We’ve talked about the projected rise in food prices here before, so when Zach posted a video on the topic over at our sister site, Planetsave, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you guys, too.

    The UN Food and Agricultural Organization is predicting a continued rise in food prices in 2011. Severe floods and droughts, many of which scientists attribute to climate change, are contributing to higher prices for key food commodities like grain.

    As food prices continue to climb, it’s easy to feel a little bit helpless, but don’t despair! Now is the time to start growing some of your own food, if you haven’t already and look into ways to eat well on a budget.

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    ISTANBUL (Dow Jones)–The death toll from two explosions in an industrial zone in Ankara, that were triggered by a gas leak, rose overnight to 17

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Protesters take pipeline complaints straight to Congressman

    MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) – Jobs, landowner rights, and the environment are fueling a protest over planned pipeline in East Texas.

    Residents took their protests over the Trans Canada Pipeline to a State Congressman.

    East Texans filled Mineola City Hall, not to hear a progress report from Rep. Jeb Hensarling, but to fight a planned oil pipeline to Texas.

    “We get stuck with the permanency of the pipeline in the ground with the potential that it would leak at some point,” said protestor Edward Radillo.

    Trans Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline would expand the company’s existing pipeline to move oil from Canada to South Texas refineries.

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    More oil drilling rigs are in Gulf of Mexico than before BP oil spill

    While only 34 of the 125 rigs in the Gulf are actually working — half the total that were active before the Macondo well blowout — the vast majority of the idle rigs, particularly those slated for big-ticket jobs in deepwater, will remain under contract for the rest of 2011.
    In the shallow-water Gulf oil fields, where the government has never officially banned drilling but has issued few work permits in the past several months, activity has rebounded to near its pre-blowout levels.
    There are 26 shallow-water rigs operating now, just 11 fewer than before the BP blowout, according to ODS-Petrodata. In December, the government issued seven shallow-water drilling permits, matching the monthly average from the year leading up to the BP disaster.
    There are also signs of renewal in the more lucrative deepwater fields.

    Wasn’t very lucrative for the now partly russian government owned BP company

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    New Zealand scientists record ‘biodiversity breakdown’

    Scientists in New Zealand say they have linked the modern-day decline of a common forest shrub with the local extinction of two pollinating birds over a century ago.

    They say the disappearance of two birds – the bellbird and stitchbird – from the upper North Island of the country has lead to a slow decline in common plants, including the forest shrub New Zealand gloxinia.

    Ship rats and stoats imported into the country around the year 1870 are blamed for the birds’ demise.

    The researchers claim the study, published in the journal Science, offers rare experimental proof of a breakdown in a local ecosystem.

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    New mosquito type raises concern

    Scientists have identified a new type of mosquito.

    It is a subgroup of Anopheles gambiae, the insect species responsible for most of the malaria transmission in Africa.

    Researchers tell Science magazine that this new mosquito appears to be very susceptible to the parasite that causes the disease – which raises concern.

    The type may have evaded classification until now because it rests away from human dwellings where most scientific collections tend to be made.

    Dr Michelle Riehle, from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, and colleagues made their discovery in Burkina Faso, where they gathered mosquitoes from ponds and puddles near villages over a period of four years.

    When they examined these insects in the lab, they found many to be genetically distinct from any A. gambiae insects previously recorded.

    The team grew generations of the unique subtype in the lab to assess their susceptibility to the malaria parasite and this revealed them to be especially vulnerable, more so than indoor-resting insect types.

    I think the only way to keep these mosquitos in check is with a balanced climate.

  32. Sou says:

    Will it ever stop? The rain is pelting down here in north eastern Victoria and the bureau says the third flood event this summer might be on its way. Summer is supposed to be the dry season down here. (Our weather console reads: It’s raining cats and dogs!).

    Flash flooding in different parts of the state. I’d have thought that extra 4% of water in the atmosphere would be all back on the ground by now – all over the USA, Sri Lanka, Brazil, the Philippines, Australia etc :(

    From the ABC newsroom:

    A super-cell thunderstorm has hit Victoria, bringing widespread flash flooding.

    The State Emergency Service has rescued 12 people from raging waters and received more than 750 calls from residents in Melbourne and Mildura.

    SES spokesman Lachlan Quick is urging people to stay off the roads.

    “There’s been a significant number of people needing to be rescued from cars trapped in floodwaters,” he said.

    “We are urging people not to drive, ride or walk in floodwaters. It is one of the most dangerous things you can do and the main cause of injury and death when flooding occurs.”

    The Calder Highway, south of Mildura, has been flooded.

