31 January 2010
30 January 2010
29 January 2010
Many bankers today are only lending money to the very best customers and putting the rest of the money borrowed at zero percent from the FED into, ironically enough, Treasury Bonds at 3% interest, therefore bringing in pure profit to the bank, with no risk of default. To many smart bankers, this is a prudent, if not full-proof choice. Strangely enough, as a result of this kind of wise thinking on the part of bankers, the Fed is in reality just printing money to finance its own debt.
Also, the Fed is also buying Treasury Bonds directly, in order to finance about 15% of the current year’s deficit of $1.8 trillion?
28 January 2010
27 January 2010
26 January 2010
A contract with a Portsmouth firm that plans to build a recycling facility in the Roanoke Valley means city residents can recycle colored glass once again.
For the article click here.
25 January 2010
Above is an updated solar incentive map by state from DSIRE, the government funded outfit that keeps track of solar incentives and laws that make it easier (or harder) to go solar.
This database is very specific by state and the summaries are generally easy to understand.
24 January 2010
State regulators in Colorado have given the green light to plans by Xcel Energy to shut down two coal-powered energy plants in the state, and build one of the world’s largest utility-scale solar-power facilities.
Following discussions lasting several days, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) backed the power company’s voluntary decision to close the two coal-fired plants at Denver and Grand Junction, making Xcel the first utility in the U.S. to make such a move solely in an effort to reduce emissions.
CPUC also approved Xcel plans to build a new 200 MW solar power plant with energy storage capacity in the state, and granted permission for the company to add 850 MW of intermittent renewable energy, such as wind power.
The move comes in response to Colorado state laws requiring large utilities to generate 20% of their electricity from solar, wind or biomass sources by 2020. Xcel seems to be on track to meet the target with several years to spare. The Cameo plant at Grand Junction is scheduled to close down in December 2010, while the Arapahoe plant in Denver will be shut in 2012. Although Xcel haven’t yet invited bids from contractors to build the solar and wind plants, spokesman Mark Stutz has said, “we look forward to those additions to our system by 2015.”
The Colorado decision follows recent announcements of large-scale renewable energy plans in Florida and Pennsylvania, and is hopefully a sign a of a growing trend throughout the U.S.
23 January 2010
22 January 2010
21 January 2010
20 January 2010
Glaciers in the Himalayas, a 2,400-kilometre (1,500-mile) range that sweeps through Pakistan, India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, provide headwaters for Asia's nine largest rivers, lifelines for the 1.3 billion people who live downstream.
But temperatures in the region have increased by between 0.15 and 0.6 degrees Celsius (0.27 and 1.08 degrees Fahrenheit) each decade for the last 30 years, dramatically accelerating the rate at which glaciers are shrinking.
As world leaders gathered in Copenhagen last month for a crucial climate change summit, campaigners warn that some Himalayan glaciers could disappear altogether within a few decades.
"Scientists predict that most glaciers will be gone in 40 years as a result of climate change," said Prashant Singh, leader of environmental group WWF's Climate for Life campaign.
"The melting will have huge ramifications for the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in the Himalayan drainage systems who are already highly vulnerable due to widespread poverty."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body regarded as the world's top authority on climate change, has warned Himalayan glaciers could "disappear altogether by 2035" and experts say the effects of global warming are already being felt in the region.
In Nepal and Bhutan, the receding glaciers have formed vast lakes that threaten to burst, devastating villages downstream.
Nepalese mountaineer and environmental campaigner Dawa Steven Sherpa said he first became interested in climate change after a close call when part of the Khumbu icefall above Everest base camp collapsed during an expedition in 2007.
Sherpa, who has scaled Everest three times, was walking on the glacier minutes before the collapse, and said his near miss alerted him to the dramatic toll that global warming is already taking on the Himalayas.
"Every time I go to the mountains the older Sherpas tell me this is the warmest year yet," Sherpa.
"Initially it struck me how much more dangerous mountaineering would become. But then I realised it was much bigger than that. Entire villages could be wiped out if one of the glacial lakes burst."
