Saturday, April 26, 2008

ways to reduce gasoline usage

  1. Avoid high speeds. Calculations demonstrate a decrease of 3 miles per gallon between 55-65 mph, which rises to 4.3 mpg between 55-70 because of wind resistance.
  2. Avoid jackrabbit starts. Gentle acceleration definitely cuts down on gas usage. The "Driving Change" pilot program in the Denver area harnesses an innovative accelerometer (made by Cartasite, Inc.) with the access of the Internet to help motorists track their driving techniques in an effort to help reduce air pollution and increase mpg.
  3. Avoid unnecessary sudden braking. Coast to a stop to save gas and lower the amount of asbestos fibers in the air.
  4. Only use "cruise control" on the open highway. In heavy traffic, it simply wastes gas.
  5. Practice optimized shifting techniques. Get into higher gears as quickly as possible.
  6. Switch off the air conditioner to save 5% to 15% of the energy your car uses.
  7. If idling is anticipated for over 60 seconds, shut the engine off.
  8. Lighten the load: 1% of fuel efficiency is lost for every 50 pounds of extra weight in your trunk.
  9. Remove bike, luggage, or ski racks from the top of your SUV or truck for less wind resistance.
  10. Keep tires fully inflated to manufacturer's specifications for a 3% gas savings.
  11. Use a multi-grade (versus "straight") motor oil to improve mileage by 1.5% to 2.7%.
  12. Keep your vehicle in good state of tune.
  13. Lastly, practice combining errands. This reduces "cold starts," which account for a disproportionate amount of air pollution.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smog, even in small amounts, leads to premature death

as reported by AP, found on MSNBC:

Major report links smog to deaths
Findings contradict White House's downplaying of pollution risks

Short-term exposure to smog, or ozone, is clearly linked to premature deaths that should be taken into account when measuring the health benefits of reducing air pollution, a National Academy of Sciences review concludes.

The findings contradict arguments made by some White House officials that the connection between smog and premature death has not been shown sufficiently, and that the number of saved lives should not be calculated in determining clean air benefits.

The report released Tuesday by a panel of the Academy’s National Research Council says government agencies “should give little or no weight” to such arguments.

“The committee has concluded from its review of health-based evidence that short-term exposure to ambient ozone is likely to contribute to premature deaths,” the 13-member panel said.

It added that “studies have yielded strong evidence that short-term exposure to ozone can exacerbate lung conditions, causing illness and hospitalization and can potentially lead to death.”

Even short-term exposure harms
The panel examined short-term exposure — up to 24 hours — to high levels of ozone, but said more studies also were needed on long-term chronic exposure where the risk of premature death “may be larger than those observed in acute effects studies alone.”

Ground-level ozone is formed from nitrogen oxide and organic compounds created by burning fossil fuels and is demonstrated often by the yellow haze or smog that lingers in the air. Ozone exposure is a leading cause of respiratory illnesses and especially affects the elderly, those with respiratory problems and children.

While premature deaths from ozone exposure is greater among individuals with lung and heart disease, the report said such deaths are not restricted to people who are at a high risk of death within a few days.

The scientists said they could not determine, based on a review of health studies, whether there is a threshold below which no fatalities can be assured from ozone exposure. If there is such a point, it is below the ozone levels allowed for public health.

Environmentalists and health advocates have argued that a string of health studies and surveys show that exposure to smoggy air not only aggravates respiratory problems, but annually causes thousands of deaths.

EPA and White House at odds
But in a number of instances the EPA and the White House Office of Management and Budget, which reviews regulations, have been at odds over the certainty of a link between smog levels and deaths.

The Academy’s report “could have important consequences” on such future disputes, said attorney Vicky Patton of the advocacy group Environmental Defense.

She said the OMB in a number of air pollution regulations has sought to minimize the relationship of pollution and premature deaths, resulting in a lower calculation of health benefits from pollution reductions.

“This has been used by industry to try to attack health standards by minimizing the societal benefits,” said Patton.

One such case involves the EPA’s decision last month to toughen the ozone health standard, reducing the allowable concentration in the air.

When the cost-benefit analysis was being prepared in connection with the rulemaking, the OMB argued there is “considerable uncertainty” in the association between ozone levels and deaths.

As a result, the EPA issued a wide cost-benefit range from an annual net societal cost of $20 billion to a savings of $23 billion, depending largely on whether one takes into account lives saved from ozone-related premature deaths.

OMB officials also have objected to the EPA quantifying ozone-related mortality benefits in new emissions standards for lawn mowers and other small engines that release large amounts of ozone-forming pollution.

In response, the EPA removed “all references to quantified ozone benefits” in the proposed rule, according to an e-mail sent by EPA to the OMB. The small engine regulation is awaiting final action.

some numbers:
county health risk score rank vs. nat. median
San Francisco 0 2012 0.364
Alameda 0.04 944 3.015
Los Angeles 0.04 902 3.232
Marin 0 2081 0.3
Orange County 0.07 615 5.409
San Bernardino 0.09 507 6.881
Santa Clara 0.01 1602 0.94
Washington 4.49 1 350.203
New York 0.02 1232 1.804

Ohio as a state has the most polluted counties... Almost all of its counties are ranked in the top 600s.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Newsweek reports on our water conservation problem

Remember last fall when the city of Atlanta was said to be just weeks away from running dry? It's getting warm in the Southeast again, and Lake Lanier, which supplies water to parts of three states (Georgia, Alabama and Florida) is still down 13 feet from where it should be this time of year. Part of the fault lies with the Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates the outflow from the lake down the Chattahoochee River and sent billions of gallons into the Atlantic to protect the endangered sturgeon population, based on a plan that had not been updated since 1989. It also lost an additional 22 billion gallons, owing to a broken gauge. But the bigger problem is the lack of a coherent policy for collecting, conserving and using fresh water there, or in much of the rest of the United States, or, for that matter, the world.

Environmentalists have long warned about the crisis in nonrenewable resources, such as oil. Water, of course, is the ultimate renewable resource—it falls from the sky—and therefore has been of less concern. But where and when rain falls, and what happens to it after it hits the ground, are crucial in determining the health and prosperity of human societies, says Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and special adviser on environmental policy to an impressive number of foreign leaders including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, various governments, even rock stars (Bono is a friend). In his new book, "Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet," Sachs describes the worldwide water shortage as "one of our most daunting challenges." A six-year drought in Australia has virtually wiped out that country's rice crop, contributing to food riots in countries from Haiti to Indonesia this month. "Much of the world is already in water crisis," Sachs says. "And that crisis will only continue to grow."

Economists and geologists have identified one culprit in the water-management problem, a mind-set they call "stationarity"—the belief that natural systems fluctuate within a narrow, predictable range, even over long periods. "Stationarity is dead," says Chris Milly, author of a recent Science paper on the issue—done in by population growth, climate change and economic development. But the effect of the stationarity fallacy has been to leave water policy in the hands of relatively shortsighted municipal and state authorities, while the federal government has been looking the other way. This problem is especially acute in the Southwest. In February, one study found that Lake Mead, which supplies a stretch of the Colorado River that snakes through northern Arizona, could run dry in a decade or so, if current water use rates persist. Each year, the study found, the lake loses enough water for 8 million people. "Just like we have peak oil, we have peak water, and when it comes to the Colorado River, we are at that peak," says Tim Barnett, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., and coauthor of the Mead study. "The whole West is under the gun here." And while the threat may be less immediate in regions such as the Northeast, less water in one area can mean less food and more illness in another.
Sachs poses several technical and economic strategies that may help avert disaster. And unlike the ultrahigh-tech fixes to the energy crisis, many of these are relatively uncomplicated, low-cost and already proved. For example, digging ponds or underground receptacles to store rainwater for irrigation during dry spells has increased crop yields for some Chinese farmers by 20 to 50 percent. Cities such as Las Vegas are recycling wastewater. And a handful of states around the country, and countries around the world, have begun manually replenishing natural underground aquifers with treated wastewater or storm runoff, hoping to protect against droughts.

Sachs advocates using a combination of these and other similar strategies, depending on the needs of each region. In combination with economic incentives, he says, they can lessen the severity of the water problem without exceptional cost to the environment or the economy.

But implementing any of these takes planning, organization and leadership. "Politicians don't want to bear the costs of adjustment," Sachs says. "So they ignore the problem and continue the same unsustainable practices." There is no single solution. Governments, industries and individuals will collaborate or suffer the consequences. However responsibility is divided, we can no longer take our most renewable resource for granted.

Muir Woods turn 100 today! Free admission!

As reported by
Michelle Locke, AP

This centennial year celebrating the national monument is full of events including a daylong celebration April 21, the birthday of Sierra Club founder John Muir.

