Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2008

PLN to distribute energy-saving bulbs

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As part of its push for energy saving, state electricity firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) revealed Friday it would begin distribution of some 51 million energy-saving light bulbs in the third week of March.

In the first phase, up to 1 million bulbs would be given to households mainly in eastern Indonesia, chairman of the PLN's demand side management team, Syaiful B. Ibrahim, said Friday.

Each household would be entitled to receive three units.

"We target the distribution of all units to be completed by October," Syaiful said as reported by

He said each household would need to exchange the units with conventional bulbs used previously used around their homes with a capacity of between 25 and 40 watts.

"This (barter) is to avoid misuse. We're concerned they will not use the bulbs or sell them to others."

The Indonesian Association of Electric Lights (Aperlindo) has estimated that 2.8 million units would be distributed to West Sumatra, Aceh, and Riau, and 3.1 million units to North Sumatra.

The association said Lampung, South Sumatra, Jambi, Bangka Belitung and Batam would receive 2.97 million, while South Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan would get 2.56 million units.

It added North Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi and Gorontalo province would get 2.97 million units, while East Java 9.47 million, Central Java and Yogyakarta some 9.1 million and West Java around 9.6 million.

Jakarta and Banten will get 5.47 million while Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua and Maluku get 2.3 million units.

Hydrogen Production

OCEES International, Inc. intends to leverage its extensive experience into the development of floating OTEC platforms within the tropical region of the planet, utilizing existing oil platform technology, to support an operational OTEC system incorporating its natural synergies for providing energy to a hydrogen electrolysis and liquefaction plant.

Liquefied hydrogen can then be shipped via existing technology to the industrial market centers of the world to supply a transportation fuel and fuel source to an impending hydrogen based economy.

OTEC’s greatest potential is to supply a significant fraction of the fuel the world needs by implementing large, floating platforms and or grazing plant ships to produce hydrogen or other suitable transportable energy carriers.

Proposed First Installation Locations

There are two possible reasonable candidates for commercial scale installations of OTEC hydrogen plants. One of these is on an offshore platform off the coast of a suitable tropical island installed in 3,000 feet of water. In an arrangement similar to that of the Iceland Hydrogen Project; a car company, an energy company, and OCEES International, Inc. with local government participation would form a consortium to build and operate a 100 MW OTEC hydrogen plant. The LH2 produced would be used to power fuel cell equipped cars and buses in a demonstration of environmentally friendly technology.

Another immediately possible OTEC hydrogen project is to use one or more existing oil platforms in water depths greater than 3,000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. As these newer generations of deep platforms exhaust the oil reservoir at their particular location they can be transformed into OTEC hydrogen production platforms. This would be a more economical approach than removing these platforms. The cost of an OTEC hydrogen system under these conditions would be approximately 25% less than one which requires the construction and deployment of a new platform.

It should also be noted that the design of these deep off-shore oil platforms could in the first instance incorporate a small (3 to 4 MW) OTEC plant to power the oil drilling and pumping functions as well as provide fresh water and air conditioning.

Such a design would significantly reduce the present supply
requirements from shore for these offshore installations.

In U.S., plastic shopping bag still rules

By Christine Kearney, Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:43pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Australia and China are phasing them out, Germany and Ireland tax them, but in the United States, the plastic shopping bag is still king.

Outside supermarkets across the country, Americans push shopping carts laden with a dozen or more plastic bags full of groceries to their cars. Even the smallest purchase, such as a magazine at a newsstand, seems to come in a plastic bag.

Americans use 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year, according to Washington-based think tank Worldwatch Institute, or more than 330 a year for every person in the country. Most of them are thrown away.

A handful of U.S. cities and states have made moves to cut that number and Whole Foods Market, a supermarket pitched at the organic and natural food shopper, on Tuesday said it would phase out plastic bags out by Earth Day on April 22. But critics say the United States is years behind countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

"We are still in the stage of taking baby steps," said Eric Goldstein, a director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group.

Plastic bags, favored because they are durable and cheap, have been blamed for clogging drains, filling landfills and choking wildlife. They can take from 400 to 1,000 years to break down, and their constituent chemicals remain in the environment long after that, environmental groups say.

Made from crude oil, natural gas and other petrochemical derivatives, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil are used to make the bags the U.S. consumes each year.

Countries from Taiwan to Uganda, and cities including Dacca in Bangladesh, have either banned plastic bags outright or impose a levy on consumers. Australia aims to phase them out by the end of this year, and China by June 21.

Ireland charges shoppers 22 Euro cents ($0.29 cents) per bag, a move credited with reducing plastic bag use by 90 per cent. Some European cities first imposed fees as early as the 1980s.

In Britain, which uses 13 billion single-use plastic bags a year, or more than 200 per person, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged the country's biggest supermarket chains to cut use faster than planned and said Britain can eliminate them altogether.


But in the United States, the federal government has been reluctant to impose measures that would interfere with competition and be unpopular with consumers.

"Pay for bags? I think we have to pay for enough," said Melvin Perry, a shopper with four or five bags in each hand coming out of a Pathmark supermarket in Brooklyn, a borough of New York city.

Kaitlyn Tycek, pushing a shopping cart full of groceries in plastic bags, said they are so thin that items must be double- and triple-bagged to avoid splitting.

