Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Monday, February 25, 2008

'Greenagers' Want Climate Change Action

Skynews, Updated:10:27, Monday February 25, 2008

British children, well versed in the effects of climate change, are putting pressure on older generations to act now to halt environmental decline.

New research shows 95% of children aged between 4 and 15 were 'concerned' by global warming, with more than half 'very concerned'.

And three out of four respondents believed they were more fluent on the subject than their parents.

The eco-conscious youngsters, dubbed 'Greenagers', now want to put more pressure on older generations to take a lead in environmental decision-making.

Some 70% of those polled believed climate change is something that will affect them in their lifetime.

Another 85% thought people should be more concerned about the issue and 96% believed it is important to encourage other people to be more environmentally friendly.

The research has been conducted by the UK kids' channel Nickelodeon as part of their environmental campaign called 'Nick's Big Green Thing'.

The channel has launched a week of programming to encourage children to create a greener environment.

One of the week's hosts, acclaimed adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, was delighted to see the youngest generation were paying attention to the subject of global warming.

Research for Nickelodeon

He said: "Our climates changing quicker than anyone ever expected and we can't afford to ignore the signs.

"The good news is we have the solutions and this research proves that kids are taking action helping to create more stable environmental conditions for our future generations."

The survey further showed that more than half (59%) of children were aware of the concept of a 'carbon footprint' and were keen to alter their home life in order to reduce it.

Better recycling, switching off lights in empty rooms, avoiding car travel and reducing the use of household appliances all polled highly.

Despite the awarness of home environmental initiatives, the respondents felt that they learned more about the environment from school teachers rather than their parents.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Biofuel-powered jet makes test flight

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The world's first biofuel-powered commercial aircraft took off from London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday on a demonstration flight hailed as a first step towards "cleaner" flying.

The Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 was flying to Amsterdam with no passengers on board as part of a joint initiative with planemaker Boeing and engine manufacturer GE Aviation to develop a "sustainable aircraft fuel."

Virgin Atlantic President Richard Branson said the test flight would help the airline to use clean fuel sooner than expected.

"The demonstration flight will give us crucial knowledge that we can use to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint," Branson said in a statement.

"Virgin Group pledged to invest all its profits from its transportation companies towards developing clean energy and with this breakthrough we are well down the path to achieving our goals."

Virgin said the fuel to be used for Sunday's flight -- a 20 percent biofuel mix of coconut and babassu oil in one of the plane's four main fuel tanks -- was of a type that wouldn't compete with food and fresh water resources amid mounting concerns among green campaigners about the environmental impact of biofuels.

Some studies suggest that converting land for crops such as palm oil used for biofuel can generate far more in carbon emissions than the savings delivered by the fuel.

Increased use of biofuels could also prompt food shortages, campaigners warn, as greater areas of farmland are turned over to biofuel production.

Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth aviation campaigner, said: "Biofuels are a major distraction in the fight against climate change. There is mounting evidence that the carbon savings from biofuels are negligible.

"If Virgin was really serious about reducing the aviation industry's impact on the environment it would support calls for aircraft emissions to be included in the (UK government's) Climate Change Bill."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Philips launches energy saving campaign

Dicky Christanto, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

PT Philips Indonesia, an electronic appliances manufacturer, on Tuesday conducted an energy saving event at a Denpasar elementary school, hoping to increase awareness on the importance of using energy smartly and efficiently, as well as on the issue of global warming.

"We choose schools because there is the very future of our civilization, the children. Therefore, we feel obliged to tell them not to waste energy, starting with how to choose energy-saving lamps for daily usage," marketing director and vice president of Philips Lighting Asia Pacific , Frank Spikker, told reporters.

He said by consistently using eco-friendly lighting products, consumers were joining the global fight against global warming.

The event was held at Pemecutan elementary school in Denpasar. The program, which included a drawing contest, free eye exams for the students and the presentation of lighting products and a cash donation to the school, was held in parallel with company promotional event at a nearby shopping mall.

More than 20 lighting products and as much as Rp 10 million were donated to the school.

The schoolchildren eagerly participated in the event, particularly when a company representative led them in singing children's songs.

Principal I Wayan Patra Yasa praised the company for organizing the event.

"I really hope that a big company like Philips can support us more in conducting the education process here," he said.

A senior marketing manager at the company, Hendra Kresna, said a team from the company had been tasked with monitoring its energy saving campaign.

"We will not stop here, there are still many cities and places we have to visit. It is our contribution to the global fight against global warming," he said.

The company has allocated US$1 billion to improve eco-friendly technology through its research and development department up until 2012, almost three times higher than the 400 million euros it allocated in the past five years.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Worries on the Vine

By Dan Mitchell, The New York Times, February 16, 2008

IN the coming decades, might oenophiles be debating the subtle aromas and delicate flavors of all the great new wines coming out of Saskatchewan?

Maybe. Global warming affects grapes just as surely as any other crop. With wine, though, where slightly more shade or sun can profoundly affect quality and character, the effects of climate change exert a particularly strong influence.

It is not clear yet just how extensively or in precisely what ways the wine business will be changed as the planet heats up, though wine watchers have their theories. “Get ready to say bye-bye to French Bordeaux and hello to British champagne,” warns the anonymously written blog called Global Warming ... Global Warning.

