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Brazil Congress again delays vote on key forest law

May 13, 2011

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has again postponed a vote on controversial changes that would ease a key law on forest protection.

Brazil’s Forest Code, enacted in 1934 and subsequently amended in 1965, sets out how much of his land a farmer can deforest. The changes were put forward by Aldo Rebelo, leader of Brazil’s Communist Party (PCdoB) and backed by a group in Congress known as the “ruralists” who want Brazil to develop its agribusiness sector. Mr.  Rebelo argues that the current rules unfairly discriminate against small farmers, denying them the chance to grow more and climb out of poverty. Other changes include reducing the amount of forest that must be preserved along the banks of streams and rivers. Environmentalists say if passed the changes could accelerate deforestation. Deforestation not only eliminates the trees but also the animals who reside there. With their home and food source missing the animals have no where to go and no chance of survival.

Read the full article here


April 29, 2011

Changes to a “neglected” ocean current near the southern tip of Africa could keep Europe warm even if the Gulf Stream switches off, scientists say

Warm water in the Agulhas Current flows from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic where it brings changes further north. Researchers say this could compensate if the main northwards flow of heat, carried by the Gulf Stream, drops.Unfortunately this current has been overlooked and not given a lot of attention.

The Agulhas Current flows southwards down the eastern coast of Africa.When it gets to the tip, it goes east to the Indian Ocean. Some of it forms rings that shoot in the other direction to the Atlantic Ocean. Which affects the United States. This bit is known as the Agulhas Leakage and they say it is now increasing.

Once in the Atlantic, the warm and salty Agulhas water acts to strengthen the main current system, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Part of this circulation is the Gulf Stream, which brings hot water northwards, keeping parts of Western Europe and eastern North America several degrees Celsius warmer than they would otherwise be. A weakened Gulf Stream could bring colder weather to Western Europe.

What I wonder is if it brings colder weather cold that lower rising levels of Global Warming? Or could it bring us in the opposite direction to an Ice Age?

California tosses out solar power plant lawsuit

April 15, 2011

California’s supreme court refused to consider a lawsuit filed by an influential environmental group seeking to delay construction of a solar plant because it might harm rare plant and animal species.

Sometimes helping the environment could actually lead to harming it. The Sierra Club has complained that the Calico Solar Project was approved by the California Energy Commission improperly because it failed to acknowledge the potential harm to the native flora and fauna. This is not the first lawsuits accusing solar power plant projects across the largest U.S. state of harming the environment.

How can we do good without negatively affecting someone or something. I personally think that every decision and compromise, no matter how good the intentions, will consequently affect something. With the case of these lawsuits targeting planned solar plants, it can potentially set back the development of solar energy and derail state and federal commitments to lessening dependence on fossil fuels.

How can the world move forward in a positive direction without letting go of some of the past. Is it even possible to perserve everything? I guess there are two sayings that can describe this: “Nothing beautiful can last” and “You win some, you lose some”.

Read the full article here

Facebook shares green information

April 8, 2011

Facebook has announced that it will share the design secrets behind its new energy-efficient data centre with rival companies.

When I first saw this article I immediately thought, “how does a website go green?”. I wondered if it was teaming up with eco-friendly organizations for different projects, but how does the corporation of Facebook itself make a difference? It has to do the technology and the energy. The social network’s facility in Prineville, Oregon is said to use 38% less power than existing centres. It hopes, by making make the innovations public, to cut the amount of electricity the industry consumes.Why is this important? We tend to forget that electricity actually releases carbon emissions into the air that add to global warming. I only learned that a few months ago, and now the older “Flex your power” campaign makes sense!

Among the innovations, the centre make extensive use of outside air, as opposed to air conditioning, to cool the rows of servers. The machines themselves are also specially designed to maximise the new cooling system. “The best way to reduce CO2 and improve the environment is to cut energy consumption and that is what we are doing,” said Mr Heiliger. Facebook has stripped out nonessential parts, paint, logos and stickers – saving, it claims, more than 6 pounds of materials per server. Though eco-friendly groups criticize Facebook for not doing enough or being a little, hey better late than never right?

Read the full article here

Obama sets out energy future for less dependency on oil

April 1, 2011

“President Barack Obama has vowed to reduce US oil imports by one-third in little more than a decade.”

United States President Barack Obama stated that  America needs to “get serious” about the energy future for the country. Currently, gas prices are a lot higher than they have been in a while. Petrol prices in the US have shot up 50 cents a gallon this year, reaching a national average of $3.58 a gallon last week. With the current economy a lot of people are struggling with filling up their car. Thankfully I have a Prius which does not cost that much to fill up!

“We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy,” Mr Obama said. “And we have to do it quickly.” The President stated that US will move towards getting 80% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Remember in a previous post, I talked about how the UK is expanding wind mills to produce more clean energy? (Read it here) I wonder if his plans include more wind mills.

The article brings up a great point; we don’t want to know what is going to happen in 24 years, we want to know what is going to help me get through tomorrow. As well as increasing the use of alternative energies such as biofuels and making vehicles more efficient, Mr. Obama said the US must raise domestic oil production. There is more than two-thirds of offshore exploration licences in the Gulf of Mexico that have yet to be acted upon by oil companies. The department said that the sites could potentially hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet (1.42 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas. I have a strong feeling that this will create a lot of protesting of offshore drilling. I wonder if the idea of offshore drilling in Alaska will be an issue again!

Read the full article here

How can radiation affect the environment?

March 25, 2011

With all of the news and events that have taken place in Japan, the environment has taken a toll. It seems like each day there is a new report about the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

As of today, civilians have been told to evacuate within a 15 mile radius from the plant. Cases have already been reported of Fukushima workers and japanese people subjected to radiation. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that a sample of seawater was taken and showed the level of iodine 131 at 50 becquerels per cubic centimeter which is 1,250 times the legal limit and 8 times higher than last week. Not only has radiation affected the water, it is also affecting the food.

China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other Asian importers have already placed bans on some imports of vegetables, seafood and milk products. Australia, the European Union, the United States and Russia have done the same. Not only will this hurt Japan’s economy, but also ours because Japan is a big trading partner of ours.

Make sure when you are buying your food at the grocery store, check the labels to see where the food was from, just in case. Though the radiation in the water should not affect California, be careful at the beaches this spring break! 🙂

To know the most current news, follow @BreakingNews on Twitter!

Another great environmental blog!

March 18, 2011

When exploring other environmental/eco-friendly blogs, I stumbled across Grist.

Grist is a perfect balance between information and humor. It is easy to read with the clean layout. Though there are ads and links on the right, it is not distracting because it is all on one side. The Grist links to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social networking sites. This easily gets the word out about Grist and you can share it with others.

I do not know who runs Grist though. There are different jobs and you can donate money to it. Not sure why. I couldn’t find an “about” section. When you click on the posts you see that there are different authors. You can click on the authors and read their different posts that they have written. After you finish reading the article there are related posts similar to what you just read.

Grist has the most recent post on the left had side. The titles and subtitles are hilarious! For example: “#WINNING” is a title name…Charlie Sheen reference haha! Or, “Japan’s wind farms save its ass while nuclear power plants founder”

At the top there are different categories to choose from: Climate & Energy, Food, Living, Placemaking, Business, Politics and Ask Umbra. This makes it easy to find a certain topic that you are looking for.

There writing is factual and easy to read. There are a lot of pictures and comments.

I know I now will be checking out this blog and you should too!