"They end up using three or four bags. They are pointless," said Tycek, who said she would switch to reusable cloth bags given the right incentives such as discounts for customers who bring their own bags.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages reduced use, but does not say how it should be done. "Like most waste management decisions, this is one that is made on the local level," said spokeswoman Roxanne Smith.

While reusable cloth bags have gained pockets of popularity, cashiers at most supermarkets still offer "paper or plastic" and the answer is as often as not "plastic."

The few local governments that have taken up the cause favor recycling programs rather than taxes or outright bans.

A law already enacted in California and one just passed in New York City requires stores to set up recycling programs, but critics say they have little faith that shoppers use them.

The average American family of four throws away about 1,500 bags a year, and less than one percent of bags are recycled, according to Swedish furniture giant Ikea. Last March, Ikea introduced a 5-cent charge for each disposable plastic bag, which it credited with cutting usage by a half.

San Francisco became the first and only U.S city to impose an outright ban on plastic grocery bags in April, but the ban is limited to large supermarkets. The state of New Jersey is mulling phasing out plastic bags by 2010.

"It is a pretty dismal situation," said Lisa Mastny of the Worldwatch Institute.


The U.S. plastics and supermarket industries say outright bans lead to a return to paper bags, which cause their own environmental problems. It takes more energy to recycle a paper bag than a plastic bag, according to the plastics industry.

"You have to ask what is the objective? If it is for the environment, then you are not going to achieve that goal," said Karen Meleta, spokeswoman for ShopRite, a U.S. supermarket chain that offers recycling containers and 2 cents back for customers who reuse plastic bags.

Tara Raddohl, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, said its U.S. stores had recycling containers and has begun selling reusable bags for $1. She declined to say whether there was a specific target for reducing usage like its British subsidiary, Asda.

But environmentalists say recycling and rebates do not curb use and it is up to all levels of government to encourage reduction. "They need to set up convenient mechanisms for that public shift to happen," Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council said.

In pockets of the United States, the reusable cloth shopping bag has become popular and even trendy, but in most supermarkets cashiers still offer "Paper or plastic?" And, as often as not, the answer is "plastic."

"The mentality in America is plastic bags come from plastic bag land," said Mastny, of the Worldwatch Institute. "We don't think about where they come from and where they are going."

(Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Eddie Evans)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bill Gates new project: Farming

By Barry Neild

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates announced a new direction Friday as he pledged $306 million in grants to develop farming in poor countries, leading the charge for corporate responsibility at a major meeting of business chiefs.

The announcement by Gates, who is to step down from the computer giant later this year, drew attention from the financial woes that have dominated the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Gates received a standing ovation for his announcement at the suggestion of U2 frontman Bono.

The move, the first foray into agriculture by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will help boost efforts by the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland to shake off its image as a billionaire's talking shop that does little to solve the problems it discusses.

"If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers, most of whom are women," Gates said.

"The challenge here is to design a system including profit and recognition to do more for the poor," he said, calling for a new form of "creative capitalism."

Bono, returning to add showbiz sparkle to the Forum for a second year, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon pushed the debate towards issues such as malaria eradication, poverty alleviation and climate change.

In his first appearance at Davos 2008, which gathers more than 2,500 world business figures and government leaders, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the World Bank to take on an environmental role to fight climate change.

Despite the fresh financial shockwaves generated by the $7.2 billion fraud at French bank Societe Generale, there were easing concerns that the global economy was heading towards recession.

A CNN straw poll of business leaders attending the Davos meeting voted in favor of an economic slowdown.

John Thaine, CEO of Merrill Lynch told CNN that he believed the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to 0.75 rate cut would help avoid long-term turmoil.

"I think that the steps that the Fed is taking, the steps that the administration is taking, are the right steps, they will help, but the economy is still going to slow," he told CNN.

Climate 'clearly out of balance'

BBC News

The world's climate is "clearly out of balance and is warming", the world's largest society of Earth and space scientists has said in a statement.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) warned that changes to the Earth's climate system were "not natural".

Changes in temperature, sea level and rainfall were best explained by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases from human activities, it added.

The union called for carbon emissions to be cut by more than 50% by 2100.

It is the first time the AGU has updated its policy position on climate change since 2003, when it called for a concerted worldwide study to understand how the Earth would change as a result of climate change.

'Tough challenge'

The revised statement has gone further, stating that the changes to the planet's climate system were "best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activities in the 20th Century".

The AGU Council, which adopted the updated position, said that a sustained research effort involving many of its members had strengthened the scientific understanding of the impacts of climate change.

It warned that the world faced a tough challenge over the coming 50 years: "Even the lower limit of impending climate change - an additional global mean warming of 1.0C (1.8F) above the last decade - is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past 1,000 years.

"Warming greater than 2.0C (3.6F) above 19th Century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and - if sustained over centuries - melting of much of the Greenland ice sheet."

If the 2C rise was to be avoided, the AGU said, net annual emissions of carbon dioxide had to be cut by at least 50% by the end of the century.

It acknowledged that, as with most projections, there was a degree of uncertainty but that it was highly unlikely that the impacts would be "inconsequential".

"This is a fast-moving field of science and the AGU felt it was time to update the statement," AGU president, Tim Killeen, told BBC News.

