Ithaca Environment

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Greenpeace calls for better handling of waste from electronics manufacturing

From AP via YahooNews

SAN FRANCISCO - Toxic waste from computers, TVs and other electronic devices discarded in the United States and dismantled in China and India is an even more severe problem than previously feared, according to environmental groups that seek better recycling programs.

Researchers from Greenpeace International said in a report Wednesday that they detected high levels of toxic metals in more than 70 samples collected in March from industrial waste, river sediment, soil and ground water around the southern Chinese city of Guiyu and the suburbs of New Delhi. Dust from electronics-dismantling workshops contained the highest levels of contaminants.
Permalink 8:11 PM

US Senators find evidence of global warming in far north

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Fresh from visits to Canada's Yukon Territory and Alaska's northernmost city, four U.S. senators said on Wednesday that signs of rising temperatures on Earth are obvious and they called on Congress to act.

"If you can go to the Native people and walk away with any doubt about what's going on, I just think you're not listening," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record) of South Carolina.

Republican Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) of Arizona and Democrat
Hillary Clinton of New York told reporters in Anchorage that Inupiat Eskimo residents in Barrow, Alaska, have found their ancestral land and traditional lifestyle disrupted by disappearing sea ice, thawing permafrost, increased coastal erosion and changes to wildlife habitat.

Heat-stimulated beetle infestation has also killed vast amounts of the spruce forest in the Yukon Territory, they said.

Read the rest from Reuters.
Permalink 8:06 PM

Wildlife Park in Midwest for Endangered Species

PARIS (AFP) - The best way to save the planet's large wild mammals facing extinction this century, including lions, cheetahs, elephants and camels, is the creation of a huge nature preserve in the US midwest, a group of leading biologists reportedly argue.

Using the end of the Pleistocene period some 13,000 years ago -- when the prehistoric cousins of these and other "megafauna" roamed North America by the millions -- as a benchmark, the scientists call for the "re-wilding" of great swathes of sparsely populated land, Nature magazine reported.

"It would take many, many hundreds of square miles (kilometers)," said Harry Greene, one of the authors and a professor at Cornell University in New York. "We are talking about an American Serengeti," he added, referring to the 15,000 square kilometer (5,800 square mile) wildlife preserve in northern Tanzania.

Read the rest in AFP
Permalink 8:01 PM

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ithaca Area in Second-Worst Drought in 126 Years

From the Ithaca Journal.

BILL WARREN/Journal Staff

Kevin Donovan walks up to the pool below Taughannock Falls Friday. The waterfall is barely flowing and the creek bed is nearly dry. The Northeast Regional Climate Center has declared a drought. Posted by Picasa
Permalink 3:28 PM

Experimental Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 Mpg

By TIM MOLLOY, Associated Press Writer

CORTE MADERA, Calif. - Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.

It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret — a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb — all for about a quarter...

Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.

Read the rest in YahooNews.
Permalink 3:18 PM

Peat Bogs in Siberia Melt for first time in 11,000 years

August 11, 2005.
By Fred Pearce, news service

THE world's largest frozen peat bog is melting. An area stretching for a million square kilometres across the permafrost of western Siberia is turning into a mass of shallow lakes as the ground melts, according to Russian researchers just back from the region.

The sudden melting of a bog the size of France and Germany combined could unleash billions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

The news of the dramatic transformation of one of the world's least visited landscapes comes from Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist at Tomsk State University, Russia, and Judith Marquand at the University of Oxford.

Kirpotin describes an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He says that the entire western Siberian sub-Arctic region has begun to melt, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years".

Read the rest in the New Scientist
Permalink 3:14 PM

Arctic Ice Cover Headed for All-time Record Low

June marks the beginning of the melt season for Arctic sea ice, which reaches its minimum extent at the end of the season in September. In the past few Septembers, Arctic sea ice concentration (the amount of ice in a given area) has been markedly reduced. September 2002 set a new record low at 15 percent below average. It was followed closely by September 2003 and September 2004. So far, 2005 is shaping up to be another record-low sea ice year in the Arctic...
Different explanations have been proposed for Arctic sea ice decline, including the strong positive mode of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). This oscillation is an alternating pattern of atmospheric pressure at polar latitudes and mid-latitudes. In the early 1990s, the AO was in positive mode. In that mode, the AO produces a strong polar vortex, and resulting winds tended to flush older, thicker ice out of the Arctic. Since the late 1990s, however, the AO has been much more neutral, yet Arctic sea ice decline continues. Another explanation for declining sea ice is climate change. Global temperatures have risen, and climate models generally agree that one of the strongest signals of greenhouse warming is a loss of Arctic sea ice.
Read the rest fromNasa's Earth Observatory website
Permalink 1:39 PM