Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Growth Industry: Greenhouse Gases

Without some kind of incentives or regulation, we can count on greenhouse gas emissions in the United States rising substantially by 2020, according to a climate report issued by the Bush administration.

As reported by the Environmental News Service:
The latest projections from pre-2004 EU Member States (EU-15) show that greenhouse gas emissions could be brought down to eight percent below 1990 levels by 2010. An October report by the European Environment Agency, EEA, shows that "if all existing and planned domestic policy measures are implemented and Kyoto mechanisms as well as carbon sinks are used, the EU-15 will reach its Kyoto Protocol target."

The next 10 new EU member states also are on track to achieve their individual Kyoto targets, despite rising emissions, largely due to economic restructuring in the 1990s, says the EEA. The two most recent EU member states were not part of the block last October when the report was produced.

President Bush has said that abiding by the Kyoto Protocol would hurt the U.S. economy. He has argued that voluntary emissions reductions and better technology such as clean coal, nuclear power, and energy efficiency would do the job of limiting global warming.

U.S. scientists, businesses and environmental groups say that if irreversible global warming is to be avoided, binding targets even more stringent than those of the Kyoto Protocol should be set.

What will it take to gain enough political momentum to put the brakes on global warming?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Unsung Risks of Maritime Emissions

The news changes so quickly that sometimes it's difficult to figure out what you should be most worried about. Most of us are aware of the threat that commercial aviation poses to global climate change, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at levels that represent about 2 percent of the global total.

But, when was the last time you heard anyone express concern emissions from the maritime shipping industry, which burns about 200-million tons of fuel a year, representing around 4 percent of the global total.

As discussed in this Guardian Unlimited story, the threat is real and growing.

Carbon dioxide emissions from ships do not come under the Kyoto agreement or any proposed European legislation and few studies have been made of them, even though they are set to increase.

Sometimes it's the things you're not worried about that get you.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

350 Miles on a Single Charge

The barriers that have stood between electric cars and the public are coming down--one after another. Range has always been an issue, with the typical 50- to 120-mile range per charge scaring off all but the most devoted enthusiasts.

How about an electric vehicle with a range of 350 miles that can be fully charged in 10 minutes?

As reported by CNET News, new battery technologies and a design collaboration between Zap, based in Santa Rosa, CA, and Lotus, the legendary British marquee, will result in the APX, a spirited SUV with performance figures right up there with Porsche and other leading sports cars.

The cost may be a bit of a sticking point with many buyers, however:
The Zap-X will cost only $60,000, said Zap CEO Steve Schneider. The Tesla Roadster sells for $92,000, while the WrightSpeed X1 will go for around $120,000. The Zap-X won't be as fast, but it won't putter either. It will go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds; the Tesla Roadster does that in 4 seconds, while the X1 can do that in 3 seconds. Just as importantly, the Zap-X will have room for five adults, instead of the two seats in the other cars.
"We are appealing to the SUV buyer who feels sort of guilty about buying an SUV," Schneider said.

The next step is a realistically priced electric car with that same 350-mile range and a price tag about $40,000 lower. I'll settle for zero to 60 miles per hour in 10 seconds if the price is right.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Nuclear Shills and Vainglorious Lies

We live in an age rife with disinformation and the loudest shills are often the ones with the biggest bag of lies. At the top of this liar's club is nuclear power flack, Patrick Moore, who refers to himself as a "founder" of Greenpeace and uses those credentials to hawk the virtues of nuclear power as the clean and safe antitode to global warming. Harvey Wasserman, an articulate and knowledgeable opponent of nuclear power, systematically deconstructs Moore's phony autobiography, bogus arguments, and unsupported statements in The Sham of Nuke Power and Patrick Moore. This piece is particularly important to me as Moore is speaking in my home state of Vermont, funded by his keepers in the nuclear industry, spreading rhetorical effluent in favor of the ongoing operation of the Vermont Yankee plant.

In this article, Harvey says:
In a world beset by terror, there is no more vulnerable target than an aged reactor like Vermont Yankee. Its core is laden with built-up radiation accumulated over the decades. Its environs are burdened with supremely radioactive spent fuel. Its elderly core and containment are among the most fragile that exist.

Despite industry claims, VY's high-level nuke waste is going nowhere. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Edward McGaffigan has told the New York Times he believes the Yucca Mountain waste repository cannot open for at least another 17-20 years, if ever. At current production levels, it will by then require yet another repository at least that size to handle the spent fuel that will by then be stacked at reactors like VY. In short: the dry casks stacked at Vermont Yankee could comprise what amounts to a permanent high level nuke dump, on the shores of the Connecticut River.

Veront Yankee is the only nuclear power plant operating in Vermont and, if wisdom prevails, its operating permits will not be renewed.