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

Friday, November 28, 2014

This Japanese woman can reduce the price of solar energy around the world

TechinAsia, David Corbin, 27 Nov 2014

Miho Koike in her office in Tohoku University.

Solar cell makers in China, Taiwan, and Europe have bombarded Miho Koike with product orders. Koike is the CEO of Material Concept, a small solar power development company that is changing the way the world makes solar panels. Nestled away in a Tohoku University research and business center, the company is so hidden and focused on product it does not have a working website. Instead, it depends on Tohoku University web space to broadcast news. Don’t worry – this is not a fly-by-night Kickstarter campaign. The product is real, and it is selling.

Traditionally, manufacturers use a gold paste to affix solar cells to the electrodes on solar batteries and panels. Gold, being a valuable commodity, ends up accounting for almost 25 percent of all production costs. Junichi Koike (no relation) developed an alternative copper paste that Miho says is just 1/100th of the cost.

Though the breakthrough was twenty years in the making, with other researchers pursuing the same goal, the real trick that Junichi pulled off is creating a slim barrier to prevent the copper from being absorbed into the silicon used in solar panels. The cost benefits of copper had been known but the material caused silicon to degrade, making it a risky alternative.

This is welcome news to overseas solar companies. Material Concept receives a lot of attention from Europe because the European Union announced a switch over to the bronze standard by 2018. Miho mentions that they are exploring tie-ups with Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers. The talks must be going well because she is looking for new employees who can also speak Chinese.

Although Japan’s government made a noisy but faltering push for more solar power, the reality is that Material Concept’s clients are mostly outside of Japan. “In Japan only three major companies – Sharp, Kyocera, and Mitsubishi – are producing these solar cells,” she says.

A CEO that almost never was

Junichi might have cracked the scientific code but Miho is the engine pushing the company forward. That said, she nearly missed the opportunity. For ten years she lived in the US, studying and working. Though she expected to live there for the rest of her life, family considerations led her to return to Japan. At the time of her decision she had just received a notice that her application for a permanent visa was approved.

Back in Japan, she experienced reverse culture shock. “I didn’t want to leave my home. That lasted for half a year,” she recalls. Soon enough, she picked herself up and worked in a steady government job for the next 14 years. In that role, she would sometimes interact with businesses that were launching out of universities. When the opportunity came, in 2011, to coordinate business planning and development for startups trying to launch out of top-ranked Tokyo University, she took it.

Feeling a strong desire to help the disaster-ravaged Tohoku area of Japan, she switched her role when the opportunity to lead Material Concept arose in 2013. Now she’s singularly focused on one company – Material Concept. With a deep roster of domestic and international contacts, Miho is steering a company that could be poised for a big breakout.

Local investors agree. Earlier this year, it received series A funding of approximately US$6 million from major names like Daiwa Securities and the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan.

Editing by Paul Bischoff and JT Quigley

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Super material has chink in its armour

Yahoo – AFP, 26 Nov 2014

Subatomic proton particles, as produced by this "Synergium" machine, can
penetrate super material graphene, it has been discovered (AFP File)

Scientists said Wednesday they had found a chink in the impermeable armour of graphene, the world's thinnest material, and one of the strongest.

The team said they were surprised to see the super material known to repel all gases and liquids, let through sub-atomic particles called protons.

And they hailed the unexpected finding as a potential breakthrough for fuel cells -- a non-polluting version of a traditional battery.

"The discovery could revolutionise fuel cells and other hydrogen-based technologies as they require a barrier that only allow protons -- hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons -- to pass through," said a statement from Manchester University, whose researchers took part in the work.

Protons, along with neutrons, make up the nuclei of atoms, the building blocks of matter.

At just one atom thick -- many times thinner than a human hair, graphene is stronger than steel and acts as a barrier to even the smallest of atoms, hydrogen -- making it a perfect ingredient for impermeable coatings and packaging materials.

Led by physicist Andre Geim, awarded the Nobel in 2010 for his work on graphene, a research team set out to test whether protons, like atoms and molecules, would also be repelled by graphene.