"We took seven months to do it; we brought together a panel of experts, who created drafts which underwent extensive critical review, and it was formally approved by the elected Council in December."

Although the statement is consistent with previous positions adopted by the AGU, Professor Killeen said it differed in a number of ways.

"There are fewer caveats that might have appeared in previous statements," he explained.

"It is more of a declarative statement that the climate is changing and those changes are best explained by human effects due to greenhouse gases and aerosols."

"Secondly, rather than the AGU saying that this is important and should be looked at, I think this is a call that we need to do something about it."

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Fourth Assessment Report, which said changes to the climate were "very likely" the result of human activity.

The IPCC also warned that the cost of acting now to reduce emissions would be far less than having to adapt to the future consequences of climate change.

The AGU, which has 50,000 members in 137 countries, said delivering solutions would require the co-operation of all sectors; from science and technology, to industry and government.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

EU reveals energy plan of action

BBC News

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has given details of what he has called a "detailed roadmap" in the struggle against climate change.

He told the European Parliament that Europeans wanted "a vision and a plan of action".

Biofuel plans will be modified to avoid damaging impacts

Mr Barroso said the aim would be a 20% cut in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, which could rise to 30% with an international deal.

He said work had to be begin to cut global emissions in half by 2050.

And he said Europe could lead the way.

"Europe can be the first economy for the low-carbon age," he said.

Addressing business critics who have complained that the proposals might drive industry away from the European Union, the commission president said the package was "not in favour of the environment and against the economy."

"We don't want to export our jobs to other parts of the world," he said.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

L'Oreal will ask suppliers for data on carbon emissions, By Katie Bird

22/01/2008 - Global personal care companies will ask suppliers to provide information about their carbon footprint as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

L'Oreal and Reckitt Beckinser are two of the newest members of the London-based CDP's Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration (SCLC), joining the likes of Procter and Gamble, Unilever and Nestle amongst others.

Members of the SCLC will select up to fifty suppliers who will collaborate with them on the pilot project in early 2008.

Suppliers will be asked to disclose information regarding their carbon use and emissions, and the results from the pilot project will help the CDP refine the project for the roll out in May 2008.

The objective of the SCLC is to create a standard method with which to measure carbon emissions and climate change relevant information throughout the supply chain, with the view to managing these emissions in the long term.

According to the CDP the standardised method will reduce the burden on suppliers who might otherwise receive multiple requests from partners for similar information.

Through the recruitment of corporate giants such as L'Oreal and Unilever the CDP hopes to encourage large numbers of suppliers to disclose this information.

"By bringing together the purchasing authority of some of the largest companies in the world, CDP will encourage suppliers to measure and manage their greenhouse emissions. This will enable large companies to work towards managing their total carbon footprint, as the first step to reducing the total carbon footprint is to measure its size," explained CEO of CDP Paul Dickinson.

The CDP is calling for new members before the project roll out in May 2008 and hopes to encourage tens of thousands of new suppliers to globally disclose climate relevant information.

L'Oreal's director of corporate sustainable development managing Pierre Simoncelli said that becoming a member of the SCLC was a win-win situation for the environment, L'Oreal and the company's suppliers.

Our suppliers will now have a single central source for reporting their greenhouse gas strategies and results that are accessible to all their customers. We also believe this will help drive our performance as well as theirs in this important environmental area," said Simoncelli.

The Carbon Discolure Project is a not for profit organisation which aims to create a dialogue between investors, purchasers and corporations regarding a companies' response to climate change.

According to the CDP it holds the largest registry of corporate greenhouse gas emissions in the world and aims to inform investors about business related climate risks and opportunities.

Abu Dhabi plots hydrogen future

The government of Abu Dhabi has announced a $15bn (£7.5bn) initiative to develop clean energy technologies.

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website

The Gulf state describes the five-year initiative as "the most ambitious sustainability project ever launched by a government".

Components will include the world's largest hydrogen power plant.

The government has also announced plans for a "sustainable city", housing about 50,000 people, that will produce no greenhouse gases and contain no cars.

The $15bn fund, which the state hopes will lead to international joint ventures involving much more money, is being channelled through the Masdar Initiative, a company established to develop and commercialise clean energy technologies.

"As global demand for energy continues to expand, and as climate change becomes a real and growing concern, the time has come to look to the future," said Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber.

"Our ability to adapt and respond to these realities will ensure that Abu Dhabi's global energy leadership as well as our own growth and development continues."

The portfolio of technologies eligible for funding under the Masdar Initiative is extensive, but solar energy is likely to be a major beneficiary.

The hydrogen plant, meanwhile, will link the world's currently dominant technology, fossil fuel burning, with two technologies likely to be important in a low-carbon future - carbon sequestration and hydrogen manufacture.

Hydrogen will be manufactured from natural gas by reactions involving steam, producing a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

The CO2 can be pumped underground, either simply to store it away permanently or as a way of extracting more oil from existing wells, using the high-pressure gas to force more of the black gold to the surface.

When hydrogen is burned, it produces no CO2. Eventually hydrogen made this way could be used in vehicles, though in Abu Dhabi it will generate electricity.

"It's important because it shows that you can generate hydrogen without carbon release from fossil fuels," commented Keith Guy, an engineering consultant and professor at the UK's Bath University.

