Showing posts with label Hawai'i. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawai'i. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Honolulu's long-standing trash woes growing worse

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AP
This Aug. 19, 2010 photo shows the exterior of Hawaiian Waste Systems located in the Campbell Industrial Park just 20 miles west of downtown Honolulu. Honolulu generates nearly 1.6 million tons of garbage and burns more than a third of that to generate electricity. But its only landfill is closing in less than two years, prompting officials to contract to ship at least 100,000 tons annually to Washington state. But that idea is on hold now _ a local Indian tribe vehemently objected _ leaving Honolulu with some unsavory choices and a whole lot of odoriferous material to get rid of. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

Gigantic piles of shrink-wrapped garbage have been moldering in the heat of a Hawaii industrial park for more than five months, waiting for a place to be shipped.

That wait appeared to end Monday when city officials inked a deal to dispose of the 40 million-pound pile of odious rubbish over the next six months by mostly burning it in an existing waste-to-power plant.

But bigger problems remain for Honolulu as the state's largest city struggles to find a home for all its waste.

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With its lone dump filling up fast, officials had been counting on a plan to ship at least 100,000 tons of blue, plastic-wrapped garbage bales each year to a landfill near an Indian reservation in Washington state.

But the tribe vehemently objected and won a court ruling last week that put the plan on hold indefinitely. Acting Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell acknowledged as much Monday.

"The city bent over backwards to try to make this shipping effort work, but it is clear that shipping is not a viable option at this time," he said in a statement.

Honolulu makes up 80 percent of Hawaii's population and generates nearly 1.6 million tons of garbage a year. More than a third of the trash is incinerated to generate electricity. The remaining garbage is sent to the 21-year-old Waimanalo Gulch landfill on the island of Oahu's southwestern coast.

But the amount of available land on Oahu is limited, with Honolulu leaders reluctant to add landfills in their backyards and near sites known for their breathtaking, pristine beauty.

And the trash can't be taken elsewhere in the state; the Big Island has by far the most vacant land, and a dump with 71 years of capacity remaining. But a local ordinance bars importation of trash from outside that island.

"Honolulu has all the elements of a form of NIMBYism on steroids," said James Spencer, associate professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaii. "In fact, the only place that is not in Honolulu's backyard seems to be off in Washington state."

And Washington state, at least the part overseen by the Yakama Indian Nation, isn't having it. The tribe, by treaty, has a degree of authority over nearly 11 million acres that it ceded to the U.S. government in 1855, including a regional dump in Klickitat County.

That's where a Seattle-based firm called Hawaiian Waste Systems wanted to ship some of Honolulu's trash.

Starting last September, the trash was to be shredded and compressed into bales, wrapped in at least eight layers of thick plastic sheets and transported to the landfill, where it was to be covered with 18 inches of soil.

Tribal members were outraged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates interstate waste transfers, granted preliminary approval to the shipments. They then went to court.

The federal government "totally ignored us, and we took issue with that," said Harry Smiskin, the tribe's chairman.

The landfill is "a rock's throw" from the Columbia River, where the tribe enjoys fishing rights, and the waterway could be affected by rodents, insects and other invasive species that hitch a ride on Honolulu's garbage, he said.

"We don't know what's in that trash," he added "We know it's not local to the environment that's there now."

The tribe and environmental groups sued the USDA in federal court and last month won a temporary restraining order, leading to the department last week revoking Hawaiian Waste System's permit before it could ship its first bale.

That frustrated company President Mike Chutz, who insisted the bales would have contained nothing ecologically dangerous because the plastic wrapping deprives oxygen to anything living inside.

"I know in my heart that this is absolutely not only acceptable but environmentally safe and will (do) no harm whatsoever to the environment," Chutz said last week.

Because of repeated delays in the shipping plan, hundreds of trash bales collected in the company's facility in a Kapolei industrial park -- far from the eyes of tourists and residents. A few of the 4- to 5-foot tall bales are in shipping containers, but far more sit stacked three and four high, some sprouting tears, holes and other signs of weathering.