The jammed parking lot outside Muir Woods is proof this stand of old-growth coast redwoods is a popular spot.

And it's easy to see why as you walk away from the clamor into an oasis where slanting beams of sunlight caress rugged red trunks that have stood for hundreds of years.

It almost didn't happen. There was a time when these trees came close to feeling the bite of loggers' saws. But stout efforts by early preservationists turned the area into a national monument in 1908.

"It's a great place because we're able to tell the story of the redwoods and how they were almost cut completely down," says Timothy Jordan, interpretative ranger and volunteer coordinator at the park. "It's a chance to get that message out to people from all around the world."

All around the world is right. Muir Woods, just a dozen miles north of San Francisco, gets a million visitors a year and you may hear the sounds of Mandarin, French, Spanish or a score of other languages in the park at any time. Mostly they seem to be saying the same thing: These trees are big.

The park includes redwoods over 260 feet high; some are more than 1,200 years old. Of special interest is Cathedral Grove, where delegates who drafted the charter of the United Nations held a commemorative ceremony on May 19, 1945, in tribute to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died in April of that year.

The grove can be reached on a loop walk of only one mile, great for families and anyone else who isn't seriously into hiking but wants to experience California's famous redwoods without driving for hours.

On certain days, Cathedral Grove is designated a "quiet zone" with a sign to that effect to heighten the experience of the magic and majesty of the woods — all the more remarkable for being about 30 minutes from the cosmopolitan bustle of San Francisco. Listen to the birds and the wind rustling in the branches; gaze up at trees soaring into the sky, their leafy tops forming graceful arches, and you'll understand how this spot got its name.

With Muir's birthday coming up, and in proximity to Earth Day, April 22, and Arbor Day, April 25, officials plan free admission on April 21 with a number of tours and activities. A fun hunt for families is "A Quest at Muir Woods," a booklet with instructions on finding clues to a puzzle along the trail.
President Theodore Roosevelt, a big supporter of the nascent conservation movement, played a pivotal role in preserving the woods.

Most of the coastal redwoods that once covered the California coast were chopped down to build the homes and cities of new California. But the Muir trees, tucked in a hard-to-access Redwood Canyon survived until the turn of the 19th century.

Businessman William Kent bought the land in hopes of preserving it. But after the 1906 earthquake, demand for new development soared and Kent was almost overruled by a local water company which wanted to cut the trees and dam Redwood Creek and filed court papers to try to condemn the land.

Kent, who later became a congressman, donated the land to the government and Roosevelt turned the woods into a national monument using the powers of the recently passed Antiquities Act.

It was Kent who wanted the woods named for naturalist Muir. In an exchange of letters, Roosevelt advocated for putting Kent's name on the new monument, but Kent replied that he had "five good husky boys," and if they couldn't keep the name of Kent alive, "I am willing it should be forgotten."

Kent, whose name is commemorated in the Marin County town of Kentfield among other things, went on to co-author the act creating the National Park Service in 1916.

In a letter to Kent, Muir wrote: "Saving these woods from the axe & saw, from money-changers and water-changers & giving them to our country & the world is in many ways the most notable service to God & man I've heard of since my forest wanderings began."

Monday, March 10, 2008

CO2 output must cease altogether

as reported by Washington Post:

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.

Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.
Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further.

"The question is, what if we don't want the Earth to warm anymore?" asked Carnegie Institution senior scientist Ken Caldeira, co-author of a paper published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The answer implies a much more radical change to our energy system than people are thinking about."

Emissions continue to rise
Although many nations have been pledging steps to curb emissions for nearly a decade, the world's output of carbon from human activities totals about 10 billion tons a year and has been steadily rising.

For now, at least, a goal of zero emissions appears well beyond the reach of politicians here and abroad. U.S. leaders are just beginning to grapple with setting any mandatory limit on greenhouse gases. The Senate is poised to vote in June on legislation that would reduce U.S. emissions by 70 percent by 2050; the two Democratic senators running for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), back an 80 percent cut. The Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), supports a 60 percent reduction by mid-century.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is shepherding climate legislation through the Senate as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the new findings "make it clear we must act now to address global warming."

"It won't be easy, given the makeup of the Senate, but the science is compelling," she said. "It is hard for me to see how my colleagues can duck this issue and live with themselves."

James L. Connaughton, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, offered a more guarded reaction, saying the idea that "ultimately you need to get to net-zero emissions" is "something we've heard before." When it comes to tackling such a daunting environmental and technological problem, he added: "We've done this kind of thing before. We will do it again. It will just take a sufficient amount of time."

Warming may continue despite CO2 cuts
Until now, scientists and policymakers have generally described the problem in terms of halting the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere. The United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change framed the question that way two decades ago, and many experts talk of limiting CO2 concentrations to 450 parts per million (ppm).

But Caldeira and Oregon State University professor Andreas Schmittner now argue that it makes more sense to focus on a temperature threshold as a better marker of when the planet will experience severe climate disruptions. The Earth has already warmed by 0.76 degrees Celsius (nearly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Most scientists warn that a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) could have serious consequences.

Schmittner, lead author of a Feb. 14 article in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, said his modeling indicates that if global emissions continue on a "business as usual" path for the rest of the century, the Earth will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. If emissions do not drop to zero until 2300, he calculated, the temperature rise at that point would be more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This is tremendous," Schmittner said. "I was struck by the fact that the warming continues much longer even after emissions have declined. . . . Our actions right now will have consequences for many, many generations. Not just for a hundred years, but thousands of years."
While natural cycles remove roughly half of human-emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within a hundred years, a significant portion persists for thousands of years. Some of this carbon triggers deep-sea warming, which keeps raising the global average temperature even after emissions halt.

Researchers have predicted for a long time that warming will persist even after the world's carbon emissions start to fall and that countries will have to dramatically curb their carbon output in order to avert severe climate change. Last year's report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said industrialized nations would have to cut emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050 to limit CO2 concentrations to the 450 ppm goal, and the world as a whole would have to reduce emissions by 50 to 80 percent.

Glimpse into the distant future
European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, in Washington last week for meetings with administration officials, said he and his colleagues are operating on the assumption that developed nations must cut emissions 60 to 80 percent by mid-century, with an overall global reduction of 50 percent. "If that is not enough, common sense is that we would not let the planet be destroyed," he said.

The two new studies outline the challenge in greater detail, and on a longer time scale, than many earlier studies. Schmittner's study, for example, projects how the Earth will warm for the next 2,000 years.

But some climate researchers who back major greenhouse gas reductions said it is unrealistic to expect policymakers to think in terms of such vast time scales.

"People aren't reducing emissions at all, let alone debating whether 88 percent or 99 percent is sufficient," said Gavin A. Schmidt, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "It's like you're starting off on a road trip from New York to California, and before you even start, you're arguing about where you're going to park at the end."

Brian O'Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research emphasized that some uncertainties surround the strength of the natural carbon cycle and the dynamics of ocean warming, which in turn would affect the accuracy of Caldeira's modeling. "Neither of these are known precisely," he said.

Although computer models used by scientists to project changes in the climate have become increasingly powerful, scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time.

Still, O'Neill said the modeling "helps clarify thinking about long-term policy goals. If we want to reduce warming to a certain level, there's a fixed amount of carbon we can put into the atmosphere. After that, we can't emit any more, at all."

Caldeira and his colleague, H. Damon Matthews, a geography professor at Concordia University in Montreal, emphasized this point in their paper, concluding that "each unit of CO2 emissions must be viewed as leading to quantifiable and essentially permanent climate change on centennial timescales."

Steve Gardiner, a philosophy professor at the University of Washington who studies climate change, said the studies highlight that the argument over global warming "is a classic inter-generational debate, where the short-term benefits of emitting carbon accrue mainly to us and where the dangers of them are largely put off until future generations."

When it comes to deciding how drastically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, O'Neill said, "in the end, this is a value judgment, it's not a scientific question." The idea of shifting to a carbon-free society, he added, "appears to be technically feasible. The question is whether it's politically feasible or economically feasible."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A new way to fight Global Warming?

Some scientists have proposed compressing carbon dioxide and sticking it in underground caves as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases. Joe David Jones wants to make baking soda out of it.

Jones, the founder and CEO of Skyonic, has come up with an industrial process called SkyMine that captures 90 percent of the carbon dioxide coming out of smokestacks and mixes it with sodium hydroxide to make sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. The energy required for the reaction to turn the chemicals into baking soda comes from the waste heat from the factory.

"It is cleaner than food-grade (baking soda)," he said.

The system also removes 97 percent of the heavy metals, as well as most of the sulfur and nitrogen compounds, Jones said.
Luminant, a utility formerly known as TXU, installed a pilot version of the system at its Big Brown Steam Electric Station in Fairfield, Texas, last year. Skyonic, meanwhile, hopes to install a system that will consume the greenhouse gas output of a large--500 megawatts or so--power plant around 2009. Skyonic is currently designing one of these large systems.

