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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nestle 'to act over child labour in cocoa industry'

BBC News, 28 November 2011 

Related Stories 

More than 1.8 million children in West Africa are
believed to be working in the cocoa industry
Global food giant Nestle says it has taken a major step to end child labour on cocoa farms supplying its factories.

The firm, one of the world's largest chocolate producers, says it is going to work with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) on tackling the problem.

The FLA is set to examine Nestle's cocoa supply chains in Ivory Coast in January, the firm said in a statement.

Critics ask why it has taken Nestle so long to act if it knew children were involved in its cocoa production.

Nestle and the world's other biggest chocolate producers signed a cocoa protocol - an international commitment to end child labour in the cocoa industry - 10 years ago.

Earlier this year, a report commissioned by the US government found that the chocolate industry's funding since 2001 had "not been sufficient" and it needed to do more.

Nestle, in its statement, said the "cocoa supply chain is long and complex" - making it "difficult for food companies to establish exactly where their cocoa comes from and under what conditions it was harvested".

The firm said the FLA would send a team of independent examiners to Ivory Coast - where Nestle buys most of its cocoa - to map the supply chain.

The results of its assessment will be published in the spring of 2012 and will guide future operations there, the firm said.

"Child labour has no place in our supply chain," said Jose Lopez, Nestle's Executive Vice President for Operations.

"We cannot solve the problem on our own, but by working with a partner like the FLA we can make sure our efforts to address it are targeted where they are needed most".

'Moral obligation'

The US government-backed report by Tulane University, published in March, found that more than 1.8 million children in West Africa were involved in growing cocoa.

Earlier this month, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley travelled to Ivory Coast and found children using machetes to hack open cocoa pods to extract the beans.

One boy told him that he had been sent by his father to the farm to work, and had not seen his family for three years.

Gilbert Kone Kafana, Ivory Coast's minister for labour and social affairs, said there was a "moral obligation" on chocolate companies to help rebuild the country ravaged by years of civil war.

"We need to build roads, schools, hospitals and social centres; anything that would allow Ivory Coast to progress," he told the BBC.

"This development is necessary for farmers to have a good life, and it is in the interest of the industry to work with us."

Related Articles:

J&J starts removing toxins from baby products

Associated Press, Nov 16, 2011 

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson has begun removing two harmful chemicals from its iconic baby shampoo and other baby products in the U.S.

An international coalition of consumer and environmental groups had pressed the company since May 2009 to remove the toxins from all personal care products, including Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Two weeks ago, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was emboldened after finding the health care giant had removed the two chemicals from products in several other countries. But in the U.S., the products contain trace amounts of potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

Johnson & Johnson now says it expects to remove formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from baby products within about two years and is reducing traces of the other chemical.

Related Articles:

That's a Smarties move! Nestle becomes first confectioner to ditch all artificial additives from its products

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Lose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Pedal 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.)  New ! 

UK secretly helping Canada push its oil sands project

Canadian interests and oil lobby win coalition's support for highly polluting process in runup to European fuel quality vote, Damian Carrington, Sunday 27 November 2011

Tar sands excavation mine in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The European
proposal  would designate fuel from such a source as producing 22% more
greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.
Photograph: Orjan F Ellingvag/Dagens Nar

The UK government has been giving secret support at the very highest levels to Canada's campaign against European penalties on its highly polluting tar sands fuel, the Guardian can reveal.

At the same time, the UK government was being lobbied by Shell and BP, which both have major tar sands projects in Alberta, and opened a new consulate in the province to "support British commercial interests".

At least 15 high-level meetings and frequent communications have taken place since September, with David Cameron discussing the issue with his counterpart Stephen Harper during his visit to Canada, and stating privately that the UK wanted "to work with Canada on finding a way forward", according to documents released under freedom of information laws.

Charles Hendry, the energy minister, later told the Canadian high commissioner: "We would value continued discussion with you on how we can progress discussions in Brussels," with Hendry's official asking the Canadians if they had "any suggestions as to what we might do, given the politics in Brussels".

Canada's vast tar sands – also known as oil sands – are the second largest reserve of carbon in the world after Saudi Arabia, although the energy needed to extract oil from the ground means the process results in far more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil drilling, as well as causing the destruction of forests and air and water pollution.

