Post0235 ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT 24 March 2000 CONTENTS 1. SCIENTISTS DEFINE GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS 2. THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY 3. BRITISH PARLIAMENT MAY ENFORCE PURCHASE OF GREEN POWER 4. NEW MOTOROLA FUEL CELL SMALL, STRONG 5. FUEL-CELL FUTURE FOR GASOLINE? 6. STUDY: DIESEL EXHAUSTS CAUSE CANCER 1. SCIENTISTS DEFINE GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS ___________________________________________________________________________ Scientists Define Global Climate Change Crisis By Martha Heil WASHINGTON, DC, February 24, 2000 (ENS) - Global warming will affect far more than the natural environment, climate experts said this weekend at a scientific meeting in Washington, DC. Public health, real estate, commerce and global environmental policy will all feel the heat over the next 100 years - making climate change an issue that affects everyone. Some of the world?s top climate forecasters were in Washington, DC this week for the 2000 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They reviewed research detailing a broad spectrum of potential consequences of global warming, ranging from altered water cycles, to frequent storms and floods, to displaced species. Rising temperatures could put pressure on utilities, as more people turn up their air conditioners (Photo by Richard Frear, courtesy National Park Service) One of the biggest research areas of the future, the scientists said, will be how global warming affects the world?s human population. Heat waves, which have already increased by 20 percent since 1949, are expected to increase the frequency of heat strokes, analysts from the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change projected. A greater demand for air conditioning puts demands on power plants, which will in turn use more cooling water, putting more demand on scarce water situations. Levels of pollution rise as atmospheric temperatures go up, said Devra Davis, director of the Health, Environment, and Development Program at the World Resources Institute. She cited deadly concentrations of industrial smog in Donora, Pennsylvania in 1948, and in London in 1952, which were related to weather patterns like El Nino. Rita Colwell directs the National Science Foundation (Photo courtesy NSF) Changes in climate also link indirectly to public health issues. "Cholera epidemics can now be related to climate and climate events, including ocean warming events such as El Nino," said Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation. "High temperature and high sea level drives cholera levels up." The cholera bacterium is a parasite of a common plankton, and warmer waters will mean more hosts and more chances for cholera to replicate. In Africa, a rain 60 times heavier than normal caused an outbreak of Rift Valley fever in 1998, the most recent El Nino year. Mosquitoes that carry the disease bred in the extremely wet conditions. Scientists predict that similar disease outbreaks could occur in the changing climate. "The vectors for disease are already here," said Colwell. Melting ice caps, sea level rise and frequent storms - all consequences of the projected temperature rise - could cause catastrophic floods. This can bring pollutants and waste into relatively clean areas. "It?s not just one toxin issue at a time," said Jonathan Patz, director of the Program on Health Effects of Global Environmental Change, Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, at the of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "We have to look at the problem integratively." Consequences for real estate are likely to be serious, said David Pimentel of Cornell University. With the projected one meter (39 inch) sea level rise, almost 15 meters (49 feet) of shoreline may be lost. Cropland is expected to decline by 30 percent, while the population is projected to double by 2075, leaving many people hungry. Western alpine forests are likely to disappear, threatening the environment and the timber industry, said Steven McNulty of the U.S. Forest Service. Aspens, maple and birch are among the trees which may have their numbers reduced by up to 90 percent. Southeastern forests are calculated to decrease by 11 percent. The researchers say that individuals, industry and government all have a responsibility to be aware of global warming?s potential effects. A committee called Integrated Regional Assessment, under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, is focusing its efforts on researching effective global warming policies, but has no specific suggestions to offer as yet. Flooding from rising sea levels could sweep toxins into previously unpolluted areas (Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) Some suggested that industry driven research would be profitable and likely to be self sustaining. "Institutions can help provide the information needed to address this issue," said Hadi Dowlatabadi, director of the Center for the Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carnegie Mellon University. Other scientists debated where the responsibility of changing practices that contribute to global warming should lie - with the individual or in government regulations. "A system based on emissions allocations is unlikely to achieve real climate protection," said John Topping of the Climate Institute. The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce six greenhouse gases in 39 industrialized countries, was signed in 1997, but has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Senate or by any other country whose emissions are controlled by the agreement. Some scientists believe that governments