  33. Prokaryotes says:

    US troops join rescue in flood-hit Philippines

    U.S. troops on a training mission in the Philippines lent their rubber boats Friday to help thousands of villagers escape waist-deep floodwaters that have inundated a southern island, killing at least five people.
    A weeklong downpour culminated in raging flash floods that surged through the streets of Jolo’s coastal provincial capital Thursday night, sweeping away stilt houses and damaging hundreds of homes, officials and residents said. The floodwaters and sea surges reached 6 feet (1.8 meters) in some areas, the Red Cross reported.
    At least five people were killed, including two children, Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin said.
    “In my 13 years in politics, I have never experienced anything like what happened last night,” Amin told The Associated Press. “We are calling on all good Samaritans to extend support to the people of Jolo.”
    U.S. troops stationed at Jolo airport, which remained open, joined Philippine marines and civilian volunteers in rubber boats to rescue some of those trapped.
    Hundreds of American troops have been training Filipino soldiers who battle Muslim militants hiding in the jungles of Jolo and on nearby islands.
    “The water was too deep in some areas that even our trucks could not reach these areas so we had to deploy rubber boats,” said Col. Remigio Valdez, a Philippine marine brigade commander on Jolo.

  34. Prokaryotes says:

    Imported bananas unlikely to flood shelves

    Imported bananas are unlikely to flood supermarket shelves in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi as Canberra vows to enforce existing quarantine rules.

    Consumers could soon be paying up to $15 a kilogram for bananas following the destruction north Queensland crops.

    But Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig isn’t planning to allow more imported produce into Australia to reduce prices.

    “The Gillard government can guarantee that our strict quarantine standards will not be relaxed at the expense of our farming communities,” he said in a statement on Friday.

    “All fresh produce to Australia is subject to rigorous risk analysis processes to determine and manage any quarantine risks.”

    The Australian Banana Growers’ Council estimates about 75 per cent of the nation’s banana supply has been affected.

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    Severe storms, flash floods hit Melbourne and parts of Victoria

    UPDATE 9.40pm: THE angry tail of Cyclone Anthony is lashing Mebourne and parts of Victoria tonight, bringing severe storm fronts that are forecast to continue for several hours.

    Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs were hit with severe thunderstorms, with up to 33mm of rain bucketing down in just 15 minutes in some suburbs.

    Lyndhurst had the state’s highest rainfall with a staggering 122mm since 9am. Hampden Park was awash with 96mm, Dandenong Creek 104mm, and Mentone 88mm.

    Melbourne’s CBD received 17mm in just 20 minutes this evening.

    Winds reaching 132km/h hit Laverton, while St Kilda and Fawkner were whipped with 100km/h winds.
    KInd of serious situation, as more flash flood is forecasted. If this continues Australian people will soon grow gill.

  36. Prokaryotes says:

    Flash floods kill 5 in SE Iran

    “Floods in different parts of the province have so far left five killed in the towns of Sirjan, Roudbar and Kahnouj,” Mehr news agency quoted Kavous Mahmoudi, the head of Kerman Red Crescent Society as saying on Thursday.

    Mahmoudi said that the recent rains and consequent flooding are threatening to overwhelm a number of villages in the region.

    “Aid is underway to help the flood-hit people in the south of the province where some of the residents have already been provided with temporary shelters and some assistance,” the official went on to say.

    He added that thousands of households have been affected by the recent inundations in the southeastern province.

    Reports also indicate that the latest flooding has left trails of destruction and taken a heavy toll on cattle.

    Floods in Kerman come after thirteen years of drought which has severely damaged the province’s agricultural index over the past years.

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    Flash floods, freak tornadoes hit Jolo, destroy houses; Jolo Cathedral not spared

    COTABATO CITY, Philippines (PNA) – Hundreds of people were rendered homeless when two freak tornadoes and flash floods hit the coastal town of Jolo in the island province of Sulu Thursday evening.

    Five days of continuous rains triggered flash floods that hit the town’s residential areas, major streets and even the local market, according to Catholic priest Charlie Inzon of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

    Inzon, who was assigned with the Church-run Notre Dame of Jolo College, said the people went to bed early as the town had been without electricity the past few days.

    “Devastating, unbelievable and people were surprised flood waters suddenly rose amid darkness,” Fr. Inzon said in a radio interview Friday morning.

    Jolo, the capital of Sulu, has been experiencing heavy downpour the past week due to low pressure area in most parts of Mindanao.

    He said because of days of heavy downpour, water in the mountains cascaded down to the town center, similar to what happened in Metro Manila’s Marikina City two years ago at the height of typhoon “Ondoy.”

    “We imagined the water rampaging into residential areas as a result of freak tornadoes, according to residents,” he said.

    “The water reached 10 feet, the barometer was a wall clock about 10 feet from the floor,” Inzon quoted the displaced families as saying.

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    More flooding forecast for Victoria

    MARK COLVIN: Victorians are being warned to prepare for heavy rain and possible flash flooding this weekend as a tropical air mass from Cyclone Yasi moves south.

    North-east and central Victoria are expecting to be the hardest hit and some of those areas still haven’t recovered from flooding in January.

    Samantha Donovan reports.

    SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Many Victorians are still cleaning up after flooding rains last month. But with an air mass from ex-tropical Cyclone Anthony and Yasi feeding into a strong Southern Ocean weather system, the north-east and central areas in particular are facing a new flood threat.

    Tim Wiebusch is with the Victorian State Emergency Service.

