Showing posts with label renewable energy standard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label renewable energy standard. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Short Documentary Shows Toxic Trail of "Recycled" E-Waste Leads Overseas

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/short-documentary-shows-toxic-trail-of-recycled-e-waste-leads-overseas.php?dcitc=th_rss

Monday, February 16, 2009

British, French nuclear submarines collide

LONDON, England (CNN) -- A British Royal Navy nuclear submarine and its French equivalent collided while on operations in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, defense ministries in Paris and London confirmed Monday.


The British Royal Navy submarine HMS Vanguard.

Both vessels, HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant, were armed with nuclear warheads and suffered damage as a result of the collision, which is understood to have occurred on February 3 or 4.

"Two "SNLE" (nuclear submarines), one French and the other British, were, a few days ago, on standard patrols in the Atlantic. They briefly came in contact in a very slow speed while they were immersed. There is no casualty or injury among the crew. Neither the nuclear deterrent mission nor the nuclear security have been compromised," the French Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

In an earlier press release issued on February 6, the Ministry of Defense said the vessel's sonar dome had been damaged in a collision. The vessel was able to return to its base at Ile Longue in Brittany, northwest France, accompanied by a frigate.

The UK's Ministry of Defence also confirmed the incident. In a statement, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathan Band said the collision occurred during "routine national patrols."

"Both submarines remained safe and no injuries occurred. We can confirm that the capability remained unaffected and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety," Band said.

HMS Vanguard returned to its home base at Faslane in Scotland under its own power on February 14. The UK's Sun newspaper reported that the vessel was towed back into its home base at Faslane in Scotland "with dents and scrapes visible on her hull." It is normal procedure for the vessels to be towed into dock, according to the Ministry of Defence press office.

Both the UK and French nuclear deterrent operations depend on complete secrecy, despite both countries' membership of NATO. But naval analyst Richard Cobbold told CNN that procedures would be in place to ensure that French and British submarines were routinely kept apart.

"Either one of these submarines was doing something different or somebody made a mistake -- but we don't know that," Cobbold said.

Both submarines were equipped with state-of-the-art sonar technology, but Cobbold said it was possible that neither was aware of the close proximity of the other vessel.

"Modern submarines are very, very quiet. In many types of water conditions they might not hear the approach of another submarine," he said.

But with both nations keeping at least one nuclear-armed submarine constantly at sea for the past 40 years, he said it was no surprise that they had eventually ended up in the same area of ocean.

"Even in an ocean the size of the North Atlantic the submarines are eventually going to be in the same patch of water at the same time," he said.

In a statement issued Monday, the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament described the incident as "a nuclear nightmare of the highest order."

"The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed," said CND chair Kate Hudson.

"The dents reportedly visible on the British sub show the boats were no more than a couple of seconds away from total catastrophe."

Hudson said the incident was the most serious involving a nuclear submarine since the sinking of the Russian Kursk in 2000 with the loss of the vessel's entire 118-man crew.

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HMS Vanguard, which was launched in 1992, is one of four submarines which make up the UK's nuclear deterrent. Its firepower includes 16 Trident II D5 missiles capable of delivering multiple warheads to targets up to a range of 4,000 nautical miles.

The 150-meter vessel carries a crew of 141 and is powered by a uranium-fueled pressurized water reactor. Vanguard Class submarines routinely spend weeks at a time underwater on patrol in the North Atlantic.

But contact with naval commanders and government officials, including the defense secretary and the prime minister, are maintained at all times by a "comprehensive network of communications installations," the Royal Navy Web site said.

Le Triomphant was launched in 1994 and entered service in 1997 and carries a crew of 111, according to the GlobalSecurity.org Web site. Its weapons include 16 M45 missiles capable of launching multiple nuclear warheads.

The UK has maintained a nuclear arsenal since 1956, with at least one nuclear-armed submarine somewhere at sea continuously since 1969.