In an effort to get a handle on the problem, viticulturists and other experts from around the world (as well as Al Gore, via satellite) are assembling in Barcelona this weekend for the International Conference on Climate Change & Wine.

At the last conference, in 2006, the Wine Academy of Spain said that grapes worldwide are ripening faster, sugar and alcohol content are rising, and the aroma is losing its complexity. A changing climate could alter the character of regional wines. The pinot noirs of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, which need cool temperatures and great care to thrive, could be endangered, for example. The cabernet sauvignons of Napa and Sonoma Counties in California could be at risk if that region becomes hotter and drier — more like California’s Central Valley growing region.

The effects of warming are diverse and hard to predict. Some wine regions may see drought; others, too much rain.

Not all the news is bad. Some winemakers in New Zealand, for example, are looking forward to the effects of climate change. Warmer temperatures there could help them produce more of their high-quality wines and expand into more varietals, notes Robert Knox of the blog Environmental Graffiti.

On the other hand, the Australian wine industry is “feeling the effects of a prolonged drought,” Mr. Knox notes. “Grape production has fallen drastically, leading to rising prices and a reduction in the production of the reasonably priced, good quality wines that have made the country’s reputation.”

Machines 'to match man by 2029'

By Helen Briggs, BBC science reporter, Boston

Machines will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029, a leading US inventor has predicted.

Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people's brains to make them more intelligent said engineer Ray Kurzweil.

Tiny machines could roam the body curing diseases

He said machines and humans would eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health.

"It's really part of our civilisation," Mr Kurzweil said.

"But that's not going to be an alien invasion of intelligent machines to displace us."

Machines were already doing hundreds of things humans used to do, at human levels of intelligence or better, in many different areas, he said.

Man versus machine

"I've made the case that we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence by 2029," he said.

"We're already a human machine civilisation, we use our technology to expand our physical and mental horizons and this will be a further extension of that."

Humans and machines would eventually merge, by means of devices embedded in people's bodies to keep them healthy and improve their intelligence, predicted Mr Kurzweil.

"We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains through the capillaries and interact directly with our biological neurons," he told BBC News.


  • Make solar energy affordable
  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Develop carbon sequestration
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Provide access to clean water
  • Reverse engineer the brain
  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Secure cyberspace
  • Enhance virtual reality
  • Improve urban infrastructure
  • Advance health informatics
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Advance personalised learning
  • Explore natural frontiers

The nanobots, he said, would "make us smarter, remember things better and automatically go into full emergent virtual reality environments through the nervous system".

Mr Kurzweil is one of 18 influential thinkers chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century by the US National Academy of Engineering.

The experts include Google founder Larry Page and genome pioneer Dr Craig Venter.

The 14 challenges were announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, which concludes on Monday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wall Street investors gather at UN to discuss climate change

Du Guodong, 2008-02-15 07:38:25

NEW YORK, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The largest gathering of financial and corporate leaders from around the world ever to examine the climate change issue convened at the United Nations headquarters Thursday for the third Investors Summit on Climate Risk.

The gathering of 480 investors and other Wall Street types was organized by groups supporting UN efforts such as the UN Foundation, Ceres and the UN Fund for International Partnerships.

"You are here today because you recognize climate change as an opportunity as well as a threat," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message which was read out by his representative at the opening session of the meeting.

"You understand that the shift to a low-carbon economy opens new revenue streams and creates new markets," said the secretary-general, adding that "You see the chance to usher in a new age of green economics and truly sustainable development."

Noting that the UN is committed to tackling climate change "head-on," the secretary-general said that despite the success already scored, "it is clear that no single organization or any one country can win this battle on its own."

"Climate change is an unprecedented challenge, it requires a comprehensive and global response," he added.

"Investors will be looking at clean energy opportunities, including energy efficiency, as Wall Street wakes up to the scale of the climate challenge and what actions it will require," Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres' investor coalition, said.

Timothy Wirth, president of the UN Foundation, noted the next 50 years would bring a unique chance to adopt energy sources that emit less carbon dioxide and other global warming gases.

He said that shift would prove to be "as important as the computer revolution in generating new wealth and jobs."

Ceres is a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as climate change. While, the UN Foundation was created in 1998 after entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner's gave a historic 1-billion-gift to support UN causes and activities.

The first investors summit on climate risk, held in November 2003, culminated in a ten-point call for action for companies, investment analysts and fiduciaries to address climate risk. And the second summit was held on May 10, 2005 with the participation of more than 300 institutional investors, brokerage firm representatives, asset managers, and others in the financial sector.

Forest community empowered in environmental project

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Pasuruan

State company Perhutani, in charge of managing teak forests on Java Island, is creating a seven-hectare arboretum in East Java to help raise environmental awareness in the region.

The arboretum, in Pasuran, will be jointly developed by the Pasuruan forest management unit (KPH) of Perhutani's East Java office and the Ngudi Lestari Forest Community Group (LMDH) in Prigen.

Pasuruan KPH deputy administrative head Eka Muhamad Ruskanda said his office had provided the land for the arboretum, designed to become a center for scientific and educational purposes in Java.

