January 30, 2011

Moving the Navy and Marine Corps off fossil fuel

In October 2009, as Secretary of the Navy, I established five ambitious goals to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the Navy and Marine Corps and increase the use of alternative energy to at least 50% of our energy requirements no later than 2020.  These goals support the President's objective to create a new energy future and a clean energy economy for the United States, and the reasons for doing so are clear and compelling:
  • Reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy makes the country more secure.  Competition over fossil fuel resources has been one of the leading sources of conflict for thousands of years.  Today, little has changed – whether it is oil, natural gas, or electricity – disruptions in the flow of energy can cause major economic havoc and negatively affect both our national security and international stability.
  • Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels makes our people safer.  Getting fossil fuels to our troops on the front lines is one of the most dangerous things we do.  In fact, we import more gasoline into Afghanistan than any other product. Moving fuel to our Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) means convoys, which means protecting our convoys with Marines and Sailors, taking them away from doing what we sent them to Afghanistan to do and making them vulnerable to IEDs and ambush.  If we can reduce the number of convoys by making our systems more efficient, or generating power from solar energy at the FOBs, we make our troops safer.
  • Increasing energy efficiency makes our ships, aircraft, and vehicles more tactically capable.  A better engine on a plane means it can go farther, and stay airborne longer.  Better engines on ships results in less time spent refueling in vulnerable locations in port or at sea – a lesson we learned all too clearly with the USS COLE.
  • Increasing alternative energy use by the Navy and Marine Corps helps create an alternative energy market.  The Navy uses a third of the fossil fuels consumed by the Federal Government, which in turn uses about two percent of fossil fuels in America.  The Navy and Marine Corps' plan helps spur private investment and ultimately moves the country toward a clean energy economy.
  • Reducing the energy footprint of the Navy and Marine Corps significantly reduces our carbon footprint.
Since our objectives were announced, we have made great progress toward our goals:
  • In Quantico, Virginia and in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, the Marine Corps established two expeditionary Forward Operating Base as test sites for alternative energy projects that can be used by our combat forces in Afghanistan.  Because of the work done there, the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, deployed this summer to Helmand Province and even in the midst of a contested environment, the Battalion has reduced its use of fossil fuel by 20 percent and reduced its logical support requirements by successfully employing solar power systems at its bases and combat outposts. 
  • On Earth Day in April 2010, we tested an F/A-18 fighter jet on a camelina-based biofuel blend at supersonic speeds.  In the months following, we extended testing to naval helicopters and, using an algae-based biofuel, to riverine combat craft. We have proved that our engines don't care what they use, performance on biofuel is just as good as performance on fossil-based jet fuel.  Just as importantly, neither of these fuels impacts food supply, the carbon footprint in terms of production is low, and the cost of each is rapidly falling.
  • For our surface ships, we have developed a hybrid electric drive for the USS MAKIN ISLAND that dramatically increases fuel efficiency.  Over the ship's more than 30-year lifespan, she will save up to $250 million in fuel costs – at today's prices.  As we move forward over the next few years to extend this technology to other ships of the fleet, our savings will continue to grow.
  • All across the United States, we are working with other federal departments, with industry, and with academia to move forward on alternative energy research and development.  One of the most promising partnerships got underway last summer in Hawaii, which imports almost all its energy, when the Navy began a project with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, and the State of Hawaii to develop biofuel production in the State.  Over the next few years, this project will help create a new industry for the Hawaii, will benefit local farmers and entrepreneurs, and will create locally produced fuel for ships of the Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor.
Just as we have done for 235 years, the Navy and Marine Corps are leading the nation in adopting new technology to make our country more secure.  With the assistance of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and industry – and with the leadership and support of the President, we are helping to create a new energy future. 
Ray Mabus is the Secretary of the Navy
Full Article 

Mountain Top Removal

While the EPA has rescinded the permit for one of the largest proposed mountain top mining sites, Spruce #1, I am troubled that 6 other mountain top mining sites have been approved in the last twelve months. 

The NY Times reports that before blocking one of Appalachia's largest-ever mountaintop coal-mining projects this month, U.S. EPA agreed to allow blasting to start on a half-a-dozen other mountaintop mines.