"It has been working pretty well. It does present a potential solution to emissions," said a representative for Luminant. "But right now there is still a lot of work to be done."

If the concept works on a grand scale, it could help change some of the pernicious economics and daunting engineering challenges surrounding carbon capture and sequestration.
Carbon capture likely will be required to curb global warming, according to many scientists and companies that are currently experimenting with ways to effectively bury or fix greenhouse gases as they come out of smokestacks. Coal accounted for 26 percent of energy consumed in 2004 worldwide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, and will grow to 28 percent by 2030. Coal also accounted for 39 percent of carbon dioxide in 2004 (behind oil) but is expected to pass oil for the No. 1 spot in 2010.

What about replacing every incandescent bulb in America with compact fluorescents? The benefits are eradicated by the carbon dioxide emitted by two coal-fired plants over a year, according to Ed Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, a nonprofit that encourages builders, suppliers, and architects to move toward making carbon-neutral buildings by 2030.

Unfortunately, a lot of the proposed solutions for sequestration involve large amounts of capital and risk. If you bury carbon dioxide underground, it could always leak out. Other ideas include pumping it into underground saline aquifers or porous rock formations.
Because it's a solid, storing baking soda is simply easier, and it allows greenhouse gas emitters to store a lot of carbon in one place. The stuff piles up: A 500-megawatt power plant will produce approximately 338,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Multiply that weight by 1.9 and you get the number of tons of baking soda that the plant will produce. Still, it can be sold, stored in containers, used for landfill or buried in abandoned mines.

"If you can use the waste heat, it strikes me as a potentially feasible approach," said Alex Farrell, an assistant professor in the energy and resources group at the University of California at Berkeley. "I'm not willing to throw any of the ideas out yet."

On top of that, the byproducts of the different reactions--chlorine, baking soda, and hydrogen (a byproduct from making the sodium hydroxide that gets mixed with the carbon dioxide)--can be sold to industrial users. In all likelihood, the chlorine and hydrogen will have a higher market value than the baking soda, but baking soda does have its buyers. It is often used as an industrial abrasive. Besides, baking soda today gets mined--an expensive process. Skyonic's byproduct would obviate the need to dig holes in the ground.

Other start-ups are trying to develop salable products out of carbon dioxide. Greenfuel Technologies wants to capture carbon dioxide and feed it to algae farms. Greenfuel then sells the algae to biodiesel manufacturers.

Making biodiesel from algae, though, remains in the experimental stage. Similarly, Novomer wants to turn carbon dioxide into plastics, while a few other start-ups are coming up with liquid fuels derived from the gas.

These approaches, however, result in byproducts that are more experimental than cranking out baking soda. Greenfuel, for instance, has been forced to delay a prototype in Arizona.

There's another benefit to Skyonic's system, Jones said. Because the system captures metals and acid gases, it can replace the $400 million scrubbers that power plants currently have to install. Skyonic's system will probably cost about the same amount as a scrubber. Although the capital budget will be equal, power plant owners will get a salable byproduct and avoid carbon taxes, which may be imposed in the future.

Jones, a chemical engineer, came up with the idea for the company while watching TV with his sons. The Discovery Channel had a show about traveling to Mars, and experts offered up their ideas for getting rid of carbon dioxide. Jones told his sons that the experts had it wrong. Creating sodium bicarbonate would probably be the best solution.

He then went to his PC and began to research the subject on Google. He didn't find a lot of answers, but one posting referred to a 1973 textbook Jones remembered. He'd bought it for a class at the University of Texas. In fact, it was on the shelf right behind him.

He opened it up to the relevant page and there was the passage he wanted, underlined years earlier by Jones himself.

this so far sounds like the most feasible way to fight global warming yet. and Baking Soda can also be used as soap, in cooking, and also to neutralize acids. thoughts?

Some good news among the bad

It's heartening to see little kids trying their best to recycle and protect the environment, afterall, it will soon be their responsibility.

Five-thousand dollars is a lot of money to an elementary schooler. For the students at Gomes Elementary in Fremont, it's a reward for their commitment to the environment.

The school was among 3,000 across the nation to join the "Go Green & Small With 'All'" program, sponsored by the All detergent company. Gomes is one of two schools chosen from California. It was a learning experience for Georgia Pope, who told me that during the application process, "I figured out one person or one school can make a difference in the world."
Ten-year-old fifth grader Claire Yuan told me, "At school we recycle a lot and at home we recycle as much as possible. And, we switched to energy-efficient light bulbs."

Yuan is a member of the school's Eco Club, which sponsors campus cleanups, e-waste recycling days and environmental seminars for the rest of the school. Ten-year-old fifth grader Sara Ye said it puts a little fun in the air.

In addition to the $5,000 check presented Monday, the school is now qualified for a chance to earn an additional $45,000 in prize money to be awarded later this week.

Vice-principal Brett Nelson said the plan is to buy a recycling container where community members can drop off material, which the Eco Club will then recycle for profit. The money raised will help pay for other eco projects.

Eric Lee, one of the teachers who sponsors the school's Eco Club said he didn't want to jinx the national competition, but added, "I think we have a chance because we put our heart and soul into it."


pretty inspiring stuff, I will definitely educate my kids, when and if I have any, about the importance of recycling.

A solution to Carbon Dioxide in the air?

Underground storage could provide solution to keep gas from atmosphere - a very interesting idea from MSNBC...

Escalating carbon dioxide levels tied to global warming have increasingly forced world leaders to grapple with environmental costs of delaying reduction efforts versus economic costs of implementing tighter regulations. But therein lies a key dilemma: How can future power plants meet a projected spike in energy demand yet keep the atmosphere from amassing even more of the heat-trapping gas?

About two months from now, three narrow wells will plunge thousands of feet through the industrial scrubland of southeastern Washington state, reaching for a solution to the expected crisis through a natural volcanic formation created in the distant past. Within that thick layer-cake of basalt rock, liquefied carbon dioxide — which would otherwise accumulate as a major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere — will begin taking the place of brackish water. And if all goes well, that pressurized carbon will gradually mineralize into limestone, trapping itself forever within the vast underground prison and assuming a major role in the fight to ward off a future environmental catastrophe.
In the last few years, growing ranks of researchers have suggested capturing carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel-burning plants and then sequestering it away as one strategy for keeping it out of the atmosphere. But the challenges have proven daunting, with some deep-ocean storage plans shot down over fears of the carbon escaping en masse or of other environmental damage emerging as a byproduct.
Underground storage
When Peter McGrail first heard about a proposal to instead store carbon dioxide underground, he was dubious. “I said, you’ve got to be nuts, this is crazy,” he said. Now, the senior scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., expects to spend the rest of his career working on it. In fact, McGrail believes deep geological sequestration presents the most economically attractive solution — and also one of the largest storage sinks. Without a comparable strategy, he said, the economics of future carbon dioxide mitigation efforts are likely to be “kind of ugly.”

Between 6 million and 17 million years ago, as many as 300 lava flows covered a huge swath of what is now southern Idaho, northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. Within these flows, extending thousands of feet below the surface, successive layers of permeable and porous basalt formations have trapped water beneath less permeable rock caps. In all, McGrail said, the multilayered deposits have the capacity to store 50 to 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to 20 to 50 years worth of emissions from every coal-fired power plant in the United States.

The potential solution, he said, “is a story about fate and transport.” Because carbon dioxide floats, any engineering strategy would have to seal its fate by cutting off escape routes to keep it from migrating back up to the surface. Computer simulations suggest that once pumped through the well, liquid carbon dioxide will remain stuck between layers of the massive basalt formation.

High-pressure confines
For their pilot project, McGrail and his collaborators plan to inject between 3,000 and 5,000 tons of liquid carbon dioxide over a two- to three-week period. Based on the region’s geography, McGrail said he expects the carbon dioxide to be stored at a depth of between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

Within its high-pressure underground confines, laboratory tests support the idea that the compound’s ultimate destiny will be to mineralize into a calcium carbonate coating — the main component of limestone and “the most safe and secure storage you could have,” McGrail said. “Essentially, the CO2 is converted back to rock.” The process would require no additional energy input, whereas options such as trapping carbon dioxide under sandstone layers would lack the same mineralization and require leaving an impermeable caprock in place for a century or more.
Modeling experiments suggested that even if injected into fractured basalt formations, carbon dioxide would migrate upwards only about half the length of a football field over a period of 17 years. “Assuming that the CO2 stays in place, the chemistry is pretty straightforward,” McGrail said. “The mineralization is really just a bonus. You can’t have that unless the carbon dioxide is staying put for a while.” In the lab, exposing samples of the area’s basalt to carbon dioxide-saturated water yielded calcium carbonate mineral formation in just four to six weeks and extensive mineralization within eight months.