They "fully expected that protons would be blocked, as existing theory predicted as little proton permeation as for hydrogen," said the statement of the findings published in the journal Nature.

"Despite the pessimistic prognosis, the researchers found that protons pass through the ultra-thin crystals surprisingly easily, especially at elevated temperatures..."

This made graphene an excellent candidate for proton-conducting membranes key to efficient fuel cell technology, said the statement.

Fuel cells, a kind of battery used in some electric cars and backup power generators, for example, use oxygen and hydrogen as a fuel and convert chemical energy into electricity.

They require membranes that allow protons to pass through, but not other particles.

"It looks extremely simple and equally promising. Because graphene can be produced these days in square metre sheets, we hope that it will find its way to commercial fuel cells sooner rather than later," said study co-author Sheng Hu.

Graphene was aired as a theoretical substance in 1947. But for decades, physicists thought it would be impossible to isolate, as such thin crystalline sheets were bound to be unstable.

The problem was resolved in 2004 by Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who used ordinary sticky tape to lift a layer from a piece of graphite.

That layer was itself pulled apart using more tape, and the process repeated until just the thinnest of layers remained -- a graphene sheet.

Old Traditions for SOld Traditions for Saving Wateraving Water

Jakarta Globe, Sitti Aminah, Nov 27, 2014

A villager collects water from a well, which was dug from the bottom of a lake
 that had dried up in Gunung 
Kidul village, near Yogyakarta in Java. Drought
 continually plagues the area and the villagers who reside there. (Reuters
Photo/Dwi Oblo)

Jakarta. Indonesia is home to some of the world’s largest water deposits. According to the Water Environment Partnership in Asia, WEPA, almost 6 percent of the world’s water resources  can be found in Indonesia. Additionally, Indonesia controls 21 percent of water resources in the Asia-Pacific region.

Geographically, it can be said that Indonesia is blessed with an abundance of water in storage.

Mountainous areas covered in rain forests form natural water catchments. Mangrove forests in coastal areas, meanwhile, protect inland water storage from saltwater intrusion.

Indonesia undoubtedly plays an important role in global water security and environmental conservation. This, however, does not mean Indonesia is immune from water-related problems.

Water is one of several basic necessities, a valuable asset that has the potential to trigger problems should it be manipulated or managed unwisely. Speaking of manipulating water resources, the government and the private-sector play an increasing role in this sector.

The 1945 Constitution mandates the government as the sole manager of water resources throughout the archipelago. It is given the mandate so that it can fulfill the people’s basic necessities.

Overwhelmed by the task, the government has delegated part of its water authority to the private sector. They require the private sector to ensure that Indonesia’s need for water is balanced with accessible supplies.

Excessive use

Despite efforts to maintain supply, most urban populations in Indonesia use water excessively.  It may be because to them, water is something easily available, not something that they struggle to attain.

Lower- to middle-income people in Indonesia use 169.11 liters per day, per person on average. The figure is higher for those in the middle-to-upper class group who use 247.36 liters. Almost every domestic activity requires water, from washing clothes and cleaning the dishes to cooking, drinking and watering gardens.

According the Indonesia Water Institute, since 2000, various regions in Indonesia have been forced to deal with water scarcity. Such shortages are blamed by environmental degradation. Additionally, water becomes scarce due to unwise management.

The Baduy people

An examination of the traditional practices of some indigenous groups, including the Baduy people in Banten is insightful. Their actions are in line with sustainable development principles, consisting of three pillars: environment, economy and community. Under those principles, they are able to manage the environment wisely.

The practice, supervised by their elderly, bars Baduy Dalam (Inner Baduy) people, who live deep in the forest, from cutting down trees. Cutting trees is only allowed should the tree be of a sufficient age. If they cut down one tree, in exchange, they must plant two trees. We can see here an effort to balance the ecosystem, and maintain an abundance of trees.

The indigenous Baduy people demonstrate to us how to manage our relations with the environment. By preserving the forest, they maintain the availability of water in the soil.