Nasa scientist James Hansen says if the oil sands were exploited as projected it would be "game over for the climate".

The European proposal is to designate transport fuel from tar sands as resulting in 22% more greenhouse gas emissions than that from conventional fuels. This would make suppliers, who have to reduce the emissions from their fuels by 10% by 2020, very reluctant to include it in their fuel mix. It would also set an unwelcome precedent for Canada by officially labelling fuel from tar sands as dirtier.

The UK and Canada's shared opposition to the European plan puts the UK in a minority among EU countries and will be deeply embarrassing as a new round of global negotiations on tackling climate change begins in Durban, South Africa on Monday. Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, claimed on Thursday that the UK was showing "leadership" in the UN negotiations, while Canada's prime minister has blocked climate laws. The revelations are also the latest blow to Cameron's claim to be the "greenest government ever".

The vote to approve the European fuel quality regulations takes place on Friday. In advance of that, William Hague, the foreign secretary, has also given support to Canada, sending an "immediate action" cable in September to the UK's embassies there asking "to communicate our position and seek Canadian views on what might be acceptable".

However, the Department for Transport, in which the Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker has responsibility for tar sands issues, has released only two presentations made to it by Shell, both heavily redacted. The DfT rejected requests to release at least six other relevant documents on the grounds of commercial confidentiality and adverse effect on international relations, as did the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), where Shell also met ministers.

BP has lobbied ministers, too. Its vice president in Europe, Peter Mather, has been, in his own words, "bending the ear" of Baker. Mather also sent a letter in which he wrote: "The regulatory burden would be considerable at a time when the industry is already creaking under the weight of a heavy regulatory regime."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "The scale of oil industry lobbying exposed in these documents is quite extraordinary. It's especially worrying that Baker held a secret meeting with Shell about this key European vote on tar sands. But worse still, he's now covering up what was discussed."

Colin Baines, toxic fuels campaign manager at the Co-operative, the UK mutual business group which targets tar sands as part of its climate change campaigning, said: "It is very disappointing that the UK government is supporting Canada's efforts and we hope it has a rethink and puts tackling climate change ahead of Canada's trade interests when it comes to vote on the European commission's commonsense proposal."

The documents were obtained by the Co-operative under environmental information regulations, a type of freedom of information law. They include letters to and from ministers, diplomatic correspondence and notes of meetings.

Baker said: "The government is staying true to its aspiration to be the greenest ever by seeking to secure the best deal it can for the environment from the discussions ongoing in the EU about the fuel quality directive.

"We believe that means tackling all highly polluting crudes equally, not simply oil sands from one particular country. These certainly represent a problem, but so do other crudes, and it makes no environmental sense to ignore these.

"This is not about protecting one particular country – we want to deal with all crudes, not just one type, and in a way that is based on robust and objective data, related to their carbon emissions."

Like Baker, Canada also argues in the newly revealed documents that it is unfair to single out one nation and that other types of oil can be as dirty as tar sands.

But Baines says these arguments are "myths", as the European proposal does not name any nation and on average fuel from tar sands is a greater source of carbon by a clear margin, according to a Stanford University study for the European commission.

Furthermore, the European commission proposal allows for changes in the emissions designated for fuel types.

Canadian ministers and diplomats state they support an "overarching ambition" to reduce carbon emissions. But Canada has admitted it will fail to meet its Kyoto protocol target of a 6% cut compared with 1990 levels: in 2009 its emissions were 34% higher.

In September, Lord Sassoon, the UK Treasury minister for commerce, spent two days in the Albertan capital Calgary, a few hundred miles from the vast oil sand pits excavated by 1,500-tonne diggers. The International Energy Agency expects production to treble in the next 20 years. Sassoon met politicians and oil executives to discuss boosting trade with the UK and told reporters that Alberta is "one of the main focuses of British business". Alberta's energy minister, Ron Liepert, told Sassoon privately he "was grateful for UK efforts" on the tar sands issue in Europe.

The new British consulate-general in Calgary was announced by Hague on 18 October, the same day as Canadian energy minister Joe Oliver said: "[The British] have been very, very helpful and we're pleased about that. Many European companies are heavily invested in the oil sands and they also would be concerned." The new documents and diplomatic sources suggest the Netherlands, Spain and Poland are among those backing the British-Canadian position.

