Signs of a Changing Climate – ‘Science has spoken’
The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:
- Human-induced climate change,
- The impacts of human-induced climate change,
- Options for adaptation and mitigation.
The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:
New Natural History series on RTE 1 and Cape Clear courses
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IWDG were once again delighted to be invited to contribute to a Crossing the Line natural history production and the “whale” show recorded off Dunmore East on Martin Colfer’s MV Rebecca C back in Jan 2012 will air on Sun 9th June on RTE Radio 1 at 7:00 pm. A full schedule of this 10 part series is given below. For those of you who have missed the first two shows, they are available at:
NATURE ON ONE 10 x 30min Natural History Radio Documentary Series STARTS SUNDAY 5th MAY 2013 on Radio 1 at 7pm Bringing the sounds of Ireland’s natural world to Radio 1 listeners This ten-part radio documentary series sees Emmy award-winning wildlife cameraman and television presenter Colin Stafford Johnson turn his talents to radio. Colin travels across the country on the hunt for some of our most remarkable animals and wild places. Tune in and allow yourself to be transported to Skellig Michael, with its noisy storm petrels, manx shearwaters and puffins; or into the midst of a grey seal colony on the windswept Inishkea Islands; venture below ground and imagine yourself being surrounded by swarming bats; or experience the sounds recorded inside a starling roost under a Belfast bridge. Over the course of ten weeks, Colin will guide his audience on an intimate tour of Ireland’s natural world. A Crossing the Line Production on behalf of RTÉ Radio One & BAI Sound & Vision EPISODE 1 A Night on the Skellig Rocks In 600AD early Christian monks chose Skellig Michael, 11km off the Kerry coast, as a location for a monastery ‘on the edge of the known world’ which they believed would bring them closer to God. In this episode Colin Stafford Johnson spends a night on Skellig Michael, to record the wild sounds to be heard at this World Heritage Site – introducing the puffins, storm petrels and manx shearwaters who also choose to make their home on this rocky outcrop. In addition to meeting its wild inhabitants, Colin talks to OPW guides who spend the summer living on the island, and tourists who have made the day trip; as well as a local diver who describes the Skellig landscape below the surface. EPISODE 2 The Burren: a special place for bumblebees, plants and people Colin Stafford Johnson visits Slieve Carron Nature Reserve in the Burren, Co. Clare. The Burren is unique and is known throughout the world for its vast limestone pavements, but far from being a barren landscape, as Dr Brendan Dunford explains, the Burren holds a diverse flora, a mix of Mediterranean and alpine plants found nowhere else in Ireland. It is also home to some of Ireland’s rarest bumblebees. When you hear Ecologist Dr Jane Stout’s take on bumblebees you will never see a passing bee the same way again, but as furry, endearing creatures! Colin learns about the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme and meets local farmer Pat Nagle. We also meet 13-year-old Jack McGann, graduate of Ecobeo, a course for young people on the natural, cultural and archaeological heritage value of this landscape. EPISODE 3 The Seal Colony of the Inishkeas Colin Stafford Johnson joins grey seal expert Dr Oliver O’Cadhla on a visit to South Inishkea, off the Mullet Peninsula, home to one of Ireland’s largest grey seal breeding colonies. Having spent years researching the seals at this colony, Oliver is passionate about this place and these animals and explains their struggle to survive in this harsh environment. It’s mid-October and very cold. There are lots of pups on the beach, but they won’t all make it. The mothers are busy feeding their young, while the large dominant male seals protect their harem. On this remote wild island, we get a peek into the secret lives of the grey seals that are born there. EPISODE 4 Species in Danger In this episode of ‘Nature on One’, Colin Stafford Johnson seeks out one of our most endangered species, the curlew. Searching across bog in Co. Mayo, Colin sets out to record the once familiar call of this iconic bird of Irish peatlands and Ireland’s largest wader. Anita Donaghy, from Birdwatch Ireland, explains why the curlew is in decline and their ‘Cry of the Curlew’ campaign. [see http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/Ourwork/CryoftheCurlewAppeal/tabid/1106/Default.aspx] Colin also wants to find out how some of our smaller, lesser known species – our snails and slugs – are doing. With a third of Irish mollusc species facing extinction, Colin is delighted to hear some good news for one species in Co. Longford as he meets up with Evelyn Moorkens to investigate a recently discovered site for one of our most rare animals, Desmoulins Whorl Snail, Vertigo moulinsiana. EPISODE 5 Rise of the Pine Marten Historically widespread throughout the country, the pine marten