In terms of their other two pillars, economy and community, an examination of Baduy Luar (outer Baduy) people’s practices is useful.  They are allowed to sell their crops to meet daily necessities, but only if they maintain the sustainability of their plantations and don’t harvest excessively — which can damage their forests. The Baduy sees nature as an integral part of their life that must to be respected. It is a remarkable value, one which has allowed them to avoid environmental-related problems, including water scarcity.

If we apply such values to our modern society, everyone will benefit. Indonesians need to wake from their long sleep and consider such core environmental principles. Unique traditional values that respect nature are part of our country’s identity. Even though they often originate from different cultural practices, they have one thing in common: a unique, traditional solution for environmental issues.

Every region in Indonesia is moving towards preserving the environment as one solution for water scarcity. I’m optimistic that this will work. I’m also aware, though, that it is going to be a life-long project to make people understand environmental principles.

Once they understand the actions they can take to alleviate water scarcity, their behavior will change. Let’s appreciate what we have, and let’s move forward with it.

Sitti “Ina” Aminah is a knowledge management officer at the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Yayasan Kehati)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Elif Bilgin: Turkey Environment Wonder Kid

In an effort to improve the plant's conditions, man is in constant search to improve and undo the damage that's already been done. Sixteen year-old Elif Belgin has had an early start by creating bioplastics made from banana peels

Daily Sabah, Leyla Yvonne Ergil, 21.08.2014

Elif Bilgin: Turkey's environmental wonder kid Recently on my Facebook feed, I have been seeing links to a video of a 16-yearold Turkish girl from Istanbul by the name of Elif Bilgin who has successfully created a bioplastic out of banana peels. Although Bilgin was awarded the Scientific American Science in Action Award and the Voter's Choice Award in the 2013 Google Science Fair. In thevideo, Bilgin explains that she began the project when she was just 14, having become frustrated with the plastic pollution she saw in the Bosporus.

She found out that petroleum based plastics are causing a vast amount of pollution and that bioplastic, a type of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than petroleum, is indeed a solution. Not only is it cheaper to make, but it also works to recycle waste material.
She spent the following two years researching alternatives to petroleum-based plastic and the current methods for producing bioplastic. Although there was a bioplastic made from potatoes, Bilgin wanted to see if she could make plastic out of organic waste material rather than using something that can be consumed. Banana peels were the perfect solution as they are both high in starch and cellulose and generally thrown out. After two years of developing her project and making 12 trial runs - with only the last two successful - Bilgin finally succeeded in making a bioplastic from banana peels.

The process she uses involves dipping the peel in sodium metabisulphite solution before boiling and pureeing the peels. The resulting paste is then baked to create a type of plastic that can easily be used as cable insulation or for cosmetic prosthetics. "Anyone can use this plastic and our beautiful planet will be spared from the consequences of the production of plastics with petroleum derivatives," says Bilgin in the video that has gone viral, adding that in the meantime, she has also perfected her recipe for banana splits and cupcakes.

Bilgin, who is a junior at Koç High School, and for the past seven years has been attending the Istanbul Science and Art Center for gifted students, submitted her project titled, "Going Bananas! Using Banana Peels in the Production of Bioplastic as a Replacement for Traditional Petroleum Based Plastic," to the 2013 Google Science Fair, with no hopes, she said, of being a finalist. Her project not only won the Scientific American Magazine's Science in Action award of $50,000 (TL 108,313) for being innovative, easy to put into action and reproducible in other communities, but her work also drew in votes of support from all over the world, winning her the Voter's Choice award of $10,000. Her project has drawn great media attention worldwide since then and she has been invited to speak at Google Zeitgeist America 2013, Tedx Vienna and Tedx Istanbul. After high school, she hopes to study science and later become a doctor of medicine.