In London, a senior Canadian diplomat, Sushma Gera, told BIS: "Canada will not hesitate to defend her interests," perhaps via a World Trade Organisation dispute, a possibility also raised by Shell in its presentation to DfT.

Bill McKibben, a leading US environmentalist, who was arrested in August protesting against a major oil sands pipeline called Keystone XL said: "The UK seems to have emerged as Canada's partner in crime, leaning on Brussels to let this crud across the borders. This will be among the biggest single environmental decisions the Cameron government makes."

Greenpeace's Sauven, along with the head of Friends of the Earth, Andy Atkins, and David Nussbaum, leader of WWF-UK, have written to Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader.

The letter says: "We ask you to intervene personally on this, to ensure that your party's green ambitions are more effectively upheld across Whitehall."

Related Articles:

Two companies both managed to excise, completely legally, a huge
coal plant from their pollution record. Photograph: John Giles/PA


7. Let us give you another prime example of duality, the controversial issue you call global warming. Those who believe this is a natural occurrence cite Earth’s ice ages as proof that humankind has no hand in today’s record temperatures, the melting of glaciers and the harsh climate anomalies. They believe that there is no need to change manufacturing operations or turn to alternative energy sources because doing so would be cost-prohibitive. Then there are those who believe that science proves climate change is manmade. They point to industrial pollution and the use of biofuels as the cause, and they maintain that unless action is taken to end those practices, the cost will be total destruction of the environment. With the two sides at loggerheads, no large scale efforts are underway to change business as usual.

8. The truth is, both sides have validity even though neither knows that Earth herself is in the process of restoring the moderate climate of Eden times, when her body was pristine and healthy. And pollution, a product of humanity, must stop because it is harming the planet and all of its life forms. Eventually the two sides of the global warming issue will realize that protecting and repairing the environment is essential, and formerly extreme views will be reconciled into effective methods to remedy the present critical state. Read more ..... (Q&A - November 2010 (Matthew Channeling))

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Durban? What a waste of time!

RNW, 26 November 2011, by Robert Chesal

   (Photo: RNW)
Don't bother keeping an eye on the Durban climate conference this week. That advice is from Marjan Minnesma. The woman voted top green entrepreneur in the Netherlands has a 'sisters are doing it for themselves' attitude. Not governments, but businesspeople like herself will save the planet, she says.

It's not easy for journalists to ignore events like Durban, where governments will be talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But little has been achieved on the international stage since the Kyoto conference. "All talk and no action," sneers Minnesma. "Scientists disagree, voters underestimate the problem, and therefore governments don't do a thing about climate change."


Promoting solar

Marjan Minnesma's Amsterdam-based company Urgenda purchased 50,000 solar panels in China last year. The huge order meant she could bargain for a low price, and she passed the savings on to the thousands of Dutch home and business owners who bought them. "In a single business deal," Minnesma says, "we did more to promote solar power than the Dutch government has done for the past few years put together."
Urgenda has an ambitious plan to turn the Wadden Island of Texel into a model of sustainability that generates its own solar power, grows its own sustainable crops and serves as a testing area for new green technology. Texel has great showcase potential with 800,000 tourists on the island each year.

"There are already 30 entrepreneurs there who drive electric cars daily. There are 50 stations in Texel where you can charge your car battery."

Pre-seasoned potatoes

The newest innovation being tested on the island is farming on salty soil. "They grow salty potatoes there. So you don't need to cook with salt anymore. You just throw your salty potato in the water and it's already seasoned," Minnesma says.

"A lot of the Dutch groundwater is full of salt. We can keep irrigating with fresh water, which costs a lot of energy and water, or we can say we were the first in the world to develop the salty agriculture business."


Marjan Minnesma began her career at Royal Dutch Shell, of all places. She thought she could change the company from within. "I discovered I would need to stay there 20 or 30 years to make real changes." Minnesma doesn't have that much patience, or time for that matter. Nor does the planet, she says. "Climate change is an urgent problem."

Urgenda does a lot of awareness-raising because the mindset needs to change. People have to be convinced to take steps, even if their government is lagging behind. Minnesma works with people she calls "frontrunners", she explains.