suffered serious population decline due to habitat destruction, hunting for the fur trade; accidental poisoning and persecution by game-keepers so that, by the 1950s, it had become one of our rarest animals. But now the pine marten is on the rise once again and sightings are increasing across the midlands. Colin visits a small school in Co. Leitrim, in which a female pine marten chose to set up home and the pupils explain how they felt about this new addition to their school. Colin also explores the impact of this spread of the pine marten on other animals, meeting up with Emma Sheehy from NUI Galway in an Offaly woodland, where she is studying the interesting relationship between the pine marten, the red squirrel and the introduced grey squirrel. EPISODE 6 Sunday 9th May, 7:00 pm Whaling off Hook Head Colin Stafford Johnson heads offshore with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, from Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, to try to find the second largest animal on earth, the fin whale. No less than 24 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in Irish waters, ranging in size from the harbour porpoise to the blue whale, the largest animal that has ever lived. Will they manage to track down what is known as the greyhound of whale species, the fin whale? EPISODE 7 The Secret Life of Irish Caves – from swarming bats to ancient bones Late one Autumn night, Colin Stafford Johnson heads underground to explore what wildlife might be found in Irish caves. Colin meets bat specialist Conor Kelleher in Dunmore Cave, Co. Kilkenny, where they hope to witness the autumnal swarming of Natterer’s bats. This phenomenon of Autumnal swarming in caves was only discovered in Ireland last year, and it is still not known why the bats do it – using up valuable fat reserves just as their winter hibernation approaches. In addition to this living wildlife spectacle, caves are also important repositories for our extinct fauna. To find out why this is and what has been found in Irish caves, Colin heads to the Natural History Museum to meet Nigel Monaghan, Curator, and to examine some of the ancient remains found in Irish caves. EPISODE 8 The Wild Side of Belfast We tend to think of wildlife as living in pristine countryside, in woodland, rivers and bogs, but this week Colin Stafford Johnson heads to the bustling city of Belfast to find out what wild stories it might have to offer. The River Lagan flows right through the centre of the city. Ronald Surgenor, is a Wier operative, Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure, and RSPB volunteer, who knows the river intimately and Ronald kindly takes Colin out in his rib, to visit Albert Bridge, the site of an amazing wildlife display, a starling murmuration, and they venture right under the bridge for a close encounter with the birds as they roost for the night. Colin also meets Lucille Coates and some children from ‘Watch this Space’, a Belfast City Council monthly nature club; as well as a team of volunteers who are hedgelaying, with the Laganscape Project, which works to manage Lagan Valley Park, with involvement from local communities, school groups, businesses and volunteers. EPISODE 9 Birdsong – why do birds sing and what does it mean to us humans? Colin Stafford Johnson explores that wildlife sound we often take for granted – birdsong. At the Devil’s Glen in Co. Wicklow, he meets up with Animal Behaviour expert and Head of the Zoology Department in Trinity College Dublin, Dr Nicola Marples, to ask her why birds sing, and how they learn their tunes. Colin also travels west to meet with Gordon Darcy, Natural History author, artist and environmental educator, to discuss what birdsong might mean for human beings and how it may enrich our lives, whether or not we recognise it. EPISODE 10 ‘An Amphibian Love Story’ – Singing frogs and Nattering Toads How does one attract the opposite sex? It could be good looks, physical fitness, a nice home, or even how you smell! But what about how you sound? In some animals it’s all in the voice. Toads and frogs have developed impressive calls to attract a mate. In this episode, Colin Stafford Johnson looks at two of Ireland’s amphibians, the common frog and the Natterjack Toad, and sets out to record their unique calls. In February he explored a mass frog spawning site at Glendalough in Co. Wicklow with Rob Gandola, from the Irish Herpetological Society; and in April, Ferdia Marnell, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and local conservation ranger Pascal Dower visit a Natterjack Toad breeding pond at Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry. IWDG Cape Clear Whale-Watching courses There are still some places left on the 1st of our summer weekend whale-watching courses May 31- June 2nd on Cape Clear, Co. Cork. These courses are available for members at a discounted rate of €70. Over the weekend participants will learn both practical field-skills during land and boat based watches, as well as attend a series of talks covering cetacean ecology/biology, species identification and whale watching. Given