Describing herself as a hyperactive child that learned to read and write on her own by the age of four, Bilgin says she loved asking questions about anything and everything that she saw, so her parents bought her books on scientists and inventors. During a talk at TEDxVienna in December, Bilgin described the first invention she ever made, which were manual window wipers for her glasses in the second grade. "After my little project I stepped into a world of unlimited possibilities," says Bilgin, adding that she has always wanted to make a difference in the world. In middle school, she went on to win awards for two different projects, one on soilless farming and the other on designing a car using wind energy to carry heavy objects. Bilgin said that as her world grew, the problems she wanted to solve got bigger and harder.

Petroleum- based plastics cause major issues for both human health and the environment. The chemicals in these plastics seep into our food and water and have been linked to various forms of cancer, never mind that they are also a major cause of pollution in our oceans and landfills. Bilgin says she drew her inspiration from Marie Curie, a female scientist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, "while challenging gender norms along the way."

Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields and the only person to win in multiple sciences, namely physics and chemistry. Check out this intelligent, beautiful, charming and inspiring young Turkish girl, who is being discovered worldwide for her contribution to science. "I don't think that it is your age that determines the potential you have, it is the unlimited imagination you have that gives you the unlimited potential to create," says Bilgin.

Monday, November 24, 2014

China in $45.6b Infrastructure, Energy Pledge With Pakistan

Jakarta Globe, Mehreen Zahra-Malik, Nov 23, 2014 

The Chinese government and banks will finance Chinese companies to build
 $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next
 six years, according to new details of the deal seen by Reuters on Friday. (Reuters
Photo/Mohsin Raza)

Islamabad. The Chinese government and banks will finance Chinese companies to build $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years, according to new details of the deal seen by Reuters on Friday.

The Chinese companies will be able to operate the projects as profit-making entities, according to the deal signed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to China earlier this month.

At the time, officials provided few details of the projects or the financing for the deal, dubbed the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The deal further cements ties between Pakistan and China at a time when Pakistan is nervous about waning US support as troops pull out of Afghanistan.

Pakistan and China, both nuclear-armed nations, consider each other close friends. Their ties are underpinned by common wariness of India and a desire to hedge against US influence in South Asia.

Documents seen by Reuters show that China has promised to invest around $33.8 billion in various energy projects and $11.8 billion in infrastructure projects.

Two members of Pakistan’s planning commission, the focal ministry for the CPEC, and a senior official at the ministry of water and power shared the details of the projects.

The deal says the Chinese government and banks, including China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of China’s “Big Four” state-owned commercial banks, will loan funds to Chinese firms, who will invest in the projects as commercial ventures.

“Pakistan will not be taking on any more debt through these projects,” said Pakistan’s minister for water and power, Khawaja Asif.

Major Chinese companies investing in Pakistan’s energy sector will include China’s Three Gorges Corp., which built the world’s biggest hydro power scheme, and China Power International Development.

Sharif signed more than 20 agreements during his trip to China earlier this month, including $622 million for projects related to the deepwater, strategically important Gwadar Port, which China is developing.

The port is close to the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping lane. It could open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf across Pakistan to western China that could be used by the Chinese Navy — potentially upsetting rival India.

Pakistan sees the latest round of Chinese investments as key to its efforts to solve power shortages that have crippled its economy.

Blackouts lasting more than half a day in some areas have sparked violent protests and undermined an economy already beset by high unemployment, widespread poverty, crime and sectarian and insurgent violence.

Under the CPEC agreement, $15.5 billion worth of coal, wind, solar and hydro energy projects will come online by 2017 and add 10,400 megawatts of energy to the national grid, officials said. An additional 6,120 megawatts will be added to the national grid at a cost of $18.2 billion by 2021.

“In total we will add 16,000 MW of electricity through coal, wind, solar and [hydro electric] plants in the next seven years and reduce power shortage by 4,000 to 7,000 megawatts,” Asif said.

The CPEC deal also includes $5.9 billion for road projects and $3.7 billion for railway projects, all to be developed by 2017. A $44 million fiber-optic cable between China and Pakistan is also due to be built.