Last July, for example, five months before EPA's landmark veto of Arch Coal Inc.'s permit for the 2,200-acre Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, the agency greenlit plans from an Arch subsidiary, Coal-Mac Inc., to dynamite a third as many acres for the Pine Creek, W.Va., mine.
And last January, EPA signed off on plans from a former Arch subsidiary for another West Virginia mine, Hobet 45. Sited south of Charleston, the mine would have razed 602 acres and clogged 6 miles of streams. The mine owner, Patriot Coal Corp., reworked the plan to work in phases and reduce stream damage by half, which in turn appeased EPA.
Those two are among 79 mining applications that EPA set aside for "enhanced" review in 2009. 
"The science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion that one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped," the study's lead author, Margaret Palmer of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences, said when the study was released.

We need to focus on producing clean, renewable energy, not ruining mountains for hundreds of millions of years. We can't afford to poison our own people for our electricity, when clean alternatives are possible. 

There will be no alternatives for the 79 mountains and innumerable lives destroyed by moving forward with the proposed mountain top mining. 

Choosing Pollution over Health

When members of Congress choose to support bills that would prevent the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards, they are making a choice to support polluters over the health of children and adults in America. Some of these bills will increase the amount of mercury, smog-forming, soot, toxic and carbon dioxide pollution that industrial plants will emit compared to if the EPA is allowed to do its job. Some will simply make it a law that we must allow industrial polluters to dump unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.

That’s why NRDC and Health Care Without Harm are teaming up today to make sure that the constituents of the members of Congress that have co-sponsored one or more Bad Air Bill know that their representatives are putting their health at risk.

January 24, 2011

What does climate change mean for Lexington? - More floods

It is becoming clear that one of the primary effects of global warming is to increase the frequency of extreme flooding events around the world. As we warm the climate, the warmer air holds more moisture. Scientists calculate that the 1 degree of warming that has already occurred causes an increase in the amount of water vapor in the air of 4%.  

Here's one way to think about how much extra water that is. A 4% increase in atmospheric water vapor over the US is the equivalent to adding all the water from Lake Superior to the air over the US. 

And what goes up must come down. And when it does come down, that precipitation is coming down in increasingly intense superstorms - which can cause devastating floods. 

In the last twelve months we've seen the worst flooding on record for Pakistan, Tennessee, Brazil, Columbia, Australia, and now Sri Lanka. Pakistan still has millions who are homeless. Australia has an area the size of Texas under water. Flooding this week has resulted in over 665 dead in Brazil and over 300,000 homeless in Sri Lanka. 

So what does this mean for Lexington, Massachusetts? The weather records from Hanscom Air Force Base since 1957  show that during the period from 1957 to 1990, we had only one day with more than 4 inches of rain in one day (that was in 1962). 

Since 1990 we've had 7 days when we've had 4 inches or more of rain. That means Lexington was 12 times as likely to have an extreme precipitation event or a superstorm during the last 20 years, compared to the previous 33 years of data. 

The two storms we had in March of 2010 dumped 25% of our total annual rainfall on us in just 7 days, including one day when we had 4.3 inches of rain. That works out to 13 times more rain than the 7 day average. 

The consequences of these intense storms directly affect our lives, causing flooding in our basements, inundating our stormwater system and even disrupting our water supply. 

The intense flooding from those two superstorms in March was one of the primary causes of the water main break that disrupted most of Metro Boston's water supply. 

The weather patterns in Lexington have changed dramatically in the last 20 years and we will need to implement plans to ensure that we have the proper infrastructure and systems in place to deal with this new reality.

BP and Exxon's energy outlook for 2030

In a bleak prognosis for success on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, BP admits in its new Energy Outlook 2030 report, which was published this week, that global CO2 emissions from energy will grow an average of 1.2 percent a year through 2030.

What oil there is left in 2030 is predominantly under OPEC control. OPEC's share of global oil production is set to increase to 46%, a position not seen since 1977, the decade that saw the cartel preside over a series of oil shocks and shortages. In fact, 75 percent of all growth in oil reserves over the next two decades is expected to come from OPEC nations, which include Kuwait, Iran, Angola, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nigeria.