In China, studies have shown that the rapid melting of the glaciers will result in an increase in flooding in the short term, state news agency Xinhua has reported.
In the longer term, it said, the continued retreat of glaciers would lead to a gradual decrease in river flows, severely affecting large parts of western China.
Experts say the resulting water shortages could hit the economic development of China and India, with potentially dire consequences for development in two of the world's most populated countries.
Even in low-lying Bangladesh, prone to severe floods, the IPCC has said rivers could run dry by the end of the century.
But research on the impact of global warming on the rugged and inaccessible Himalayas remains sparse, with the IPCC describing the region as a "blank spot" due to a lack of scientific data.
Even the experts disagree on the issue, with some arguing that some of the Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing.
India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh recently came under fire for denying that climate change was causing Himalayan glaciers to melt, citing research by the Indian geologist Vijay Kumar Raina.
The Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has studied the Himalayan region for more than three decades and warns of an "urgent need" for more research on the impact of climate change.
"There are so many uncertainties surrounding where, how and to what extent the Himalayan region will be affected by climate change," ICIMOD climate change expert Arun Shrestha told AFP.
"But most experts accept that temperatures are changing, and this is happening more rapidly at altitude."
ICIMOD has warned that the current trends in glacial melt suggest flows in major Asian rivers including the Ganges, Indus and Yellow Rivers will be "substantially reduced" in the coming decades.
"The situation may appear to be normal in the region for several decades to come, and even with increased amounts of water available to satisfy dry season demands," it said in a recent report on the Himalayas.
"However, when the shortage arrives, it may happen abruptly, with water systems going from plenty to scarce in perhaps a few decades or less."
Shrestha added: "When the glaciers get hotter, you get more water, but there comes a point when the water will run out.
"It's like a bank balance, if you're not putting money in, you can't take it out."
19 January 2010
Worldwide, about 5 billion people will be living in areas where it will be difficult or impossible to meet all their needs for fresh water, creating ``a looming crisis that overshadows nearly two-thirds of the Earth's population,'' the report said.
It was released in Vienna by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear watchdog organization leading the United Nations' effort to draw attention to the world's water crisis and urge the launching of a ``blue revolution'' to conserve supplies and develop new ones.
``The simple fact is that there is a limited amount of water on the planet, and we cannot afford to be negligent in its use,'' said the IAEA's director, Mohamed ElBaradei. ``We can't keep treating it as if it will never run out.''
Already, an estimated 1.1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water, 2.5 billion lack proper sanitation and more than 5 million people die from waterborne diseases each year _ 10 times the number of casualties killed in wars around the globe, the report said.
Less than 3 percent of the world's water is fresh, and most of it is trapped in polar ice or buried underground in springs too deep to reach, it said. Freshwater lakes, rivers and reservoirs may seem numerous but provide just a drop in the bucket, the report said.
``Even where supplies are sufficient or plentiful, they are increasingly at risk from pollution and rising demand,'' U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement, warning that ``fierce national competition over water resources has prompted fears that water issues contain the seeds of violent conflict.''
The worst-affected areas are the deserts and semiarid regions of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where fresh drinking water is extremely scarce, in part because of the region's wildly variable climate and unfettered population growth, the World Meteorological Organization said.
Water ministers from 22 African countries have called for a regional and global alliance, backed by international funding, to tackle water and sanitation problems. Among the solutions, they say, are the development of desalination facilities that can turn salt water into drinking water.
Millions of women trudge long distances every day in search of water or send their children to look for it, meaning they miss opportunities to work, grow crops and attend school, the U.N. report said.
``Without adequate clean water, there can be no escape from poverty,'' said Klaus Toepfer, director of the U.N. Environment Program. ``Water is the basis for good health and food production. Mankind is always at its mercy.''
18 January 2010
LONDON (Reuters) - Spain had to shut down some of its wind turbines on Wednesday as wet and windy weather caused a surge in green electricity generation at a time of low demand, grid operator Red Electrica said.