New energy sector eyeing opportunities in Silk Road initiatives

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-11-23

A PV industrial park in Hami, Xinjiang, July 22. (File photo/Xinhua)

Chinese industries, particularly the new energy sector, are eying opportunities stemming from the Silk Road initiatives, including the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road project, after Chinese president Xi Jinping announced recently that China will contribute US$40 billion to set up a fund to finance the initiatives, the China Securities Journal reports.

The Silk Road infrastructure fund will be used for investing in infrastructure, resources and industrial and financial cooperation, among other projects, Xi stated.

The Silk Road initiatives were proposed in 2013 and have since then attracted attention from various industries seeking to tap into business opportunities, including the new energy sector.

The new energy industry represented by the solar power sector is an indispensable part of implementing China's Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative, which aims to build roads, railways, ports and airports across Central Asia and South Asia, said Ding Wenlei, executive director of the Shandong-based Hangyu Solar.

The Silk Road Economic Belt will include regions in Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Western Europe, while the Maritime Silk Road will encompass countries and regions in East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Some of these regions have an abundance of fossil fuels, including natural gas and petroleum and some have enormous potential for the development of renewable resources.

Northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, which is a part of the Silk Road Economic Belt plan, has an apparent advantage in its geography and civilization and China should grab the opportunity to promote Xinjing's opening up and building a passage for international trade between East and West.

In recent years, Xinjiang has striven to build itself into the country's onshore strategic energy base. Xinjiang Electric Power announced on Nov. 14 that it will start the construction of a 750 kilovolt power grid in the region and ensure it will be completed by the end of 2015.

Ting added that Xinjiang has the unique advantage of developing solar photovoltaic cells, given Xinjiang's annual 1,800-1,900 average hours of sunshine, which is ranked second in the country by region.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Climate change fund creeps toward target

Donor countries have pledged $9.3 billion for a fund aimed at helping developing countries tackle the challenges of climate change. Officials hope a $10-billion target will be met in the coming months.

Deutsche Welle, 20 Nov 2014

Thirty nations on Thursday pledged a combined $9.3 billion (7.4 billion euros) for a United Nations fund that will help poor and developing countries set up defenses against the negative impacts of global warming.

Following the donors' conference in the German capital, Berlin, the fund's executive director, Hela Cheikhrouhou (pictured center above), praised the "game-changing" result of the meeting. She said money from the fund, called the Green Climate Fund, would mostly go to vulnerable countries, including small island nations and poor African states.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres had set a target for the fund of at least $10 billion euros by the end of the year, a sum that would be disbursed over four years from 2015.

But even though Thursday's conference fell short of this goal, Germany's environment minister, Barbara Hendricks (pictured left), told reporters she was optimistic, because some countries had indicated that they would increase their contribution in the months to come.
"I'm confident that we will reach the $10 billion goal," she said. "$9.3 billion is already pretty close.

Time running out

Britain became a major contributor to the fund on Thursday, pledging $1.13 billion, after the United States last week promised to come up with $3 billion, the biggest amount so far.

Germany, Japan and France are among the other major donors, while Switzerland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic have all offered smaller amounts.

The money from the fund is to be used both to help poorer countries cope with effects of climate change such as rising seas, warmer temperatures and more extreme weather conditions, and to aid them to develop clean energy sources that produce fewer greenhouse gases.

Climate experts have recently warned that time is running out in the battle against climate change, described last week by UN chief Ban Ki-moon as "the defining issue of our times."

A UN report this month said that the Earth could experience at least 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming in the foreseable future if humans did not cut their carbon emissions drastically.

Such a temperature rise would result in melting ice caps, along with an increased incidence of extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes and droughts.

tj/msh (AFP, AP)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spanish island generates its own clean energy

An island in the Canaries has developed a unique system to produce all the electricity it needs. The combination of wind and hydro power provides seamless energy, saves Spain money, and acts as a model for the future.

Deutsche Welle, 18 Nov 2014

The irony is that it actually takes quite a lot of fossil fuel to reach the tiny island of El Hierro, population 10,000. You'd need to catch at least one commercial flight, then a propeller plane or a ferry to reach the remote outpost 1,000 kilometers from the European mainland in the Atlantic Ocean. It's the last land Christopher Columbus saw before reaching the New World.