reasonable weather conditions these weekends generally provide sightings of porpoises, common dolphins and minke whales and at this time of year, we can’t rule out basking sharks, although admitedly this has been a very poor year to date for this species, due to the lower than normal water temperatures. Enquiries to email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ph. 353 (0)86 3850568 Whale Watch Ireland 2013, Sunday 18th August 2013, 2:00-5:00 pm We are once again delighted to announce that Inis, Cologne www.perfume.ie are providing funding support for All-Ireland whale watch day on Sunday 18th August. As always this event requires watch leaders willing to lead and promote your local watch. If you have land- based whale watching experience, are good with crowds and have some energy and time to spare, we’d appreciate your contacting us, so we can start to compile a list of sites that we can cover on this event, which is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calender. Please contact event organiser on email: email@example.com or Ph. 086-3850568
Add-ons;- Lismore area; http://youtu.be/GizCoPx45_Q
St Declan’s Way
Short clip on Tramore’s Metal Man; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7cTcenRev0&feature=youtu.be
David Robert Grimes
The scientific consensus is unequivocal: climate change is happening right now, at a rate unprecedented in Earth’s history.
Earth’s climate is sensitive to change, and temperature swings are only the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg. Despite the gravity of this threat, reaction has been somewhat muted, hovering somewhere between apathy and denial.
Understandably, climate science can be confusing, perhaps explaining some of our inertia; “global warming” refers to the increase in average global temperature. Counter-intuitively, this can lead to regions of cooling. The mechanism behind this is the greenhouse effect, which arises because certain gases have the ability to absorb thermal radiation from the Earth’s surface.
These gases then re-radiate it in all directions, including back towards Earth and essentially act as a heat trap, warming up the planet. This is long since understood — it was hypothesised by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and experimentally verified by Irish physicist John Tyndall in 1859. The fact that humans can thus affect climate is no surprise, what is surprising is just how fast we’re doing it.
Some question whether this effect is anthropogenic; perhaps this is all just a natural cycle? Sadly, no — ancient ice cores yield a record of temperature and atmosphere over hundreds of millennia, and shows our current rate of warming is hundreds of times beyond anything that has gone before, coinciding with the dawn of industrialisation.
More alarming is that while at no point during any previous glacial or interglacial period has the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration level reached as high as 300 ppm (parts per million), current levels are 390 ppm and rising, with predictions of up to 600 ppm in coming decades. This is most distinctly not natural variation.
Nor can we evade responsibly by postulating that this level is unrelated to human activities — CO2 released from fossil fuels has a distinct chemical signature, and points to our guilt as readily as fingerprints at a crime scene. This leaves only the inescapable conclusion that we are driving the destruction of our own environment.
The discussion is no longer about avoidance, but limitation. The most optimistic prediction is that in order to have a chance of limiting temperature rises to “only” 2 degree Celsius, we would need a global “carbon budget” of less than 886 gigatons between 2000 and 2050. By only 2006, we had already produced 234 gigatons. Coal is without a doubt the worst offender, both in terms of CO2 output and health, killing 1.3 million annually. Yet despite this, 2011 saw an ominous 5 per cent global rise in consumption of coal.
Since 1992, global CO2 emissions have risen 48 per cent, with power generation making up the bulk of this. To mitigate this, low carbon energy is imperative. Renewables are part of the solution, but they simply do not have the required yield or reliability.
Nuclear energy does, but still provokes an emotional rather than a rational reaction, and is all too frequently ignored for the sake of political expediency. Two years on, it bears repeating that the Fukushima accident of 2011 has killed nobody and likely never will. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, by contrast, killed more than 18,000. If nothing substantial is done, such disasters will increase in both frequency and intensity
It is also vital we reduce our personal energy expenditure. Home insulatation and reducing car usage can substantially reduce one’s carbon foot print. Perhaps the most powerful thing we can do collectively is insist our elected leaders take action, imposing carbon levies, rewarding energy efficiency, and most crucially, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable and nuclear energy.
