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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.


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.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 


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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 


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. 

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. 


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. 

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 


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. 


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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 


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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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