A round-up of climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.
With the country steeped in power-saving mode, energy generation has become all the rage among Japanese automakers.
Nissan Motor Co on Monday unveiled a new charging system that gets electricity from solar power that can also be stored in the lithium-ion batteries used in its Leaf electric car.
The 488 newly installed solar panels at Nissan’s global headquarters will produce enough electricity to charge 1,800 Leafs a year, allowing drivers plugging into one of its seven charging spots to travel on carbon-free energy.
Nissan’s announcement comes just days after Mitsubishi Motors Corp said it would develop and market this business year a portable converter with enough capacity to allow its electric vehicles (EVs) to power household electronics such as rice cookers and washing machines.
Japanese automakers have been working on clean-energy initiatives for years, but the earthquake and tsunami on March 11 have made electricity supply and sourcing an immediate concern.
“Setsuden”, or power-saving, has become a buzzword in Japan, where the disasters crippled a nuclear reactor and triggered the worst radiation crisis since Chernobyl. Starting this month, big-lot electricity users in eastern Japan are required to cut peak consumption by 15 percent during the hot summer months, and utilities have also appealed to households to do their part.
ExxonMobil on Saturday submitted a draft clean-up plan of its Yellowstone River oil spill to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Few details were immediately available of the draft report submitted by Exxon, which according to an EPA order should spell out how the oil giant will monitor the environment, clean up pollutants, restore damaged areas on the Yellowstone and dispose of hazardous wastes.
Exxon turned in the report, which was ordered by the EPA, as a congressional panel said it would examine pipeline safety following the rupture that released crude oil into one of America’s most pristine rivers just 150 miles downstream from Yellowstone National Park .
The U.S. House Transportation subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials plans to examine safety this week, according to the panel’s website. A 12-inch (30.4 cm) Exxon pipeline carrying oil to Billings-area refineries burst on July 1, releasing what the company has estimated at 1,000 barrels of petroleum into the river.
Exxon has apologized for the spill and on Friday said it has stepped up clean-up efforts.
A record dry season left West Palm Beach, Fla., with just 22 days worth of fresh water last month, prompting new rules restricting residents to once-a-week watering schedules for lawns and plants.
But with a 2.6-acre estate in neighboring Palm Beach that features a 37,000-square-foot home, a pool and lush tropical landscaping, Terry Allen Kramer is accustomed to using more than 120 times the amount of water consumed by the average customer in the region.
And she isn’t alone.
Some of her neighbors in this tony island enclave—whose water is supplied by West Palm Beach—use more than one million gallons of water a month to keep their properties green.
That disparity has drawn calls for a water-pricing arrangement that includes surcharges, at least while drought conditions last, and has spawned tension between the tract-home crowd and the more affluent.
“People living on a 19-acre estate can afford to pay a lot more for their water,” said Drew Martin, who has a seat on the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District. “If they were paying significantly higher expenses, it would encourage them to be more efficient.”
How the frequency and intensity of wildfires and intentional biomass burning will change in a future climate requires closer scientific attention, according to CSIRO’s Dr Melita Keywood.
Dr Keywood said it is likely that fire — one of nature’s primary carbon-cycling mechanisms — will become an increasingly important driver of atmospheric change as the world warms.
“Understanding changes in the occurrence and magnitude of fires will be an important challenge for which there needs to be a clear focus on the tools and methodologies available to scientists to predict fire occurrence in a changing climate.”
She said the link between long-term climate change and short-term variability in fire activity is complex, with multiple and potentially unknown feedbacks.
They’ve feuded over the issue for years, but senators from Missouri to Montana hope to find common ground in the first meeting this week aimed at forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to change how it manages the Missouri River.
The task won’t be easy given the laws, court rulings and politics that have left flood control among competing goals in river management. And senators likely will fail if they revert to parochial quests, like promoting navigation or recreation and arguing over endangered species rescue.
But the toll of evacuations, levee breaches and devoured farmland from record flooding on parts of the river this year has generated hope that a fresh look at managing America’s longest river can yield change.