"When you look at how hydrogen could be made economically, the route that many people have been looking at, through electrolysis of water, is incredibly expensive."

The Masdar Sustainable City, another component of the Abu Dhabi government's plans which is being designed with input from the environmental group WWF, is envisaged as a self-contained car-free zone where all energy will come from renewable resources, principally solar panels to generate electricity.

Buildings will be constructed to allow air in but keep the Sun's heat out. Wind towers will ventilate homes and offices using natural convection.

The fund and the Masdar City plans were formally unveiled at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Warning on rising Med Sea levels

BBC News

The level of the Mediterranean Sea is rising rapidly and could increase by up to half a metre in the next 50 years, scientists in Spain have warned.

A study by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute says levels have been rising since the 1970s with the rate of increase growing in recent years.

Scientists noted sea temperatures
had also risen significantly

It says even a small rise could have serious consequences in coastal areas.

The study noted that the findings were consistent with other investigations into the effects of climate change.

The study, entitled Climate Change in the Spanish Mediterranean, said the sea had risen "between 2.5mm and 10mm (0.1 and 0.4in) per year since the 1990s".

If the trend continued it would have "very serious consequences" in low-lying coastal areas even in the case of a small rise, and "catastrophic consequences" if a half-metre increase occurred, the study warned.

Global climate change

Scientists noted that sea temperatures had also risen significantly by 0.12 to 0.5C since the 1970s.

Sea level rise is a key effect of global climate change. There are two major contributory effects: the melting of ice, and expansion of sea water as the oceans warm.

Last month, a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the world's sea levels could rise twice as much this century as UN climate scientists had previously predicted.

The Nobel Prize-winning IPCC predicted a maximum sea level rise of 81cm (32in) this century.

Monday, January 14, 2008

EU rethinks biofuels guidelines

By Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst, BBC News

Europe's environment chief has admitted that the EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe's road fuels from plants.

Recent reports have warned of rising food prices and rainforest destruction from increased biofuel production.

The EU has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it would be better to miss the target than achieve it by harming the poor or damaging the environment.

Clampdown promised

A couple of years ago biofuels looked like the perfect get-out-of-jail free card for car manufacturers under pressure to cut carbon emissions.

Instead of just revolutionising car design they could reduce transport pollution overall if drivers used more fuel from plants which would have soaked up CO2 while they were growing.

Since then reports have warned that some biofuels barely cut emissions at all - and others can lead to rainforest destruction, drive up food prices, or prompt rich firms to drive poor people off their land to convert it to fuel crops.

"We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were.

So we have to move very carefully," Mr Dimas told the BBC.
"We have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels."

He said the EU would introduce a certification scheme for biofuels and promised a clampdown on biodiesel from palm oil which is leading to forest destruction in Indonesia.

Some analysts doubt that "sustainable" palm oil exists because any palm oil used for fuel simply swells the demand for the product oil on the global market which is mainly governed by food firms.

US expansion

Mr Dimas said it was vital for the EU's rules to prevent the loss of biodiversity which he described as the other great problem for the planet, along with climate change.

On Monday, the Royal Society, the UK's academy of science, is publishing a major review of biofuels.

It is expected to call on the EU to make sure its guidelines guarantee that all biofuels in Europe genuinely save carbon emissions.

In the US the government has just passed a new energy bill mandating a major increase in fuel from corn, which is deemed by some analysts to be useless in combating rising carbon dioxide emissions.

The bill also foresees a huge expansion in fuel from woody plants but the technology for this is not yet proven. (dia)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Local companies urge customers to `go green'

Kenny Santana, Contributor The Jakata Post, Bali, Jakarta

It doesn't take an Al Gore to save the world: With some local companies "going green", customers can now easily pick the right books, paper or hotel to contribute to the global effort.

Starting in April last year, Aksara bookstore began their No Plastic Bag campaign, under which they are asking customers to say "no" to plastic bags when buying books. Instead, the bookstore encourages them to use a customized tote bag made from 100 percent recycled cotton, sold at the store for a mere Rp 15,000.

POSTER EFFECT: A poster posted on (ak'.sa.ra) bookstore's
entrance in Kemang, South Jakarta asked shoppers to bring
their own bag in a movement to save the environment.
(JP/Prodita Sabarini)

"What Aksara is trying to do is simply help get the same message across to Jakarta's urbanites. We try to socialize to our customers that no matter how simple our actions, they will help minimize depletion of the ozone (layer)," said Aksara retail operations manager Aditya Ardhana.

"Hopefully, when they get the message, they wouldn't mind paying small money for our tote bags, which will help reduce the use of plastic bags in Jakarta."

He added that the bookstore also encourages customers to recycle plastic bag by bringing their own from home under the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) program.

"The less plastic waste, the better," Aditya said.

Aksara's green campaign, of course, can only work with the participation of its customers.

"It's safe to say that our customers have responded positively so far," said Aditya. "Although it isn't reflected in our tote bag sale yet, but verbally they have shown support. So far, 70 percent of our customers still prefer plastic bags... However, we believe bringing the message across is an ongoing process."

In addition to the No Plastic Bag campaign, Aksara has implemented other customer programs dedicated to the environment. They are currently in the process of replacing plastic bags with more affordable and environmentally friendly bags.