The country's thousands of wind turbines supplied a new record of 54.1 percent of demand early on Wednesday, forcing gas- and coal-fired power plants to run at minimum output to avoid system overload as hydropower companies drained brimming reservoirs.
"High wind output in the early hours of this morning, together with the high level of hydropower generation, due to reservoirs opening up after recent rains, forced the control center to cut thermal power to a technical minimum," Red Electrica said in a statement.
"Due to low demand at the moment this was not enough ... So the control center had to order wind power production to be cut between 4 am and 7 am this morning by 600 megawatts."
Spain has invested heavily in wind power generation over the last decade to cut carbon emissions and reduce its reliance on imported fuel.
It now has over 18,000 MW of turbines installed, out of a total power generation capacity of about 93,000 MW, and first produced over half of its electricity with them early on November 9.
Wind turbines are seen as a key technology for producing electricity without emitting climate-warming carbon. But the Spanish experience highlights the difficulties for grid and other plant operators in balancing the system when the wind blows hard and there is little demand, especially early in the morning.
Greater numbers of electric cars charging up overnight could help absorb some of the extra output in future but there are still too few to make a difference.
Wind power output hit 54.1 percent of demand at around 0350 local time (0250 GMT) on Wednesday, or over 10,000 megawatts.
Even after the order to cut output the remaining turbines were still producing around 40 percent of Spain's power at around 7 am, reducing the contribution of coal and gas plants to under 5 percent in the hours in between, according to Red Electrica data.
17 January 2010
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)- Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide.
FSC is a certification system that provides internationally recognized standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations, and communities interested in responsible forestry.
- prohibits conversion of natural forests or other habitat around the world
- prohibits the use of highly hazardous pesticides around the world
- prohibits the cultivation of genetically modified trees (GMOs)
- respects the right of indigenous peoples around the world
- controls each certified operation at least once a year – and if they are found not to comply, the certificate is withdrawn
Michael Brune, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network described the SFI efforts as “a new green coat of paint over the same tired practices”.
16 January 2010
15 January 2010
14 January 2010
13 January 2010
Far too many Democrats in Congress allow right-wing and corporate apologists to get away with telling outrageous lies. I don't know if it's because they don't know the real truth, or because they just don't have enough of a spine to call these people on their lies. Fortunately, there are a few Democrats who aren't afraid to point out these obvious lies.
One of these brave Democrats was elected to the Senate in the last election by the good people of Minnesota -- Al Franken. I thought he would make a good senator, and he proves that belief was justified with each day he spends in the Senate.
It is a well-known fact that around 62% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical bills, and 78% of those people had private health insurance (which still left them with enormous unpaid medical bills). It is a shameful situation, and one the private insurance companies would rather not talk about.
A couple of days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on medical debt and bankruptcy. After several people testified how medical bills (unpaid by their insurance) had forced them into bankruptcy, right-wingers called a witness of their own.
That witness was Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the right-wing Hudson Institute. She tried to tell the committee that moving toward a European-style single payer insurance system would actually increase the number of medical bankruptcies. This outrageous lie was too much for Sen. Franken, and he had the following exchange with Furchtgott-Roth:
FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we’re talking about in Congress now should pass. You said that the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.
FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.
FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero. Do you know how many were in Germany?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: From the trend of your questions, I’m assuming the number is zero. But I don’t know the precise number and would have to get back to you.
FRANKEN: Well, you’re very good. Very fast. The point is, I think we need to go in that direction, not the opposite direction. Thank you.
Although he made quickly made his point that Furchtgott-Roth either didn't know what she was talking about or was telling an outright lie, Sen. Franken could have gone on listing many other countries. Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada and many other countries also have ZERO medical bankruptcies.
The fact that the United States has any medical bankruptcies at all should be a source of great embarrassment to all Americans. Thank you Senator Franken, for standing tall and exposing the right-wing lies.
And thank you Minnesota, for giving America Senator Al Franken.
12 January 2010
There's power in them thar waves! That's why Portugal built Agucadoura, the world's first wave farm off its coast, consisting of three Wave Energy Converters generating a total of 2.25MW.