"People who do things for the first time. People who stick their neck out and are willing to spend a bit more to be the first."

Spreading the word

The idea is that these trendsetters start using clean technology and "the masses" follow them, the entrepreneur says. "We try to change society by setting an example, getting others to follow and making the group of followers bigger and bigger." She points to England, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria as the countries where this model could work right away.

But in Russia and the USA, Minnesma warns, the oil and gas industries have too much influence. Even our southern neighbour Belgium is not moving fast enough.

"They have a rich subsidy programme for solar panels, but I don't see sustainability in the rest of their lifestyle. The subsidy has mainly made a few entrepreneurs very rich."


Minnesma believes big business can provide the real solution to environmental problems, as long as they have the right approach. She praises Unilever, which has set the goal of doubling its turnover and cutting its ecological footprint in half. "That is an enormous statement. If they really succeed within ten years they have done a major job."

Dying breed

On the downside, some companies are refusing to budge from their old ways.

"Energy companies are not playing a good role. They are old-fashioned, big animals of the last century that are going to die, and soon I hope. There are a few big electricity companies in the Netherlands that are still opening coal-fired power plants. That should be seen as immoral. We don't produce asbestos anymore, so we shouldn't be burning coal either."

Forget Durban

But Minnesma doesn't give a moment's thought to what the Dutch government might be pushing for at the climate conference in Durban this week.

"Forget these international negotiations. They won't do the trick. They will certainly delay. And we don't have that much time anymore. We can't wait until 186 countries come to a conclusion. Let's do it ourselves."

Related Articles:

Two companies both managed to excise, completely legally, a huge
coal plant from their pollution record. Photograph: John Giles/PA


7. Let us give you another prime example of duality, the controversial issue you call global warming. Those who believe this is a natural occurrence cite Earth’s ice ages as proof that humankind has no hand in today’s record temperatures, the melting of glaciers and the harsh climate anomalies. They believe that there is no need to change manufacturing operations or turn to alternative energy sources because doing so would be cost-prohibitive. Then there are those who believe that science proves climate change is manmade. They point to industrial pollution and the use of biofuels as the cause, and they maintain that unless action is taken to end those practices, the cost will be total destruction of the environment. With the two sides at loggerheads, no large scale efforts are underway to change business as usual.

8. The truth is, both sides have validity even though neither knows that Earth herself is in the process of restoring the moderate climate of Eden times, when her body was pristine and healthy. And pollution, a product of humanity, must stop because it is harming the planet and all of its life forms. Eventually the two sides of the global warming issue will realize that protecting and repairing the environment is essential, and formerly extreme views will be reconciled into effective methods to remedy the present critical state. Read more ..... (Q&A - November 2010 (Matthew Channeling))

Friday, November 25, 2011

Howlers and omissions exposed in world of corporate social responsibility

Study points to slapdash fact and figure checking in companies, Juliette Jowit, Thursday 24 November 2011

Two companies both managed to excise, completely legally, a huge
coal plant from their pollution record. Photograph: John Giles/PA

Environment reports by some of the world's biggest companies are routinely including wrong statistics and leaving out vital information, according to the most comprehensive study yet carried out.

The examination of more than 4,000 corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and company surveys by a team at Leeds University found "irrelevant data, unsubstantiated claims, gaps in data and inaccurate figures" – a finding that will cast serious doubt over the burgeoning sector.

Among the most colourful mistakes and omissions made by some of the world's biggest corporations were a company whose carbon footprint was four times that for the whole world, and a carmaker and power group which both, entirely legally, managed to excise a huge coal plant from their pollution record.

More regular problems included companies ignoring data from individual countries or subsidiaries in their group – including many in China and Brazil – two of the world's biggest economies

Failing to collect or ignoring data from multiple sources was so endemic that BT, which has won awards for its CSR reporting, highlighted zero energy and water use, waste and transport for many of its international operations in 2007; the following year the company did not claim they were zero but left more than half the table blank. In total, fewer than one in six of the companies surveyed reported greenhouse gases for all their operations, said the academics, and many more did not make it clear which activities were covered.