Meanwhile, the bookstore is partnering with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) by hosting WWF events; in return, the WWF will provide simple green tips to share with Aksara's customers.

Shoppers also will find more environmentally friendly products in the store, including the Cyclus 100 percent recycled paper from Equinox Paper. Customers can buy the paper through Aksara while corporations can order in bulk via the company's official website at

Mark Hanusz, the man behind the initiative who also runs Equinox Publishing, recalls how this green program began: "When we (Equinox Publishing) placed our first big order with the mill, we only used 30 feet of a 40-foot container. The mill told us it wasn't very efficient to do this, so they offered us an introductory price on reams of A4-sized photocopy paper.

"I spoke with a couple of business contacts to check to see if they would be interested, and was surprised to learn there was a demand for recycled photocopy paper -- even if it is more expensive."

In fact, it turns out the cost issue is the biggest challenge for Equinox to market the paper widely in the country.

"Generally speaking, there is more interest from multinational companies and hotels than local ones. I think the reason for that is that the multinationals get pressure from their head office to embrace recycled paper alternatives if available, whereas local companies only have pressure from within," said Hanusz.

"I can't really blame them, though -- if you are only focused on cost and not on the benefit, there is no reason to use recycled 'anything'."

Hanusz's own publishing division, among other companies, is already listed as a user of recycled paper.

"We started using 100 percent recycled paper for all titles printed after August 1, 2007. I am optimistic that by using this paper -- and not raising my prices -- will pay off in the long run," he said.

With Equinox Publishing's green initiative, bookworms can still read the same great titles at the same cost -- and not hear the crash of trees being felled for the paper.

Participating in the global greening movement can also be done while on holiday. Choosing a hotel with a Green Globe certification is one solution. Green Globe members are those companies in the travel industry that continually challenge themselves to improve their environmental performance.

One recently certified hotel is the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa in Tanjung Benoa. The hotel is making its green effort by taking small steps on a daily basis.

Using recycled paper for printing, providing jams and marmalades for breakfast in small, reusable containers and using natural pesticides and insecticides for grounds upkeep are some of these steps. The hotel also uses 100 percent grey water for watering their gardens, and implements water preservation programs, energy-efficient equipment and online eco-learning programs for staff.

The Conrad Bali is not only implementing internal programs, but is also encouraging its guests to take part. Besides the usual "use the towel wisely", "don't leave the tap running" and "turn off the light when not in use" messages, the hotel also offers its guests regular greening programs such as its Clean Up the World Day and the Turtle Adoption Program.

In September 2007, the hotel started activities at the local level to address climate change as part of its Clean Up the World program. Energy conservation education, tree planting and waste reduction programs that involve hotel guests are a few projects the Conrad has organized.

The resort is also famous for its turtle conservation programs.

The Conrad's Turtle Adoption Program supports the conservation of local sea turtles, and involves their rehabilitation and release back into the sea. With the growing threats to this endangered species, the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa encourages guests to make a donation to the program and to personally release a turtle into the ocean. Younger guests are also invited to see the turtles being fed each day in the hotel's Turtle Pond.

Being green also has turned out to be good for business.

The Conrad's public relations director, Ruth Zukerman, said that since its certification, ecologically minded customers have shown more interest in staying there.

"Recently, we received several bookings specifically stating their reason for choosing Conrad Bali was due to our Green Globe 21 program," she said. And on an independent travel website, one Conrad Bali guest from London praised the hotel's turtle program.

In giving back to nature, it seems green companies are finding out that customers will eventually give back.

In the end, such green initiatives can create a win-win situation for both companies and customers -- but beyond all that, for our Earth.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sunspot is harbinger of the new solar cycle

Spaceflight Now, January 7, 2008

A new 11-year cycle of heightened solar activity, bringing with it increased risks for power grids, critical military, civilian and airline communications, GPS signals and even cell phones and ATM transactions, showed signs it was on its way last week when the cycle's first sunspot appeared in the sun's Northern Hemisphere, NOAA scientists said.

First official sunspot belonging to the new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: NOAA

"This sunspot is like the first robin of spring," said solar physicist Douglas Biesecker of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. "In this case, it's an early omen of solar storms that will gradually increase over the next few years."

A sunspot is an area of highly organized magnetic activity on the surface of the sun. The new 11-year cycle, called Solar Cycle 24, is expected to build gradually, with the number of sunspots and solar storms reaching a maximum by 2011 or 2012, though devastating storms can occur at any time.

During a solar storm, highly charged material ejected from the sun may head toward Earth, where it can bring down power grids, disrupt critical communications, and threaten astronauts with harmful radiation. Storms can also knock out commercial communications satellites and swamp Global Positioning System signals. Routine activities such as talking on a cell phone or getting money from an ATM machine could suddenly halt over a large part of the globe.

"Our growing dependence on highly sophisticated, space-based technologies means we are far more vulnerable to space weather today than in the past," said Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA's space weather monitoring and forecasts are critical for the nation's ability to function smoothly during solar disturbances."

Last April, in coordination with an international panel of solar experts, NOAA issued a forecast that Solar Cycle 24 would start in March 2008, plus or minus six months. The panel was evenly split between those predicting a strong or weak cycle. Both camps agree that the sooner the new cycle takes over the waning previous cycle, the more likely that it will be a strong season with many sunspots and major storms, said Biesecker. Many more sunspots with Solar Cycle 24 traits must emerge before scientists consider the new cycle dominant, with the potential for more frequent storms.

