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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 23, 2012

Posted: 23 Feb 2012 12:14:27
ARB News Clips for February 23, 2012. 

This is a service of the California Air Resources Board’s Office
of Communications.  You may need to sign in or register with
individual websites to view some of the following news articles.


Groups challenge EPA air quality permits to halt Arctic drilling.
 Conservation groups are challenging proposed exploratory oil
drilling the Arctic Sea at every step of the way, most recently
with a lawsuit challenging an EPA air pollution permit for
Shell’s proposed operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. 
The lawsuit filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week
claims the permits shouldn’t have been issued because Shell’s oil
exploration ship, the Discoverer, doesn’t meet the latest Clean
Air Act standards.  Posted. 


EU committee makes no decision on oil sands crude.  A European
Union committee failed Thursday to reach a definite decision on
labeling oil derived from oil sands as worse for climate change
than crude oil—a proposal vigorously opposed by officials in
Canada, where such oil is produced.  The proposal will now
ultimately be decided by the environment ministers of EU's 27
member countries, said a spokesman for EU Commissioner for
Climate Action Connie Hedegaard. The spokesman, Isaac
Valero-Ladron, said a decision was expected by June.  Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:





Why Do Meteorologists Dismiss Climate Change Science? 
Meteorologists are notoriously reluctant to accept climate
change. Why so? Theirs is a profession that studies the weather,
which is akin to what climate scientists do by studying the
weather over relatively long periods. Of course, they are not as
educated as climate scientists who have PhD's in their field,
while many meteorologists have college degrees unrelated to
meteorology. Meteorologists know the pitfalls of being wrong when
making a forecast, however, they do not seem to realize that the
conclusions of climate scientists are not the same as saying
there is a 50% chance of precipitation tomorrow. The
International Panel on Climate Change or IPCC put a probability
that it is more than 90% likely that man is causing climate
change. Do meteorologists, weathermen to use a more prosaic term,
just feel inferior to climate scientists or just why are they so
dismissive about climate change?   Posted. 


Blue Bird Bus Engines Earn EPA, CARB Certification.  Blue Bird
Corporation, a leading manufacturer of school buses that is based
in Fort Valley, Ga., announced that the Cummins ISB6.7 engineers
in its 2010-2012 school buses has received certification from EPA
and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The company also
said customers are reporting outstanding results from Selective
Catalytic Reduction technology that, to date, has been installed
on more than 10,000 school buses by the company.  "The ability to
deliver these new ratings can be attributed to Cummins' total
system integration with SCR technology. This system integration,
coupled with the highly capable base engine, result[s] in the
ability to deliver near-zero emissions without compromising fuel
economy, reliability or durability," its Feb. 21 news release
states.  Posted. 


For Cleaner Burning Coal, Throw It In The Microwave.  Opponents
of coal argue that we must wean ourselves off one of the dirtiest
fossil fuels around. They don’t, however, argue with statistics
that show we’re burning mind-boggling volumes of the stuff every
year. That weaning won’t be pleasant.  Led by emerging economies
such as China, coal consumption is up 403% in Asia over 1980,
while North America burns about 1.1 billion tons each year
generating about half of its electricity (see this infographic to
understand just how much coal China uses). The Energy Information
Administration predicts world coal consumption will rise an
average rate of 1.5 percent annually through 2035.  Posted. 

Map shows avalanche of cellulosic ethanol projects on the way. 
In the battle between food and fuel, cellulosic ethanol might not
be a great idea or even a viable solution to our energy woes, but
enzyme company Novozymes says it’s coming, regardless.
(Cellulosic ethanol is different than the regular kind — it’s
produced from “leftover” crop waste that is first digested by
enzymes.)  Posted. 


