Wednesday, 28 Feb 2007
Victim or Hog?
Still basking in Oscar's glow, Al Gore makes headlines for using a lotta energy. An inconvenient truth or an ugly smear campaign? Readers react in Gristmill.
Yes We Ken
London mayor unveils comprehensive climate-change plan
London Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled a Climate Change Action Plan yesterday in hopes of making the English capital the greenest city in the world. Under the scheme, London will switch 25 percent of its power supply to local generation, and businesses that invest in green technology will earn merit badges, Scout-style. The U.K. plans to cut carbon emissions 60 percent by 2050, but London's leaders hope to achieve that goal within 20 years, and are setting aside $92.3 million in next year's budget to do so. "This will make London the first city in the world to have a really comprehensive plan to cut its carbon emissions," says the mayor's climate-change adviser. Livingstone also appealed to the 7.5 million common folk, urging energy efficiency and introducing such cutting-edge ideas as discounts on insulation. "Londoners don't have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change," said the mayor, "but we do need to change the way we live." Always with the crazy talk, that one.
straight to the source: BBC News, 27 Feb 2007
straight to the source: Reuters, Jeremy Lovell, 27 Feb 2007
straight to the source: Yahoo! News, Agence France-Presse, 27 Feb 2007
Burned out of business, Japan calls a halt to its annual whale hunt
Japan's whaling fleet, unable to recover from a mid-February fire that killed a crew member and disabled its main ship, has called off its controversial annual hunt a month early. While protesters expressed sympathy for the human loss, they also did a dance of joy that "no more Southern Ocean whales will die from grenade-tipped harpoons this season." Observers had also feared that the floundering 8,000-ton Nisshin Maru would cause an oil leak off Antarctica, and the government of nearby New Zealand had asked Japan to haul ass outta there. The whalers declined an offer from Greenpeace to tow the ship, managing to restart it this weekend. Since undertaking the hunt in November, the fleet had killed 508 whales -- about 350 shy of its goal. "We have been research whaling for 20 years, but this is the first time we have had to cut the expedition short," said a Fisheries Agency official. "It is very unfortunate." Happily (for the fleet, not so much the whales), there's always next year.
straight to the source: BBC News, 28 Feb 2007
You may remember advice maven Umbra Fisk's last column on insulation -- the one she wrote when she was ill, and her head felt filled with fiberglass. Well, we're not in the habit of offering excuses, but that could explain why she overlooked this key detail: it is possible, as some loyal readers pointed out, to blow in insulation yourself. Armed with this knowledge and eager to right her wrongs, Umbra revisits the question of keeping your house warm the DIY way.
new in Ask Umbra: Blowing It
You Can Poach an Egg, But You Shouldn't Poach an Elephant
Elephants massacred as ivory trade picks up
As many as 23,000 elephants may have been killed in just one year, as an international effort to stem the ivory trade has fallen to the wayside, particularly in Africa. Increased demand for white tuskiness in Japan and China, combined with declining funding for anti-poaching programs, has overwhelmed the intentions of a 1989 ban on international sales of ivory. In the year ending in August 2006, 54,000 pounds of ivory were confiscated in 12 international seizures -- and customs officials assume that they find only 10 percent of the smuggled goods. "Right now, things are really much worse than before the ban," says Samuel Wasser, lead author of a recent study on using DNA testing to determine where poached elephants were killed. With the advent of the new technology, an aggressive resuscitation of anti-poaching programs could be very effective, but there's no time to waste. Says Wasser, "[I]f we don't open our eyes to the problem, we can kiss our elephants goodbye." Get your stepladders ready.
straight to the source: MSNBC.com, LiveScience, Robin Lloyd, 26 Feb 2007
Leading tech competitors bury the hatchet to improve energy efficiency
Hold onto your geek hat: 11 leading tech companies have partnered to reduce the energy used by servers and data centers. The Green Grid -- made up of foes including Intel, IBM, Microsoft, AMD, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard -- thinks data-center efficiency "is the most significant issue facing technology providers and their customers today," and plans to whip up new energy standards and technologies. A study released this month by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab estimates that servers ate 1.2 percent of U.S. energy in 2005, and their power use doubled from 2000 to 2005. "What each of the companies [has] realized is that these issues of efficiencies can't be dealt with in the usual competitive approach that pervades the industry,'' says the lab's Jonathan Koomey. "They really need to figure out a way on certain issues to cooperate.'' Said Sun's sustainable computing director, putting Mr. Rogers fuzziness aside: "Green is green, conservation and efficiency equal profits in every case."
straight to the source: Red Herring, Adena DeMonte, 26 Feb 2007