In total, BP's chief economist Christof Ruehl predicts "to the best of our knowledge," CO2 emissions will rise by 27 percent over the next two decades, meaning an increase of about 33bn tons. All this does not bode well for climate change, with even Bob Dudley calling the scenarios a "wake-up call":

I need to emphasize that this is a projection, not a proposition. It is our dispassionate view of what we believe is most likely to happen on the basis of the evidence. For example, we are not as optimistic as others about progress in reducing carbon emissions. But that doesn't mean we oppose such progress. As you probably know, BP has a 15 year record of calling for more action from governments, including the wide application of a carbon price. Our base case assumes that countries continue to make some progress on addressing climate change, based on the current and expected level of political commitment. But overall, for me personally, it is a wake-up call, not something any of us would like to see happening.
BP's estimate is just higher than ExxonMobil, which believes that CO2 emissions will increase by 25 percent in 20 years, according to John Vidal, writing in The Guardian. 

The question is - Do we accept Exxon and BP's vision for our future? or do we start taking action today to move to a clean energy future that isn't dependent on OPEC, BP and Exxon? 

Hansen predicts an ice-free planet

We're headed towards an ice-free planet.  According to James Hansen that means sea levels 82 feet higher than today. When sea levels rise 82 feet, the Arlington Library will become ocean front property and most of Boston and Cambridge will be completely under water. 

In a recent paper, James Hansen and Makiko Sato make the remarkable finding, that sea level rise will be highly nonlinear this century based on our current business-as-usual [BAU] emissions. 
BAU scenarios result in global warming of the order of 3-6°C. It is this scenario for which we assert that multi-meter sea level rise on the century time scale are not only possible, but almost dead certain.
That takes us through the Eemian interglacial period of about 130,000 years ago when sea levels were 15 to 20 feet higher, when temperatures had been thought to be about 1°C warmer than today.  Then we go back to the "early Pliocene, when sea level was about 25 m [82 feet] higher than today," as NASA's James Hansen and Makiko Sato explain in a new draft paper, "Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change."

Australian Floods - "a reconstruction task of post-war proportions"

In Australia, flash floods have left 30 people dead  , more than 43 missing, more than £3.1 billion ($4.9 billion U.S.) in damage, and an estimated 14,000 homeless.  This is not to mention the literally thousands of  miles of road literally washed away, the downed power and telephone lines, the interrupted or entirely absent commuter rail lines, and the approximately 26,000 buildings   in Brisbane alone either completely or partially flooded.  
It is, according to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, a "reconstruction task of post-war proportions" as people all across the country face the daunting prospect of rebuilding a devastated transportation infrastructure (bridges and roads), a housing market, an industrial venue, and an economy already decimated by persistent global recession.  
The flooding, which began in December of 2010 and ended up involving three-quarters of the area of Queensland – a territory bigger than Texas and California combined.

Ken Salazar on US renewable progress in 2010

In 2010, we began to unleash the potential of these resources in unprecedented ways, approving historic renewable energy projects, as well as developing strategic plans for a strong future.

Some milestones:
  • We approved nine large-scale solar energy projects in the sunny deserts of California and Nevada, including the first solar project ever permitted on public lands, and what will be the largest solar project in the world when completed.  Together, the projects will provide nearly 3,700 megawatts – enough to power more than one million homes – and create over 7,000 new jobs. 
  • We teamed up with the Department of Energy to develop long-term, landscape level planning for solar energy that will lead to a more efficient and effective process for project permitting and siting. This initiative includes a comprehensive environmental analysis that identifies proposed 'solar energy zones' on public lands in six western states most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production. 
  • We signed a lease for the Cape Wind energy project, the nation's first commercial wind energydevelopment on the Outer Continental Shelf.  With the potential to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts, Cape Wind signals a new era for offshore energy production.
  • We launched a 'Smart from the Start' wind energy initiative for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to facilitate siting, leasing and construction of new projects. The initiative slashes red tape and will identify priority Wind Energy Areas for potential development. Smart planning and early environmental reviews will pay dividends in spurring responsible renewable wind energy development.
  • We approved a 150-megawatt wind project in Nevada that will generate enough energy to power more than 52,000 homes. This project joins the 29 wind development projects already in production on public lands with an installed capacity of approximately 580 megawatts. 
Geothermal and Transmission
  • We broke ground on the 235-mile One Nevada transmission line which will help deliver renewable energy to consumers. This line will join more than 500 miles of critical, new electric transmission lines crossing Nevada and Idaho that this administration has greenlighted. 
  • We approved two new geothermal projects in Nevada which will harness the earth's energy to produce about 79 megawatts of energy and generate enough energy to power about 79,000 homes.
Together these projects and initiatives are important, significant steps in our nation's march toward a prosperous, sustainable renewable energy future.
Article by Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