The Leeds study, carried out jointly with Euromed Management School in Marseille, France, comes just weeks after a major report by the consultancy and accountants KPMG, who found nearly two-thirds of the biggest companies in the 34 countries they studied were producing CSR reports, and that Britain was leading the world with a 100% reporting rate.

Previous studies of CSR have also praised some of the world's most reviled companies, raising doubts over the value of the practice.

"The quality of environmental data in sustainability reports remains appalling at times, even today," said Dr Ralf Barkemeyer, a lecturer in CSR at Leeds and one of the team leaders. "In financial reporting to leave out an undisclosed part of the company in the calculation of profits would be a scandal. In sustainability reporting it is common practice.

"Put provocatively, companies get points for knowing where they want to go, but nobody seems to check whether this is where they are heading. Aspiration replaces performance."

Although some of the howlers were clearly mistakes rather than attempts to distort the picture, they were wrong by such enormous factors, and sometimes for several years in a row, that it suggested they were not being read properly or taken seriously by staff inside the company, said Barkemeyer. In one example, power group ABB over-reported sulphur emissions by a factor of 1,000 by using kilotonnes instead of tonnes, for three years in a row. In another, relevant staff at a large Swedish group did not even know that it owned a paper and pulp business until the researchers pointed it out that it was the subsidiary of an acquisition.

Although the quality of reporting has improved over the 10 years or so that CSR has become commonplace, and even the period studied from 2005-2009, many problems still remain, even with the high profile issue of reporting carbon emissions, said Barkemeyer. For example, a forthcoming study of this specific issue has found "every second company has major problems".

Tom Woollard, of consultants Environmental Resources Management, said, however, that CSR reporting had also helped many companies make significant improvements, including wider issues such as staff and contractor health and safety, because publishing data forced them to address problems, and in some cases they only discovered where problems were at their worst when they collected the data. "Public EHS [environment health and safety] reporting has driven a remarkable level of transparency and performance improvement over a wide range of issues in a relatively short time," said Woollard. "Our experience of working with some of the world largest multinationals is to put more effort into achieving fewer targets – only then can you achieve a real step change in performance."

Barkemeyer said improvements should come from more public scrutiny and companies should follow the lead of mining group BHP Billiton, which asked KPMG to check and sign off its reported emissions "We pretend it's better when it's voluntary [as are the commonly used Global Reporting Initiative standards for CSR] because companies can respond more quickly, but in some cases they don't make any effort and if we don't make an effort in terms of scrutiny who can blame them," he added.

In a statement, BT said: "As the research from Leeds University highlights, this is a new and evolving science, and one that is especially complex when it comes to trying to standardise measurement and reporting across dozens of countries. International data collection is far more complex than it is in the UK and, in some countries, the data is just not available. In those instances where reliable data isn't available a zero appears in the report. We will review the points highlighted and, where necessary, look to update our CSR reporting in coming years."

Related Article:

   (Photo: RNW)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saudi Arabia poised to become solar powerhouse

CNN News, by Steve Hargreaves @CNNMoney November 21, 2011

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is expected to begin a major push into solar power
 in an effort to conserve its most important export. The technology could include
solar plants like this one in the California desert, which uses mirrors to concentrate
the sun's rays.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The United States may be known as the Saudi Arabia of coal thanks to its large deposits. But under an expected investment push, Saudi Arabia could soon become the Saudi Arabia of solar power.

Early next year the oil rich kingdom is expected to announce a plan to get up to 10% of its electricity from the sun by 2020 -- a more aggressive national policy than what's in place in the United States.

The reason is mostly economic. The Saudis currently generate over 50% of their electricity by burning oil, which can consume up to an eighth of the country's total oil output.

That made sense when oil was $10 a barrel. But at $100 a barrel it makes more sense for the Saudis to install solar panels and sell their oil on world markets.

Moreover, their electricity consumption is set to double by 2020.

"This is eating into the Saudis' ability to export oil," said Logan Goldie-Scot, lead analyst for the Middle East and North Africa at the research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

New Energy Finance estimates that given the projected price for both oil and solar panels, the Saudis stand to make 11% return on their money if they make big investments in solar power.

"Saudi Arabia has come around to the idea that this makes economic sense," said Goldie-Scot.