Climate change is not someone else’s problem — it affects all of us. To have any hope of limiting the damage we have already wrought, action must be taken now. The writing has been on the wall for some time. Whether we heed it remains to be seen.
Posted: 26 Sep 2011 10:00 AM PDT
We have become obsessed with eliminating bacteria, attacking with gels and wipes the microbes we associate with infection, illness and death. But not only are many types of bacteria actually helpful, some strains may hold the key to fighting global warming, cleaning up pollution, breaking down plastic and even developing a cure for cancer. These 12 amazing discoveries demonstrate the many ways in which microscopic organisms help maintain the health of our own bodies and the entire planet.
Certain types of bacteria can actually clean up troublesome environmental pollutants like spilled petroleum. In fact, a specific strain called Alcanivorax drastically increases in population when an oil spill provides them with large amounts of food, so that they’re able to remove much of the oil. They’re at work on the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico right now, and while they certainly can’t undo the vast damage that has been done to this region as a result, they definitely provide a beneficial effect.
Bacteria with tiny wire-like appendages called nanowires not only digest toxic waste – including PCBs and chemical solvents – they produce electricitywhile they’re at it. One type in particular, called Shewanella, is a deep-sea bacteria that grows these oxygen-seeking nanowires when placed in low-oxygen environments. Researchers discovered that when the microbes’ nanowires are pricked with platinum electrodes, they can carry a current. If these capabilities can be harnessed effectively, they could one day be used in sewage treatment plants to simultaneously digest waste and power the facilities.
The nanowires grown by certain types of bacteria can also be used to immobilize harmful materials – like uranium – and keep them from spreading. A research team at Michigan State University has learned that Geobacter bacteria, which is found naturally in soil, essentially electroplates uranium, rendering it insoluble so it can’t dissolve and contaminate groundwater. These bacteria can be brought into uranium contamination sites like mines and nuclear plants in order to contain the radiation, potentially limiting the disastrous consequences of these types of spills.
Non-biodegradable and far too ubiquitous on this planet, plastic becomes a big problem when it comes to disposal. But in 2008, a Canadian student carried out a truly amazing science experiment in which bacteria were able to consume plastic. Since then, research teams have been working on developing this ability and using it to our benefit. A professor at the University of Dublin got the bacteria to metabolize cooked-down plastic bottles into a new type of plastic that’s actually biodegradable.
Earlier this year, scientists discovered that bacteria are already breaking down plastic debris in the world’s oceans on their own, though they’re not yet sure whether this will have a positive or negative effect on the environment. Items like fishing line and plastic bags are devoured by these bacteria; the problem is that the waste that the bacteria then produce could potentially be harmful to ocean ecosystems as it travels up the food chain.
We count on a polymer called Nylon 6 for all kinds of everyday uses like toothbrushes, surgical sutures, ropes, hosiery and strings for instruments like violins. The manufacture of this material produces toxic byproducts that get carried out in waste water – but – you guessed it – there’s a bacterium for that, too. Flavobacterium actually evolved to produce special enzymes to digest these byproducts that they didn’t have previously, and that aren’t seen in similar bacterial strains.
In fact, the ability to produce these enzymes in order to consume a material that didn’t even exist prior to the invention of nylon in 1935 is often used as evidence against the theory of creationism, which denies that any new information can be added to a genome by mutation.
One of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, methane is produced by all sorts of industrial and natural processes, including the decomposition of our own waste and that of livestock. Scientists fighting global warming are struggling to find ways to control the effects of methane, but one solution could come from a simple single-celled microorganism. Some types of bacteria use copper from the environment to metabolize methane, eliminating both the greenhouse gas and toxic heavy metals all at once.
Researchers are still trying to determine how to use this in real-world applications, but some options may include venting methane emissions through filters of these bacteria. What’s more, after eating the methane, the bacteria turn it into methanol – so we can harvest their waste for use as fuel.