"The arboretum is expected to function as an educational facility to teach elementary school students about biological diversity, conservation efforts, public education and ecotourism.

"This forest will be the first of its kind in East Java," said Eka on the sidelines of a tree-planting ceremony at the facility.

Eka said the arboretum, located on former pine production forest land at the food of Mount Arjuno, would be home to around 100 tree species by the end of the year.

As an initial step, the Pasuruan KPH and the Ngudi Lestari forest community had planted 35 endemic tree species in the arboretum.

They include the tamarind, Javan plum, yellow/Chinese magnolia, teak, breadfruit, Indonesian bayleaf, cajuput, ironwood, mahogany and pine.

Perhutani provided the land and plant seedlings, while planting, supervision and maintenance will be entrusted to LMDH Ngudi Lestari, supervised directly by the Kaliandra Sejati Foundation (YKS), operator of the Kaliandra resort area which manages an environmental education and Javanese culture training center.

The YKS will also assist in enhancing farmers' skills and provide them with Rp 25 million (approximately US$2,750) as compensation for each hectare of their land to be included in the arboretum.

The educational forest will be guarded by eight farmers. Developers guessed it would ready for public use within five years.

"The facility is aimed at raising environmental awareness of the forest community, such as sharing responsibilities in conservation efforts. It's high time for them to protect and manage the forest," said LMDH Ngudi Lestari leader Faturohman.

Farmers will be allowed to grow seasonal crops until the trees mature, he said.

Farmers will derive earnings from harvesting fruit trees such as guavas and coffee beans, and receive salaries as guides at the arboretum, said Faturohman.

They will also receive proceeds from visitor fees.

"The number of visitors to Kaliandra increases each year. Last year there were 20,000 visitors. If we set aside Rp 1,000 from each visitor, the sum collected would reach Rp 20 million per year," said YKS executive director Agus Wiyono.

He added the program was a form of community-based forest management, and aimed at encouraging the forest community to play an active role in reforestation and forest management.

In 2006, there were around 2,800 hectares of barren forest areas in East Java, but dropped to around 1,000 hectares last year.

"The educational forest is part of efforts to reforest barren areas, but the difference is that it directly involves the local community," said Eka.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

India's Tata backs air-power car

By Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst, BBC News

An engineer has promised that within a year he will start selling a car in India that runs on compressed air, producing no emissions at all in towns.

The OneCAT will be a five-seater with a glass fibre body, weighing just 350kg and could cost just over £2,500.

The project is being backed by the Indian conglomerate, Tata for an undisclosed sum. It says the technology may also be used for power

The car will be driven by compressed air stored in carbon-fibre tanks.

The tanks, built into the chassis, can be filled with air from a compressor in just three minutes - much quicker than a battery car.

Alternatively, it can be plugged into the mains for four hours and an on-board compressor will do the job.

For long journeys the compressed air driving the pistons can be boosted by a fuel burner which heats the air so it expands and increases the pressure on the pistons.The burner will use all kinds of liquid fuel.

The designers say on long journeys the car will do the equivalent of 120mpg. In town, running on air, it will be cheaper than that.

Analysts say the fact that the project has the backing of an internationally well known company such as Tata makes the idea much more marketable.

The Indian company - which will put the finishing touches to the engine - says it is even considering using the technology for power generation.

Parts of the country are desperately short of electricity supplies. On Tuesday officials announced that Delhi and Moscow had finalised plans for Russia to build four new nuclear power stations in India.


"The first buyers [of the compressed air car] will be people who care about the environment," says French inventor Guy Negre.

"It also has to be economical."

Mr Negre has been promising for more than a decade to be on the verge of a breakthrough.

Tata is the only big firm he'll license to sell the car - and they are limited to India. For the rest of the world he hopes to persuade hundreds of investors to set up their own factories, making the car from 80% locally-sourced materials.

"This will be a major saving in total emissions," he says.

"Imagine we will be able to save all those components travelling the world and all those transporters."

He wants each local factory to sell its own cars to cut out the middle man and he aims for 1% of global sales - about 680,000 per year.

Terry Spall from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says: "I really hope he succeeds. It is a really brave experiment in producing a sustainable car."

But he said he was interested to see how the car would fare with safety tests and how much it would appeal to a public conditioned to expect luxury fittings adding to the weight of the vehicle.

Mr Negre says there's no issue with safety - if the air-car crashes the air tanks won't shatter - they will split with a very loud bang. "The biggest risk is to the ears."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BMW to demonstrate hydrogen power in Singapore

Singapore (ANTARA News/DPA) - BMW is ready to introduce its hydrogen-fuelled 7 Series limousine in Singapore but it won't be for sale, the carmaker said on Wednesday.

The car, called the Hydrogen 7, will be part of a BMW Clean Energy Exhibition to be held in the city-state next month.

Representing 20 years of research and development, the Munich-based carmaker has developed the first emission-free liquid hydrogen-powered luxury saloon suitable for everyday use, according to BMW.

The cars due to arrive in Singapore are part of a world tour which is currently in Australia.