In 2006 the government approved plans to update the Trident deterrent program. A new generation of submarines is due to be ready to replace the Vanguard Class submarines by 2024. But the program, which is expected to cost around £20 billion ($29 billion), has been heavily criticized by anti-nuclear campaigners

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Colourful pigs evolved through farming, not nature

Pigs evolved bright coat colours rapidly after domestication thanks to the human a penchant for novelty, a new gene analysis suggests.

Farmers selected and bred the brightly coloured pigs to distinguish them from their brown and black wild cousins and probably also because they preferred the unusual colours.

At the other extreme, the gene analysis shows that wild pigs today are evolving through natural selection to maintain camouflage colours to escape detection by predators.

"Every time a gene mutation arose in the wild causing coat colour to change, it was eliminated immediately," says Greger Larson of Durham University, UK, and joint leader of the analysis with Leif Andersson of Uppsala University in Sweden. "So if a black piglet showed up, that was the one picked off by a predator."

Pig a colour
Domestication overrode natural selection with artificial selection from around 10,000 years ago, when humans began to domesticate pigs and other animals such as dogs, favouring animals with mutations resulting in brightly coloured coats. "What it comes down to is the real human penchant for novelty," says Larson.

To establish how colours might have arisen in pigs, the researchers analysed DNA from 68 domestic pigs of 51 breeds, and 15 wild boar. All samples were from animals in Europe and Asia.

In each sample, they examined variations in the gene melanocortin receptor-1 (MC1R) in melanocyte skin cells, which orchestrates the manufacture of melanin pigments. In each species, the gene governs coat colour by dictating the balance between production of dark coloured eumelanin and red-yellow coloured pheomelanin.

They found about 10 mutations in the domestic and wild pigs. But the mutations in the wild pigs were all "silent", insofar as they had no physical effect on the protein produced and therefore on the colour of the animal's coat. This shows that in the wild, colour change was selected against to avoid losing camouflage. "When you mess with the gene, you get over-expression of dark or light melanins, which alters the colour," Larson explains.

Tickled pink
By contrast, all the mutations in the domestic pigs altered coat colour. Black pigs overproduce eumelanin, for example, and pink pigs stop making melanin altogether, resulting in a "default" pink colour.

Some of the domesticated pigs had as many as three mutations in their MC1R, each new mutation adding something that couldn't have arisen without the previous ones. For example, in pigs which are pink with black spots, for example, three mutations are needed, and the mutation causing the black spots had to have come last, following on from mutations which gave the pink background colour.

This provided the clinching evidence that the coat colours were selected for after domestication, says Larson, because pink pigs wouldn't have survived long enough in the wild to have allowed the third mutation to arise. "It shows there was a big difference in the selection regimes practiced by Mother Nature and by humans," says Larson.

The analysis also revealed that black pigs in Europe owe their blackness to different mutations from the black pigs in Asia. "It proves independent domestication of pigs on two continents," says Larson.

David Fisher, who studies melanocytes as director of the melanoma programme at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, says the study was sound. "It's not difficult to imagine the potential advantages during animal domestication of being able to have an easily recognisable body feature, such as coat colour," he says.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Schwarzenegger to Push ‘Green’ Policy

Despite Economic Woes

The former action-hero in an interview on the CBS program 60 Minutes discussed ‘green’ policy, emission limits, climate change, and renewable energy. He also was unafraid to criticize the Bush administration for their lack of ‘interest’ in cutting tailpipe emissions.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes tonight, vowed to push on with his tough environmental laws despite last month’s announcement that his state faced a whopping $40 billion deficit.

“The more difficult it gets, the more joy I find in it. Because it’s just great to figure out all of the ways of bringing people together and shaping policy. But to get it done, to get there is always a long process. But when you get it done, it’s very satisfying,” Gov. Schwarzenegger told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.


The governor was unafraid to criticize the Bush administration for what he termed their lack of 'interest' in cutting tailpipe emissions.
When put on the spot and asked if the current economic crisis currently makes it a bad time to change America’s energy habits, Schwarzenegger quickly dismissed that notion.

