Blue Marble - October 2009

Hey, Everyone Gets Dumped Sometime. The Chamber of Commerce Breakup Video.

| Thu Oct. 8, 2009 11:43 AM PDT

With the US Chamber of Commerce weakened by recent defections over its climate policy, its foes are moving in for the kill. Or at least milking the whole thing for some laughs. From the SEIU comes this tale of thwarted romance:

 

H/T Pete Altman's Switchboard Blog.

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NASA's Moon Explosion

| Thu Oct. 8, 2009 10:36 AM PDT

Red alert: NASA is going to blow up the moon!

A lunar rocket is set to hit the moon's south pole (no, they're not blowing up the whole thing)  tomorrow morning, as part of the LCROSS mission to find water in the moon's craters. According to National Geographic:

If abundant lunar water ice is found, it could someday be used to slake the thirst of moon colonizers and fuel their journeys deeper into space.

Star-gazers can watch at 4:30am Pacific Time with a standard telescope, and glimpse dusty debris or even—better yet—billowing water vapor (late-night nerd party, anyone?) For those on the East Coast, the NASA TV web site will capture the boom.

News From TreeHugger: Thursday, October 8

| Thu Oct. 8, 2009 4:00 AM PDT

Editor's Note: We're happy to host a weekly news roundup from our friends over at TreeHugger. Enjoy!

How the World Can Cut 13 Billion Tons of CO2 Per Year and Save $14 Billion in the Process

Reducing deforestation, improving energy efficiency and working towards a global renewable energy standard of 20% could cut global CO2 emissions by 13 gigatons a year, and save $14 billion at the same time. That's the conclusion of a new study from the UN Foundation and the Center for American Progress.

New Clean Coal Hazards Revealed: Could Poison Plants, People

Clean coal may be trotted out as the future of the coal industry, but a new study from the University of Toronto confirms what many in the green community have be saying for a while: Scaling up CCS will need an infrastructure rivaling the oil industry, groundwater reserves could be contaminated, adding CCS to coal plants will up to one-third more water intensive, and unexpected leaks could poison animals, plants and people.

UN Forest Protection Scheme Open for Organized Crime Abuse

Two words of warning about the current wording of REDD: Interpol says international criminal syndicates are already eyeing the program and that enforcement with be very difficult. And, the Ecosystems Climate Alliance takes issue with the lack of explicitly protecting intact forests and indigenous peoples.

Will Carbon Capture & Storage Conflict With Mineral & Property Rights?

Here's one aspect of carbon capture & storage you may not have considered: A new assessment coming out of Carnegie Mellon University raises the issue of conflicts between mineral exploration and areas where CO2 might be injected under CCS schemes. As you wouldn't be able to exploit those mineral rights in these areas, how and will property owners be compensated?

Stop Crying Wolf! Cap-and-Trade Will Increase Farmer's Production Costs Less Than 1%

Another nail in the 'climate legislation will cost too much' coffin: The Environmental Working Group's new assessment on the increased costs of production for farmers shows that there will be less than a 1% increase for soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton and rice.

"Solar Roadmap" Moves to Full House

| Wed Oct. 7, 2009 1:30 PM PDT

The "Solar Roadmap" bill introduced by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona (see our profile of Giffords and the bill) passed a House committee today and is headed for a vote in the full House.

On Monday, I traveled with Rep. Giffords as she toured solar installations at Arizona State University in Tempe. While talking about the Roadmap, HR 3585, Giffords stressed that it is a way to guide the development of solar power efficiently and effectively—but without picking winners and losers among competing technologies.

 

 

Hymens: Now Made in China

| Wed Oct. 7, 2009 10:43 AM PDT

Egypt may be up in arms over the latest stroke of Chinese manufacturing brilliance—a synthetic hymen—but according to Popular Science, it really is sort of cool. Developed in Japan and currently sold by a Chinese company called Gigimo, the product promises to give women back their first time for a cool $29.90. Though it's sold as an adult entertainment item, conservative officials across the Muslim world fear it might find more nefarious uses in countries where virginity is a prerequisite for marriage. Egypt has gone so far as to attempt a ban against the artificial hymen, calling peddlers "bandits" and charging that the device will corrode the moral standards of the country. 

Controversy over the device began after a Dutch radio station broadcast an Arabic ad for the product. The BBC calls it a cheap and easy alternative to hymen repair surgery. When inserted into the vagina, the device expands to fit the wearer, providing resistance and a small squirt of blood-like substance when punctured. In places where honor killings are practiced against women who can't prove they were virgins on their wedding nights, this little, seemingly innocuous sex toy has opened quite a can of worms

Coal: Too Dirty for College?

| Wed Oct. 7, 2009 10:36 AM PDT

On Tuesday the Sierra Club released the first of three internet commercials to be aired this month on sites like Hulu and Facebook. The ads—you can see the first one below—paint coal as "too dirty for college," a comical rebuke of the concept of "clean coal." The commercials are part of the organization's Campuses Beyond Coal Campaign, which aims to wean the 60 universities that still rely on coal-powered electricity off “last century’s dirty technology,” as Binghamton University student activist Lauren Hammond put it. The commercials will air through the end of the month, and will direct viewers to 2dirty4college.com, where students can send along a pre-drafted letter to their college or university president urging him or her to “move beyond coal and power our schools with 100 percent clean-energy solutions,” with a few quick clicks of a mouse.