The Hydrogen 7 has two fuel tanks, one for petrol and another for liqud hydrogen, BMW said. When operated only on hydrogen fuel, the car emits water vapour.|

Related Article:

Hydrogen Production

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Six Degrees Could Change the World" premiers 2/10

Los Angeles Times

I'm generally not a fan of the enviro-documentaries that take the "doom-and-gloom with a few minutes of optimism at the end" format, but National Geographic’s "Six Degrees Could Change the World" almost makes me wish I had cable.

Why? Perhaps I'm too easily enamored by webby features, but the "Six Degrees" website has an interactive world map that lets you look at the changes that could take place with each degree of global warming. The site also has six short video previews -- one per degree Celcius of global warming -- of what our world could look like in the future.

The scenarios are astounding -- though not all sound horrible, at least when removed from the overall monstrosity of the situation. If the earth warms by 4 degrees Celsius, the Scandinavian beach could be the next tourism hotspot, for example. Of course, Bangladesh would be washed away and New York suffering from rising seas and super storms....

The program's based on Mark Lyman's book "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet." Why six degrees? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the earth will warm up between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. By looking at the effects of each degree, we get a look at the best and worst scenarios, as well as the in betweens.

Greenguide"Six Degrees" premiers tomorrow, Sunday Feb. 10 on the National Geographic channel. Don't have that channel? Get the book or the eco-packaged DVD.

National Geographic's really been keeping busy these days. In addition to the Six Degrees site, NG's put together "Preserve our Planet," an ezine of sorts with environmental news and features, as well as a more consumer-action oriented site called Green Guide, for which Lyman served as editor this week. In addition, a new quarterly print magazine -- conveniently also dubbed Green Guide -- hits newsstands March 4.

Images courtesy of National Geographic

Robot glider harvests ocean heat

By Jonathan Fildes, BBC News, Science and technology reporter

The yellow, torpedo-shaped machine has been combing the depths of seas around the Caribbean since December 2007.

The team which developed the autonomous vehicle say it has covered "thousands of kilometres" during the tests.

The team believe the glider - which needs no batteries - could undertake oceanographic surveys for up to six months at a time.

"We are tapping a virtually unlimited energy source for propulsion," said Dave Fratantoni of the Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOi).

But Steve McPhail, an expert in autonomous underwater vehicles at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Southampton, said the machine would not totally do away with batteries.

"You still need to provide power for the sensors, for the data-logging system and for the satellite communications system to get the data back," he said.

As a result, the vehicle would have to intermittently return to a ship or shore to recharge its batteries.

"It's always a trade-off between the power used for the propulsion system and the power used for the sensors," said Mr McPhail.

Ocean network

Oceanographers are increasingly looking at ways to study the oceans over long periods and in real time.

This is important for understanding natural variations in circulation, for example, and for looking for any changes.

Already scientists have deployed large networks of sensors across the oceans.

For example, in 2004, NOC researchers strung sets of instruments across the Atlantic to measure circulation patterns.

The Rapid project, as it was known, painted the first detailed picture of Atlantic Ocean currents and showed how they vary throughout the year.

Its successor - Rapid Watch - has just received £16m from the Natural Environment Research Council and will monitor the Gulf Stream until 2014.

Scientists are also in the process of wiring the Pacific. One project, the Argo network, will consist of an array of 3,000 floats strung out every 300km across the vast ocean.

Sensors on the floats will provide 100,000 temperature and salinity profiles every year.

Another network, the Monterey Accelerated Research System (Mars), will connect a research station in California with a sensor array deployed on the edge of Monterey Canyon, the deepest submarine canyon off the continental West Coast.

Lazy glide

The new vehicles could add to that knowledge by filling in the gaps between the sensors.

For example, it is proposed that Rapid Watch will use an armada of gliders alongside stationary sensors.

The machines are already used in oceanography and propel themselves through the ocean by changing their buoyancy to dive and surface. Wings generate lift and a vertical tail fin and rudder is used to steer.

The latest glider has been developed by Webb Research Corporation and WHOi.

It generates its energy for propulsion from the differences in temperature between warm surface waters and colder, deeper layers of the ocean.

Wax-filled tubes inside the craft expand when it is gliding through warmer water.

This heat is used to push oil from a bladder inside the hull to one outside, changing its buoyancy. Cooling of the wax at depth reverses the cycle.

Since December 2007, the prototype machine has been crisscrossing a 4,000m-deep basin in the Virgin Islands of the Caribbean.

The machine traces a saw-tooth profile through the water column as it lazily glides through the ocean, surfacing periodically to fix its positions via GPS and to relay data back to base.

According to WHOi researchers the vehicle crossed the basin between St Thomas and St Croix more than 20 times studying local currents.

The eventual aim of the project is to deploy a fleet of vehicles to study much larger flows in the North Atlantic.

"Gliders can be put to work on tasks that humans wouldn't want to do or cannot do because of time and cost concerns," said Dr Fratantoni. "They can work around the clock in all weather conditions."

Related Articles:

Hydrogen Production

Friday, February 8, 2008

World market fuels deforestation

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Efforts to curb deforestation will not work if rich nations fail to control their wood consumption, forest watchdog Greenomics Indonesia has warned.