Based on current designs, one test well will act as the pilot bore hole to reveal underground rock properties in advance and enable temperature and pressure monitoring after the injection. A second well will serve as the injection site for the carbon dioxide. And a third will be used for gathering seismic measurements and collecting water chemistry samples after the injection, the latter of which should reveal the rate of the mineralization process. The entire pilot project, slated at more than $10 million, has been funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, with assistance from power companies and industrial firms belonging to the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.
Trapped in basalt
If proven effective, McGrail said, most of the cost associated with such a storage strategy would be tied up in the initial capture and transport of the carbon dioxide. With the necessary right-of-ways and construction premiums, for example, pipelines can command $1 million or more per mile, a big reason why he and other proponents say configuring future power plants near the underground storage sites would make the most fiscal sense.

Carbon dioxide could be injected into a single well at a rate of more than a few hundred kilotons per year, permitting the sequestering of emissions from a small to mid-sized coal-fueled power plant. McGrail said other regions of the country with sizeable basalt formations and a dearth of storage alternatives, notably the Southeast, would stand to benefit by adopting similar strategies. Already, a $2.2 billion coal-fired plant that would bury about two-thirds of its own carbon dioxide has been proposed for a location near the Washington test site, pending the pilot project’s success.

Michael Aziz, a professor of materials science at Harvard University, said he was intrigued by the basalt-trapping approach’s capacity for storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide, though he worried about the possibility of CO2 leaking back into the atmosphere. “I hope it works,” he said.
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Nature-driven approach
Aziz and colleagues at Harvard and Pennsylvania State University have staked out a nature-driven approach to storing the gas in an even bigger reservoir: the ocean. Normally, carbon dioxide dissolves in rain and other freshwater to form weak carbonic acid. When the solution percolates through rocks, the acid converts to an alkaline solution that flows into the ocean, increasing its ability to retain dissolved carbon.

“The idea is to mimic the way nature takes CO2 out of the atmosphere by building a series of chemical and electrochemical reactions,” Aziz said. “When you put them together and put a box around them, the output is identical to the chemical weathering of the Earth.” Easier said than done, of course, but the team published a recent study concluding that substituting nature’s weak carbonic acid with more potent hydrochloric acid could dramatically speed up the process.

Under the most optimistic scenario, Aziz said, the solution might be capable of offsetting 10 percent to 20 percent of projected increases in carbon dioxide levels. But he warned that such strategies shouldn’t be used as a justification to relax efforts aimed at reducing emissions. McGrail agreed, arguing that in order to affect carbon dioxide levels, people will need to completely transform how they use resources on a global scale. “It’s not an excuse to cut back on conservation programs or energy renewal programs,” he said.
Nevertheless, McGrail said the deep basalt sequestering strategy may have the least economic impact in terms of stabilizing atmospheric emissions, especially for developing countries like India and China. India’s National Geophysical Research Institute, in particular, has expressed a keen interest in the results of the pilot study. With India’s carbon dioxide emissions expected to escalate rapidly in the coming years, scientists have begun exploring a similar storage solution within the country’s mammoth Deccan Trap, a natural basalt formation about 10 times bigger than its Pacific Northwest counterpart.

Noting that research has linked the formation of vast volcanic flows with mass extinctions in the distant past, McGrail and his co-authors concluded in a study published last year, “it would indeed be ironic if these same geologic formations become an important part of the solution to the present-day greenhouse gas management challenge.”

Ironic, perhaps, but also inspired.

--- thoughts? I will also post another solution soon, one that makes baking soda!

Escalating ice loss found in Antarctica

some serious news about accelerated melting of the poles from MSNBC:

Sheets melting in an area once thought to be unaffected by global warming

Climatic changes appear to be destabilizing vast ice sheets of western Antarctica that had previously seemed relatively protected from global warming, researchers reported yesterday, raising the prospect of faster sea-level rise than current estimates.

While the overall loss is a tiny fraction of the miles-deep ice that covers much of Antarctica, scientists said the new finding is important because the continent holds about 90 percent of Earth's ice, and until now, large-scale ice loss there had been limited to the peninsula that juts out toward the tip of South America. In addition, researchers found that the rate of ice loss in the affected areas has accelerated over the past 10 years -- as it has on most glaciers and ice sheets around the world.

"Without doubt, Antarctica as a whole is now losing ice yearly, and each year it's losing more," said Eric Rignot, lead author of a paper published online in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking despite land temperatures for the continent remaining essentially unchanged, except for the fast-warming peninsula.

The cause, Rignot said, may be changes in the flow of the warmer water of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that circles much of the continent. Because of changed wind patterns and less-well-understood dynamics of the submerged current, its water is coming closer to land in some sectors and melting the edges of glaciers deep underwater.

"Something must be changing the ocean to trigger such changes," said Rignot, a senior scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We believe it is related to global climate forcing."

Rignot said the tonnage of yearly ice loss in Antarctica is approaching that of Greenland, where ice sheets are known to be melting rapidly in some parts and where ancient glaciers have been in retreat. He said the change in Antarctica could become considerably more dramatic because the continent's western shelf, an expanse of ice and snow roughly the size of Texas, is largely below sea level and has broad and flat expanses of ice that could move quickly. Much of Greenland's ice flows through relatively narrow valleys in mountainous terrain, which slows its motion.

‘Frightening’ possibility
The new finding comes days after the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the group's next report should look at the "frightening" possibility that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could melt rapidly at the same time.

"Both Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet are huge bodies of ice and snow, which are sitting on land," said Rajendra Pachauri, chief of the IPCC, the United Nations' scientific advisory group. "If, through a process of melting, they collapse and are submerged in the sea, then we really are talking about sea-level rises of several meters." (A meter is about a yard.) Last year, the IPCC tentatively estimated that sea levels would rise by eight inches to two feet by the end of the century, assuming no melting in West Antarctica.
The new Antarctic ice findings are based on mapping of 85 percent of the continent over the past decade using radar data from European, Japanese and Canadian weather satellites. Previous studies had detected the beginning of ice loss in West Antarctica and substantial loss along the peninsula, but the current research found significantly greater changes.

Rignot and his team found that East Antarctica, which holds a majority of the continent's ice, has not experienced the same kind of loss -- probably because most of the ice sits atop land rather than below sea level, as in the west. In several coastal areas of East Antarctica, however, small but similar losses have been detected, he said.

In all, snowfall and ice loss in East Antarctica have about equaled out over the past 10 years, leaving that part of the continent unchanged in terms of total ice. But in West Antarctica, the ice loss has increased by 59 percent over the past decade to about 132 billion metric tons a year, while the yearly loss along the peninsula has increased by 140 percent to 60 billion metric tons. Because the ice being lost is generally near the bottom of glaciers, the glacier moves faster into the water and thins further, as a result. Rignot said there has been evidence of ice loss going back as far as 40 years.
The new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate and glaciers are in retreat across the planet. At a recent annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Ohio State University professor Lonnie Thompson delivered a keynote lecture that described a significant speed-up in the melting of high-altitude glaciers in tropical regions, including Peru, Tibet and Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.
Thompson, who has studied the Quelccaya glacier in the Peruvian Andes for 30 years, said that for the first half of that period, it retreated on average 20 feet per year. For the past 15 years, he said, it has retreated an average of nearly 200 feet per year.

"The information from Antarctica is consistent with what we are seeing in all other areas with glaciers -- a melting or retreat that is occurring faster than predicted," he said. "Glaciers, and especially the high-elevation tropical glaciers, are a real canary in the coal mine. They're telling us that major climatic changes are occurring."

While the phenomenon of ice loss worldwide is well documented, the dynamics in the Antarctic are probably the least understood. Glaciers and ice sheets are sometimes miles deep, and researchers do not know what might be happening at the bottom of the ice -- but it clearly is being lost along the peninsula and West Antarctic coast.

Rignot theorizes that the warmer water of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the cause. Douglas Martinson, a senior research scientist fellow at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, has studied the issue and agrees.

Martinson said the current, which flows about 200 yards below the frigid surface water, began to warm significantly in the 1980s, and that warming in turn caused wind patterns to change in ways that ultimately brought more warm water to shore. The result has been an increased erosion of the glaciers and ice sheets.

Martinson said researchers do not have enough data to say for certain that the process was set in motion by global warming, but "that is clearly the most logical answer."

Pachauri, the IPCC's chief of climate science, will visit Antarctica this week with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to get a firsthand view of the situation.

"You can read as much as you want on these subjects, but it doesn't really enter your system. You don't really appreciate the enormity of what you have," Pachauri said.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some news about Greenland/Arctic melting

Record ice melt seen on Greenland in 2007
Expert: Equivalent to layer of water half-mile deep covering Washington, D.C.