The island is part of the Canary Islands and belongs to Spain, although it takes about a 12-hour journey to get there from the Iberian Peninsula. That's the same voyage barges of diesel fuel had to make before the island's shift to renewable energy. The seabed around the active volcanic island is too volatile, and the water too deep, for undersea electricity lines. The only way the island got its power was by shipping in about 6,600 tons of diesel fuel by boat each year - an expensive and dirty endeavor.

El Hierro now bills itself as world's first self-sufficient island in terms of energy. To power the island, it's transitioned from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy, thanks to a mix of wind and hydro power.

How it works

Water flows into the lower lake in
 the El Hierro electricity generation
Wind turbines harness the Canary Islands' Atlantic gusts. When production exceeds demand - such as at night, for example - excess energy is used to pump water from a sea-level tank into a natural crater half a mile uphill on El Hierro's volcano. When the wind dies down, the water is released through a turbine to generate more power.

Other islands have similarly managed to become energy independent, such as the tiny self-governing island of Tokelau in the South Pacific, and the Danish island, Samso. But whereas these have done so with the help of having previously been hooked up to a power grid, El Hierro made the change in isolation.

The centerpiece of El Hierro has long been a massive rocky volcano at the island's center. Now, it's dotted with five huge wind turbines that provide the entire island's electricity, about 48 gigawatt hours.

"They're 64 meters high. So just getting them onto the island and up this mountain was a logistical nightmare!" laughs engineer Juan Manuel Quintero, who sits on the board of the Gorona del Viento power plant. "They were split into three parts that each arrived at different ports. We had to widen the road to get them through!"

Everything is connected with sensors, so that within five seconds of the wind dying down, the hydro part of the plant kicks in. For residents, the lights don't even flicker.

It's a relatively simple system that requires only two engineers to monitor it around-the-clock. Quintero described it as a unique system.

"It's been done separately, but no one's ever combined water and wind," Quintero said. The wind machines and water turbines were purchased pre-made, he added. "The innovation we made is hooking up the two systems together."

Just five massive turbines provide most of the island's power

An investment in the future

The Spanish government, a local university and a Spanish power company helped fund the project, with a total investment of 90 million euros ($113 million).

The Gorona del Viento power station was one of the last projects Spain approved before the economic crisis prompted the government to halt all of its subsidies for renewable energy, two years ago.

El Hierro's governor, Alpidio Armas, says that El Hierro has seen increasing emigration. People born in El Hierro are spread all over Europe and the Americas, where they've traveled in search of jobs or a better life, away from the windy, harsh outpost. But now, the governor hopes this new power station could bring people back - and make them proud of their island.

"When they turn on the light, they think of the windmills moving and maybe they think, 'We are different than the rest of the world, because we are catching electricity for these windmills and not from conventional engines,'" Armas said.

Most current residents of El Hierro appear to approve of the power plant, though it doesn't lower their electricity bills. Prices for power are still set at a national level for all of Spain, no matter the source of the energy. But by cutting diesel deliveries, the Spanish government saves nearly 2 million euros a year - even after factoring in costs to build and maintain the plant.

And the new power scheme has given this isolated island some energy security - perhaps forever.

"How much will be the price for oil in 20 years time? We don't know! But we are sure that we will still have wind in the Canary Islands in 20 years time," said Gonzalo Escribano, an energy economist at Madrid's Elcano Royal Institute. "And the price, or the cost to generate an additional gigawatt, will be zero, just very small costs for maintenance."

El Hierro has halted consumption of some 40,000 barrels of oil each year. That's more than 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide that are not being released into the atmosphere.

But officials on El Hierro won't leave it at that. The island's governor is looking ahead, and wants to have all the island's cars be electric by the year 2020.

Related Article:

Wind energy producers replace old turbines with new to beat subsidy stop, November 17, 2014

Many Dutch farmers own wind turbines. Photo:

Wind energy producers are planning to demolish at least 172 turbines and replace them with new ones in order to qualify for €350m in green energy subsidies, the Volkskrant reports on Monday.