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5 Creative Uses for: Newspaper

| Tue Oct. 6, 2009 4:00 PM PDT

Support your local starving journalist! Buy a newspaper. Like Slate's recent "Buy One Anyway" video says, "I won’t even skim the headlines, but it’s good to know that a copy editor in Nebraska will have something warm to eat tonight." Right. Just imagine all the things you'll be able to do with your next newspaper, no reading required:

1. Keep veggies fresh: Use newspapers to line vegatable drawers in your refrigerator. The newspapes will absorb moisture and reduce smells.

2. Dry your shoes: Crumple up newspapers and place inside wet shoes or boots to help soak up excess moisture.

3. Clean up an oil spill: Use newspaper to clean up a small oil (or gas) spill on the floor of your garage. Newspapers are absorbent and will reduce the chance of a permanent stain on your garage floor.

4. Ripen tomatoes: Works like a paper bag. Wrap the fruits individually in a few sheets of newspaper. Be sure to thoroughly wash before eating.

5. Iron clothes: Stack newspapers, slip into pillowcase, and make surface as level as possible. Use as temporary ironing board.

Via AltUse.com

Highway Robbery on the High Seas: Supreme Court Ignores DOI Appeal

| Tue Oct. 6, 2009 3:09 PM PDT

Yesterday the Supreme Court decided not to hear Department of the Interior v. Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas Corp., thus preventing the DOI from collecting $350 million in royalties for deep-water drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Now that the Supreme Court has left the ruling in place, the DOI may miss out on another $19 billion from companies that may claim similar exemption from royalty payment.

The trouble stems from a decision the federal government made in the 1990s to cushion the blow of low fuel prices to oil and gas companies. In 1995 the Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act allowed companies to forgo paying royalties on small operations if the operations did not seem profitable. The DOI charged the Minerals Management Service (MMS) with the task of determining which operations were eligible for the royalty relief.

You remember the MMS, right? That’s the agency whose employees, a 2008 DOI report said,  "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives." (Read more about MMS corruption here and here.) The MMS is also the agency whose Royalty in Kind program was canceled last month for failure to collect government revenues.

Cute Animal in Danger: Emperor Penguin

| Tue Oct. 6, 2009 2:16 PM PDT

The film March of the Penguins may have done more for the Emperor Penguin than its directors intended. The birds are now bona fide movie stars. But fame comes with a price, and for the Emperor Penguin that's meant increasing Antarctic tourism. Tourism definitely degrades the penguins' local ecosystem, but actually it's just one of many problems the 4' tall birds face.

Global warming is playing havoc with the penguins' icy home, melting ice earlier and impacting their delicately timed breeding cycle. Additionally, commercial overfishing has decreased the penguins' food supply. The birds' appeal to humans does them some good though: just today, two environmental organizations announced they will file suit against the Department of the Interior if it denies the animals protection under the Endangered Species Act. The groups say the penguins are "marching toward extinction," and they may have a point.

Ice conditions at Pointe Geologie, where the March of the Penguins was filmed, are deteriorating so badly that scientists have predicted the colony there will decline from 3,000 breeding pairs to just 400 by the end of the century. This would be a tragedy, not just for the Antarctic ecosystem, but for those who love these unique birds. They can stay underwater for 18 minutes. Their feathers are made of keratin and are naturally water-repellent. They can dive to a depth of 1,850 feet in the water. They're hardy animals, and unafraid of humans. If they only knew what our CO2 was doing to their home, I'm sure our reception would be a lot cooler.

Hopi Tribe's Message to Sierra Club and Other Enviros: Keep Out!

| Tue Oct. 6, 2009 12:34 PM PDT

This story first appeared at Alternet.

This is sad on many different levels. The Navajo-Hopi Observer reports:

The Hopi Tribe has a message for the Sierra Club and other environmental groups: Keep out!

That is the response of the Hopi Tribal Council on Monday to what it says has been continuous concerted attacks from local and national environmental groups "bent on advancing their interests and agenda at the expense of the Hopi Tribe and its sovereign interest."

The council wants the Sierra Club and other environmental groups and on-reservation organizations affiliated with these groups to know they are not welcome on the Hopi Reservation, declaring them persona non grata - no longer favored or welcome.

Apparently the conflict is over a coal plant. Here's more:

By a resolution approved 12-0, the council said environmentalists have deprived the tribe "of markets for its coal resources" and coal revenues needed to sustain governmental services, provide jobs for tribal members and safeguard Hopi culture and tradition.

In 2005, environmental groups played a significant role in the shutdown of the Mohave Generating Station, which the Hopi Council contends "deprived the Hopi Tribe of many millions of dollars of annual operating revenues," according to the resolution.

Revenue losses from the Mohave power plant range from an estimated $6.5 million to $8.5 million annually.

The council feels that the economic viability of the Navajo Generating Station - the tribe's only remaining coal customer - is also being threatened, and that environmentalists' actions could lead to "total economic collapse of the tribe."

The Sierra Club issued a statement saying: "We are proud of our longstanding partnerships with tribal leaders in the Southwest, and we are committed to supporting efforts to transition from dirty coal to clean energy solutions," said Sierra Club President Allison Chin. "Together, we can rekindle our economy, reduce greenhouse gases and support people who have been left in the dust by a dangerous and dirty, coal-based economy."

The saddest part of this is that the tribe is dependent on a dirty power source to economically support their people and that enough efforts have not been made by anyone -- enviro groups, the federal government, etc. -- to help them develop addition sources of income.