Monday's agreement between the city and Chutz' firm requires the garbage that cannot be burned to be sent to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, which must close by July 2012.

Around that same time, the city hopes to start operating a third trash furnace at its electricity-generating plant in Kapolei, allowing the burning of about 902,000 tons a year.

Still, that leaves this island with a lot of garbage generated from some 907,000 residents, 51,000 military service members and families, and an average of 80,000 tourists a day. They produced almost 1.6 million tons in the fiscal year that ended June 30, a drop from the 1.8 million tons the previous year that is largely due to the recession and a decline in tourism.

The city is forming a panel to search for new landfill sites. But that process could take years, and is fraught with political and cultural implications, Spencer said.

"Honolulu has placed its sole landfill on the Leeward Coast of Oahu, a generally poor and disproportionately Native Hawaiian area," he said.

"It is ironic that the original destination (of the trash going to Washington state) was next to Indian tribal land, and the default destination is likely to be the Waimanalo Gulch, next to the largest concentration of Native Hawaiians on Oahu."

Posted via email from eWaste Disposal and Recycling

Sunday, March 7, 2010

John Zapotocky Shares His Hawaiian Ocean “Religion”

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More photos at tjhawaii.com

What have YOU been doing for 70 Years? Ninety-one year-old John Zapotocky has been riding the waves and paddling a board longer than most of us have been alive. As he makes his way out on his paddleboard again today, it’s a friendly reminder that this “new sport” of standup paddling (SUP) isn’t new after all. John Zapotocky, Duke Kahanamoku and a handful of the old Waikiki Beachboys discovered how “cool” it was before most of us were even born.

 

Five seconds with John "Zapped" Zapotocky and you know the guy hasn't wasted a second of life despite being blessed with plenty of it. Sharing the waves with Kahanamoku was a moment in time and an opportunity not lost on John. He recognized surfing royalty when he saw it and immediately knew that the meaning of life was to be found on the water.

"Well I was out there surfing one day and I’d just come in and I’m looking out there and I see this gentleman come on in on a wave with a paddle. I said, ‘my god, that’s something I should be doing!’ So I asked some people and they said, well that’s Duke Kahanamoku. I said, who’s he? You know, I’m here from Pennsylvania I’d never heard of him. They said, well he’s a world famous swimmer and a surfer, an Olympic star. So I went and talked to Duke and he said, well, get your shovel paddle and do it! I did that and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ve been surfing out here now for 65-some years and probably 55 years I’ve been using a paddle. And it changed my whole life. I’ve been standing up ever since."

After making a quick change into his surf gear, John is ready to paddle, dressed all in white from head to toe like a sainted surfing apparition. I get the impression he's dressing for the next position. But if Heaven's close, John's not quite ready to trade his Hawaiian paradise for the clouds just yet. He's still robust in his movements although his bandy legs lend towards an obvious faith in his walker.

He makes his way down towards the shore to “talk story” with a growing group of believers.

John knows the value of time and maintains a steady clip. He bee-lines for the shade of the tent on the beach and whips out a plastic blue album from beneath the folding seat of his walker.

“It took many years before standup paddling came into play,” says John of SUP. “Right now it’s like a snowball. It’s the finest exercise move.

“It’s revolutionizing a way of life. You can take this paddle, you can exercise with it,” he continues, as he transitions into a demonstration. “You can twist, you can turn… You don’t need any barbells.

“It’s a source of exercise that people have not recognized how valuable it is. I think it’s just wonderful. I think it’s going to be all over the world. It’s going to be everywhere in the world – hotels, lagoons, any place there’s water, there’s room for standup paddling. And I suggest you boys try it.”

There's something very cool about hanging with a 91-year-old who is still stoked on surfing. To see faded eyes sparkle with life as they reflect upon a life spent in the ocean.

In a matter of moments he flips us all through the highlight pages of his life: His arrival to Hawaii in 1940 with his beautiful wife; soaking up the sun beside an outrigger canoe on the spacious shores of Waikiki; standup paddle surfing before anyone saw the future in it. He briefly touches upon various intermittent details like manning the guns during the Pearl Harbor attack, all the while rifling through the clear-covered pages with stumpy fingers he lost to machinery during his days at the Dole pineapple cannery.

