Thursday, April 24, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Oh but they are planning on banning the use of half the city's 3.5 million vehicles, disallowing spray paint and other harsh chemicals to be used outdoors, closing about one-tenth of the city's gas stations, and halting construction in the Beijing area, which now has about 40 square miles of construction sites. This is only a temporary measure. They are basically going to put the city on hold during the Olympic games.
Their idea of staging “green games” does not involve anything more than to temporarily mothball 19 heavily polluting enterprises, including steel mills, coke plants and refineries. Coal-burning power plants, in China, account for a marked increase in soot, toxic chemicals and other climate-changing gases emitted into the atmosphere last year. In early April, a dense cloud of pollutants over Northern China sailed to nearby Seoul, sweeping along dust and desert sand before wafting across the Pacific. An American satellite spotted the cloud as it crossed the American West Coast.
The increase in global-warming gases from China's coal use will probably exceed that for all industrialized countries combined over the next 25 years, surpassing by five times the reduction in such emissions that the Kyoto Protocol seeks.
Sulfur dioxide production threatens the health of China’s citizens, contributing to about 400,000 premature deaths a year. It also causes acid rain that poisons lakes, rivers, forests and crops. Photo courtesy of Chang W. Lee, New York Times.
China uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined. Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego.
China has a history of buying cheap and often antiquated equipment from well connected domestic suppliers rather than importing costlier more fuel efficient modern equipment from other industrialized nations that would better serve to help clean up the gases and other pollutants emitted from their coal burning plants.
China is beginning to enjoy the increased access to electricity that until only recently was available for a few hours in the evening for many rural families. Bringing electrical power to hundreds of millions of people will take some time and the quickest and cheapest way to do this is through burning through their abundant supply of coal. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is suffering from the resultant pollution.
Filters near Lake Tahoe in the mountains of eastern California "are the darkest that we've seen" outside smoggy urban areas, said Steven S. Cliff, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California at Davis.
Shutting down a few factories and banning cars from Beijing’s roads may help visitors breathe a little easier during the Olympics but China has a long way to go clean up the air we will all breathe after the Olympics are over.
Here are a few tips I stole from The Good Human, sorry Dave. But they bear repeating and I did give you a plug.1. Driving 55 vs. 70 mph saves up to 20% more fuel. Use cruise control when appropriate to save even more. (This is a biggy people, slow down and save more than just fuel)
2. Drive consistently. Jackrabbit starts and hard stops burn more gas.
3. Avoid idling. Sitting in the drive-through for 15 minutes for that quarter-pound burger can burn up to a quarter of a gallon of gas. Consider parking and going inside to order. Think about how much that burger ends up costing when you add the cost of the fuel you just burned waiting for it.
4. Chill out. Roll down your windows to cool off in city driving, saving the air conditioner for highway travel, when open windows are a drag - literally - on a vehicle’s aerodynamics.
5. Lighten the load. Carrying extra cargo burns more gas. So take the golf clubs out of the trunk when not hitting the links.
6. Fill up when it’s cool. Early morning or late evening fill-ups generate fewer vapors.
7. Don’t top off the tank. Doing so can result in spilled gasoline, which creates environmental issues. There’s a good reason why the nozzle automatically shuts off, pay attention to it.
8. Use the correct fuel grade. Unless the manufacturer requires it, high-octane gas is a waste of money. The vast majority of engines are not high-performance and therefore you are wasting money on high grade. Read your owners manual.
9. Climb every mountain…but build up speed first, then maintain it on the way up. Coast down to save gas.
10. Remove the roof rack. If you don’t need it, stop wasting gas carrying it around.
11. Get a tune up. A properly tuned engine improves fuel economy by about four percent, according to the EPA. Doesn’t sound like much but it adds up.
12. Replace a dirty air filter. One that is full of dirt, or even marginally dirty, makes the engine work harder and can let impurities damage the engine. Replacing a plugged air filter improves fuel economy by up to 10%. An even bigger saving than tune-ups.
13. Keep your tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can decrease mileage by 3% and can lead to reduced tire life-spans, not to mention decreased stopping ability.
Common sense tips that everyone can do and they all add up to stretching our limited supply of fuel as far as possible. Let’s all do our part.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The use of the American chestnut is important to note here because a fungus blight that destroyed nearly 3.5 billion of the trees in the early 1900’s decimated the species nearly leaving it extinct. A few surviving trees, recently discovered in Warm Springs Georgia near Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House, grow at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains in an area known as Pine Mountain.
The federal government has been, for the last 30 years, requiring mining companies to smooth over all scars and seed the area with grass yet nearly 2.7 million open-sore acres still remain. Mining companies have been working to abide by the regulations but recently, federal regulators have begun promoting the planting of chestnuts and other hardwoods to improve drainage, reduce erosion and return the landscape to a more natural state.
In early March, 60 volunteers in a public-private partnership clambered over a coalfield on Zeb Mountain, 50 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee and planted more than 200 germinated chestnut seeds over a two-acre plot of rocks, boulders and sandstone. The same thing will be done in the coming weeks in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia.
Mining companies should not be expected to be environmentalist or have forestry service talents, so working with individuals and organizations that do provide the know how is the best of all possible worlds. The project got its start in 2004, when regulators and university researchers in Appalachia and the mid-Atlantic states formed a network to push for the planting of chestnuts. It joined forces with the American Chestnut Foundation, and the idea soon gained backing from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and the U.S. Forest Service. Only 300,000 acres are suitable for growing the chestnut so other trees and shrubs are planned.
The blight still lingers, along with the scars, but scientists are hopeful they can develop a blight-resistant hybrid and environmentalists are seeing a more sustainable answer than just planting grass. It is good to see that a collaboration between mining operators and environmentalist and scientist can lead to something meaningful.
300,000 acres down and 2.4 million acres to go.