“I think that there’s never the wrong time. There’s always the right time. I will argue the opposite. Because we have seen that the industries that are performing well in California, even right now in this economic decline, is green technology. It’s really spectacular to see those manufacturers coming up to me and saying, ‘Our business is booming,’ while there’s an economic decline. So, green technology’s where it’s at,” the governor retorted.

The former actor also addressed his concern that the American automakers were not doing enough to assist in the energy changeover.

“I have been in Detroit in 2000 and have talked to the car manufacturers then to put hydrogen engines in the cars and start experimenting. And they said to me then, ‘Well, this would take five to ten years to do something like that.’ Well, that time has come now. Where are the cars?” Schwarzenegger questioned.

When Pelley noted the hatred that the city of Detroit had for him after he came out with his ultra-strict emission laws, even going as far as displaying a billboard which read ‘Arnold to Detroit: drop dead’, the governor pretty much joked it off.

That was the best free publicity I could get. But actually I was not saying, ‘Arnold to Detroit: drop dead,’ I was just saying, ‘Get off your butt,’” Schwarzenegger said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger also spoke about the Hummer he owns, which he spent $100,000 to convert from a military vehicle to a legal civilian one. In fact, he is the inventor of the civilian Hummer, the infamous gas-guzzler, when he invested the astounding sum after being told by the military manufacturer that it couldn’t be done.

His Hummer has been modified and can now run on bio-fuel.

“You can literally go up to a restaurant and get cooking oil,” he said. “it runs, basically, on anything. Anything natural.”

He also knocked environmentalists who tried to hold up a proposed solar project in the Mojave desert for what they said can endanger some animals.

“The environmentalists are the first ones to say, ‘Yes, we need renewable energy. We should get rid of, you know, using our energy from coal and from natural gas,’ and all those kind of things. But then when you say, ‘Okay, let’s do renewable, let’s go that,’ ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up, not so fast,’” reasoned Schwarzenegger.

He also said that when trying to cut tailpipe emissions, he was thwarted by an uninterested Bush administration.

“I could tell in his eyes (President Bush’s EPA administrator Stephen Johnson) that he did not believe in it, that we would never get it, that he will create every obstacle. And the administration just had no interest in it.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

California Ups Renewable Energy Mandate to 33% by 2020

Written by Timothy B. Hurst

Published on November 17th, 20082 CommentsPosted in Center, Energy, Leader
Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Executive Order to Raise California’s Renewable Energy Goals to 33% by 2020 and Clear Red Tape for Renewable Energy Projects


In an executive order signed on Monday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger committed to getting a third of California’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Schwarzenegger made the announcement while speaking at a solar panel factory in Sacramento. California Executive Order S-14-08 puts the state’s renewable energy requirement at 33% by 2020, securing its place as the most aggressive renewable energy mandate in the country.


vote nowBuzz up!The order comes Just three days after Schwarzenegger issued another unprecedented executive order to state agencies telling them to make preparations for rising sea levels caused by global warming.


Schwarzenegger’s aggressive target, however, cannot be met without additional changes in the current policy landscape. In fact, just two weeks ago, California voters soundly rejected Proposition 7 which sought to increase the state’s renewable energy standard. Environmental groups were nearly unanimous in their opposition to Prop 7 because it created an exclusion for smaller utilities and power providers. Schwarzenegger said:

“…we won’t meet that goal doing business as usual, where environmental regulations are holding up environmental progress in some cases. This executive order will clear the red tape for renewable projects and streamline the permitting and siting of new plants and transmission lines. With this investment in renewable energy projects, California has a bright energy future ahead that will help us fight climate change while driving our state’s green economy.”

The Governor will propose legislative language that will codify the new higher standards and require all utilities, public and private, to meet the 33 percent target and spread implementation costs across all ratepayers with safeguards for low-income customers. The executive order will also allow for the expansion of eligibility for California’s RPS program to renewable energy generation from other western states.

The Governor made today’s announcement at the site of OptiSolar’s new plant in Sacramento, which will begin manufacturing solar panels in early 2009. When fully built out, the one-million-square-foot plant will be the largest photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing plant in North America.

Image: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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