That's attracted the attention of developers worldwide who are grappling with solar subsidies drying up in nations burdened by mounting debt like Italy, Spain and Germany -- traditional solar powerhouses.

So Saudi Arabia represents a rare opportunity.

"Everyone is flying to Riyadh to make sure they are in on the bids," said Goldie-Scot.

Still, any Saudi solar commitment would likely translate into just a few gigawatts of solar power by 2020, said Goldie-Scot. That compares to world-leader Italy's eight gigawatts of solar installed in the last year alone. A gigawatt can power roughly 700,000 U.S. homes.

Kevin Smith, chief executive of U.S. solar developer SolarReserve wants to put one of his company's solar thermal power plants in the Saudi desert.

He said it's not just short-term profits motivating the Saudis.

"The Saudis, one of the largest oil producing nation's, realize that there's limitations as to how long that's going to last," said Smith. "They are looking at their long-term energy plans."

Smith contrasted that with renewable energy policy in the United States.

About half the U.S. states have a renewable energy mandate similar to Saudi Arabia's. But at the national level this area is pretty much left to tax credits. Companies can't count on tax credits as they make long term investment plans because there's no guarantee the credits will be extended when they come up for renewal every few years.

"We have a tendency as a government to look at short term issues -- what's the price of oil today, what will it be tomorrow, what should we do," he said. "That's why we've moved from 20% or 30% imported oil 30 years ago to 50% or 60% today, and there's no end in sight unless we put in some type of long term program."

Challenges in the desert: While the Saudis may shoot for an aggressive solar plan, there's no guarantee they'll hit it.

While it may seem counterintuitive, the Arabian desert isn't actually the most ideal spot for solar.

While the near constant sunshine is good, solar panels become less efficient if they get too hot.

Dust is also a problem.

"They actually have guys with brushes continuously cleaning these panels," said Brett Prior, a senior analyst at GTM Research, speaking of a solar power project in neighboring Abu Dhabi.

Another challenge is natural gas, said Prior, which can also be used to generate electricity. As is the case in the United States, cheap natural gas is making it hard for renewables to compete.

Saudi Arabia currently uses all the natural gas it produces and hasn't had much luck finding new reserves. But the country sits right next to Qatar, which is currently developing the world's largest natural gas deposit. 

Related Article:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

He's behind you! Starlings form a flipping amazing dolphin in the dusky sky... being chased by an open-mouthed killer whale

Daily Mail, By DAILY MAIL REPORTER, 19th November 2011

When it comes to impressions, these starlings do a sterling job.

The birds’ formation resembles a dolphin being chased by a killer whale with its mouth agape. Amateur photographer Paul McGreevy caught the mesmerising scene at sunset in Gretna Green, Scotland, this week.

The 55-year-old self-employed gardener from Carlisle said the birds went on to form the shape of a squid, then an octopus, then another whale. The father of three added: ‘It wasn’t until I got my camera home and started putting the images on my computer that I saw all these shapes.

Stunning: A flock of starlings in the shape of a dolphin being chased
by a whale make their way acoss the dusk skies above Gretna Green,

Gretna Green is famous for these ‘murmurations’, when starlings fly back en masse to their winter roost in the Scottish village after a day’s feeding.

By the looks of things, they must be  partial to seafood.

Next Mr McGreevy captured the birds morphing into an octopus as they soared above the skies.

The self-employed gardener and keen amateur photographer made the half hour trip to Gretna Green, Scotland, to capture the starlings aerial acrobatics on Wednesday afternoon at sunset.

The father-of-three said: 'It wasn’t until I got my camera home and started putting the images on my computer that I saw all these shapes.

'I was really surprised to see the dolphin, then what looked like a killer whale chasing it.

'There’s an octopus too - but people can see lots of different things in the pictures. I suppose a psychiatrist could tell you a lot from what people see in the pictures.'

Seas of the sky: The starlings form the shape of an octopus. The birds
 come together every autumn to form one of nature's most impressive spectacles

The birds come together every autumn to form one of nature’s most impressive spectacles as they flock together above the Scottish village.

Mr McGreevy added: 'The starlings come to Gretna in late October and they stay until February.
'People come from all over to see them - one time I met a couple who had driven up from Stoke to see the starlings.'

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