The memories are a blast, but they don't cloud his diamond-sharp vision of what he’s here to do, and no sooner has he hit the last photo page than he's rubber-banded the album closed, locked it in the walker, and he's ready for action. 

Today he has called upon friend Todd Bradley, of C4 Waterman, to get him back on the water. Seeing the two of them together, their total glee over standup paddling is contagious. They're a couple of kindred souls who are excited by its simplicity and the guarantee it offers of keeping you close to the source through the ages and stages of life.

 

There's no room for SUP detractors today. To those who have gathered to give this re-birthed sport a try, John is as good as the second coming, generating waves of inspiration and admiration – and not just among the “boys”, as many women and kids have turned out, too.

"I used to be 5'8" and-a-half," I’ve had 6 major surgeries, 3 knee replacements, I fractured my femur bone 10 years ago and they had to put a half-inch titanium rod there. I keep saying the doctors could have made me taller, instead they made me shorter!” 

More than 30,000 sunrises and many operations now make his $2, four-foot long wooden canoe paddle a better fit than ever. He’s been buying them for half a century from the same canoe company in Mississippi.

“They didn’t know I used it for surfing. They’re made to sit down but I was using them standing up, so I kept breaking them.”

With that, he’s had enough with the talk and it’s time to get moving. He wades out into the shallows, sits himself down and makes a few digs with his ash-wood paddle to get him to deeper water, pushing past a much younger crowd that is also down here today to give SUP a try. With a few strokes he gains momentum and makes the move from prone to standing. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but he still makes it look frustratingly simple to the rookie on his right who splashes down.

He looks good, and you can tell it feels good to be free again. He heads further out a ways, then makes the turn and cruises back towards shore. He looks like he’s walking on water. 

From out there he probably can’t hear the applause that’s emanating from the shoreline. He’s lost in his thoughts and soaking up the glide, enjoying his momentary escape from land.

As John touches back down on the sand there’s a twinkle in his eye. He dries off, mingles a short while longer then says he’s got an appointment to meet with his next round of vitamins and a midday nap.

Then, like an aged rockstar who knows he's still got it, John slips behind the tinted veil of his black chauffeur-driven vehicle, but not before looking around the door, pointing a finger and saying: "You've been Zapped!"

John Zapotocky: One of the first men standup paddling, one of the last men in the Honolulu phone book. Look him up next time you’re in town. He’d be excited to share his stoke with you.

zapotocky_feb_06.jpg

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alcoa and their positively "green" actions

The growing standard of living in newly developed and heavily populated parts of the world is driving a relentless need for new infrastructure and consumer goods. At the same time the human footprint on the planet has a far greater impact on fragile ecosystems than ever before.

Alcoa is meeting the challenge with a core commitment to operating sustainably in the communities and ecosystems in which we do business. At the same time, we're delivering new ideas and solutions that will help build a healthier and more sustainable future both for the planet and its people.

Solutions that help buildings, cars, airplanes, trucks and trains get more performance from less fuel. Solutions that help ......http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/eco_alcoa/eco_overview.asp

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Former EPA investigator blows whistle on Alaska oil spill

SEATTLE - A former top EPA investigator who helped lead an investigation into a giant oil spill in Alaska is blowing the whistle to KING 5 News.

The investigator says it should have been a felony criminal case. So was oil giant BP let off the hook? KING 5's environmental specialist Gary Chittim talked with the investigator in an exclusive report.

In March 2006, a ruptured pipeline stained the Alaskan tundra with 200,000 gallons of North Slope crude oil. It was second only to the Exxon Valdez in spill size and damage in Alaska.

The EPA's lead criminal investigator in Seattle got an immediate phone call.

"I knew I had an investigation now to perform and I dispatched one of our special agents up to the North Slope," said Scott West, EPA Special Agent in Charge, retired.

A year before, West says he met with BP engineers and employees who said they had continually warned their superiors a long section of the pipe was deteriorating and at risk of rupturing.