The new sunspot, identified as #10,981, is the latest visible spot to appear since NOAA began numbering them on January 5, 1972. Its high-latitude location at 27 degrees North, and its negative polarity leading to the right in the Northern Hemisphere are clear-cut signs of a new solar cycle, according to NOAA experts. The first active regions and sunspots of a new solar cycle can emerge at high latitudes while those from the previous cycle continue to form closer to the equator.

SWPC is the nation's first alert for solar activity and its affects on Earth. The center's space weather forecasters issue outlooks for the next 11-year solar "season" and warn of individual storms occurring on the sun that could impact Earth. SWPC is one of NOAA's nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction and is also the warning agency of the International Space Environment Service (ISES), a consortium of 11 member nations.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Grass biofuels 'cut CO2 by 94%'

Producing biofuels from a fast-growing grass delivers vast savings of carbon dioxide emissions compared with petrol, a large-scale study has suggested.

BBC News

A team of US researchers also found that switchgrass-derived ethanol produced 540% more energy than was required to manufacture the fuel.

One acre (0.4 hectares) of the grassland could, on average, deliver 320 barrels of bioethanol, they added.

Their paper appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The five-year study, involving 10 farms ranging in size from three to nine hectares, was described as the largest study of its kind by the paper's authors.

Co-author Ken Vogel of the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agriculture Research Service, based at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, said that all previous energy analyses had been based on data from research plots and estimated inputs.

Last year, a team of scientists had also examined the energy gains from ethanol produced from switchgrass, but their model suggested that the net gain was in the region of 343%, which was considerably less that the USDA team's findings.

"A lot of their information was based on small plot data and also estimates of what would be needed in the agronomic production of biofuels," Dr Vogel explained.

"We had on-farm trials, so we had all the data from the farmers on all the inputs needed to produce the crops.

"We were able to take this information and put it into this model and able to come up with a very real-world estimate."

The energy inputs required to produce the crops included nitrogen fertiliser, herbicides, diesel and seed production.

However, he added that as there were no large-scale biorefineries in operation, the team did have to estimate how much bioethanol such a plant would be able to produce in order to calculate the net energy gain.

"Right now, the Department of Energy is co-funding the construction of six biorefineries in the US. These plants will be completed around 2010, and will be above the pilot plant scale."

Although the process to produce ethanol from switchgrass was more complex than using food crops such as wheat or corn, the so-called "second generation" biofuel could produce much higher energy yields per tonne because it utilised the whole plant rather than just the seeds.

Carbon cuts

The team also calculated that the production and consumption of switchgrass-derived ethanol cut CO2 emissions by about 94% when compared with an equivalent volume of petrol.

Burning biofuels releases carbon dioxide, but growing the plants absorbs a comparable amount of the gas from the atmosphere.

However, the energy inputs used during the growing and processing of the crops means the fuel is rarely "carbon neutral".

"Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of ethanol from switchgrass, using only the displacement method, showed 88% less GHG emissions than conventional ethanol," the researchers wrote.

"The use of... biomass residue for energy at a... biorefinery is the main reason why switchgrass and human-made prairies have theoretically lower GHG emissions than biofuels from annual (food) crops, where processing is currently derived from fossil fuels."

A number of organisations, including the UN, have expressed concern that biofuels could do more harm than good.

The criticisms of the technology include taking large areas of arable land out of food production, inflating crop prices and limited carbon emission savings.

"In contrast to most European countries, the US has quite a bit of land that is being held outside of (food) production at the moment," Dr Vogel told BBC News.

"We are looking at the use of switchgrass on marginal cropland The intent is to have energy crops being grown on marginal cropland, so it would not be in competition with food crops on our best land.

He also added that there were other factors within the process of producing the biofuel that limited its financial and environmental feasibility.

"Because there is going to be a lot of tonnage of material shipped to the biorefinery, there is going to be some economics involved."

In order to maximise the carbon reductions, he said: "A biorefinery will have a feedstock supply radius of about 25 to 50 miles, so the feedstock of any biorefinery needs to be localised."

As the switchgrass had to be sourced within the local area, Dr Vogel said it was important that the land delivered a high yield of grass in order to meet the refinery's demands.

Annual rainfall was a key factor affecting the delivery of the necessary yields.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hungarian Design Student Wins Electrolux Design Lab 2007 with E-wash Washing Machine

E-wash is compact washing machine that uses soap nuts instead of detergent. The winning designer is Levente Szabó from Moholy-Nagy University of Art & Design in Hungary.

Yahoo Finance, Wednesday November 28, 4:52 pm ET

STOCKHOLM, Sweden--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The 2007 Electrolux Design Lab, the fifth edition of this annual competition, challenged students to come up with environmentally-sound, commercially-viable products and solutions that would enable consumers to live in greater harmony with the environment.

In India and Nepal, people have used the soap nut (sapindus mucorossi) for centuries to get their clothes clean. Szabó says that a kilogram of soap nuts would last the typical person a year. Soap nuts, he explains, are good for people with allergies and gentle on clothes.

