Friday, July 20, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 7-20-07

“. . . all biofuels are not equal. Expansion of the corn ethanol industry will lead to more water and air pollution and soil erosion of America's farm belt, while failing to significantly offset fossil fuel use or combat global warming." The conclusion of a report issued yesterday that repeats what people with understanding have been saying for months now. Given the power of the corn lobby, should only take 3-4 decades for it to seep down to the people without understanding. Like this “legislator” in IA who’s so eat up with wanting corn in his car despite the tremendous pressure it puts on water supplies that he’s refusing to support regulations on aquifer use there until “he sees proof that Iowa's aquifers are in trouble.” Words fail. . . . A couple of good news items. One, Peru is launching a drive to replenish its forests, and two, progress is being made on research on alternate cropping practices that might reduce the amount of fertilizer getting into important water supplies. . . . And here’s interesting if not good news. Turns out the melting of glaciers and ice caps will likely add more to the ocean level rises predicted than the loss of the massive Arctic or Greenland ice sheets. Like I said, interesting, not good. . . . Interesting study in Britain about rural communities and their use of local, alternative energy sources. Far-reaching results hopefully: “A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, of community renewable energy projects in Britain has found that so far, projects are largely based in the countryside, some quite remote. From wind turbines to shared heating systems, small-scale renewable energy doesn't just help in the fight against climate change. It can also bring people together, revitalise local economies and help alleviate poverty.” . . .Not a good headline for weather, water, energy: China's economy roars ahead. . . . State of emergency declared for a drought-stricken county in CA. . . . Nonlinear change that will come faster than we’re historically prepared for socially or politically (but actually has promise for economic change)? Sounds like the next book on my reading list. "I want to scare you about climate change," says Fred Pearce, veteran environmental journalist and author. "We are probably the last generation to be able to rely on a stable climate." Addressing a sympathetic audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Pearce is preaching to the converted about the reality and risks of climate change. But it is his fear -- as the title of his new book, "The Last Generation: How Nature Will Take Her Revenge for Climate Change" (it is called "With Speed and Violence" in the U.S.), suggests -- that we still haven't fully realized the apocalyptic forces we have awoken and the reality of what is at stake if global warming continues untrammeled. This is not just about warmer weather, environmental degradation and a looming refugee crisis, according to Pearce, but "about our survival as a species, as homo sapiens." Oh, well, when you put it that way . . . .

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