"And he said OK, that leak's happened at a caribou crossing on the transit line, just like we predicted and there's oil all over the place," said West.

As West prepared for a criminal investigation into BP officials, Congress was already demanding answers in hearings and at first not getting them.

"Based upon the advice from council, I respectfully will not answer questions," Richard Woollam, former head for BP Pipeline Corrosion, had told Congress.

The Congressional panel, including Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., accused the company of failing to properly maintain the lines.

"This was a very willful, deliberate, clear, premeditated if you will, decision not to do this known maintenance," said Inslee.

While Congress kept demanding answers, West was pushing forward his criminal case.

By now, West says his case was picking up speed and strength. The FBI, the Justice Department and some of Alaska's agencies were taking part and investing time, money and energy into the investigation.

"This was one of the largest devotions of manpower to an environmental case," he said.

West says the group was looking at possible felony crimes at high level BP officials in the U.S. and Great Britain.

BP continued to clean up and replace lines and apologize for the spill, but insisted it was an unforeseeable accident.

Then suddenly, West and his investigators were called to Anchorage for an unforeseeable announcement from the Justice Department.

"I was dismissed. My investigation was shut down," said West. "I have never seen the Department of Justice shutdown an investigation this strong, moving ahead with so much momentum."

Case closed? Maybe not.

"You won't be surprised if there is Congressional interest in this to find where this thread leads," said West.

It has led West in a new direction. He's decided to close his 19 year career at EPA by blowing the whistle on his most frustrating case.

BP ended up accepting a misdemeanor charge and paying a $20 million fine.

The following statement is from BP:

We have no record that any concerns about corrosion leading to an oil transit line breach in the foreseeable future ever were communicated to BP -- by BP Alaska workers, by Mr. West, or anyone else.

If the conversations that Mr. West described occurred, then we're disappointed Mr. West or someone in EPA didn't come to us to share this specific concern so that we could have addressed it and possibly prevented this spill.

Our interactions with the Justice Department and EPA were appropriate in every way. We offered and EPA and DOJ received BP's full cooperation in their Alaska investigation.

We were not a party to discussions among EPA, the FBI and the Justice Department and cannot comment on them.
We were provided a detailed summary of comments made by Mr. West to another reporter. We read with interest that after a 17-month investigation, West and other investigators could not "realistically charge" BP with a felony and that the answer was "no" when investigators were asked if they could charge individuals.

BP admitted that its processes and systems for monitoring Prudhoe Bay oil transit lines were inadequate, admitted that negligence on the company's part resulted in the March 2006 spill and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal count.

We are not aware any evidence that anyone at BP violated the law.

The following statement is from the Justice Department:

In October of 2007, BP Exploration Alaska, Inc., agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act to resolve criminal liability relating to pipeline leaks of crude oil. As a result of the guilty plea, BP Alaska agreed to pay $20 million which included the criminal fine, community service payments and criminal restitution.

The allegations by Mr. West that the Department improperly handled the case are not based in fact and are simply not true. Mr. West implies that something sinister took place between June 12 and August 28, 2007. As with any investigation, there comes a point in time when further investigation is no longer warranted if it does not have a realistic chance of generating useful evidence. In this case, the judgment by career prosecutors was that the case had been sufficiently and fully investigated to reach appropriate charging decisions. No further investigation was likely to find evidence that would shed any new light on the essential facts of the case. The investigators from the EPA and FBI agreed with the prosecution’s approach.

This case was an example of an excellent partnership between prosecutors from Washington D.C. and those from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The following statement is from the EPA:

"EPA takes criminal violations of the law very seriously. EPA vigorously investigates and recommends charges for both individuals and corporations whenever appropriate. Over the past two years, 70% of the criminals charged in environmental crime cases were individuals, not corporations.

In the case of BP Alaska, after a robust 18-month criminal investigation, EPA, FBI, and DOT, along with DOJ prosecutors, jointly concluded the corporation was liable for a negligent discharge of oil.

EPA, along with DOJ, also concluded that further investigative efforts were unlikely to be fruitful. At the same time, nothing in the plea agreement for this investigation precludes prosecution of individuals, should events or evidence indicate misconduct.