The paper says research by an association representing people who live near the turbines shows that local councils have had a surge of permit requests to replace turbines ahead of the December 31 deadline.

The turbines no long qualify for subsidies from next year but are still in good working order. However, it is more financially attractive for energy firms to take them down, sell them second hand and get subsidies for the new turbine, the paper says.

The NLVOW says most of the turbines scheduled for replacement could run for a further 10 to 15 years. 

The economic affairs ministry has changed the regulations, removing the financial advantage for new turbines, from next year. 

Parliament is due to debate sustainable energy on Monday.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Details of first pilot center for APEC Green Supply Chain disclosed

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-11-15

The Yujiapu railway construction site in Tianjin, March 7. (File photo/CNS)

More details on the first pilot center for the Cooperation Network on Green Supply Chain of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) were disclosed by Tianjin's Yujiapu Financial District on Friday.

One of the achievements of the APEC Beijing meetings, the pilot center, which will be established in Yujiapu, will explore and share China's experience of low carbon to Asian-Pacific region economies.

The Green Supply Chain is a kind of management mode with an emphasis on energy efficiency and environmental friendliness throughout the whole product life cycle. Enterprises adopting this management style will achieve both environmental and economic benefits.

The cooperation network aims to conduct applied research on the green supply chain, subsequently establishing pilot centers and relevant websites to share information, explained assistant general manager of Tianjin Innovative Finance Investment Company, Mu Lingling, who is in charge of the preparation work.

"We hope the pilot center can help develop an information sharing mechanism and form a kind of Tianjin Mode in the market and service, so as to export the 'Chinese Standard' to Asia Pacific," Mu said.

The Yujiapu Financial District, set up in 2009, aims to become the world's biggest financial district. By 2012, the number of registered enterprises in the zone exceeded 470.

Obama unveils $3 bn contribution to UN climate fund: US official

Yahoo – AFP, Jérôme Cartillier in Yangon and Jitendra Joshi in Brisbane

Barack Obama speaks during the opening session of the Climate Change Summit at
the United Nations in New York on September 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will pledge $3 billion to a UN fund aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change in the world's poorest countries, a US official said Friday.

"It is in our national interest to helping vulnerable countries to build resilience to climate change," the administration official said as Obama headed to a G20 summit in Australia.

Obama was en route to Brisbane after visiting Myanmar and China, where on Wednesday he and President Xi Jinping announced ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions as part of a pact designed to breathe new life into attempts to replace the international Kyoto treaty.

Barack Obama takes part in a civil
 society roundtable discussion at the US
 Embassy in Yangon on November 14, 
2014 (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
Obama was expected to outline his pledge in a speech on Saturday in Brisbane on the sidelines of the G20 talks, as backers and donors involved in the UN's "Green Climate Fund" (GCF) prepare to meet in Berlin on November 20.

The US president's renewed focus on climate change threatens to upend Australia's stated focus of keeping the G20 summit confined to economic issues.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a sceptic about man-made global warming and he was forced to deny Friday that the revived debate about the issue this week risks leaving him isolated.

And Obama himself must yet get Congress to agree to the contribution, which could be a tough sell after the Republicans regained control of both houses in this month's mid-term elections.

The UN-backed GCF is designed to enlist private-sector money on top of government donations, and so help poorer countries to invest in environmentally friendly technologies and build up their defences against rising sea levels and less predictable weather patterns.

The US official said Obama's $3 billion pledge would also help make the world safer.

"More resilient communities are less likely to descend into instability or conflict in the aftermath of extreme climate events, needing more costly interventions to restore stability and rebuild," the official said.

Abbott in the cold?

At the G20 summit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to say that Japan will give up to $1.5 billion to the Green Climate Fund, Kyodo News agency reported Friday.

Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has called for an initial capitalisation of $10 billion by the end of the year.

France and Germany have already pledged to contribute $1 billion each.