Worst floods - Australia and Brazil

Both Australia and Brazil experienced devastating flash floods this month after long periods of extreme draught. 

Torrential rains inundated a heavily populated, steep-sloped area about 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday and Wednesday, triggering flash floods and mudslides that have claimed at least 511 lives. Rainfall amounts of approximately 300 mm (12 inches) fell in just a few hours in the hardest-hit regions, Teresopolis and Nova Friburgo. Many more people are missing, and the death toll is expected to go much higher once rescuers reach remote villages that have been cut off from communications. The death toll makes the January 2011 floods Brazil's worst single-day natural disaster in its history. Brazil suffers hundreds of deaths each year due to flooding and mudslides, but the past 12 months have been particularly devastating. Flooding and landslides near Rio in April last year killed 246 people and did about $13 billion in damage, and at least 85 people perished last January during a similar event.

"Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia's Queensland state, scientists said on Wednesday, with several months of heavy rain and storms still to come."
Flood-weary Queensland, Australia suffered a new flooding disaster yesterday [January 11, 2011] when freak rains of six inches fell in just 30 minutes near Toowoomba. The resulting flash flood killed nine people and left 59 missing. The flood waters poured into the Brisbane River, causing it to overflow, and significant flooding of low-lying areas in Brisbane, Australia's third largest city with some 2 million people, is expected on Thursday.
Here is a stunning video of the flooding:

An area the size of Texas is under water in Australia. 

Munich Re's natural catastrophe database, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, shows a marked increase in the number of weather-related events. For instance, globally there has been a more than threefold increase in loss-related floods since 1980 and more than double the number of windstorm natural catastrophes, with particularly heavy losses as a result of Atlantic hurricanes.

The rise in natural catastrophe losses is primarily due to socio-economic factors. In many countries, populations are rising, and more and more people moving into exposed areas. At the same time, greater prosperity is leading to higher property values. Nevertheless, it would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge as set out in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report.

CO2 levels rising to levels not seen for 30 million years

If industrial carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could by 2100 reach levels not seen in at least 30 million years, when Earth's average temperature was 25 to 30 degrees F warmer than today, according to an analysis by a U.S. scientist.

Writing in the journal, Science, Jeffrey Kiehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that if carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could reach 900 to 1,000 parts per million by 2100 — triple levels two centuries ago.
Analyses of molecular structures in fossilized organic materials show that the last time atmospheric concentrations of CO2 reached those levels was 30 million to 100 million years ago, Kiehl writes. Average temperatures in much of that era were as much as 30 degrees F warmer than today, Kiehl says.

Ford adds anti-idling technology to vehicles

Ford is atop a wave of auto manufacturers that will bring technology that eliminates idling to North America. Stop-start technology, which has long been a feature of hybrids, will appear in Ford vehicles starting in 2012.

Stop-start is relatively simple and inexpensive to implement. By adding an enhanced battery and upgraded starter, vehicles can turn off the engine when the brakes are applied or the vehicle comes to a stop. The total cost of a stop-start system can be as low as $300, or $500 or more if a regenerative braking system is also added. Vehicles with stop-start are not considered hybrids because they do not have an electric motor to assist in propulsion.

Ford has not said which models will add stop-start technology, which is used widely in Europe by Ford and most other automakers in that region. Ford claims to have 244 patents related to stop-start technology, which is currently incorporated into the Ka, Mondeo, Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX vehicles in Europe. Ford will move the technology to other markets after North America.

Stop-start has proven to be an economical method of meeting increasingly stringent reductions in diesel NOx and particulate emissions in Europe. The U.S. has not made changes to diesel emissions regulations in many years, and is not likely to do so for several more years. Also, the EPA's drive cycle test used to calculate MPG ratings does not reflect the savings up of to 15 percent from stop-start. With little incentive to do so, automakers until now have kept stop-start from the U.S. market.