This case was an example of strong teamwork among the agencies and resulted in the appropriate outcome.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coating helps solar panels soak up more of the sun

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new type of reflective coating can make solar panels far more efficient, soaking up nearly all available sunlight from nearly any angle, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Current solar panels -- which convert energy from the sun into electricity -- absorb only about two-thirds of available sunlight.

But surfaces treated with a coating developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, can harvest 96.2 percent of sunlight.

"That is a tremendous savings," Rensselaer's Shawn-Yu Lin, whose study appears in the journal Optics Letters, said in a telephone interview.

Lin said the technology addresses two main problems in current solar cells. It captures more colors of solar spectrum and it captures light from all angles.

"If you look at a solar panel, it looks a bit bluish," Lin said. That is "telling you not all of the blue color is being absorbed. It should look totally dark."

The other problem is that solar panels work best when sun shines directly on them. To solve this, large solar arrays mechanically shift position throughout the day -- much like sunbathers on a beach.

Lin and colleagues think they have found a better solution.

Their coating is made up of seven layers of porous material stacked in such a way that each enhances the antireflective properties of the layer below.

Together they act as a buffer zone, trapping light from all angles. "Your efficiency increases by 30 percent," Lin said.

He thinks the material could be applied to all types of solar cells.

"It's not going to require many added instruments too adopted this technology," he said.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen, Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Organic farming 'could feed Africa'

Traditional practices increase yield by 128 per cent in east Africa, says UN

By Daniel Howden in Nairobi

New evidence suggests that organic practices - derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad - are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers

Organic farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations to be presented today.


New evidence suggests that organic practices – derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad – are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. The head of the UN's Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said the report "indicates that the potential contribution of organic farming to feeding the world maybe far higher than many had supposed".

The "green revolution" in agriculture in the 1960s – when the production of food caught and surpassed the needs of the global population for the first time – largely bypassed Africa. Whereas each person today has 25 per cent more food on average than they did in 1960, in Africa they have 10 per cent less.

A combination of increasing population, decreasing rainfall and soil fertility and a surge in food prices has left Africa uniquely vulnerable to famine. Climate change is expected to make a bad situation worse by increasing the frequency of droughts and floods.

It has been conventional wisdom among African governments that modern, mechanised agriculture was needed to close the gap but efforts in this direction have had little impact on food poverty and done nothing to create a sustainable approach. Now, the global food crisis has led to renewed calls for a massive modernisation of agriculture on the hungriest continent on the planet, with calls to push ahead with genetically modified crops and large industrial farms to avoid potentially disastrous starvation.

Last month the UK's former chief scientist Sir David King said anti-scientific attitudes among Western NGOs and the UN were responsible for holding back a much-needed green revolution in Africa. "The problem is that the Western world's move toward organic farming – a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food – and against agricultural technology in general and GM in particular, has been adopted across the whole of Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences," he said.

The research conducted by the UN Environment Programme suggests that organic, small-scale farming can deliver the increased yields which were thought to be the preserve of industrial farming, without the environmental and social damage which that form of agriculture brings with it.

An analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries found that yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used. That increase in yield jumped to 128 per cent in east Africa.

"Organic farming can often lead to polarised views," said Mr Steiner, a former economist. "With some viewing it as a saviour and others as a niche product or something of a luxury... this report suggests it could make a serious contribution to tackling poverty and food insecurity."

The study found that organic practices outperformed traditional methods and chemical-intensive conventional farming. It also found strong environmental benefits such as improved soil fertility, better retention of water and resistance to drought. And the research highlighted the role that learning organic practices could have in improving local education. Backers of GM foods insist that a technological fix is needed to feed the world. But this form of agriculture requires cash to buy the patented seeds and herbicides – both at record high prices currently – needed to grow GM crops.

Regional farming experts have long called for "good farming", rather than exclusively GM or organic. Better seeds, crop rotation, irrigation and access to markets all help farmers. Organic certification in countries such as the UK and Australia still presents an insurmountable barrier to most African exporters, the report points out. It calls for greater access to markets so farmers can get the best prices for their products.