Microbes named T-103, found in animal waste, can produce the biofuel butanol by eating paper. Tulane University developed a method for growing the cellulose-consuming microbes so they can produce fuel in the presence of oxygen, which is lethal to other butanol-producing bacteria. This could make the whole fuel production process far less expensive and thus more potentially applicable in the real world. The researchers say that butanol produces more energy than ethanol, which is produced from corn sugar, and doesn’t require engine modifications. It can also be carried through existing fuel pipelines.
Cancer and bacteria don’t go well together – at least, when you’re talking about immune response. But one type of bacteria, called Clostridium sporogenes, may actually be used to deliver drugs in cancer therapy thanks to its ability to target tumors. Professor Nigel Minton of the University of Nottingham has learned that C. sporogenes will only grow in oxygen-depleted environments – like the center of solid tumors. When injected into a tumor log with cancer drugs, the bacteria can help the drugs kill the tumor cells without affecting healthy tissue. Researchers expect to have a streamlined strain developed for use in a clinical trial by 2013.
“Who would have guessed that ‘panda poop’ might help solve one of the major hurdles to producing biofuels, which is optimizing the breakdown of the raw plant materials used to make the fuels?” says Ashli Brown, Ph.D., co-author of a study on how bacteria in panda feces can break down a super-tough plant material known as lignocellulose. This discovery could speed up development of plant-based biofuels that don’t rely on food crops. Several types of digestive bacteria found in the panda feces are similar to those found in termites, which of course are pros at digesting wood.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that panda waste will suddenly be in demand for the production of biofuels – that would probably be a lost cause, given the extremely precarious status of the species. The bacteria that have been identified for their cellulose-processing abilities will be isolated and grown on a commercial scale. However, it does prove how important biodiversity really is, and that many species around the world may have more to offer than we realize.
Pandas aren’t the only species whose waste may hold the key to producing fuel. With the help of the bacteria Brocadia anammoxidans, human sewage could be transformed into hydrazine, better known as rocket fuel. The bacteria naturally consume ammonia and produce hydrazine in the process. Until their discovery, scientists thought that hydrazine was only a man-made substance. However, this is less of a boon to NASA than it is to sewage treatment plants. In standard plants, waste-eating bacteria require oxygen to be pumped in with power-chugging equipment, so this development could save a lot of money.
When sulphur in mine tailings from mining operations react with water and oxygen, they produce toxic sulphuric acid, a major environmental problem which may also be contributing to climate change. Researchers at McMaster University found that two species of bacteria isolated from a mine tailings pond in northern Ontario work together to use sulphur as an energy source, producing and consuming each other’s sulphur-containing waste in a cycle that reduces the amount of toxic runoff Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). This runoff dissolves carbonate rocks and releases CO2, worsening climate change, so the more it is reduced, the less carbon dioxide gas is released into the atmosphere.
We already know that beneficial bacteria play an incredibly important role in our own biology, helping with everything from dental health to digestion. But probiotic bacteria may even alter brain neurochemistry, helping to treat anxiety and depression-related disorders. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada and University College Cork in Ireland demonstratedthat mice fed with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed a marked decrease in stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviors as well as lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This opens the door to potential microbial-based treatments for psychiatric disorders.
Mankind’s quest for energy has successively centered on wood, coal and oil though these fuels are slowly giving way to nuclear, wind and geothermal power sources. Even newer fuels have sparked alternatives, however, and what today seems odd and impractical may someday be commonplace. These 10 unusual alternative energy sources show real hope that goes beyond the usual hype.
(image via: InventorSpot)
Adult diapers – they’re more common than you think, especially in Japan where the average population is aging rapidly and the national output of used adult diapers has soared past the 5 billion mark. A company called Super Faiths thinks there’s a better use for used adult diapers than simply burying them – why not burn them as fuel?
The SFD Recycle System pulverizes and sterilizes used adult diapers, then forms them into pellets suitable for fueling large biomass boilers. The machines are rather large and are designed to process large numbers of adult diapers, not a problem because the expected users are large hospitals and retirement homes.
(image via: Unique Daily)
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are being developed by a number of researchers who seek to employ specialized bacteria to break down waste products of various types and, in the process of doing so, create energy that can be stored for future use. A team of British researchers is working with urine (from either Man or beast) as a medium, explaining that “Urine is chemically very active, rich in nitrogen and has compounds such as urea, chloride, potassium and bilirubin which make it very good for the microbial fuel cells.”