The amount of melt on Greenland's ice sheet last summer broke the previous measured record by 10 percent, according to new data analyzed by researchers at Colorado University.

The 2007 melt was the largest ever recorded since satellite measurements began in 1979, researcher Konrad Steffen told colleagues at a conference of the American Geophysical Union this week.

"The amount of ice lost by Greenland over the last year is the equivalent of two times all the ice in the Alps, or a layer of water more than one-half mile deep covering Washington, D.C.," he said in a statement released in conjunction with the new study.

The melting has increased by about 30 percent for west Greenland from 1979 to 2006, with record melt years in 1987, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2007, said Steffen, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at Colorado University.

Air temps increased as well
He added that air temperatures on the Greenland ice sheet have increased by about 7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1991.

His team used data from military and weather satellites to chart the melt. It also maintains 22 monitoring stations on the ice sheet that transmit hourly data via satellites to Colorado University at Boulder.

Steffen noted that while Greenland has been thickening at higher elevations due to more snow, the gain is more than offset by accelerating loss where glaciers meet the sea.

One of those, he said, is the Jacobshavn Glacier, which drains 8 percent of the ice sheet. The drainage rate has sped up nearly twofold in the last decade, he said.

"The more lubrication there is under the ice, the faster that ice moves to the coast," said Steffen. "Those glaciers with floating ice 'tongues' also will increase in iceberg production."

Sea level predictions underestimated?
Steffen said recent research on ice dynamics "will likely show" that U.N. predictions "underestimated sea-level projections for the end of the 21st century."

Of particular concern is an increase in shafts known as moulins, which drain melt water from surface ponds down to bedrock.

"These melt-water drains seem to allow the ice sheet to respond more rapidly than expected to temperature spikes at the beginning of the annual warm season," Steffen said. "In recent years the melting has begun earlier than normal."

"We know the number of moulins is increasing," he added. "The bigger question is how much water is reaching the bed of the ice sheet, and how quickly it gets there."

The current contribution of Greenland ice melt to global sea levels is about .02 inches a year, Steffen's institute noted, but the potential impact is enormous. About a quarter the size of the United States, Greenland has about one-twentieth of the world's ice — the equivalent of about 21 feet of global sea rise were it to completely melt into the sea.

That process could take centuries to complete, but once started would be difficult to reverse.
Rate of ice melt shocks warming experts
'The Arctic is screaming,' says one; another calls 2007 a 'watershed year'

WASHINGTON - An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.

Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press.

"The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the U.S. government's National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.
Sea ice, which floats on water, is a key climate signal as well as prime habitat for walruses and polar bears in the Arctic. Ice sheets, for their part, lock water on land but raise sea levels if that ice starts to melt.

Changes in Arctic weather, especially warmer temperatures, also has implications for the rest of the world.

In the United States, a weakened Arctic blast moving south to collide with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico can mean less rain and snow in some areas, including the drought-stricken Southeast, said Michael MacCracken, a former federal climate scientist who now heads the nonprofit Climate Institute. Some regions, like Colorado, would likely get extra rain or snow.

Just last year, two top scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040.

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally warned that "at this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."

So scientists in recent days have been asking themselves these questions: Was the record melt seen all over the Arctic in 2007 a blip amid relentless and steady warming? Or has everything sped up to a new climate cycle that goes beyond the worst case scenarios presented by computer models?

'The canary has died'
"The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming," said Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal. "Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."

It is the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, responsible for man-made global warming. For the past several days, government diplomats have been debating in Bali, Indonesia, the outlines of a new climate treaty calling for tougher limits on these gases.

More than 18 scientists told The AP that they were surprised by the level of ice melt this year.

"I don't pay much attention to one year ... but this year the change is so big, particularly in the Arctic sea ice, that you've got to stop and say, 'What is going on here?' You can't look away from what's happening here," said Waleed Abdalati, NASA's chief of cyrospheric sciences. "This is going to be a watershed year."

Unfortunate records
2007 shattered records for Arctic melt in the following ways:

* 552 billion tons of ice melted this summer from the Greenland ice sheet, according to preliminary satellite data to be released by NASA Wednesday. That's 15 percent more than the annual average summer melt, beating 2005's record.
* A record amount of surface ice was lost over Greenland this year, 10 percent more than the previous worst year, 2005, according to data the University of Colorado released Monday. That's nearly quadruple the amount that melted just 15 years ago. It's an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep, researchers calculated.
* The surface area of summer sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean this summer was nearly 23 percent below the previous record. The dwindling sea ice already has affected wildlife, with 6,000 walruses coming ashore in northwest Alaska in October for the first time in recorded history. Another first: the Northwest Passage was open to navigation.
* Still to be released is NASA data showing the remaining Arctic sea ice to be unusually thin, another record. That makes it more likely to melt in future summers. Combining the shrinking area covered by sea ice with the new thinness of the remaining ice, scientists calculate that the overall volume of ice is half of 2004's total.
* Alaska's frozen permafrost is warming, not quite thawing yet. But temperature measurements 66 feet deep in the frozen soil rose nearly four-tenths of a degree from 2006 to 2007, according to measurements from the University of Alaska. While that may not sound like much, "it's very significant," said University of Alaska professor Vladimir Romanovsky.
* Surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean this summer were the highest in 77 years of record-keeping, with some places 8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, according to research to be released Wednesday by the University of Washington’s Michael Steele.
Greenland, in particular, is a significant bellwether. Most of its surface is covered by ice. If it completely melted — something key scientists think would likely take centuries, not decades — it could add more than 21 feet to the world's sea level.

However, for nearly the past 30 years, the data pattern of its ice sheet melt has zigzagged. A bad year, like 2005, would be followed by a couple of lesser years.

According to that pattern, 2007 shouldn't have been a major melt year, but it was, said Konrad Steffen, of the University of Colorado, which gathered the latest data.
"I'm quite concerned," he said. "Now I look at 2008. Will it be even warmer than the past year?"

Other new data, from a NASA satellite, measures ice volume. NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke, reviewing it and other Greenland numbers, concluded: "We are quite likely entering a new regime."

Melting of sea ice and Greenland's ice sheets also alarms scientists because they become part of a troubling spiral.

White sea ice reflects about 80 percent of the sun's heat off Earth, NASA's Zwally said. When there is no sea ice, about 90 percent of the heat goes into the ocean which then warms everything else up. Warmer oceans then lead to more melting.

"That feedback is the key to why the models predict that the Arctic warming is going to be faster," Zwally said. "It's getting even worse than the models predicted."

NASA scientist James Hansen, the lone-wolf researcher often called the godfather of global warming, on Thursday will tell scientists and others at a meeting of researchers in San Francisco that in some ways Earth has hit one of his so-called tipping points, based on Greenland melt data.
"We have passed that and some other tipping points in the way that I will define them," Hansen said in an e-mail. "We have not passed a point of no return. We can still roll things back in time — but it is going to require a quick turn in direction."

Last year, Cecilia Bitz at the University of Washington and Marika Holland at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado startled their colleagues when they predicted an Arctic free of sea ice in just a few decades. Both say they are surprised by the dramatic melt of 2007.

Bitz, unlike others at NASA, believes that "next year we'll be back to normal, but we'll be seeing big anomalies again, occurring more frequently in the future." And that normal, she said, is still a "relentless decline" in ice.

A NASA multimedia presentation on climate "tipping points" is online at

Some more news I should have posted earlier...

WASHINGTON - When the calendar turned to 2007, the heat went on and the weather just got weirder.

January was the warmest first month on record worldwide — 1.53 degrees above normal. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year.

And as 2007 drew to a close, it was also shaping up to be the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere.

U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. weather data. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping there, shattering the record set in 1865 by more than 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

It wasn't just the temperature. There were other oddball weather events. A tornado struck New York City in August, inspiring the tabloid headline: "This ain't Kansas!"

In the Middle East, an equally rare cyclone spun up in June, hitting Oman and Iran. Major U.S. lakes shrank; Atlanta had to worry about its drinking water supply. South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 400 miles east of Africa, nearly 155 inches of rain fell in three days — a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.

Individual weather extremes can't be attributed to global warming, scientists always say. However, "it's the run of them and the different locations" that have the mark of man-made climate change, said top European climate expert Phil Jones, director of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in England.

Worst of all — at least according to climate scientists — the Arctic, which serves as the world's refrigerator, dramatically warmed in 2007, shattering records for the amount of melting ice.

2007 seemed to be the year that climate change shook the thermometers, and those who warned that it was beginning to happen were suddenly honored. Former Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Oscar and he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of thousands of scientists. The climate panel, organized by the United Nations, released four major reports in 2007 saying man-made global warming was incontrovertible and an urgent threat to millions of lives.