The elongated metal contraptions bob up and down with the waves, while internal pistons, attached to the sea floor, remain stationary and pump hydraulic fluid. This drives electric generators, whose power is brought ashore by underwater electrical cables. The wave farm is now tapping into enough constant, renewable energy to power 1500 homes.
Who knew there was so much power in the ocean waves? If we laid these 459-foot orange caterpillars all over the world's oceans, we could tap 2 terawatts of power, twice the consumption of the entire world. That's not exactly practical, but a smaller-scale rollout of such generators might be a clean power alternative, ready to be snapped up by an energy-starved planet.
11 January 2010
09 January 2010
08 January 2010
07 January 2010
The world's largest solar energy office building opened on November 27 in Dezhou, Shandong Province in northwest China. The building, which has a total area of 75,000 square meters, features exhibition centers, scientific research facilities, meeting and training facilities, and a hotel.
The design of the building is based on the sun dial and underlines the urgency of seeking renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels. The design also features the Chinese characters for sun "日" and moon "月", and the color white predominates, symbolizing clean energy.
Green ideas have been applied throughout the construction. The external structure of the building used only one percent of the steel used to construct the Bird's Nest. Advanced roof and wall insulation mean energy savings 30 percent higher than the national energy saving standard.
The building will be the main venue for the 4th World Solar City Congress. The building's ground-breaking solar energy and power-saving technologies, some of which have already been patented, include a number of technical advances that will push forward the mass application of solar energy.
06 January 2010
It has often been seen on the Internet that to find God in the Constitution, all one has to do is read it, and see how often the Framers used the words "God," or "Creator," "Jesus," or "Lord." Except for one notable instance, however, none of these words ever appears in the Constitution, neither the original nor in any of the Amendments. The notable exception is found in the Signatory section, where the date is written thusly: "Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven". The use of the word "Lord" here is not a religious reference, however. This was a common way of expressing the date, in both religious and secular contexts. This lack of any these words does not mean that the Framers were not spiritual people, any more than the use of the word Lord means that they were. What this lack of these words is expositive of is not a love for or disdain for religion, but the feeling that the new government should not involve itself in matters of religion. In fact, the original Constitution bars any religious test to hold any federal office in the United States.
05 January 2010
Panasonic is charging into the green space headlong — first with deals to supply batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles — and now announcing that it will launch a massive lithium-ion storage battery capable of powering an average home for up to a week, the company says.
This is significant for two reasons. First, if home batteries like this one become commonplace, renewable sources of energy like rooftop solar and residential turbines could finally take off. The biggest roadblock to their adoption is that they are intermittent; reliable storage is needed to make them effective. Second, if affordable storage is achieved on the home-level, there might be less need for grid-scale storage, which is pricier and harder to accomplish.
The announcement is hastened by Panasonic’s acquisition of a more than 50 percent stake in Sanyo, making the company a battery manufacturing powerhouse that could trounce almost everyone else in the market, including A123Systems, Johnson Controls-Saft, Valence Technologies, and others. Becoming the earliest entrant into the home storage space would solidify its dominance.
Panasonic, which says it has already thoroughly tested this technology, plans to bundle its storage device with a home energy monitoring system that would allow users to view how much power they are using and how much it is costing them right on their television displays. This could make the company a major player in the smart grid arena as well.
Depending on how successful Panasonic is at marketing its household battery (and bringing down the cost), it could become a formidable competitor for fuel-cell makers like Clear Edge Power. Fuel cells also allow for low-emission operations, converting natural gas into electricity and recycled heat. But they don’t store electricity for use later, which is a major need for alternative energies to gain traction.
Panasonic, which scored a deal to supply batteries to Tesla Motors in October, has already successfully pushed automotive battery makers out of the market, like Imara, which shuttered earlier this month. Valence, being kept afloat by a new contract with Smith Electric Vehicles, could be next if it doesn’t move fast. In any case, it will have a head start, with Panasonic’s storage system not hitting stores until 2011
04 January 2010
Japan has serious plans to send a solar-panel-equipped satellite into space that could wirelessly beam a gigawatt-strong stream of power down to earth and power nearly 300,000 homes.