In Germany, solar will be as cheap as conventional electricity by
2013.  Solar probably won’t really take off until it makes more
economic sense to slap some photovoltaics on your roof than to
continue paying your utility company for their dirty, probably
mostly coal-fired power. That day has arrived in parts of sunny
California and Hawaii, and it’s coming to (not-so-sunny) Germany
by 2013, reports Michael Coren at Fast Company.  Global PV solar
installation grew from 0.26 GW to 16.1 GW between 2000 to 2010,
while manufacturing costs fell 100 times.  Of course, “grid
parity,” as it’s called, doesn’t mean you can just painlessly
switch from the old power source to a new one. There’s still the
up-front cost of installing solar panels, which is a lot to
spend, even on something that is going to save you money in the
long run.  Posted. 


Who killed the electric car? You, perhaps, if you didn't charge
it.  DON'T leave your electric car parked for too long - by the
time you get back it could have turned into a $200,000 brick. 
Electric car maker Tesla is defending claims its cars become
immobilised if the battery ever becomes completely discharged.
This results in a battery replacement cost of about one-fifth the
car's $206,000 sticker price.  Tesla owners in the US who have
parked their vehicles with low battery power remaining - for as
little as a week - have found their cars had become "bricks" that
could not be re-charged.  Posted. 


A Chat With RealClimate Blogger Gavin Schmidt.  I’m in the second
year of co-teaching a Pace University course helping
environmental science graduate students develop the ability to
communicate their work and avoid the pitfalls that come in a
field that is often at the center of policy disputes. (You might
have seen scientists at the center of a few such disputes of
late.)  The students write letters to the editor and op-ed-style
articles. They learn to use Twitter (the course hashtag is
#PaceEnv) and blogs both for outreach and as learning and
network-building tools. They become comfortable giving public
presentations. And they hear from an array of guests, often via
Skype, who recount what they’ve learned as public scientists. 

From Unlikely Source, Car-Sharing Start-Up Gets $13.7 Million
Vote of Confidence.  Zipcar, the international car-sharing
service, has led a $13.7 million investment in Wheelz, a start-up
company that has helped students at Stanford University rent
their personal vehicles to other students on campus since
September.  Hundreds of Stanford students are signed up and using
25 vehicles registered with Wheelz, according to Jeff Miller, a
co-founder and the company’s chief executive. Wheelz plans to
start a network next week at the University of California,
Berkeley. Additional programs at the University of Southern
California and the University of California, Los Angeles, are
expected to follow.  Posted. 

Will your kid be taught that climate change is a hoax?  One
revelation from the recent Heartland Institute document leak is
that the group is crafting a K-12 curriculum to teach kids that
global warming is “controversial.” Heartland officials have
confirmed this. So is climate change set to join evolution as the
next big classroom controversy?  Things do seem to be trending
that way. Joshua Rosenau spends most of his time defending the
teaching of evolution in schools for the National Center for
Science Education. But a few years ago, he noticed that the
teachers he was doing workshops with were far more interested in
learning how to talk about global warming.  Posted. 

Hong Kong’s Killer Pollution.  With its iconic skyline,
world-class infrastructure and China’s giant economy at its
doorstep, Hong Kong has long been an attractive choice to those
looking for a perch in Asia. But there’s a not-so-hidden catch:
Its toxic air pollution is killing people at a rate worse than in
mainland China.  Air pollution can be blamed for 43 out of every
100,000 deaths in Hong Kong, the 8th highest mortality rate in
the world, according to a new report by local lobby group Clean
Air Network (CAN). Based on those numbers, Hong Kong’s air is
more than 20% deadlier than the air in mainland China.  Posted. 

Satellite study finds NO2 and SO2 pollution over Canadian oil
sands region comparable to that of a large power plant. 
Atmospheric nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution over
Canada’s oil sands region is comparable to that seen over a large
power plant, according to satellite remote sensing observations
of the two pollutants reported in a paper in Geophysical Research
Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.  The
international team of researchers created high-resolution maps
that revealed distinct enhancements in both pollutant species
over an area (roughly 30 km  x 50 km, or 19 miles x 31 miles) of
intensive oil sands surface mining at scales of a few kilometers.
The magnitude of these enhancements, quantified in terms of total
mass, are comparable to the largest seen in Canada from
individual sources, the team said.  Posted. 

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