Through the first 10 months, it was the hottest year recorded on land and the third hottest when ocean temperatures are included.

8,000 heat records in August
Smashing records was common, especially in August. At U.S. weather stations, more than 8,000 new heat records were set or tied for specific August dates.

More remarkably that same month, more than 100 all-time temperature records were tied or broken — regardless of the date — either for the highest reading or the warmest low temperature at night. By comparison only 14 all-time low temperatures were set or tied all year long, as of early December, according to records kept by the National Climatic Data Center.

For example, on Aug. 10, the town of Portland, Tenn., reached 102 degrees, tying a record for the hottest it ever had been. On Aug. 16, it hit 103 and Portland had a new all-time record. But that record was broken again the next day when the mercury reached 105.

Daily triple-digit temperatures took a toll on everybody, public safety director George West recalled. The state had 15 heat-related deaths in August.

Portland was far from alone. In Idaho, Chilly Barton Flat wasn't living up to its name. The weather station in central Idaho tied an all-time high of 100 on July 26, Aug. 7, 14 and 19. During 2007, weather stations in 35 states, from Washington to Florida, set or tied all-time heat records in 2007.
Across Europe this past summer, extreme heat waves killed dozens of people.

And it wasn't just the heat. It was the rain. There was either too little or too much.

More than 60 percent of the United States was either abnormally dry or suffering from drought at one point in August. In November, Atlanta's main water source, Lake Lanier, shrank to an all-time low. Lake Okeechobee, crucial to south Florida, hit its lowest level in recorded history in May, exposing muck and debris not seen for decades. Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes, dropped to its lowest August and September levels in history.

Los Angeles hit its driest year on record. Lakes fed by the Colorado River and which help supply water for more than 20 million Westerners, were only half full.

Australia, already a dry continent, suffered its worst drought in a century, making global warming an election issue. On the other extreme, record rains fell in China, England and Wales.

Minnesota got the worst of everything: a devastating June and July drought followed by record August rainfall. In one March day, Southern California got torrential downpours, hail, snow and fierce winds. Then in the fall came devastating fires driven by Santa Ana winds.

Biggest concern is Arctic
And yet none of those events worried scientists as much as what was going on in the Arctic in the summer. Sea ice melted not just to record levels, but far beyond the previous melt record. The Northwest Passage was the most navigable it had been in modern times. Russia planted a flag on the seabed under the North Pole, claiming sovereignty.

The ice sheet that covers a portion of Greenland retreated to an all-time low and permafrost in Alaska warmed to record levels.

Meteorologists have chronicled strange weather years for more than a decade, but nothing like 2007. It was such an extreme weather year that the World Meteorological Organization put out a news release chronicling all the records and unusual developments. That was in August with more than 145 sizzling days to go.

Get used to it, scientists said. As man-made climate change continues, the world will experience more extreme weather, bursts of heat, torrential rain and prolonged drought, they said.

"We're having an increasing trend of odd years," said Michael MacCracken, a former top federal climate scientist, now chief scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington. "Pretty soon odd years are going to become the norm."

Well it's been awhile...

But here's some news regarding Global Warming:

A freak cluster of January tornadoes blew across the unseasonably warm Midwest, demolishing houses, knocking a railroad locomotive off its tracks and even temporarily shutting down a courthouse. More thunderstorms were possible Tuesday.

Record high temperatures were reported across wide areas of the country Monday. Tornadoes were reported or suspected in southwest Missouri, southeastern Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. Two people were killed in Missouri.

Bill Lischka was drinking coffee at a restaurant in Caledonia, Ill., when he heard something he didn't expect in January: a tornado siren.

"Next thing you know ... a tornado just popped right out of the clouds," Lischka said.

'Prayed like a sissy'
Al Ost said he "prayed like a sissy" as he fled to the basement of his house in Boone County, Ill. The storm damaged a barn on his property, he told the Rockford Register Star.

Hardest hit was a subdivision in Wheatland, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee, where at least 55 homes were damaged, Kenosha County sheriff's Lt. Paul Falduto said Tuesday morning.

"With the light of day it always looks worse than at night," Falduto said.

Thirteen people were injured in the county, none seriously.

"I have never seen damage like this in the summertime when we have potential for tornadoes," Sheriff David Beth said. "To see something like this in January is mind-boggling to me."

The only other recorded January tornado in Wisconsin was in 1967 and it was Illinois' first since 1950, the National Weather Service said.

'It's a first'
"It's a first," he said while waiting with 300 people in the basement. "I've actually had ... warnings occur during jury trials before and frankly I just ignored them. But not in January."

About six homes were destroyed in the small town of Poplar Grove, Ill., where three people suffered minor injuries, Boone County Sheriff's Lt. Perry Gay said.

About 15 miles away in Harvard, Ill., a suspected tornado derailed one locomotive and 12 freight cars. A tank car containing shock absorber fluid leaked for hours before it was contained, and another derailed car contained ethylene oxide, a flammable material used to sterilize medical supplies, but did not leak, Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said.

Authorities ordered about 500 residents to evacuate the nearby unincorporated town of Lawrence, said Capt. David Shepherd with the McHenry County, Ill., sheriff's office. No injuries were reported, he said.

Meteorologists said the unusual weather was the result of warm, moist air moving from the south. It brought temperatures near 70 degrees on Sunday and Monday. Temperatures hit record highs at 138 cities across the Plains and Midwest, the weather service said.

"It's very unseasonable for this time of year," said meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell. "The atmosphere is just right."

As far north as Buffalo, N.Y., thermometers hit 62 degrees Monday, 8 degrees above the old record, and in the first hours of Tuesday the reading was already 61, besting the previous 59-degree record. The temperature dipped, then returned to 61 by midmorning.

Other records Monday, according to the National Climatic Data Center, included 64 at Chicago; 72 at Hot Springs, Ark.; and 82 at Bakersfield, Texas.

Six snowmobilers missing in the Colorado mountains for 2 1/2 days during a blizzard were rescued Monday -- hungry and cold but unhurt -- after taking shelter in a cabin and calling 911 on a cell phone when the storm eased up.

The group, consisting of two couples and two teenagers, huddled around a gas grill and dined on popcorn and chicken bouillon they found in the cabin.

"We were cozy," 31-year-old Shannon Groen said after rescue crews on snowmobiles brought the group to safety. "God was looking out for us."


I don't know what it will take to convince people that the weather is changing drastically, and that we need to do something quick or else have our lives and world forever changed. Hopefully people will start to realize...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What about Ethanol

A sobering look at the miracle cure for oil: (as taken from MSNBC)

...What about ethanol, the supposed miracle fuel made from corn that President Bush has pushed as an alternative? It's kind of a bad joke. As a Deutsche Bank analyst pointed out recently, ethanol is the energy equivalent of "methadone" -- a palliative, not a cure. At present, ethanol requires huge tax subsidies to generate and transport, and the net savings of foreign energy dependence are negligible since corn, its feedstock, is farmed with oil-powered tractors and nourished with gas-based fertilizers and oil-based pesticides. Moreover, Deutsche notes that ethanol is 30% less fuel efficient than gasoline, which means that a car will travel only about two-thirds the distance on a gallon of ethanol than a gallon of gasoline.

In a situation when solutions are scant, it is easy to just fall back on the easy ploy and accuse service-station operators of price gouging. But that really misses the point. The independent station owner is almost as much of a victim as the consumer, as he faces escalating wholesale costs, rising credit card fees and the enmity of his customers.

-well Mr. Bush, thank you for your miracle cure.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oooooh the Bush administration

I hate to make environmental issues political, but this just angers me:
full article here

Jerry Brown, attorney general for California, is suing the federal government on environmental issues.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, Brown will ask the EPA to allow California and 12 other states to impose their own stricter standards on tailpipe emissions—or else, he says, California will sue the federal government. Those of you might remember recently the Supreme Court just ruled that the EPA's laundry list of excuses is not enough to say that they cannot impose restrictions on carbon emissions from cars/factories.

Brown also has sued the Bush administration for its standard on gas mileage for SUVs. He says it's "pathetic." I wondered what he really meant by that, so I read a little more and found out that the Bush administration, in response to the recent environmental furor, have decided to increase the standard of SUV mileage by 1 mpg. No. I didn't miss any numbers. 1. Uno. One. Wow, that's almost just as bad as all the automakers claiming they have high efficiency vehicles when their cars only get less than 30 miles to the gallon. High efficiency!?!? My 1992 Honda Accord got 26 mpg, and now 15 years later it's still as efficient as brand new, "high efficiency" vehicles??? Give me a break.