Greenomics director Elfian Effendi said Thursday that high demand for wood products mostly from the United States, European Union and Japan had given a boost to deforestation in the world's tropical nations, including Indonesia.

"The rich nations often blame us for the speedy deforestation rate. They seem unaware that their consumption contributes much to the deforestation," Elfian said.

Greenomics was commenting on the latest report on the wood market between 2004 and 2007 from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The report said the U.S., the EU and Japan were the world's three largest importers of wood products, amounting to US$71.2 billion per year. The U.S. alone spent $23.3 billion per year on wood products, while the EU $13.2 billion and Japan $11.8 billion.

According to Elfian, China and Malaysia are the world's biggest exporters of wood products, with material coming mainly from Indonesia in the form of illegally cut logs.

"It means deforestation in our country is linked to export-import transactions of wood products to rich nations," he said.

Indonesia is home to 120 million hectares of tropical forest, the world's third largest after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Between 1985 and 1997, deforestation occurred at a rate of 1.8 million hectares per year. It rose to 2.8 million hectares per year until 2000, but slowed between 2000 and 2006 to 1.08 million hectares per year.

The government has said that carbon trading and the reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries will significantly reduce the deforestation rate.

Elfian said, however, the schemes would not work unless rich countries tightened their control over the sources of wood products.

According to FAO data, Malaysia is the biggest exporter of logs with 5 million cubic meters per year.

"Malaysia exported about 20 million cubic meters in the period of 2004 to 2007. It meant denuded forests reached 303,000 hectares," he said.

Malaysia is also the second biggest exporter of sawn wood, with 3 million cubic meters annually.

"In line with the UN data, deforestation in Malaysia should cover 730,000 ha from 2004 to 2007, which is 11 times Singapore's area," he said.

He said Malaysia was the main exporter of wood products, including logs, to China. The world's most populous country is the world's top importer of logs from tropical countries with 7 million cubic meters per year.

China also imported 2.5 millions cubic meters of sawn wood between 2004 and 2007.

Japan and the United State are the top importers of plywood, reaching 3.5 million cubic meters and 1.5 million respectively.

"The two countries imported about 10 million cubic meters of tropical plywood from 2004 to 2007. Indonesia must learn from the export-import data," he said.

Scientists make unique knee-brace power generator

Thu Feb 7, 2008 5:38pm EST

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Talk about a knee-jerk reaction. Scientists in the United States and Canada said on Thursday they have developed a unique device that can be strapped on the knee that exploits the mechanics of human walking to generate a usable supply of electricity.

It generates enough power to charge up 10 cell phones at once, the researchers report in the journal Science.

Researchers have been working on ways to harness the motion of the human body to create power. A shoe-mounted device was nice and light, but did not generate much electricity. A backpack device that generated power as it bounced up and down while a person walks generated a lot of electricity, but was heavy to lug.

The new energy-capturing knee brace, its inventors said, seems to find a happy medium -- generating decent amounts of power while still being relatively light.

The scientists envisioned numerous applications for such a device. It could be of value to hikers or soldiers who may not have access to electricity, they said. It also could be built into prosthetic knees or other implantable devices whose users occasionally must undergo surgery for a battery replacement.

Arthur Kuo, a University of Michigan mechanical engineer who worked on the device, said it works similarly to the way that regenerative braking charges a battery in hybrid cars.

These regenerative brakes collect kinetic energy that normally dissipate as heat when the car slows down. The knee device collects energy lost when a person brakes the knee after swinging the leg forward to take a step, the researchers said. "It generates a fairly substantial amount of power compared to previous devices and it does so in a way that doesn't affect the user very much," Kuo said in a telephone interview.

"You could easily power 10 cell phones at once. There are some low power computers that you could power. You could imagine devices like GPS locaters, satellite phones," he said.

With a device placed on each leg, volunteers walking on treadmills generated about 5 watts of electricity walking at a leisurely 2.2 mph (3.5 kph). Each of the devices weighs about 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg), which Kuo said was still too unwieldy.

"Even though we've demonstrated this new way to generate power, we don't mean to say this is a usable product at this time. The principle limitations are that our prototype is pretty heavy and bulky," Kuo said, adding that he thinks it can be made smaller and more practical.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and Eric Beech)

Studies Deem Biofuels a Greenhouse Threat

By Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times

Published: February 8, 2008

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.

These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.

The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.

Together the two studies offer sweeping conclusions: It does not matter if it is rain forest or scrubland that is cleared, the greenhouse gas contribution is significant. More important, they discovered that, taken globally, the production of almost all biofuels resulted, directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, in new lands being cleared, either for food or fuel.

“When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially,” said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University. “Previously there’s been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis.”

Read More

Related Articles:

Converting land for biofuel worsens global warming: study (AFP)

A rainbow forms over a rainforest in Malaysia in 2007. Clearing raw land to produce biofuels actually contributes to global warming by emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, researchers warned Thursday.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Car-Rental Companies Learn to Share

By Darren Everson, The Wall Street Journal

February 7, 2008

Zipcar Inc., the car-sharing leader, soon may really have to start sharing.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co., the U.S.'s largest rental-car company by revenue, is launching a car-sharing service in St. Louis Feb. 12. The program, called WeCar, started last month on the campus of Washington University, but this part of the initiative will be downtown and available to the general public. The move is the latest sign that major car-rental companies, which have been dipping their toes in the car-sharing and hourly rental waters, are about to dive in.