“E-wash is a brilliant connection between ancient knowledge and high-tech,” comments juror Henrik Otto, head of Global Design for Electrolux. “It takes an open-minded person to seek out solutions one culture and apply them to another.”

Fellow juror Matali Crasset, award-winning French designer, agrees, and adds, “It is a global system. It doesn’t just address one part of the process.”

Szabó says that his starting point was looking for alternatives to the production, packaging and transportation of the detergent. “I was looking for a substance that could replace detergent,” he explains. “The soap nut is a natural plant and can be cultivated. It does not harm nature but is a part of it.

“I also changed the form of the conventional washing machine. I reduced the size and made it flat, so it would fit into a small apartment, but also would be able to wash a lot of clothes at the same time.”

The award for second place went to Pebble by Laura Pandelle from École Boulle, France. Pebble is a portable, solar food cooker that uses spray-on solar cells and induction heating for precise, energy-efficient cooking.

“This is a fascinating design that’s plausible and really useful,” says juror Jason Bradbury, a UK technology presenter. “Solar paint is an innovative use of a really exciting technology.”

“I like the fact that it is a readily transportable object,” adds juror Celine Cousteau, an environmental advocate. “You are not stuck in the kitchen. You can put it anywhere. You can also leave it and do something else, so it’s liberating. It is also very appealing from a tactile standpoint.”

Third place went to Go Fresh by He Cheng Fei from Jiangnan University, China. Go Fresh is an energy-saving fridge with individual, honeycomb-shaped compartments that preserve each type of food at the right temperature and can be removed to be taken on a picnic, for example. “Essentially, he’s attempted to redesign the bicycle,” Bradbury says. “The fridge hasn’t changed a whole lot since the 1950s. He’s made it into a three-dimensional, portable object.”

Crasset adds, “With the food stored at the ideal temperature, people may waste less. Also, the refrigerator is more than just a functional appliance in a corner. It can, for example, be used as a room divider.”

The Design Lab ‘07 award is a prize of 5,000 Euro and a six-month internship at one of the Electrolux Group’s global design centers.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Villagers commit to saving forest and water sources

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Batu, East Java.

A small mosque sits atop a spring in Toyomerto hamlet, Pesanggrahan village, Batu district in Batu city, East Java. It is used for religious activities and also as a meeting place for local villagers.

The water source is one of 11 spread around the village, located between 900 to 1,000 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Mount Panderman.

According to community figure Syaifuddin, better known as Gus Udin, thanks to the small mosque, 277 household heads have united in a mission to save 11 water sources at risk of being exploited by outside parties.

Local residents are aware of the importance of reforestation and protection of the production forest area owned by the Perhutani state forestry company, spanning 21,640 hectares around the village, from illegal loggers.

According to Gus Udin, people initially opposed the conservation effort, which began in 1997. Farmers and firewood sellers depended on the trees in the production forest, which they felled and sold to make a living.

The forest is a catchment area which feeds 11 springs that people rely on for their daily needs.

The slopes of Mount Panderman at one point appeared barren due to uncontrolled logging, which triggered floods and landslides during the rainy season in 1998 and 1999. Recurrent droughts occurred during the dry season, thus affecting water quality in the 11 springs.

Residents also became prone to illnesses, such as diarrhea.

"The situation is better now. The residents have found other ways to make a living, such as raising dairy cows and cattle for meat, the results of which are starting to show," said Gus Udin.

In 1997, a rumor that a prominent businessman from Jakarta was interested in purchasing the village, including the 11 springs, prompted the local community to protect the forest and water sources in their village. They eventually formed an environmental study group called Yayasan Iqro.

"I also heard that a significant amount of gas was located in the ground below our village," said Gus Udin, who also heads the foundation.

During meetings, residents were made aware of how to preserve the surrounding environment. They were taught to change their habit of felling trees in the forest, shown how to live a more healthy lifestyle through planting trees and learned the importance of preserving their water sources. Even children were taught to cherish the environment by planting trees in the forest.

After three years, the group imposed stiff regulations in the form of customary law, which residents mutually agreed on.

The punishments are quite stern; anyone caught felling a tree is required to pay a fine of a truck-load of sand, while those found felling five trees are fined 100 sacks of cement.

"Harsh punishments have been cast on the community," added Gus Udin.

The customary law is currently effective and acts as a deterrent to those who destroy the environment in the village. So far, residents have been able to protect the 11 water sources, which each supply four liters of water per second.

Each family pays a monthly fee of Rp 7,500 (approximately 83 U.S. cents) toward operational funds to manage the springs. From each fee, Rp 1,000 is set aside to fund the building of schools, roads, houses of worship and other community facilities.

To help improve people's welfare, the foundation offers credit for dairy cows and cattle. It has so far distributed 600 heads of cattle to residents without collateral.

This scheme has somewhat been able to change the look of Pesanggrahan village, which is evident from the 3,600 dairy cows and cattle already raised by the villagers.

The residents can now even fulfill their household energy needs by turning cattle dung into butane biogas to light their stoves and lamps.

"Residents can finally save on fuel and electricity," said Gus Udin.

A villager, Lasmi, 50, said she was able to make use of biogas from cattle manure after receiving a grant from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) for a pilot project in 2005.

Gas is channeled through a small pipe to her stove and lamps from the back of her home, which is directly next door to a cattle shed.