Brown sums up the reason why the administration hasn't done anything:
"Why didn't he [raise fuel-economy standards] by 10 miles a gallon, or why didn't he say it five years ago? No, Bush and [Vice President Dick] Cheney are oil people. They think like oil people, they act like oil people. Oil people want to sell oil. They love the high price, which is caused by the scarcity, which is caused by the excess consumption. If cars in America were dramatically more efficient, the price of oil would be lower today. That's the facts. I mean we have an oil administration. That's in part why they went into Iraq; it's all tied together. It's profit; it's real money to real people. And that's what's at stake here."

Meanwhile, gas prices might break records this summer...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gas prices got you down? Try these tips!

MSNBC posted some helpful tips to get the most out of your gasoline, and hopefully, if demand drops then so will the price:

Simple Step No. 1: Stop driving like a jerk
You know who you are: You punch the accelerator the minute the light changes and cruise at top speed until the last possible moment before hitting the brakes hard at the stop sign. Just because you can go from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds doesn’t mean you have to (unless you’re trying to merge onto a busy highway). Aside from annoying other drivers on the road, you’re wasting a lot of gasoline.

How much is a lot? According to, you can save from 5 percent to 33 percent —depending on just how manic you are behind the wheel. The folks at, a car buying Web site, tested the idea, running a 50-mile course with four different driving styles from “aggressive” to “moderate.” Average fuel savings: 31 percent.

Simple Step No. 2: Slow down
Look, we’re not talking about crawling along in the right lane backing up traffic. We’re talking about staying within the posted speed limit — or even a little over it. There’s no magic number for optimal mileage; it varies from one car to the next. But if your car has a tachometer, try keeping it as low as possible in the highest gear. That’s where you get the best mileage.

According to, your gas mileage drops off sharply once you blow past 60 mph. By cutting your speed you can save 7 percent to 23 percent, depending on how heavy-footed your usually driving style.

Simple Step No. 3: Taking care of your car
Changing your air filter can also make a difference — if it’s clogged up. So can keeping your tires properly inflated and your car tuned up. Taking all that junk out of your trunk wouldn’t hurt either. But the two biggest gas-mileage improvements won’t cost a dime — or even change how many miles you drive.

Worried that you won’t get everything done in your busy life if you ease off on the gas? Take a look at how much time it will cost you: On a 30-mile trip, slowing down from 70 to 55 mph will get you there about 7 minutes later. Spend that extra time daydreaming about how you’re going to spend all the money you're saving on gasoline.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ice Cap melting will happen much sooner


The Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.S. ice expert said on Tuesday.

This means the ocean at the top of the world could be free or nearly free of summer ice by 2020, three decades sooner than the global panel's gloomiest forecast of 2050.

No ice on the Arctic Ocean during summer would be a major spur to global warming, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado.

"Right now ... the Arctic helps keep the Earth cool," Scambos said in a telephone interview. "Without that Arctic ice, or with much less of it, the Earth will warm much faster."

That is because the ice reflects light and heat; when it is gone, the much darker land or sea will absorb more light and heat, making it more difficult for the planet to cool down, even in winter, he said.

Scambos and co-authors of the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used satellite data and visual confirmation of Arctic ice to reach their conclusions, a far different picture than that obtained from computer models used by the scientists of the intergovernmental panel.

"The IPCC report was very careful, very thorough and cautious, so they erred on the side of what would certainly occur as opposed to what might occur," Scambos said in a telephone interview.


The wide possibility of what might occur included a much later melt up north, or a much earlier one, Scambos said.

"It appears we're on pace about 30 years earlier than expected to reach a state where we don't have sea ice or at least not very much in late summer in the Arctic Ocean," he said.

He discounted the notion that the sharp warming trend in the Arctic might be due to natural climate cycles. "There aren't many periods in history that are this dramatic in terms of natural variability," Scambos said.

He said he had no doubt that this was caused in large part by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which he said was the only thing capable of changing Earth on such a large scale over so many latitudes.

Asked what could fix the problem -- the topic of a new report by the intergovernmental panel to be released on Friday in Bangkok -- Scambos said a large volcanic eruption might hold Arctic ice melting at bay for a few years.

But he saw a continued warm-up as inevitable in the coming decades.

"Long-term and for the next 50 years, I think even the new report will agree that we're in for quite a bit of warming," Scambos said.

"We just barely now, I think, have enough time and enough collective will to be able to get through this century in good shape, but it means we have to start acting now and in a big way."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quote of the day

“I left Earth three times. I found no place else to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth.”
—Wally Schirra, who flew around Earth on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions in the 1960s.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

One and the Same

I was reading an earlier post, about a commentator on a 60 Minutes segment on Global Warming. He said something to the effect of, "Stop worrying about global warming, it doesn't exist, go about your lives and let others live theirs!"

It's ironic to me that there are people that would say that, and yet be so critical against gays and lesbians, minorities, and other people who just want to live their lives the way they want to.

"Let other people live their [lives]"

Is Global Warming a religion? Am I preaching this religion hoping for converts? I believe in it whole-heartedly, and there is proof, yet there are still people who doubt it.

I don't think Global Warming is a religion, and yet I don't blame people who may think that I'm pushing this 'belief' on them. I guess, according to the smartest people in the world, we will find out, for better or for worse, 12-20 years from now.

Doing what you can

Exxon Mobile again will have a record profitable year this year. People at work got into a debate where some people who bike to work argued that those who drive contribute to the problem.

Even though I drive, I completely agree. Us driving our cars not only help the oil companies, but also pollute the Earth. However, I have to drive to work. The neighborhood through which I drive home every night is not... very safe for a biker. The distance also makes it a bit difficult. That got me thinking that, we can't force everyone to live the "ultimate, zero carbon emmission, completely green" lifestyle. I can't expect everyone to go out and buy a hybrid car, just as much as these people shouldn't expect everyone to easily bike to work the way they do.

HOWEVER! I don't want to come off as saying we don't have to do anything. We ARE faced with a problem. And I am 100 percent sure that even if we don't have a lot of resources, even if we can't all go buy a hybrid, each one of us can still do SOMETHING.

Like replacing a lightbulb or two with a flourescent one, taking shorter showers, drive less, recycle more, these (and many more) are all things that I think a great majority of people CAN and definitely AFFORD to do.

Buying Carbon Offsets

no doubt that people have heard of Carbon Offsets, it's buying/paying for a green project to help negate the effects of the carbon you put out. For more info, click on this link

It doesn't require a lot of money, contrary to what one might think, to offset our carbon emmissions.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How it'll affect you (if you're an American)

From an excerpt in the UN report:

UNITED NATIONS - Chicago and Los Angeles will likely face increasing heat waves. Severe storm surges could hit New York and Boston. And cities that rely on melting snow for water may run into serious shortages.

According to the panel, global warming is already having an effect on daily life but when the Earth gets a few degrees hotter, the current inconvenience could give way to danger and even death. The North American impact will be felt from Florida and Texas to Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories.

"Canada and the United States are, despite being strong economies with the financial power to cope, facing many of the same impacts that are projected for the rest of the world," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, which co-founded the panel.

The panel warned that shifts in rainfall patterns, melting glaciers, rising temperatures, increased demand and reduced supplies of water in some places are likely to increase tensions between users — industry, agriculture and a growing population.

"Heavily-utilized water systems of the western U.S. and Canada, such as the Columbia River, that rely on capturing snowmelt runoff, will be especially vulnerable," the report said.

A temperature warming of a few degrees by the 2040s is likely to sharply reduce summer flows, at a time of rising demand, it said.

By then, the panel estimated that Portland, Ore., will require over 26 million additional cubic meters of water as a result of climate change and population growth, but the Columbia River's summer supply will have dropped by an estimated 5 million cubic meters.

Over 40 percent of the water supply to Southern California is likely to be vulnerable by the 2020s due to losses of the Sierra Nevada and Colorado River basin snow packs.

The panel also said "lower levels in the Great Lakes are likely to influence many sectors" and exacerbate controversies over diverting water to cities such as Chicago, and the competing demands of water quality, lake-based transport, and drought mitigation.

Cities could also be at risk from high tides and storm surges, it said.

Near the end of the 21st century, under a strong warming scenario, the New York City area could be hit by increasingly damaging floods from surges, "putting much of the region's infrastructure at risk," the panel said. A current one in 100 year flood in New York could have a return period of three to four years, it added.

full article here

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Small tips to be green

A friend of mine recommended this site to me, they give you small tips that are very easy to do, and can help the fight against Global Warming. You can also sign up, apparently, to get a tip every day.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Some advice from the authors of the Global Warming Report

first of all:
“We can fix this,” by investing a small part of the world’s economic growth rate, said Schneider. “It’s trillions of dollars, but it’s a very trivial thing.”

now how to live with it, if we don't do anything:
"Without action to curb carbon emissions, man’s livable habitat will shrink starkly, said Stephen Schneider, a Stanford scientist who was one of the authors. “Don’t be poor in a hot country, don’t live in hurricane alley, watch out about being on the coasts or in the Arctic, and it’s a bad idea to be on high mountains with glaciers melting.”