Enterprise, which is based in Clayton, Mo., says it eventually will expand WeCar beyond St. Louis, although it doesn't yet have concrete plans for where and when. Hertz Corp., a unit of Hertz Global Holdings Inc., says it is studying car sharing closely and, once it settles on a workable program, will test it in major urban centers across the country. Even U-Haul International Inc., a unit of Amerco best known for its do-it-yourself moving vehicles, has a car-sharing program called U Car Share that is available in a growing number of college markets, including Ann Arbor, Mich., and Berkeley, Calif. Avis Budget Group Inc. is watching from the sidelines for now; a company spokesman says it is following the segment closely but isn't on the cusp of announcing anything new.

Car sharing is billed as an inexpensive, environmentally minded alternative to owning a car. Customers sign up for annual memberships ($35 annually in WeCar's downtown program) and pay hourly or daily usage rates (WeCar's are $10 per hour, $30 overnight) for the cars, which they reserve online for a set time length. Gas, insurance and an allotment of free miles (200 per day at WeCar) are included. The environmental benefit is that car sharing theoretically takes cars off the road, since numerous members are sharing a few cars. Zipcar and Flexcar, the national car-sharing pioneers that merged last fall, have a combined 180,000 members and 5,000 vehicles. The cars also are often fuel-efficient and economical. All nine of the cars in the St. Louis WeCar program are Toyota Prius hybrids.

Read More ...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Europe push for greener aviation

BBC News

Some of the biggest names in European industry have begun a public-private partnership with the EU to produce greener aircraft.

Airbus, Dassault, Saab and Rolls Royce are all taking part in the 1.6bn euro (£1.2bn) "clean sky" initiative.

Half the money will be raised by the European Union and half by industry.

EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik said the investment would keep Europe at the cutting edge and help combat climate change.

Public money

The use of public money for a project involving companies such as Airbus could cause friction with its US competitor, Boeing.


40% cut in carbon dioxide emissions
40% cut in nitrous oxide emissions
20-decibel cut in noise emissions
2-3bn tonne cut in CO2 emissions over 40 years

But Myriam Goldsztejn of Dassault Aviation told the BBC News website that a public-private partnership was the right approach.

"There is no other way," she said. "The programme is so huge that if we don't work with the European Commission we'll never succeed. It's too big for one company."

She said the project might not be an issue for the World Trade Organisation, as it was all about developing the technology rather than the product.

A spokesman for Boeing said he did not wish to comment at this stage.

Carbon emissions

Last month the European Commission proposed a package of measures aimed at cutting carbon emissions by a fifth by 2020.


"Smart wing" design for fixed-wing aircraft
Low weight, low noise regional aircraft
Innovative rotor blades, turbine engines for rotorcraft
Sustainable, green engines

Eco-design to minimise fuel consumption and maximise recycling of old aircraft Launching the clean sky project in Brussels, Mr Potocnik said aeronautics accounted for 3% of current emissions. "But with passenger numbers increasing by five per cent every year, these emission levels will grow over coming decades." He said there would have to be improvements in fuel-efficient engines as well as breakthroughs in wing technology. Research institutes and universities will also be involved.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rain forests fall at 'alarming' rate

Yahoo News

By Edward Haris, Associated Press Writer Sat Feb 2, 3:49 PM ET

ABO EBAM, Nigeria - In the gloomy shade deep in Africa's rain forest, the noontime silence was pierced by the whine of a far-off chain saw. It was the sound of destruction, echoed from wood to wood, continent to continent, in the tropical belt that circles the globe.

From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia's archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world's rain forests.

An unidentified man sits next to a felled tree at the Afi mountain forest reserve near Ikom, Nigeria, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007. From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia's archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world's rain forests. (AP PhotoGeorge Osodi)

The alarm was sounded decades ago by environmentalists — and was little heeded. The picture, meanwhile, has changed: Africa is now a leader in destructiveness. The numbers have changed: U.N. specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back. And the fears have changed.

Experts still warn of extinction of animal and plant life, of the loss of forest peoples' livelihoods, of soil erosion and other damage. But scientists today worry urgently about something else: the fateful feedback link of trees and climate.

Global warming is expected to dry up and kill off vast tracts of rain forest, and dying forests will feed global warming.

"If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change," declared more than 300 scientists, conservation groups, religious leaders and others in an appeal for action at December's climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The burning or rotting of trees that comes with deforestation — at the hands of ranchers, farmers, timbermen — sends more heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the world's planes, trains, trucks and automobiles. Forest destruction accounts for about 20 percent of manmade emissions, second only to burning of fossil fuels for electricity and heat. Conversely, healthy forests absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon.

"The stakes are so dire that if we don't start turning this around in the next 10 years, the extinction crisis and the climate crisis will begin to spiral out of control," said Roman Paul Czebiniak, a forest expert with Greenpeace International. "It's a very big deal."