Ford Powertrain Communications Manager, Richard Truett, expects the addition of stop-start technology to add 1-2 miles per gallon to the company's vehicles. He said by 2015 up to 90 percent of Ford's nameplates would have stop-start functionality. Truett said the company is "taking the long term view on fuel prices," expecting them to trend higher, and stop-start technology is "low-hanging fruit" for reducing fuel costs.

Stop-start systems are available from the many Tier One automotive suppliers including Bosch, Continental AG, and ZF Friedrichshafen. The first vehicles with stop-start arrived in the U.S. in 2010 from BMW and Porsche. Pike Research projects that sales of vehicles with stop-start technology in North America will grow from 11,000 to more than 2.8 million by 2015 as automakers promote the fuel economy and reduced emissions yielded by eliminating idling.

Solar Breakthru

PASADENA, Calif.—Using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a new type of flexible solar cell that enhances the absorption of sunlight and efficiently converts its photons into electrons. The solar cell does all this using only a fraction of the expensive semiconductor materials required by conventional solar cells.
"These solar cells have, for the first time, surpassed the conventional light-trapping limit for absorbing materials," says Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor, professor of applied physics and materials science, and director of Caltech's Resnick Institute, which focuses on sustainability research.
The light-trapping limit of a material refers to how much sunlight it is able to absorb. The silicon-wire arrays absorb up to 96 percent of incident sunlight at a single wavelength and 85 percent of total collectible sunlight. "We've surpassed previous optical microstructures developed to trap light," he says. 
Atwater and his colleagues—including Nathan Lewis, the George L. Argyros Professor and professor of chemistry at Caltech, and graduate student Michael Kelzenberg—assessed the performance of these arrays in a paper appearing in the February 14 advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials.
Atwater notes that the solar cells' enhanced absorption is "useful absorption."
"Many materials can absorb light quite well but not generate electricity—like, for instance, black paint," he explains. "What's most important in a solar cell is whether that absorption leads to the creation of charge carriers."
The silicon wire arrays created by Atwater and his colleagues are able to convert between 90 and 100 percent of the photons they absorb into electrons—in technical terms, the wires have a near-perfect internal quantum efficiency. "High absorption plus good conversion makes for a high-quality solar cell," says Atwater. "It's an important advance."
The key to the success of these solar cells is their silicon wires, each of which, says Atwater, "is independently a high-efficiency, high-quality solar cell." When brought together in an array, however, they're even more effective, because they interact to increase the cell's ability to absorb light.
"Light comes into each wire, and a portion is absorbed and another portion scatters. The collective scattering interactions between the wires make the array very absorbing," he says.This effect occurs despite the sparseness of the wires in the array—they cover only between 2 and 10 percent of the cell's surface area.
"When we first considered silicon wire-array solar cells, we assumed that sunlight would be wasted on the space between wires," explains Kelzenberg. "So our initial plan was to grow the wires as close together as possible. But when we started quantifying their absorption, we realized that more light could be absorbed than predicted by the wire-packing fraction alone. By developing light-trapping techniques for relatively sparse wire arrays, not only did we achieve suitable absorption, we also demonstrated effective optical concentration—an exciting prospect for further enhancing the efficiency of silicon-wire-array solar cells."
Each wire measures between 30 and 100 microns in length and only 1 micron in diameter. "The entire thickness of the array is the length of the wire," notes Atwater. "But in terms of area or volume, just 2 percent of it is silicon, and 98 percent is polymer."
In other words, while these arrays have the thickness of a conventional crystalline solar cell, their volume is equivalent to that of a two-micron-thick film.
Since the silicon material is an expensive component of a conventional solar cell, a cell that requires just one-fiftieth of the amount of this semiconductor will be much cheaper to produce.
The composite nature of these solar cells, Atwater adds, means that they are also flexible. "Having these be complete flexible sheets of material ends up being important," he says, "because flexible thin films can be manufactured in a roll-to-roll process, an inherently lower-cost process than one that involves brittle wafers, like those used to make conventional solar cells."
Atwater, Lewis, and their colleagues had earlier demonstrated that it was possible to create these innovative solar cells. "They were visually striking," says Atwater. "But it wasn't until now that we could show that they are both highly efficient at carrier collection and highly absorbing."
The next steps, Atwater says, are to increase the operating voltage and the overall size of the solar cell. "The structures we've made are square centimeters in size," he explains. "We're now scaling up to make cells that will be hundreds of square centimeters—the size of a normal cell."
Atwater says that the team is already "on its way" to showing that large-area cells work just as well as these smaller versions.