    TIM WIEBUSCH: The north-east of the state is our main concern given the likelihood of seeing at least between 100 to 150 mils and maybe localised totals up to 200 millimetres. This will result initially in flash flooding and then, potentially, right through to major riverine flooding

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    The Koch Brothers’ Vast Right-Wing Media Conspiracy

    Last June, Glenn Beck paused in the middle of a rant about the economy and climate on his television show for an important, if rather unexpected, aside. “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information,” he said. Beck’s statement was totally without context, thrown in amid jabs at Al Gore and endorsements of the free market. Months later, it came to light that he recently had been a guest of honor at a semiannual confab sponsored by fossil-fuel billionaire Charles Koch and his brother, David, an event the pair hosts to connect conservative think tanks, politicos, and media types like Beck.

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    The Kochs Are Coming

    Rancho Mirage, California – The multibillionaire Koch brothers are used to running their nefarious network of political front groups from behind closed doors, keeping their identities and self-serving involvement secret from the media and us hoi polloi.

    For more than three decades, Charles and David Koch have been quietly funneling tens of millions of dollars from their industrial fortune into the Cato Institute, Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and dozens of other right-wing organizations set up to push their extremist laissez-faire agenda of plutocratic rule. From behind their plush curtain, they’ve operated as the right wing’s Wizard of Oz — only Ozzier.

    But now, the curtain is being pulled back, and there they are — buck naked and butt ugly — for all to see.

    ROFL! Must be a very bad awaking for all the tea party followers if they find out for whom they do the dirty work!

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    Five killed, 236,000 affected in Sri Lanka floods

    Colombo: At least five persons are believed to have been killed and more than 236,000 have been affected as floods battered several parts of Sri Lanka.

    This is the second time within a month that Sri Lanka has been badly affected by floods.

    In January, more than a million people were affected and 300,000 left homeless in flooding which also claimed at least 43 lives.

  42. paulm says:

    I guess Katrina really is the pivotal event…

    Census: A third of New Orleans population lost in past decade

  43. Mike says:

    Global food prices hit record high
    Problem is set to worsen after a massive snowstorm in the United States and floods in Australia.
    Last Modified: 04 Feb 2011 05:31 GMT

  44. dbmetzger says:

    Antarctica May Hold Climate Change Clues
    Scientists on board Australian icebreaker ship, Aurora Australis, have discovered that waters off of Antarctica’s Mertz glacier have become less salty and more acidic as the planet warms.

  45. Paulm says:

    Power cuts cripple suburbs as heatwave continues
    Kelly Burke, Natalie Muller and Brian Robins

  46. Paulm says:

    According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures above 40 can be expected in some Sydney suburbs today, and the heat is expected to continue well into the night.

    High temperatures have broken records around Sydney. Richmond experienced the highest minimum temperature for February, 24.9, in 72 years. Observatory Hill set the record for an unprecedented three consecutive nights, and Richmond for two consecutive nights, above 24.

    The heatwave was caused by a hot northerly airstream, coupled with high humidity and high ocean temperatures.

  47. Prokaryotes says:

    Solar cell could beat theoretical efficiency maximum
    You put one photon in, you get many out, shake it all about

    Scientists have begun developing a new approach that could allow a massive breakthrough in the efficiency of solar panels through the use of nano-particles of germanium, silicon and other materials.

    A team made of researchers from both UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz has been awarded a $1.5 million development fund by the National Science Foundation to continue work on the development.

    While most conventional solar cells use the principle of ‘one photon in, one electron out’, whereby a photon particle of light hits the solar cell and produces one electron as an electrical current, according to Gergely Zimanyi, a professor at UC Davis, the researchers have been working on a method that will allow many electrons to be produced.

    The previous theoretical maximum efficiency of this transfer was capped at 31 percent, however by enabling several particles to be generated from a single photon the maximum can be raised to between 42 and 65 percent.

    This high efficiency method has been previously theorised at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, though the researchers say that the Los Alamos group were unable to build a functioning cell based on the idea.

    The UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz team believe that through the use of nanotechnology they will be able to make the idea become a reality, constructing a fully functioning solar cell from germanium and silicon nanoparticles.

    The researchers will conduct theoretical and computer modelling studies before synthesising the new nano-particles and developing a working device.

    A prototype has already been constructed, which, while only reaching eight percent efficiency, demonstrated the functionality on the device even at a very early stage.

  48. paulm says:

    EcoAlert: Climate-Change Impact Intensifies in Antarctica

    New studies of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet have shown that climate change is having a more considerable impact than first thought. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) holds enough ice to raise global sea level by about 60 metres….

  49. Prokaryotes says:

    A Clearer Picture of Carbon Sequestration Simulations Shed Light on Fate of Sequestered CO2

    Despite progress in clean energy, Americans will continue to rely on fossil fuels for years to come. In fact, coal-, oil- and natural gas-fired power plants will generate 69 percent of U.S. electricity as late as 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    Such sobering projections have sparked a wide range of proposals for keeping the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere where it traps heat and contributes to global warming. Berkeley Lab scientists are using computer simulations to evaluate one promising idea: Pump it into salt-water reservoirs deep underground.