"The report said up to 30 percent of the Earth’s species face an increased risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the average in the 1980s and ’90s.

Areas that now suffer a shortage of rain will become even more dry, adding to the risks of hunger and disease, it said. The world will face heightened threats of flooding, severe storms and the erosion of coastlines."

Please view previous post for more on the report.

The new Global Warming Report

A new report came out today, some of the main points that it covered are:
"The international global warming conference approved a report Friday warning of dire threats to the Earth and to mankind — from increased hunger in Africa and Asia to the extinction of species — unless the world adapts to climate change and halts its progress.

Africa will be hardest hit, the report concluded. By 2020, up to 250 million people are likely to exposed to water shortages. In some countries, food production could fall by half, it said."

The report said up to 30 percent of the Earth’s species face an increased risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the average in the 1980s and ’90s.

Areas that now suffer a shortage of rain will become even more dry, adding to the risks of hunger and disease, it said. The world will face heightened threats of flooding, severe storms and the erosion of coastlines.

“This is a glimpse into an apocalyptic future,” the Greenpeace environmental group said of the final report.

Without action to curb carbon emissions, man’s livable habitat will shrink starkly, said Stephen Schneider, a Stanford scientist who was one of the authors. “Don’t be poor in a hot country, don’t live in hurricane alley, watch out about being on the coasts or in the Arctic, and it’s a bad idea to be on high mountains with glaciers melting.”

“We can fix this,” by investing a small part of the world’s economic growth rate, said Schneider. “It’s trillions of dollars, but it’s a very trivial thing.”

North America will experience more severe storms with human and economic loss, and cultural and social disruptions. It can expect more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, it said. Coasts will be swamped by rising sea levels. In the short term, crop yields may increase by 5 to 20 percent from a longer growing season, but will plummet if temperatures rise by 7.2 F.

Parts of Asia are threatened with massive flooding and avalanches from melting Himalayan glaciers. Europe also will see its Alpine glaciers disappear. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will lose much of its coral to bleaching from even moderate increases in sea temperatures, the report said.

But what's intriguing is how the report was hashed out, and how it has frustrated so much of the scientific community:

"Agreement (for the body of the report) came after an all-night session during which key sections were deleted from the draft and scientists angrily confronted government negotiators who they feared were watering down their findings."

"Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. However, some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again.

The climax of five days of negotiations was reached when the delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating effects of climate change that kick in with every rise of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a tussle over the level of scientific reliability attached to key statements."

Well, it's certainly nice to know that our governments are looking out for our best interests. I can't even imagine what they chose to leave out.

"The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised the many of the objections to the phrasing, often seeking to tone down the certainty of some of the more dire projections."

yeaaaap.... yeeap.............I am literally speechless.

“Doing nothing is not an option.”

Monday, April 2, 2007

CA trying to curb Global Warming

I don't agree with Schwarzenegger on many issues, but I'm glad he has taken on Global Warming, even if it's for political reasons.

Article taken from MSNBC:
California leads the nation on going ‘green’
From solar power to biofuel, state is way ahead of federal government

In a state where there are more hybrid vehicles on the road than almost all other states combined, two of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous Hummers now run on alternative fuels.

The legislature is considering 60 pieces of global warming legislation, everything from biofuel school buses to energy efficient TVs and computer monitors to “green” apartment buildings.

"We hope to have a million solar roofs over the next 10 years," says Mary Luevano with Global Green, an environmental group that promotes green buildings and cities.

"We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late," said Schwarzenegger in September.

Since Schwarzenegger signed landmark legislation last year to cut greenhouse gases by 25 percent by 2020, California has taken the lead. Anaheim on Monday hosted the world's largest conference on alternative fuels and vehicles.

"We've had a hundred years of driving around on petroleum fuel and flipping a light switch powered by coal and other fossil fuels, so it's a matter of changing our thinking and being more informed consumers," says Terry Tamminen, Schwarzenegger's environmental adviser.
Schools like Monterey Ridge in San Diego now feature lights that turn off automatically when rooms empty and a new solar farm that on Monday was generating almost 90 percent of the school's energy needs.

"It's really cool, and it's a great lesson for the kids," says Principal Rebecca Warlow.

Even public opinion polls here, which traditionally list crime as the top concern, now reflect that for many greenhouse gases have become the No. 1 bad guy.

Record low snowfall and record drought have residents this year facing a perfect storm of drought and fire conditions — obvious reasons the political climate surrounding warming is warming here as well.

sorry about the last couple of posts

...that were filled with cynicism and sarcasm. I just get tired and frustrated by it all sometimes. It's just that sometimes, I imagine the worst case scenario, that Global Warming turns out to be true, and that this planet is reversibly damaged and we end up facing the worst crisis of mankind. Then what? What will these Naysayers say then? "Ooops..." !?!?!?! If I were a betting man, I would bet on Global Warming being real, and try my best to be consicous of our environment, rather than be ignorant, have our planet go to heck, and then say, "Oops... can someone save me now?"

We are getting mugs that we ordered at work today. It sucks that I've been one of the people who use and discard paper cups (though I try to use a cup a week), but now I will get to use the mug instead and say goodbye forever to these cups!

BREAKING NEWS! (sarcasm included!)

Global Warming threat neutralized!

World leaders have just confirmed that no where in the scriptures of religion, including the Bible and the Koran, mentions Global Warming or death by man-made carbon dioxide. Thus they have concluded that Global Warming is really a ploy, a conspiracy, if you will, by scientists, left-wingers, tree-huggers, atheists, Al Gore, moderate Republicans, Hollywood celebrities, and the other animals of this planet, to rid us of God and help the rise of Satan.

Again, do not worry! Global Warming does not actually exist, because God never said so.

The Bush administration is currently looking at all military actions.

some arguments against Global Warming

I could rebutt these... but then again do I need to?

"What in the world is wrong with you people????? God said there would never be a flood that would cover the earth again so why worry. Our lifespan is only like up to 115 years if your very lucky so people just need to start obeying God and be grateful for the life he's given us. If we accept him we can live for eternity" - taken from a comment posted on 60 minutes website

"It is IMPOSSIBLE for mankind to destroy this planet. This whole global warming "scare" is the same BS the anti-capitalist movement tried back in the 70's when they said an ice age was threatening our world. The planet is a life cycle in itself. That is a fact people. Besides, we'll probably all get extinguished by a huge meteor anyway, so get over your anti-American, Michael Moore liberal garbage and go about your life and STOP worrying about what others are doing with theirs!" - taken from another comment on 60 minutes site

"There is no global warming and sea levels are not rising. This is coming from the communist Left, which is incompetent at science and hates technology. Yes that's what has always been behind 60 Minutes. They won't let you hear the other side. Do not worry. Global warming is not proven by localized events. It does not exist - that's the point."

"The climate may be changing, but to credit puny humankind, I have my doubts."

What are your thoughts?

60 Minutes

A sobering news story on 60 Minutes.

I refuse to believe it's too late, and I refuse to believe that we are not capable of great change.

How long must something terrible go on before we wake up???

here is the link to the video

Tips on being more environmentally conscious

This will be an on-going post... I will add more as I find more info.

Replace regular lightbulbs with flourescent, it will save you on your electric bills as well as produce less waste, and emit less carbon.

Drive less, walk more, it will save you on gas, make you thinner, make your heart healthier, and make the air cleaner for your lungs and the lungs of those around you.
(if you need to go to a store that's a mile away, taking that 10 min. walk instead of driving makes a big difference)

Use less AC and Heater. Again, this saves you on your electric bills. Instead of turning up the heater, wear more layers, instead of using AC, open the windows, or build a shade. Even if you have to turn on AC/Heater, not turning it up so high can already make a lot of difference. It's a vicious cycle that the more AC people use, the hotter it will get.

Another simple one, Unplug electronics FROM THE WALL when they're not in use. Even when it's turned off, electronics uses up electricity. If you have something that you don't use that often, unplugging it will save your wallet and the environment. If you really want to help out, use surge protectors, and when you go to work, or go on vacation, unplug the surge protectors which prevents your electronics from sucking up electricity.

Recycle. This one takes a bit of an effort, but I've seen many parents not give their kids allowances, and instead have them collect bottles and cans from school events, bbqs, etc to recycle to earn the money. It teaches them reponsibility, work ethic, and also help protect the environment.

Please feel free to add more or let me know of any ones I've missed:

*majority of info taken from