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newsclips -- Newsclips for August 2, 2012 Posted: 02 Aug 2012 10:52:01
ARB Newsclips for August 2, 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. AIR POLLUTION Hong Kong Smog Worst in 2 Years as Storm Traps Pollutants. Hong Kong roadside air pollution reached the worst levels in more than two years as a typhoon that passed through Taiwan brought hot weather and trapped pollutants, prompting a government health warning. The Air Pollution Index was “very high” at the roadside-monitoring station in Central, Causeway Bay and Mongkok as of 2 p.m. local time, according to the city’s Environmental Protection Department. The reading in Central reached the “severe” level earlier at 212, the highest since March 23, 2010. Typhoon Saola grounded flights and closed businesses in Taiwan as winds and rain lashed the island. Hong Kong was influenced by the outer layer of the storm as the heat and weak winds resulted in higher ozone levels, trapping the pollutants in the city, the government said in a statement on its website yesterday. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Hong-Kong-Smog-Worst-in-2-Years-as-Storm-Traps-3756279.php Air pollution fatalities expected to increase. Hot summer days in large cities are often accompanied by vehicle and industrial emissions that makes breathing difficult and unhealthy. According to Andrea Pozzer of the Max Planck Institute, high levels of urban pollution are likely to affect most of the world's population by 2050 - with China, North India and the Middle East expected to record the most drastic deterioration in air quality. "Air pollution is one of the major current health risks of humanity. At present, urban outdoor air pollution causes 1.3 million estimated deaths per year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization," Pozzer explained. "That number will increase in coming years if no further action is taken to reduce pollutants. Our study shows that further legislation to control and reduce man-made emissions is needed, in particular for eastern China and northern India, to avoid hot-spots of elevated air pollution." Posted. http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/65125-air-pollution-fatalities-expected-to-increase Study finds that under business-as-usual scenario, average global air quality to worsen; China, North India and Middle East are the hot spots. Under a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, a rapidly increasing number of people worldwide will experience reduced air quality by 2050, according to a new simulation of the atmosphere done by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. China, North India and the Middle East are expected to be especially affected by a drastic decrease in air quality. Following this BAU scenario, the researchers projected that air quality for the global average citizen in 2050 would be almost comparable to that for the average citizen in East Asia in the year 2005—an outcome which underscores the need to pursue emission reductions, according to the authors. Posted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/08/pozzer-20120802.html Valley air district officials urge ozone precautions. Rising ozone levels throughout the valley are causing air quality to deteriorate, and air officials urge residents to take protective measures where necessary. Typical summer meteorological conditions are ideal for ozone (smog) formation, which officials expect to continue through today. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has developed a tool to help residents stay informed about air quality in their area. The Real-Time Air Advisory Network is a free, automated data delivery service that links the subscriber's computer to an air monitor of choice. Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/08/01/v-print/2308959/valley-air-district-officials.html Geothermal gases being studied. Naturally occurring release of geothermal gases in a Clearlake neighborhood led to the collaboration of multiple agencies and a senior project of a University of California, Berkeley student. Lake County Public Health Director Karen Tait said as more information becomes available, area agencies - in collaboration with state and federal agencies - will share findings that could help residents and businesses in the area of Burns Valley School (BVS) understand how to live and work safely in the presence of the gases. Tait said the hydrogen sulfide gas is easily detected by its rotten-egg smell while other gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are odorless. She said fault lines crisscrossing many areas of the county may provide conduits for gases to percolate to the surface. Posted. http://www.record-bee.com/ci_21213261/geothermal-gases-being-studied CLIMATE CHANGE Calif. Carbon Credits Could be Free to Firms at Risk of Leaving State. The California Air Resources Board – the state’s air regulator – is considering giving free carbon credits for its forthcoming cap-and-trade program to companies deemed to be at risk of leaving the state when the program comes into force, according to reports. CARB, which will regulate the new program, is looking to stem the tide of possible emission “leakage” – a term describing companies leaving for other jurisdictions after the implementation of environmental regulations, reports Reuters Point Carbon. The body is weighing giving free credits in “trade-exposed” industries like cement production, the news service says. Posted. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2012/08/02/calif-carbon-credits-could-be-free-to-firms-at-risk-of-leaving-state/ Earth sucking up increasing amounts of carbon dioxide. The Earth's ability to soak up man-made carbon dioxide emissions is a crucial yet poorly understood process with profound implications for climate change. Among the questions that have vexed climate scientists is whether the planet can keep pace with humanity's production of greenhouse gases. The loss of this natural damper would carry dire consequences for global warming. A study published in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature concludes that these reservoirs are continuing to increase their uptake of carbon — and show no sign of diminishing. In an accounting of the global "carbon budget," researchers calculated that Earth's oceans, plants and soils had almost doubled their uptake of carbon each year for the last half-century. In 1960, these carbon sinks absorbed around 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon; in 2010, that figure had grown to around 5 billion metric tons. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-land-ocean-carbon-sinks-20120802,0,1935104.story Conversion of climate change skeptic not likely to sway GOP. Are two of the left’s most useful villains, Charles and David Koch, not quite as unredeemable as liberals believe? Could it be they might change their minds about climate change and admit that it is real? UC Berkeley physics professor Richard A. Muller says that, after years of paying for studies by global warming skeptics, the Koch brothers honestly want to get the science clarified. They helped fund Muller who, only three years ago, doubted that the Earth was heating up to dangerous levels due to human activity. Now, with his Koch-funded research complete, he has reversed himself. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-climate-change-skeptic-20120802,0,5819816.story Facebook reveals its carbon footprint. Facebook has, for the first time, revealed the carbon footprint of its operations and its more than 900m users' likes, photo albums and status updates. The data, published on Wednesday, shows that despite the social networking's rising star, its carbon emissions are still a fraction of internet rival Google. Facebook's annual emissions were 285,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2011, compared with Google's 1.5m tons in 2010. Posted. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/01/facebook-google-carbon-footprint FUELS Lack of funding slows research into possible public health effects of gas drilling. Is gas drilling ruining the air, polluting water and making people sick? The evidence is sketchy and inconclusive, but a lack of serious funding is delaying efforts to resolve those pressing questions and creating a vacuum that could lead to a crush of lawsuits, some experts say. A House committee in June turned down an Obama administration request to fund $4.25 million in research on how drilling may affect water quality. In the spring, Pennsylvania stripped $2 million of funding that included a statewide health registry to track respiratory problems, skin conditions, stomach ailments and other illnesses potentially related to gas drilling. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lack-of-funding-slows-research-into-possible-public-health-effects-of-gas-drilling/2012/08/01/gJQA8fZkPX_story.html Shell Opens New Demonstration Hydrogen Station in California. Shell announced the opening of a new demonstration hydrogen station in Newport Beach, California today. 'Demonstration hydrogen filling stations allow us to evaluate a range of different technologies and learn valuable lessons about costs, consumer behavior and how to dispense it efficiently to different vehicles,' said Matias Sanchez Cane, North America Commercial Manager for Shell Alternative Energies. 'To reduce costs and achieve its commercial potential, hydrogen requires considerable cooperation between fuel providers, car makers, equipment suppliers and governments. Posted. http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-08-02&val=336986&cat=energy VEHICLES Ford adding 225 jobs, new assembly line to build hybrid transmissions. Ford Motor Co. is hiring 225 workers and adding an assembly line at a Detroit-area plant to make a new hybrid-electric transmission. Ford says it’s investing $220 million in the Van Dyke Transmission plant in Sterling Heights to make the new transmission. The new transmission is the first designed and produced entirely be Ford, which used to get its hybrid transmissions from a Japanese supplier. The transmission will be used in several new vehicles that go on sale this fall. The vehicles include the C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid small SUVs and hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize sedans. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/ford-adding-225-jobs-new-assembly-line-to-build-hybrid-transmissions/2012/08/02/gJQAi5wyRX_story.html EVs in Italy: Market trends and policy updates. Looking at the geographic basis, Italy is mainly made of small cities and concentrated metropolitan areas, perfectly suitable for electric vehicles. On the infrastructure side, a publication from Pike Research in July 2012 rated Italy as the 5th European country for a future infrastructure charging points market. So what is holding Italy back in moving faster forward on the introduction of low emission cars? Looking at the facts, the EV market in Italy is very small today, with hybrids and full EV combined making up less than 1% of total car sales in the first part of 2012. This does not come as a surprise given that the range of models offered was very limited until 2012 because no Italian car manufacturer was offering EVs, so drivers interested in purchasing a PHEV/EV had so far to revert to French or Japanese manufacturers. Posted. http://cars21.com/news/view/4830 MISCELLANEOUS Ports give clean air awards to six companies. Six companies have been honored for their air pollution-lowering efforts. The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on Wednesday gave Clean Air Action Plan Air Quality Awards in two categories. In the category of Air Quality Leadership at the corporate level, the ports honored SA Recycling LLCP; international shipping line APL; tugboat operator Harley Marine Services. In the Significant Early Action to Reduce Emissions category, awards were given to Pacific Harbor Line; BP, which has two petroleum terminals in Long Beach and operates the only tanker facility in the world to use shore power during the offloading of cargo; and Matson Navigation Co. Posted. http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_21212639/ports-give-clean-air-awards-six-companies OPINION Climate change science, not hype. Last week, NASA announced that 97% of Greenland's vast ice sheet had undergone at least some surface melting this summer, compared with a normal melt area of about 50%. The 2012 figure, said the headline on the space agency's press release, was "unprecedented." That's a powerful word in any context, but it's especially so when you're talking about the politically charged topic of climate change. If the melting was unprecedented, it would reinforce the idea that scientists are right about the dangers of human-generated greenhouse gases, and at the same time make it harder for skeptics to take potshots at the science. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lemonick-climate-science-skeptics-20120802,0,2483181.story COLUMN-Renewable-energy tax hike can be justified: Gerard Wynn. Developers have made big returns from subsidies on renewable energy projects, raising the question whether new tax increases are justified in a continuing financial crisis or merely state opportunism. Investors are arguing the latter, but the picture is more nuanced. The Czech Republic recently won court backing for a tax on solar projects, which Bulgaria is considering emulating, while Spain plans to raise an additional 6 billion euros ($7.38 billion) or so a year from new taxes on power generation. The measures all have the effect of cutting returns to projects, so it could be argued that they are similar to retroactive cuts in subsidies that, in the case of renewable energy, guarantee a power price premium called a feed-in tariff. Posted. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/column-wynn-renewable-taxes-idINL6E8IRLHN20120802 The secrets drillers can hide about the fracking in your backyard. Are frackers in your state allowed to keep secrets? A new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that the majority of states where fracking occurs have no disclosure laws at all, and that those that do are woefully behind when it comes to revealing behind-the-scenes details of their operations. While the Obama administration has put some new rules in place, many decisions about what drillers are allowed to hide are left to the states; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar complained to Reuters that state-level regulation is “not good enough for me, because states are at very different levels — some have zero; some have decent rules.” Posted. http://grist.org/climate-energy/the-secrets-drillers-can-hide-about-the-fracking-in-your-backyard/ Science is not for sale. Money, as the saying goes, can't buy you love. It turns out it can't buy science either. And if there's anybody who'd want to make such a purchase it would be the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which, along with its libertarian petrochemical billionaire founder Charles G. Koch, has, as the Los Angeles Times subtly put it, "a considerable history of backing groups that deny climate change." The scientist in question is Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at University of California, Berkeley, MacArthur Fellow and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, whose research was heavily funded by the charity. Posted. http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120802/A_OPINION01/208020305&cid=sitesearch BLOGS A Deeper Look at Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest in ‘Frackademia.’ Opponents of expanded gas drilling have coined the term “frackademia” for university research on the potential impacts of the boom in shale gas drilling that involves industry money or experts with industry ties. The effort, of course, is aimed at conveying that industry money or relationships leads to bad science. I’ve seen studies of this kind that have robust findings. The “Future of Natural Gas” analysis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Institute, while undertaken with some industry money and (marginally disclosed) relationships of authors to energy companies, appears to have held up well to independent scrutiny, for instance. Posted. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/a-deeper-look-at-undisclosed-conflicts-of-interest-in-frackademia/ Extreme weather and climate change: Caution required but not reckless statements. In the wake of punishing heat waves, historic droughts, extensive flooding and extraordinary melt activity on Greenland, many are asking if we are seeing long-predicted results of climate change, caused primarily by man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies on extreme events found in an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society suggest that such events may not be attributable to weather variability alone. They also echo warnings issued by scientists for decades. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/extreme-weather-and-climate-change-caution-required-but-not-reckless-statements/2012/08/02/gJQAQjcjRX_blog.html Big Drought Makes for a Small ‘Dead Zone.’ In yet another display of the inexorable interdependence of Earth’s ecosystems, a bad summer for Midwestern farmland has turned out to be a good one for life in the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium have found that this summer’s hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico – the oxygen-devoid area of water colloquially known as the dead zone – covers one of the smallest areas recorded since scientists began measuring the hypoxic zone in 1985. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/big-drought-makes-for-a-small-dead-zone/ Revisiting a U.S. Carbon Tax. Worries over the budget deficit and, to a lesser extent, over climate change are stirring new interest in an idea that could tackle both: a carbon tax. The concept is as simple as it is politically sensitive—place a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions, which will help drive them down. Use the proceeds to cut taxes elsewhere or reduce the deficit. On Thursday, Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) is set to introduce a carbon bill in the House that sets a target for reduction in emissions and instructs the executive branch to impose a tax sufficient to meet that target. The bill is designed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and raise tens of billions of dollars that could help pay down the deficit. Posted http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/08/02/revisiting-a-carbon-tax/?KEYWORDS=cliKEYWORDS%3Dclimate+change Climate change turns personal: why brands must adapt. Until recently, climate change remained an abstract concept to most Americans — something that may have long-term consequences for the planet, but moving too slowly be a significant concern in their daily lives. Today, however, such sentiments may be beginning to change. As more and more Americans experience such events firsthand, they’re beginning to make the connection between climate change and its growing impact. Natural disasters and extreme weather events such as high winds and rain storms, floods, droughts and heat waves are happening more frequently — and with greater intensity. Posted. http://theenergycollective.com/davidwigder/99331/climate-change-turns-personal-why-brands-must-adapt Chevy Volt sells 1,849 in July, Nissan Leaf just 395. In the U.S. plug-in vehicle market, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid continues to dominate the all-electric Nissan Leaf. After five months of the Volt beating the Leaf ... the same thing happened in July. The Volt sold 1,849 units last month, up from 1,760 in June and up from 125 in July 2011. The increase happened even though GM's overall sales were down six percent compared to July 2011. Most of the loss was from a 41 percent drop in fleet sales. The Chevrolet Spark sold 1,460 units in July, the first month it was on sale. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/08/01/chevy-volt-sells-1849-july-2011-nissan-leaf-just-395/ Renting Electric, Hybrid And Green Cars: What Are Your Options? If you drive an electric car, hybrid, diesel or other green vehicle day-to-day, you might like to know that you can rent similar when you go abroad, or even when you fly across country to visit relatives. Luckily, many rental and car-sharing firms offer green vehicles on their fleets, and some even have dedicated green vehicle policies allowing drivers to pick a more environmentally-friendly option when they rent. So next time you travel, what are your options? Posted. http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1078175_renting-electric-hybrid-and-green-cars-what-are-your-options