The satellite will have a surface area of four square kilometers, and transmit power via microwave to a base station on Earth. Putting solar panels in space bypasses many of the difficulties of installing them on Earth: in orbit, there are no cloudy days, very few zoning laws, and the cold ambient temperature is ideal.
A small test model is scheduled for launch in 2015. To iron out all the kinks and get a fully functional system set up is estimated to take three decades. A major kink, presumably, is coping with the possible dangers when a 1-gigawatt microwave beam aimed at a small spot on Earth misses its target.
The $21 billion project just received major backing from Mitsubishi and designer IHI (in addition to research teams from 14 other countries).
03 January 2010
Magenn Power's high altitude wind turbine called MARS is a Wind Power Anywhere™ solution with distinct advantages over existing Conventional Wind Turbines and Diesel Generating Systems including: global deployment, lower costs, better operational performance, and greater environmental advantages.
MARS is a lighter-than-air tethered wind turbine that rotates about a horizontal axis in response to wind, generating electrical energy. This electrical energy is transferred down the 1000-foot tether for immediate use, or to a set of batteries for later use, or to the power grid. Helium sustains MARS and allows it to ascend to a higher altitude than traditional wind turbines. MARS captures the energy available in the 600 to 1000-foot low level and nocturnal jet streams that exist almost everywhere. MARS rotation also generates the "Magnus effect" which provides additional lift, keeps the MARS stabilized, and positions it within a very controlled and restricted location to adhere to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) & Transport Canada guidelines.
The Advantages of MARS over Conventional Wind Turbines: Wind Power Anywhere™ removes all placement limitations. Coast-line or off-shore locations are not necessary to capture higher speed winds. Reaching winds at 1,000-feet above ground level allow MARS to be installed closer to the grid. MARS is mobile and can be rapidly deployed, deflated, and redeployed without the need for towers or heavy cranes. MARS is bird and bat friendly with lower noise emissions and is capable of operating in a wider range of wind speeds - from 4 mph to greater than 60 mph.
The Advantages of a MARS combined Wind and Diesel Solution over a Diesel Generator-only solution: MARS can complement a diesel generator by offering a combined diesel-wind power solution. MARS can provide power for a cost that is well below the range of cost for diesel power of $0.50 cents to over $1.00 per kWh in many locations, reflecting the fuel and transportation costs. The MARS combined solution allows lower pollution and green house gas emissions. It also results in lower handling, transporting, and storage costs.
MARS Target Markets: Mini-Grid applications in developing nations where infrastructure is limited or non-existent; off-grid combined wind and diesel solutions for island nations, farms, remote areas, cell towers, exploration equipment, backup power & water pumps for natural gas mines; rapid deployment diesel & wind solutions (to include airdrop) to disaster areas for power to emergency and medical equipment, water pumps; on-grid applications for farms, factories, remote communities; and wind farm deployments.
02 January 2010
01 January 2010
NASA's Aqua spacecraft has been taking daily CO2 measurements with its Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument (AIRS) for the past seven years and now all that information gathering has led to beautiful and frightening maps and models of the concentration and movement of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Highlighting the importance of this new data set, NASA researcher Moustafa Chahine said:
"AIRS provides the highest accuracy and yield of any global carbon dioxide data set available to the research community, now and for the immediate future," said Chahine. "It will help researchers understand how this elusive, long-lived greenhouse gas is distributed and transported, and can be used to develop better models to identify 'sinks,' regions of the Earth system that store carbon dioxide. It's important to study carbon dioxide in all levels of the troposphere."
The data reveals major findings like a belt-like ring of CO2 in the southern hemisphere where it acts as a sink for CO2 from the northern hemisphere. Also, the data shows the strong correlation between a rise in CO2 and a rise in water vapor, leading to "exacerbated" warming.
You can check out all of the amazing models, including global CO2, water vapor and methane movements here.