California approves cap on greenhouse gasses

California regulators voted to approve the most comprehensive U.S. cap yet on greenhouse gases and create the biggest carbon market in the country. 

The California Air Resources Board voted 9-1 to approve the state's cap-and-trade plan, the keystone of its effort to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 under A.B. 32 and the nation's first economywide, market-based greenhouse gas scheme in the absence of federal action. California has the world's eighth-largest economy and the highest gross state product in the United States, at $1.7 trillion in 2009.

"It just shows to you that a huge majority of Californians are big believers in A.B. 32," Schwarzenegger said. "And they're big believers not just in global climate change -- let's be honest, not everyone believes in that. It's also about our health. It is about 19,000 people that die every year because of pollution-related illnesses. Every sixth child in the Central Valley goes to school with an inhaler. We can do much better than that."

Honeybee Collapse and the EPA

Over the concerns of its own scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency continues to approve a controversial pesticide introduced to U.S. markets shortly before the honeybee collapse, according to documents leaked to a Colorado beekeeper.
The pesticide, called clothianidin, is manufactured by German agrochemical company Bayer, though it's actually banned in Germany. It's also banned in France, Italy and Slovenia. Those countries fear that clothianidin, which is designed to be absorbed by plant tissue and released in pollen and nectar to kill pests, is also dangerous to pollen- and nectar-eating bees that are critical to some plants' reproductive success.
In 2003, the EPA approved clothianidin for use in the United States. Since then it's become widely used, with farmers purchasing $262 million worth of clothianidin last year. It's used on used on sugar beets, canola, soy, sunflowers, wheat and corn, the last a pollen-rich crop planted more widely than any other in the U.S., and a dietary favorite of honeybees.
During this time, after several decades of gradual decline, honeybee colonies in the United States underwent widespread, massive collapses.
Up to one-third have now vanished, troubling farmers who rely on bees to fertilize some $15 billion worth of U.S. crops and citizens who simply like bees. Though colony collapse disorder likely has many causes — from mites to bacteria to fungus to the physiological stresses and epidemiological risks of industrial beekeeping — pesticides are a prime suspect, and the EPA's leaked documents (pdf) are troubling.
The memo, obtained by Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald and publicized by the Pesticide Action Network, was written in November by scientists from the EPA's Environmental Fate and Effects Division, who are considering Bayer's request to use clothianidin in cotton and mustard. They describe how a key Bayer safety study used by the EPA to justify its original clothianidin approvals, which were granted before the study was actually conducted, was sloppily designed and poorly run, making it a "supplemental" resource at best.
"Clothianidin's major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees)," write the EFED researchers(pdf). "Exposure through contaminated pollen and nectar and potential toxic effects therefore remain an uncertainty for pollinators."
Some beekeepers and activists have now asked the EPA to reverse its clothianidin approval. An EPA spokesperson told Grist's Tom Philpott that clothianidin will again be on sale this spring.

ABC News - Global Warming & Extreme Weather

ABC has started running an excellent series of stories on the effects of global warming. Climate scientists they interviewed say the forecast for the future calls for record-breaking precipitation and extreme temperatures year-round — and that means winter with more snow.

This story talks about the recent weather in Boston and the surrounding area.

Here's another great ABC story about floods in Australia and Brazil.

January 14, 2011

2010 Hottest & Wettest Year on record

Dr. Richard Somerville, a coordinating lead author on the IPCC’s 2007 review of climate science, explains bluntly:
This is no longer something that’s theory or conjecture or something that comes out of computer models. We’re observing the climate changing. It’s real. It’s happening. It’s scientific fact.
The evening news story ends:
Many scientists say the forecast is looking more and more extreme.