The December U.N. session in Bali may have been a turning point, endorsing negotiations in which nations may fashion the first global financial plan for compensating developing countries for preserving their forests.

The latest data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) helped spur delegates to action.

"Deforestation continues at an alarming rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) a year," the U.N. body said in its latest "State of the World's Forests" report.

Because northern forests remain essentially stable, that means 50,000 square miles of tropical forest are being cleared every 12 months — equivalent to one Mississippi or more than half a Britain. The lumber and fuelwood removed in the tropics alone would fill more than 1,000 Empire State Buildings, FAO figures show.

Although South America loses slightly more acreage than Africa, the rate of loss is higher here — almost 1 percent of African forests gone each year. In 2000-2005, the continent lost 10 million acres a year, including big chunks of forest in Sudan, Zambia and Tanzania, up from 9 million a decade earlier, the FAO reports.

Across the tropics the causes can be starkly different.

The Amazon and other South American forests are usually burned for cattle grazing or industrial-scale soybean farming. In Indonesia and elsewhere in southeast Asia, island forests are being cut or burned to make way for giant plantations of palm, whose oil is used in food processing, cosmetics and other products.

In Africa, by contrast, it's individuals hacking out plots for small-scale farming.

Here in Nigeria's southeastern Cross Rivers State, home to one of the largest remaining tropical forests in Africa, people from surrounding villages of huts and cement-block homes go to the forest each day to work their pineapple and cocoa farms. They see no other way of earning money to feed their families.

"The developed countries want us to keep the forests, since the air we breathe is for all of us, rich countries and poor countries," said Ogar Assam Effa, 54, a tree plantation director and member of the state conservation board.

"But we breathe the air, and our bellies are empty. Can air give you protein? Can air give you carbohydrates?" he asked. "It would be easy to convince people to stop clearing the forest if there was an alternative."

The state, which long ago banned industrial logging, is trying to offer alternatives.

Working with communities like Abo Ebam, near Nigeria's border with Cameroon, the Cross Rivers government seeks to help would-be farmers learn other trades, such as beekeeping or raising fist-sized land snails, a regional delicacy.

The state also has imposed a new licensing system. Anyone who wants to cut down one of the forest's massive, valuable mahogany trees or other hardwoods must obtain a license and negotiate which tree to fell with the nearby community, which shares in the income. The logs can't be taken away whole, but must be cut into planks in the forest, by people like David Anfor.

He's a 35-year-old father of one who earns the equivalent of 75 U.S. cents per board he cuts with a whizzing chain saw. "The forest is our natural resource. We're trying to conserve," he said. "But I'm also working for my daily eating."

A community benefiting from such small-scale forestry is likely to keep out those engaged in illegal, uncontrolled logging. But enforcement is difficult in a state with about 3,500 square miles of pristine rain forest — and few forest rangers.

On one recent day deep in the forest, where the luxuriant green canopy allows only rare shards of sunlight to reach the floor, the trilling of a hornbill bird and the distant chain saw were the only sounds heard. As forestry officials rushed to investigate, the saw operator fled deeper into the forest, sign of an illegal operation.

Environmentalists say such a conservation approach may work for rural, agrarian people in Nigeria, which lost an estimated 15 million acres between 1990 and 2005, or about one-third of its entire forest area, and has one of the world's highest deforestation rates — more than 3 percent per year.

But lessons learned in one place aren't necessarily applicable elsewhere, they say. A global strategy is needed, mobilizing all rain-forest governments.

That's the goal of the post-Bali talks, looking for ways to integrate forest preservation into the world's emerging "carbon trading" system. A government earning carbon credits for "avoided deforestation" could then sell them to a European power plant, for example, to meet its emission-reduction quota.

"These forests are the greatest global public utility," Britain's conservationist Prince Charles said in the lead-up to Bali. "As a matter of urgency we have to find ways to make them more valuable alive than dead."

Observed the World Wildlife Fund's Duncan Pollard, "Suddenly you have the whole world looking at deforestation."

But in many ways rain forests are still a world of unknowns, a place with more scientific questions than answers.

How much carbon dioxide are forests absorbing? How much carbon is stored there? How might the death of the Amazon forest affect the climate in, say, the American Midwest? Hundreds of researchers are putting in thousands of hours of work to try to answer such questions before it is too late.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A380 makes test flight on alternative fuel

Dan Lalor

BRISTOL (Reuters) - An Airbus A380, the world's largest airliner, became the first commercial jet aircraft to use alternative fuel on Friday, marking a milestone on the road to biofuels.

The double-decker A380 needed no modification to use the gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuel, which was designed to be mixed with regular jet fuel so "the airplane does not know the difference," Airbus said.

Airbus hopes the plane, hit by production delays, will become the centerpiece of efforts to develop the next generation of cleaner fuel at a time when the aviation industry is under pressure over the impact of emissions on the climate.

Sebastien Remy, head of Airbus SAS's alternative fuel program, said the GTL used on Friday was no cleaner in CO2 (carbon dioxide) terms than regular fuel but it had local air quality benefits because it produces no sulphur.

He said the take-off showed Airbus was "preparing for (the) emergence of a wider slate of synthetic fuels."