Two structures resembling septic tanks are stored inside the cow shed; one is used to store the manure, which is connected to the other that collects gas.

"We no longer buy kerosene because we can use biogas derived from cattle dung," Lasmi said.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Padang Tegal expands forest for environment

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Ubud, Bali

The usually quiet Monkey Forest turned into a bustling field of activity on Sunday morning as the people of Padang Tegal celebrated the launching of the Tree Adoption Program, aimed at expanding the area into arguably the largest community-managed forest in the island.

The customary village of Padang Tegal comprises four banjar (traditional neighborhood organizations) with more than 2,600 residents and is the traditional custodian of the Monkey Forest, more than eleven hectares of woods to the south of Ubud.

Visitors consider the forest to be of Ubud's main attractions. The locals, who prefer to call the forest Wanara Wana, view it as a sacred sanctuary.

"The important Dalem Agung Padang Tegal temple and a holy springs of Beji lie inside the forest. The monkeys that dwell in the forest have always been considered by the locals to be the servants of the gods. That's the primary reason why the locals have always maintained and protected this sanctuary," the bendesa (head) of Padang Tegal customary village, I Made Dana, said.

Behind him, children from various kindergatens in Ubud were sitting in small groups under rows of young trees.

Each of them tried to capture the beauty of the surrounding nature on a piece of drawing paper. Sitting leisurely on the grassy field, still a bit wet due to the previous night's shower of rain, these children's innocence accentuated the woods' fresh natural beauty.

The drawing competition was part of Sunday's program, appropriately titled "Save the Planet and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary".

"Those young trees are the result of the reforestation program we carried out in 2003. Now, some of them are already six meters tall," the forest's promotion head Kadek Gunartha said.

Prior to 2003, the forest covered only seven hectares. But that year, the village assigned its young people to transform more than 3 hectares of village land south of the forest into wood.

"The reforestation and conservation activities have been carried out for years, but this year we realized the need for a better and wider promotional drive to inform the public at the regional and national levels of our efforts," Gunartha said.

This year, the village took the program to a new level by allocating more than Rp 2 billion out of its own budget to purchase one hectare of privately owned land bordering the forest.

"We will turn that land into forest, an extension of the original forest. In the future we will make several similar purchases to ensure the existence of this sacred forest," Made Dana said.

The move was simply extraordinary, particularly for the island, where villages generally spend billions of rupiah on religious rituals or renovating temples and not on environmental programs.

The expansion of the Monkey Forest, Gunartha explained, would serve several important purposes, the first of which was to provide a larger habitat for the forest's growing monkey population.

A census carried on June 2007 at 25 sites in the forest found out that there are now 346 monkeys living in three different packs.

"The number is expected to increase, so they will need a larger area both for playing and feeding. Soon, the number of the packs will increase to four because we have observed a significant power struggle in a pack that occupies the eastern part of the forest," I Dewa Gede Rai Putera, a physician responsible for the scientific aspects of the park's management.

The second aim is to increase the number and variety of the trees in the forest. So far, the forest houses 163 species of plants. The management now plans to add more local and rare species to the forest.

One way to achieve that is the Tree Adoption Program, which was officially launched on Sunday morning. By contributing Rp 150,000 (US$16), a visitor can have a specific tree planted in the forest.

"The management will maintain and take care of the tree, and will issue a certificate acknowledging the visitor's contribution to the program. The program is carried out in cooperation with the Gianyar chapter of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) and 58 visitors have agreed to join this scheme," Gunartha said.

The program, he said, was an excellent carbon emissions offset option for those who wanted wipe out the carbon debt they had generated during their trip to Bali.

The third objective was to turn the forest into a center of environmental studies for the locals.

"The forest will be a field laboratory to increase the awareness of the locals on environmental issues," Rai Putera said.

So far, the forest's management has carried out several scientific cooperation activities with researchers from Bali and abroad, including Udayana University (Bali), the University of Alabama, Central Washington University and the University of Notre Dame. The results have been published in more than eleven scientific publications.

"These cooperations help us in understanding the monkeys' behavior, thus, in minimalizing their aggressive attitudes and in providing them with the medical treatment they need. This research also confirms that the monkey populations are free from dangerous diseases, such as TB," he said.

Next year, the management will construct a compost plant inside the forest to teach locals how to make environmentally friendly fertilizer.

The fourth objective is to provide residents with rare plants that are essential to the rituals of Balinese Hinduism.

"We must be able to sustain our religious tradition without having to inflict a damaging burden on the environment," the bendesa said.

Around 200 meters to the north of the drawing competition site, hundreds of Padang Tegal youths were busy digging soil and planting trees in a large clearing. On a higher elevation, a Hindu high priest Ida Pedanda Gde Manuaba observed the activity with a smile on his face.

"This is the site of our Ritual Forest. Today, we are planting more than 20 species of ritual plants. We are still searching over the island for the other ritual plants," the forest's field manager I Wayan Selamet said.

When the activities ended on that bright Sunday morning, the people of Padang Tegal had added 700 more trees to their beloved sanctuary.

"The thing that really makes me proud is that everything has been done by our own people, including the management of this forest," I Made Dana said.

The bendesa has a good reason to be proud. Not many village in Bali have that kind of environmental enthusiasm.