will respond more effectively if voters make addressing climate change a priority. "We all have a responsibility to act," said Laura Westra, professor of environmental studies at Sarah Lawrence College. The media?s attention to environmental problems, like the last decade?s prominent news coverage of the hole in the ozone layer, can also motivate action. "I guess we?ll have to have a climate hole," said Steven Schneider, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. "We?ve assumed that the future of climate will look just like the past," said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security. "We can say with high confidence that that?s not true." ? Environment News Service (ENS) 2000. All Rights Reserved. ____________________________________*______________________________________ 2. THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY ___________________________________________________________________________ Alliance to Save Energy Launches Earth Day 2000 Web Contest Featuring Home Energy Prizes WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 -/E-Wire/-- Kicking off a months-long focus on Earth Day 2000, the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, which will involve half a billion people around the globe, the Alliance to Save Energy has launched a web contest featuring a host of home energy prizes. CONTACT: Rozanne Weissman of the Alliance to Save Energy, 202-530-2217 or [firstname.lastname@example.org]email@example.com[/email]/ Web site: http://www.ase.org/earthday http://www.ase.org/earthday/contest/prizes.htm http://www.ase.org http://www.ENERGYguide.com/ _________________________________*_________________________________________ 3. BRITISH PARLIAMENT MAY ENFORCE PURCHASE OF GREEN POWER ___________________________________________________________________________ BRITISH PARLIAMENT MAY ENFORCE PURCHASE OF GREEN POWER LONDON, England, January 25, 2000 (ENS) - The British government will have the power to require electricity suppliers to generate a portion of their power from renewable energy sources, if a new bill placed before Parliament becomes law. The Utilities Bill was introduced late last week to ensure first class utilities for all consumers at lower prices and put right the deficiencies of the present structure which fails to ensure effective competition, said Trade & Industry Secretary Stephen Byers. The proposed legislation is part of the government's program to reform the power industry in Britain. The bill, which must now be debated by Parliament, is the first major reform in over a decade for the way in which the country's privatised utilities are regulated. The Bill gives Byers the right to enforce the purchase of green power, including the power to impose financial penalties on suppliers that do not purchase sufficient renewable energy. The country?s first utility, British Telecom, was privatised 15 years ago, and the government wants a more consistent regulatory framework that will benefit both customers and utilities. Power bills are predicted to fall by at least 10 percent as a result of the new law. "This Bill will ensure that consumers and businesses get a fair deal from our utilities,said Byers. It will tackle the rigged electricity market created when the industry was privatised and put in place a modern framework for utility regulation. The proposals include new objectives for government regulators that are designed to protect consumer interests and the right to impose tough fines on companies that are found guilty of bad practice or poor performance, including interruptions to the supply of power and the speed of reconnecting customers. There will be no upper limit on the fines the regulator can impose. Independent consumer councils will be established for the gas and electricity industries, as well as the telecommunications and water utilities, to investigate customer complaints. The Bill will require companies that provide price-regulated services to disclose how they link the pay of their directors to the levels of customer service. "We will have new powers which will help us to meet our climate change targets by improving energy efficiency, added Environment Minister Michael Meacher. We will have powers to set requirements for energy utilities to encourage and help low income and other customers to make better use of energy and to save money. The Bill will contain provisions that were announced by government officials in July 1998 and last October. Additional measures to deal with cross- utility issues and specific energy measures will be introduced later as the Bill is debated by the Commons Committee. While welcoming substantial parts of the new package, environmental groups have attacked the draft law for being too vague and stressed that the government was actually committing itself to doing virtually nothing for the environment. NGOs also claim that a new electricity trading mechanism proposed under the law would actually harm renewables, combined heat and power and smaller generators. ? Environment News Service (ENS) 2000. All Rights Reserved. ____________________________________*______________________________________ 4. NEW MOTOROLA FUEL CELL SMALL, STRONG ___________________________________________________________________________ NEW MOTOROLA FUEL CELL SMALL, STRONG Laptops, phones would get boost with liquid methanol Inexpensive replaceable methanol fuel cartridges (like those shown in this Motorola Labs concept photo) may one day replace rechargeable batteries as a long-lasting energy source for numerous electronic products ranging from cellular phones and computers to electronic games. REUTERS SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Jan. 19 