By 2025, he said, a quarter of jet fuel could be some form of alternative fuel.

The fuel used, a mix of 60 percent standard jet kerosene and 40 percent GTL, was used in one of the A380's four engines.

The GTL was made in Malaysia from natural gas and, as such, is a fossil fuel not a biofuel, which are made from renewable resources.

But Remy said GTL was the first step to developing BTL (biomass-to-liquid) fuel, which can use anything from wood chips to crops.

He wants to avoid competing with food crops, and said the research emphasis was on growing biomass where food crops are not grown, such as arid regions.

Eventually, algae could be one source.

The A380's take-off from the planemaker's Filton base was watched by reporters and hundreds of Airbus workers. It landed at Toulouse, southwest France, after a three-hour test flight.

The first A380 to carry passengers entered service with Singapore Airlines late last year after an 18-month delay caused by difficulties in installing the mammoth aircraft's wiring.

Anxious to focus on what it describes as the aircraft's environmental benefits, in terms of the amount of fuel consumed per passenger, Airbus has already rebranded the A380 the "gentle green giant," and softened its marketing presentations.

Airbus staged Friday's display weeks before British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Group planned to conduct a test jet flight on renewable fuels on a Boeing 747.

The company has said it plans a flight in early 2008 and the debut had been expected in February. The A380 was designed to break the 747's 30-year monopoly on very large passengers jets.

He said the first commercial use of GTL could be in 2009 by Qatar Airways after it has taken delivery of its first A380.

Qatar has the world's third-largest reserves of natural gas and Shell and Qatar Petroleum are building a GTL plant, called Pearl, which is due to be fully operational by 2011.

Qatar Airways's Stephen Vella said the airline wanted to use a 50 percent GTL blend from 2009 but only on a limited scale until Pearl is complete.

"The new fuels will not be limited to the airline industry, but could easily be adapted to power cars," Remy said.

(Reporting by Dan Lalor; Editing by David Cowell)

U.S. stance on climate change shifting, conference delegates say


HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) -- A meeting on climate change ended without concrete targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, but participants praised what they saw as a new willingness by the United States to discuss possible solutions.

A demonstrator dresses as a polar bear at the climate change conference to protest global warming.

Delegates from the 16 nations that emit the most pollutants, plus the European Union and the United Nations, gathered in Hawaii this week at the invitation of the U.S. to discuss what should be included in a blueprint for combatting climate change.

Among the topics were energy-efficient technologies, ways rich countries could help developing countries, and countering deforestation.

Delegates said the U.S. showed a new flexibility since earlier climate change meetings, and that they were able to talk frankly about their differences.

"We're happy the position of the United States is changing," Brice LaLonde, France's climate change ambassador, said at a news conference Thursday following the two days of closed-door talks at the University of Hawaii.

LaLonde pointed to bills in Congress addressing climate change and the Bush administration's move to host the Hawaii meeting as evidence for a shift by Washington.

But he said France hoped for additional changes, specifically for the U.S. to join other industrialized nations in agreeing to a national mandatory greenhouse gas reduction target.

"Of course, we want more. We hope in the next weeks after these discussions that we'll be able to deliver more," LaLonde said. "But it's a good start."

Delegates didn't discuss the details of a European Union proposal for industrialized countries to slash emissions by 25 to 40 percent, said Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission's head of climate change negotiations.

The emissions reduction proposal -- and U.S. opposition to it -- was one of the biggest sticking points of a contentious climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

The Bali conference ended with the U.S. agreeing to join nearly 190 countries to craft a blueprint for fighting climate change by 2009. But that happened only after participants loudly booed repeated U.S. objections to the document.

Britain's environment minister, Phil Woolas, said no nation wants to be singled out as the obstacle to progress on climate change.

"Bali has put the spotlight on you, doesn't it. There's no country that wants to be the party pooper," Woolas said during a break in the Hawaii talks.

He added that delegates shared a sense that work needs to get done because of the dire consequences of rising temperatures, sea levels and environmental catastrophes.

"There's a realization that we have to get an agreement; otherwise we're all going to drown," Woolas said.

Chief U.S. delegate Jim Connaughton, the White House environmental chief, said President Bush has long highlighted the importance of reducing emissions.

He pointed to U.S. efforts supporting hydrogen energy, funding for energy efficient technologies and partnerships with other countries.

"We like to prepare, plan and announce. This is what the president has done consistently since 2001. As you can see, it's gaining increasing appreciation," Connaughton said after the talks.

The U.S. has been seeking voluntary pledges from nations for specific cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Nations represented at the conference account for 80 percent of emissions that scientists say contribute to global warming. In addition to the U.S., Britain and France, they are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and South Africa.

Environmentalists had voiced skepticism about what the Hawaii talks would accomplish, given the U.S. opposition to mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.

The EU has proposed cutting its overall emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, or 14 percent from 2005.

Demonstrators were absent Thursday, but about a dozen had protested the day before outside the meeting to object to what they said was insufficient commitment from the Bush administration to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Others drew blue chalk lines along Honolulu city streets to show where high tide would be after decades of global warming and rising sea levels.

Other related topics (CNN)