Organizations such as NASA have taken specific interest in MFCs that use urine and other, er, related wastes to produce energy as such substances would tend to either accumulate on board a spacecraft or would have to be ejected into space. Remember that the next time you wish upon a “star”.
(image via: Autoblog Green)
You’ve heard that drinking and driving doesn’t mix, but don’t tellSvensk Biogas AB. The Swedish biogas company is partnering with the Scandinavian nation’s customs service to process 185,000 gallons of seized smuggled alcohol seized by the customs service last year into enough biogas to power over 1,000 buses and trucks – even a train (above). “We used to just pour it down the drain, but because of the increased volumes we had to look around for new solutions,” said Swedish customs spokeswoman Ingrid Jerlebrink. With the new partnership agreement in place, “We pump it into a big tank that we jokingly call ‘the giant cocktail’ and then a truck just comes and picks it up.”
The Svensk Biogas AB plant in Linkoping, located 125 miles southwest of Stockholm, heats the confiscated booze and converts into biogas. One quart of pure alcohol is required to produce about a tenth of a gallon of biogas, and according to Carl Lilliehook, head of Svensk Biogas AB, “It is good business, because the material to make it is free.”
(images via: Daily Mail)
Power to the people? How about power FROM the people! A number of initiatives currently being pursued look to harness the kinetic energy created – and wasted – by groups of people performing energetic tasks. One project already in place in Tokyo, Japan, usespiezoelectric floor pads positioned where pedestrian commuters are more likely to tread: outside train stations and beneath ticket turnstiles, for instance.
Commuters can be somewhat tired and listless, but there are other places where people expend a lot of energy and have fun doing it – like dancing and working out. The former takes place at Club Watt in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, which calls itself “The World’s First Sustainable Dance Club.” The club’s dance floor features embedded LEDs that are powered by kinetic energy generated by dancers. Bee Gees, met BTUs. The latter occurs at so-called “green gyms” likeGreen Revolution, where a group cycling class with 20 bikes can generate up to 3.6 megawatts of renewable electrical energy annually – more than enough to pedal, er, peddle elsewhere.
(image via: Radiowaves)
How fortunate we would be if it were possible to drink seawater AND use it as fuel. Well surprisingly enough, one of those wishes might soon be answered and grab a beer because it’s not the first. Leukemia patient and researcher John Kanzius has been experimenting with a new cancer-fighting technique that destroys cancer-causing agents through the use of radio waves.
Kanzius noted that his radio-frequency generator broke the water molecules in the seawater into their component elements: hydrogen and oxygen, and as anyone familiar with the 1937 Hindenburg Disaster knows, hydrogen will burn fiercely in the presence of oxygen. As long as Kanzius kept his generator on, the seawater “burned” at a temperature of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, the huge potential!
(image via: Ribotto)
There’s a way to turn previously useless agricultural byproducts into clear, clean, fuel oil – if, that is, you’ve got the guts. Turkey guts, in this case. The recipe may sound disgusting but it works: grind poultry heads, feathers and innards fine and mix with water, then heat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit at 600 psi. Cook for about an hour, or until the complex polymers in the offal mix start to break down. A little distillation and what was once garbage is now as good as gold… black gold.
Changing World Technologies is behind the push to turn organic, carbon-based waste from computer parts to turkey guts into fuel oil through thermo-depolymerization. Nature herself has paved the way: the billions of barrels of oil and gas buried deep underground were once living plants and animals “processed” into hydrocarbons by heat and pressure over hundreds of millions of years. CWT just speeds up the process a bit.
(image via: Savvy Studios)
So you’ve got a landfill that, like most landfills, burps (for want of a better word) methane from decomposing buried garbage. What to do? Well, one idea is to pipe it to a nearby school. Well, not directly – the EcoLine project uses purified methane gas captured from a nearby landfill to power 85 percent of the University Of New Hampshire’s heat and electricity needs. Rivals may still say UNH stinks but no, it’s just the landfill gas.