Kenyan farmer: 'I wanted to see how UK did it'

Henry Murage had to travel a long way to solve problems trying to farm a smallholding on the western slopes of Mount Kenya. He spent five months in the UK, studying with the experts at Garden Organic a charity in the Midlands. "I wanted to see how it was being done in the UK and was convinced we could do some of the same things here," he says.

On his return 10 years ago, he set up the Mt Kenya Organic Farm, aimed at aiding other small farmers fighting the semi-arid conditions. He believes organic soil management can help retain moisture and protect against crop failure. The true test came during the devastating drought of2000-02, when Mr Murage's vegetable gardens fared better than his neighbours'. At least 300 farmers have visited his gardens and taken up at least one of the practices he espouses. "Organic can feed the people in rural areas," he says. "It's sustainable and what we produce now we can go on producing."

Saving money on fertilisers and pesticides helps farmers afford better seeds, and composting and crop rotation are improving the soil. Traditional maize, beans and livestock farming in the area have been supplemented with new crops from borage seeds to cayenne peppers and honey, with buyers from the US to Europe. Now he is growing camomile for herbal tea, with buyers from the UK and Germany both interested.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Canadian mob turns to e-scrap

According to a recent report by Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (Ottawa) — Canada's national intelligence agency — organized crime in the Great White North has been increasingly turning to the illegal sale and exportation of scrap electronics to developing countries.
According to the agency's 2008 Report on Organized Crime, the illegal trafficking of e-scrap has grown in recent years, and the CISC expects the trade to peak between 2009-2011, due to the switch-over from analog-to-digital television broadcasting in the U.S. and Canada.
The fact that criminals are targeting waste electronics is stark evidence as the scrap's rising value in the global economy. "If it was not lucrative, organized crime groups would not be involved in it," said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner William Elliott.
The report further warns that "incorrect handling of some e-waste, such as obsolete disk drives, could be illicitly obtained by organized crime to collect and exploit government, corporate or personal information."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Get Schooled

You may be paying up to $10 in extra fees when you purchase a TV or monitor to cover the costs of recycling. If you're already paying to recycle them, are you taking advantage of free disposal options? Find locations to recycle electronics using Earth911.com.
Get Movin'

Want the ultimate tip on reuse? Keep your library card current and use it for your literary needs. This will cut down on paper use as well as book disposal.
Get More

Composting is an easy way to reduce your waste while producing nutrient rich soil for the garden. Learn more about the tools and materials you need to get started at Earth911.com's Composting page.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Get Schooled

We go through 380 billion plastic bags a year and only five percent are recycled. Recycling plastic bags produces lumber that can be used to build patios and frames, so find out what types are recyclable and where/how to recycle plastic bags near you.
Get Movin'

Ask your favorite bar or restaurant whether it recycles bottles and cans at the end of the night. Businesses can recycle containers just like residents, and knowing this is the first step. Aluminum and glass containers can be recycled infinitely with no loss of purity.
Get More

Being more eco-friendly is as simple as counting to eight. Check out Earth911.com's Green Eight archive, guides that provide eight simple ways to green many areas of your life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Geo-Engineering for a Tailor-Made Planet

Written by Michelle Bennett

Geo-Engineering is “the deliberate modification of Earth’s environment on a large scale “to suit human needs and promote habitability”‘ (via Wikipedia). Until recently it was the stuff of science fiction, a god-like power regulated to unseen aliens or super-futuristic societies. Occasionally planetary catastrophe also ensued.

Yet with climate change and global warming sparking alarm across the globe, some scientists have started to explore the possibility of altering the natural environment on a global scale. Several strategies are outlined below:

There are other proposed methods, of course, so consider these as an introduction only. It’s important to note that geo-engineering scientists do not propose this as solutions to global warming, but as emergency measures to avert large-scale human suffering. The only reason it has been suggested that we consider implementing these strategies in the near future is because, in the view of Dr. Paul Crutzen, “there is little reason to be optimistic.” He was referring to current international political efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Of course there is controversy and plenty of people who disagree with implementing geo-engineering. Scientifically, there’s the problem of data; we simply don’t know enough about these huge natural systems to safely manipulate them. There’s also the consequences we are certain about: in most cases, the benefits and detrimental effects will be unevenly distributed across the planet. While one part of the world prospers under cooler climes, another would have their problems compounded.