Tony Abbott (left) shakes hands with Indonesia's
 President Joko Widodo on the sidelines of 
the G20 Summit in Brisbane on November 14,
 2014 (AFP Photo/Andrew Taylor)
The G20 meeting is the third event in an intensive week for international summitry, and comes after Obama and Xi agreed their deal to make their countries -- the world's top two polluters -- curb their emissions.

China set a target for its greenhouse gas output to peak "around 2030", the first time Beijing had agreed to an approximate target date for beginning to reverse its emissions trend.

Obama set a goal for the US to cut such emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

The Sino-US pact was hailed by climate scientists as the jolt in the arm that post-Kyoto negotiations need heading into a major meeting in Paris next year.

But US Republicans denounced it for having the potential to kill economic growth and job creation.

And Abbott, a conservative who like many Republicans disdains the science behind climate change, has withdrawn a "carbon tax" that his Labor predecessor had introduced as a way of combatting industrial emissions.

On Friday Abbott said the tax had been "damaging our economy without helping the environment".

Instead, he said his government was taking "strong action" of its own by committing to reduce emissions by five percent on 2000 levels by 2020.

The US official, however, urged "all major countries" to contribute to the GCF.

"As the US and China showed earlier this week, we need to reach across traditional divides to tackle climate change, and that includes providing support to the poorest and most vulnerable."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

UN chief hails US, China efforts on greenhouse gases

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-11-13

Ban Ki-Moon speaks at a press conference, Nov. 12. (Photo/Xinhua)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Wednesday praised pledges made by China and the United States to limit greenhouse gases and called on the rest of the world to follow suit on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit.

In a statement, the UN chief encouraged all other countries to make similar promises but noted announcements have to be released before March 2015.

"The decision on their (the United States and China) position to increase their level of commitment to reducing CO2 emissions is an important contribution to the new climate change agreement to be agreed to in Paris next year," Ban told reporters.

"I urge all countries, especially all major economies to follow the US and China and announce ambitious post 2020 targets as soon as possible but no later than the first quarter of 2015."

Hours earlier, Washington and Beijing pledged to take action to limit greenhouse gases, aiming to inject fresh momentum into the global fight against climate change ahead of make-or-break climate talks in Paris next year.

Chinese president Xi Jinping agreed to cap China's emissions in the future. US President Barack Obama also said his country would move much faster in cutting its levels of pollution.

China has set a target for its emissions to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. Xi also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels to about 20% by 2030.

US President Barack Obama (L) and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a
 press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014
(AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

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G20 climate protesters bury heads in Bondi sands

Yahoo – AFP, 13 Nov 2014

This handout picture taken by Tim Cole and released by on November 13,
 2014 shows Australians burying their heads in the sands of Bondi Beach to send
a message about the dangers of climate change (AFP Photo/Tom Cole)

Sydney (AFP) - Scores of Australians buried their heads in the sands of iconic Bondi Beach on Thursday to send a message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the dangers of climate change.

As world leaders arrived in the northern city of Brisbane for the G20 summit, more than 100 people dug holes in the famous sand so they could plunge their bodies in halfway, holding their position for three minutes.

Organisers said they were telling Abbott: "You have your head in the sand on climate change".

"Tony Abbott's refusal to include climate change on the G20 agenda and his government's overt attempts to stifle the renewable energy industry show that he is determined to keep his head buried in the sand on the most important issue of our time," said organiser Eden Tehan.

Since coming to power last year, Abbott's conservative government has scrapped a carbon tax designed to tackle climate change, fulfilling a key election promise.

It has also removed another tax on the profits of coal mining, while new investment in renewable energy has fallen 70 percent. Abbott has defended the use of fossil fuel coal as crucial to Australia's prosperity.

"We want to tell world leaders coming for the G20 that Tony Abbott does not represent the view of most Australians who want to see urgent and global action on climate change and for Australia to contribute a meaningful share towards reducing global emissions," Tehan said.

G20 leaders, including US President Barack Obama, meet in Brisbane on Saturday and Sunday with boosting global growth the main theme of their talks.

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