IN TODAY'S AUDIO REPORT: Swine flu protection, nuthin' but pork, said the Republicans; California's new fuel regulations threaten corn ethanol; Does Al Gore profit from his environmental advocacy? PLUS: A tribute to our dear departed friend, John Gideon... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail, unfortunate puns on pork and swine? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (links below): Sec. of State Clinton: U.S. "ready to lead" climate change fight; Crunch time for Chrysler and GM; Tesla charging station opens in California; Slowly overturning Bush "midnight regulations" on Mountaintop Removal; PLUS...Solar Power, even at night...See below for more!
Info/links on stuff we talked about on today's episode, plus MORE green news, all follows below...
- Tom Philpott, Grist.org: Swine-flu outbreak could be linked to Smithfield factory farms
- Mexico outbreak traced to 'manure lagoons' at pig farm
It is now known that there was a widespread outbreak of a powerful respiratory disease in the La Gloria area earlier this month, with some of the town's residents falling ill in February. Health workers soon intervened, sealing off the town and spraying chemicals to kill the flies that were reportedly swarming through people's homes.
A spokeswoman for Smithfield, Keira Ullrich, said that the company had found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in its swine herd or its employees working at its joint ventures anywhere in Mexico.
"According to state agents of the Mexican social security institute, the vector of this outbreak are the clouds of flies that come out of the hog barns, and the waste lagoons into which the Mexican-US company spews tons of excrement," reported Mexico City newspaper La Jornada. Swine flu can be caught through contact with infected animals, but it is unclear if contact with flies or excrement has the same effect.
At issue for ethanol (and other biofuels) is the inclusion in the LCFS of indirect land use effects in calculating a fuel's total GHG contributions. If the proposed rule is approved, California will utilize a computer model that incorporates the effects on GHG emissions of growing fuel on existing farmland, as well as the effect of deforestation caused by the need to bring additional land under cultivation as fuel crops displace food crops worldwide. Growing food-for-fuel will display a significant indirect land use effect (while cellulosic ethanol, produced from non-food crops like switchgrass and jatropha, will get a pass).
For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.
But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.
By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action.
The compelling narrative the DVN slyly wove together daily --- almost, as if in slow-motion, with each passing day --- was clear: We were, and are, a country whose promise of public, transparent democracy threatens to slip away forever beneath a cynical and foolish crush of ill-considered corporatism and greed, self-imposed expediency and often well-meaning, yet destructive naivete. In short: Unless we take care --- every single day --- what's left of our democracy will further wither to the whims of cold, disinterested privatization, no longer resembling the self-governance our founders envisioned...
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA': More green news not covered in today's audio report... .... See below!
(AFP) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States "is ready to lead" and make up for lost time in the fight against climate change, as she opened an international forum here.
"Desertification and rising sea levels generate increased competition for food, water and resources," said the chief U.S. diplomat. "But we also have seen the dangers that these trends pose to the stability of societies and governments. We see how this can breed conflict, unrest and forced migration," she said.
"So no issue we face today has broader long term consequences or greater potential to alter the world for future generations," she asserted.
Some environmentalists, however, were disappointed by Salazar's move, arguing that more needs to be done and that the federal government has failed to enforce for decades its rule governing mountaintop mining practices.
The ongoing dispute centers on a 1983 law that bars mining operators from dumping piles of debris -- which stem from blowing off the tops of mountains to get to the coal -- within 100 feet of any intermittent or permanent stream if the material would harm a stream's water quality or reduce its flow.
In its last weeks in office, the Bush Administration pushed through a rule that allows coal mine operators to dump mountaintop fill into streambeds if it's found to be the cheapest and most convenient disposal option. We must responsibly develop our coal supplies to help us achieve energy independence, but we cannot do so without appropriately assessing the impact such development might have on local communities and natural habitat and the species it supports. The so-called 'stream buffer zone rule' simply doesn't pass muster with respect to adequately protecting water quality and stream habitat that communities rely on in coal country.
One frequent criticism you hear about solar power is that the sun only shines during the day, and the prospect of heavy cloud cover or rain makes solar too unpredictable to provide constant baseload power to the grid. But the thing is, that's increasingly very untrue.
New solar thermal technology overcomes a major challenge facing solar power - how to store the sun's heat for use at night or on a rainy day. As researchers tout its promise, solar thermal plants are under construction or planned from Spain to Australia to the American Southwest.
In the high desert of southern Spain, not far from Granada, the Mediterranean sun bounces off large arrays of precisely curved mirrors that cover an area as large as 70 soccer fields. These parabolic troughs follow the arc of the sun as it moves across the sky, concentrating the sun's rays onto pipes filled with a synthetic oil that can be heated to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. That super-heated oil is used to boil water to power steam turbines, or to pump excess heat into vats of salts, turning them a molten, lava-like consistency.