Who can make that decision? What are the ethics? What would be the social, economic, and cultural implications of upheaval, conflict, and/or refugees in the areas that benefit? Even if we do manage to (partially) improve the weather, the social impact across the globe could negate the benefits. Geo-engineering (but not necessarily geo-engineers) assumes that humans being can and should manipulate the planet to improve their lot, but many people have pointed out that we must still change our habits and lifestyles regardless. Whether we attempt geo-engineering or not, we must still invest in renewable resources.

Geo-engineers propose this as an “emergency only” measure, but in my opinion, using it with even the best intentions could set a dangerous precedent. Global warming is an unintended form of geo-engineering; is it wise to fight fire with fire? Is it ethical to combat one “evil” with something slightly “less evil”? Could any nation, organization, or individual with enough money hijack the globe by using, or threatening to use, geo-engineering against the populous?

Technology will play a critical role in combating and adapting to climate change, but at some point we will have to limit ourselves. Where should we draw the line, and who will decide? Many critics of geo-engineering agree that we should spend our energy and resources on a solution to the problem, not just to treat the symptoms. There is no fast or simple fix; if we intend to live well for the long haul, we’ll just have to adapt to the limitation of our planet - or expand onto another.

What do you think? Take part in a discussion on our Green Options forum
(Tropical Storm Nargis courtesy of NASA)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Sahara

Sahara made slow transition from green to desert

A picture taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Terra satelliteon shows dust blowing northward out of the Sahara Desert and over the Mediterranean Sea. The Sahara became the world's biggest hot desert some 2,700 years ago after a very slow fade from green, according to a new study which clashes with the theory that desertification came abruptly.


The Sahara became the world's biggest hot desert some 2,700 years ago after a very slow fade from green, according to a new study which clashes with the theory that desertification came abruptly.

Six thousand years ago, the massive arid region dominating northern Africa was quite green, a patchwork of trees and savannas as well as many sparkling lakes.

The region, larger than Australia, also was inhabited, according to the European-US-Canadian team of scientists behind a study in Science dated May 9.

Most of the physical elements that could tell the tale of the Sahara's geographic evolution have been lost. The scientists studied layers of sediment in one of the largest remaining Sahara lakes, Yoa, in a remote spot in northern Chad, which took them back through six millennia of climate history.

They looked at sediments, did soil tests and reviewed biological indicators such as plant and tree pollen and spores that were present before the desert encroached. They also studied the remains of aquatic microorganisms.

Their findings contradicted previous modeling that indicated a rapid collapse of vegetation in the region in a sudden end to the African Humid Period, about 5,500 years ago, said Stefan Kropelin, a geologist at the Prehistoric Archaeology Institute of the University of Cologne who took part in the new study.

In 2000, a study by Peter de Menocal of Columbia University of sediments in the west of Mauritania found a sudden increase in wind-carried dust blown off the Sahara region, suggesting swift climate change.

But data from Lake Yoa shows the opposite, and the transition to desert took its time, said Kropelin. He said he believed de Menocal's data were not wrong but misinterpreted.

Monday, April 7, 2008

E-cycling begins with you.
Click on your state below to find reuse, recycling, and donation programs across the country for your electronic products. If you aren't sure what to look for in a recycler, take a look at a series of questions we suggest to ask. Want to recycle your batteries or mercury containing lamps? Take a look at our Links section for additional resources.