With the EcoLine project, UNH becomes the first school in the nation to source a majority of its power from landfill gas. The power isn’t free – infrastructure must be put in place to trap, store and purify the methane – but it’s significantly cheaper than burning fossil fuel with the added benefit of being non-polluting.
(image via: Gr33nData)
Research by Argentine scientists has revealed that a single 1,210 lb (550 kg) cow produces 28 to 35 cubic feet (800 to 1,000 liters) of methane emissions each day – and let’s be frank, by “emissions” we don’t mean evaporating sweat. Nope, it’s cow farts. Cow burps too; these multi-stomached ruminants emit copious clouds of methane from both ends. Lucky for them some prankster doesn’t walk up with a lit match.
Methane is a much more reactive greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide and unlike CO2, it burns quite nicely. If only there were some practical way to capture the methane emitted by cows, sheep, goats, llamas… basically ANY domestic livestock, we’d be killing two birds with one stone. The cumbersome collection tank mounted on the recalcitrant bovine above is one possible solution but if not that, what?
(image via: Daniel Talsky)
Next to oil, coffee is the most traded commodity on the planet. Unlike oil, coffee production and preparation creates a lot of waste. Now it seems that this so-called waste – coffee grounds in particular – can be put to good use as a fuel. Researchers at the University of Nevada’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering analyzed coffee grounds and discovered they contain a significant percentage of oil in the form of biodiesel. What’s more, the natural anti-oxidants in the extracted coffee oil help extend its shelf life. The leftover grounds can be compacted and burnt as pelletized fuel.
While home users won’t be able to do much with their used coffee grounds beyond composting them, major coffee retailers could reap huge rewards by changing the way they treat waste grounds. It’s estimated that Starbucks generates 210 million pounds of coffee grounds annually. Processing these grounds could provide nearly 3 million gallons of biodiesel and about 90,000 tons of fuel pellets.
(image via: Slate)
What two things do female joggers have in common? If you answered breasts and MP3 players, you’d be right – and you probably need to get out more. The question is relevant, however, because some joggers have posited powering their iPods with energy generated by the repetitive motions of their breasts. Though companies like Triumph Japan have shown off solar-powered bras, there’s real science behind harnessing, if you will, the power of bouncing breasts.Victoria’s Circuit… you’ve gotta love it!
LaJean Lawson works as a consultant for sportswear companies like Nike and has been researching breast motion since 1985 in an effort to design better sports bras. Lawson discovered that a runner’s breasts move from side to side, from front to back, and up and down with the most motion is generated vertically. That may seem obvious; this more so: “Naturally, the bigger the breast, the more momentum it generates.” Giggity.
(image via: HubPages)
Alternative energy sources are only unusual in the sense that they are unused, impractical, unprofitable or all of the above. That may just mean the times aren’t right for their implementation. Petroleum was known to the ancients but it wasn’t until late in the Industrial Revolution that oil was effectively sourced and processed into usable forms. It’s unknown what the future will hold for energy, but at least it’s certain there ARE alternatives.
|James Kilkelly, was GPI.
Joined: 30 May 2006
Location: West of Ireland
12.01.2011 Original Article ; HERE
Board Gais will invest €1m in OpenHydro and a further €1m when milestones in developing the tidal farm are reached
Bord Gais Energy has become a shareholder in OpenHydro and will invest €1m in the company as part of a joint venture aimed at developing a utility scale tidal farm off the coast of Ireland.
Bord Gáis Energy will initially invest €1m in OpenHydro, whose business is the design and manufacture of marine turbines forgenerating renewable energy from tidal streams.
Bord Gáis has also agreed to invest a further €1m on achievement of certain milestones relating to the tidal farm development.
“We are delighted to have secured this investment from Bord Gáis Energy and to have established this exciting new joint venture focused on the development of Ireland’s first utility scale tidal farm,” James Ives, chief executive at OpenHydro, explained.
“The additional funds will be used to support OpenHydro’s continued expansion in turbine production and deployment capability. We very much look forward to working with Bord Gáis Energy as a key partner in the development of our business and in delivering tidal energy to Irish homes.”
OpenHydro has now raised €15.4m over the past 12 months from existing shareholders and new investors.