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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ku Ikaika Challenge

HONOLULU - (February 14, 2008) - Today's inaugural QuikSilverEdition Ku Ikaika Challenge, presented by C4 Waterman and Red Bull, was a hugely successful celebration of the waterman heritage, epic surf and aloha that have been Hawaii's gifts to the world for centuries. Staged in waves that ranged throughout the day from six to 15 feet (wave face heights of 12-30 feet), the world's first big-wave stand up paddle surfing event was more about gathering together to honor a tradition than it was about winning. The first place winner's check of $4,000, ultimately claimed by revered Hawaiian waterman Aaron Napoleon (Pearl City, Oahu, 41), was presented on his behalf to the West Side Junior Lifeguard Foundation. Every surfer in the main event received an equal prize check of $350.

Napoleon surfed through a total of five rounds to win the all-Hawaiian final, charging hard through every round and posting one of the event's two perfect 10-point rides for a huge barrel. Second place today was 24-year-old Keoni Keaulana (Waianae), who was the top-performing member of the highly represented and respected Keaulana family of Makaha. Third place went to big-wave specialist Ikaika Kalama (Waialua, Oahu), and fourth was Kamu Auwae (Waianae).
Of the field of 32 surfers, 24 were from the Hawaiian Islands, four were from California: Scott Bass, Kyle Mochizuki, Chris Mauro and Chuck Patterson; two were from Tahiti: Raimana Van Bastolaer and Arsene Harehoe; and two were from Australia: Jamie Mitchell and Liam Wilmott. There was also one woman in the event: Maui's Tiare Lawrence.

As the oldest competitor in the final at 41, Napoleon had a well of ocean knowledge to draw from today, both from his own lifetime of experience and as the product of one of Hawaii's best known ocean-going families. A top-performer over the years in every salt-water sport on offer, Napoleon attributed his success to good genes and just wanting to have fun.

"If you could have been out there and seen how the water and the waves looked from where I was, it was so beautiful, man, I was in heaven," said Napoleon. "How you goin' beat one guy (sic) that's having fun?

"It wasn't super big, but it was fun.

"My first heat in the trials I kinda really bonked. I told myself that if I get another chance I'm going for it."

On his perfect 10-scoring, 12-foot wave: "I set it up, pulled in there, had some travel time. I could see the jet-skis in the channel and even though I didn't make it out, when I came up it seemed like the crowd was in awe. To get the respect, I'm on cloud nine."

Chuck Patterson (CA) was a standout charger. Photo: towner@coveredimages.com Chuck Patterson followed an identical path to Napoleon through the event, unfortunately falling one heat short of the glory, but not an ounce short on respect earned. Like Napoleon, he only made it out of the trials by virtue of being one of the highest placed thirds (technically only first and second in each heat were advancing, but a couple of vacancies in the seeded main round allowed a couple of top thirds a second shot).

Where Napoleon capitalized on the biggest, most critical waves and a high, racing line, Patterson opted for large open-faced waves and a top-to-bottom sequence of power carves that totally utilized the paddle.

Like Napoleon, Patterson is also an exponent of multiple sports - kite-surfing, big-wave tow-in surfing, snowboarding and skiing. Stand up paddle surfing is his latest passion.

"I'm addicted!" said Patterson, who runs a construction company and cross-trains young athletes when not pursing his own sporting goals. "This new sport is so exciting. It's as much fun as anything I've ever done and it's the most humbling. It has its glorified moments that leaving you feeling amazing, but then you can turn straight around and fall on a small little bump on the water. It's a humanizing experience - you've just got to get back on your feet and start over. You're always learning and it's never boring."

The vibe on the beach said it all today: no commercial hyp, just an intimate crowd of mostly surf-stoked aunties, uncles and families. There couldn't have been a better venue on the planet than Makaha Beach - for natural beauty or waves. Located near the end of the road on the West Side of Oahu, Makaha has long been a paradise for surfers, playing host to the first world championships of surfing more than 50 years ago. Not much has changed around here in that time, and those things that did have now come full circle, like the old beachboy style of stand up paddle surfing that proved without a doubt today that it's back to stay this time.

Ku Ikaika: "Stand Strong". The name for this event came from the name of the non-profit foundation established last year by supporting sponsor of this event, C4 Waterman. The Ku Ikaika Foundation was established to shine a light on the youth that it encourages to stand strong and make strong, positive choices in life.

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