The company, which employs more than 50 people, has a project portfolio spanning the USA, Canada, France, Scotland and the UK’s Channel Islands with utility partners, including EDF, Nova Scotia Power and SSE Renewables.
Last year, The Crown Estate in the UK awarded licence rights to OpenHydro, in conjunction with SSE Renewables, to develop a major 200MW tidal farm in the Pentland Firth, off the northern coast of Scotland.
“This investment – and the formation of the joint venture to develop utility-scale tidal-generating capacity off the coast of Ireland – will support our ambition to achieve early mover advantage in tidal energy development in this country,” explained John Mullins, chief executive officer at Bord Gáis.
“We are delighted at the opportunity to work with OpenHydro, which is an industry leader in this technology, and to be at the forefront of the development of marine renewable,” Mullins said.
John Kennedy More By John Kennedy – Ireland breaks Wind Records
There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the last two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere. With the help of the severe weather analyst John Mason and the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, I’ve been through as much of the scientific literature as I can lay hands on (see my website for the references). Here’s what seems to be happening.
The global temperature maps published by Nasa present a striking picture. Last month’s shows a deep blue splodge over Iceland, Spitsbergen, Scandanavia and the UK, and another over the western US and eastern Pacific. Temperatures in these regions were between 0.5C and 4C colder than the November average from 1951 and 1980. But on either side of these cool blue pools are raging fires of orange, red and maroon: the temperatures in western Greenland, northern Canada and Siberia were between 2C and 10C higher than usual. Nasa’s Arctic oscillations map for 3-10 December shows that parts of Baffin Island and central Greenland were 15C warmer than the average for 2002-9. There was a similar pattern last winter. These anomalies appear to be connected.
The weather we get in UK winters, for example, is strongly linked to the contrasting pressure between the Icelandic low and the Azores high. When there’s a big pressure difference the winds come in from the south-west, bringing mild damp weather from the Atlantic. When there’s a smaller gradient, air is often able to flow down from the Arctic. High pressure in the icy north last winter, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, blocked the usual pattern and “allowed cold air from the Arctic to penetrate all the way into Europe, eastern China, and Washington DC”. Nasa reports that the same thing is happening this winter.
Sea ice in the Arctic has two main effects on the weather. Because it’s white, it bounces back heat from the sun, preventing it from entering the sea. It also creates a barrier between the water and the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat that escapes from the sea into the air. In the autumns of 2009 and 2010 the coverage of Arctic sea ice was much lower than the long-term average: the second smallest, last month, of any recorded November. The open sea, being darker, absorbed more heat from the sun in the warmer, light months. As it remained clear for longer than usual it also bled more heat into the Arctic atmosphere. This caused higher air pressures, reducing the gradient between the Iceland low and the Azores high.
So why wasn’t this predicted by climate scientists? Actually it was, and we missed it. Obsessed by possible changes to ocean circulation (the Gulf Stream grinding to a halt), we overlooked the effects on atmospheric circulation. A link between summer sea ice in the Arctic and winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere was first proposed in 1914. Close mapping of the relationship dates back to 1990, and has been strengthened by detailed modelling since 2006.
Will this become the pattern? It’s not yet clear. Vladimir Petoukhov of the Potsdam Institute says that the effects of shrinking sea ice “could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia”. James Hansen of Nasa counters that seven of the last 10 European winters were warmer than average. There are plenty of other variables: we can’t predict the depth of British winters solely by the extent of sea ice.
I can already hear the howls of execration: now you’re claiming that this cooling is the result of warming! Well, yes, it could be. A global warming trend doesn’t mean that every region becomes warmer every month. That’s what averages are for: they put local events in context. The denial of man-made climate change mutated first into a denial of science in general and then into a denial of basic arithmetic. If it’s snowing in Britain, a thousand websites and quite a few newspapers tell us, the planet can’t be warming.
According to Nasa’s datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January to November period since the global record began, 131 years ago; 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record.
Sod all that, my correspondents insist: just look out of the window. No explanation of the numbers, no description of the North Atlantic oscillation or the Arctic dipole, no reminder of current temperatures in other parts of the world, can compete with the observation that there’s a foot of snow outside. We are simple, earthy creatures, governed by our senses. What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.