Motorola Inc. said Wednesday that researchers developed a powerful, miniature fuel cell that may one day replace traditional batteries in laptop computers, cellular phones and other devices. The fuel cells, which are still about three to five years away from the store shelves, could power a wireless phone for more than a month and keep a laptop running for 20 hours. MOTOROLA, the world?s No. 2 wireless phone maker and a major computer chip manufacturer, said scientists at its labs and at Los Alamos National Laboratory used liquid methanol to power the cells, which last up to 10 times longer than existing rechargeable batteries. Liquid methanol, a wood alcohol, is also used in windshield wiper fluid. The fuel cells, which are still about three to five years away from the store shelves, could power a wireless phone for more than a month and keep a laptop running for 20 hours, Bill Ooms, director of Motorola?s material, device, and energy research, said in a telephone interview. They would use small plastic canisters similar to those used for fountain pen ink. Consumers could easily check the methanol level to find out when to replace the fuel cell, which will likely cost as much as or less than traditional rechargeables, Ooms said. Manufacturers are constantly developing new features for portable electronic equipment that require more power and longer operating life, Ooms said. These fuel cells have an amazing ability to produce energy for longer periods of time while weighing far less than conventional batteries. CHEMICAL TO ELECTRICAL Fuel cells convert chemical energy directly to electrical energy. The basic concept of a fuel cell originated in 1839, but practical applications came from NASA in the early days of space flight, Motorola said. These new miniature cells, each measuring about one inch square and less than one- tenth of an inch in thickness, use a reservoir of inexpensive methanol that, when combined with the oxygen in the air, produces electricity. The air breathing fuel cell was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The highly simplified and miniaturized design eliminates the need for air pumps, heat exchangers and other complex devices that previous fuel cells required and therefore disqualified them from successful use in small portable electronic products. ? 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. ____________________________________*______________________________________ 5. FUEL-CELL FUTURE FOR GASOLINE? ___________________________________________________________________________ NEW SCIENTIST ? [Archive: 13 February 1999] Fuel-cell future for gasoline? RESEARCHERS FIND WAY TO RUN ?GREEN? ENGINES ON HYDROCARBONS A few fuel-cell vehicles are already on the road, among them this bus in Vancouver, Canada. Its debut in October 1998 included a toast with the bus exhaust's only emission: water vapor. ---- By Miguel Llanos MSNBC March 15 Researchers announced Wednesday a breakthrough that could lead to fuel cells powered by gasoline, giving drivers two to three times more mileage. The advance could speed up what fuel-cell advocates see as the demise of the internal combustion engine. WE?VE DEMONSTRATED that we can run a fuel cell directly on hydrocarbons like gasoline and diesel, researcher Ray Gorte told MSNBC. In the past, everyone assumed you had to use hydrogen. Fuel cells essentially are high-tech batteries that draw electrical current from reactions between chemicals. Unlike a battery, however, they do not run down or need recharging as long as they are supplied with fuel. NASA has used them for years to power space missions. Essentially, the University of Pennsylvania fuel cell streamlines the fuel-cell process. Until now, supplying hydrogen to fuel cells was seen as the best way to power them. The new process gets hydrogen directly from hydrocarbons like gasoline, diesel or natural gas, so there?s no need for extracting hydrogen from costlier and more complicated sources like methane. And because fuel cells are two to three times more efficient than internal combustion engines in how they use energy, a gasoline fuel cell could get two to three times the mileage of a traditional engine. The new process not only gets around the problem of delivering and storing hydrogen, Gorte says, it means a fuel cell that produces less carbon dioxide for a given amount of energy than other fuel cells because higher efficiency can be achieved. Many scientists fear carbon dioxide is a key contributor to warmer temperatures around the globe. The fossil fuel cell would still be limited by Earth?s finite supply of hydrocarbons, but it could provide a valuable interim technology that?s easier to deploy and still provide much cleaner and higher mileage than enternal combustion engines. Reported in Wednesday?s issue of the peer- reviewed journal Nature, the study was funded by the Chicago-based Gas Research Institute, which hopes the cells could be used in the home to produce electricity from natural gas. NO ?REFINERY? NEEDED Gorte, head of chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, sees the research as a breakthrough, saying an earlier attempt to use gasoline essentially required putting a refinery in your trunk to get the hydrogen. The test also used a different kind of fuel cell than the type most researchers and fuel-cell companies have focused on. Gorte?s team used a solid oxide fuel cell, while others have tended to focus on proton-exchange membranes. Gorte emphasized that the the experiment was not on a commercial scale and that long-term testing is needed. One hitch is that the cell is sensitive to sulfur, so that gasoline would have to be cleaned further to make it a viable fuel. Moreover, the small-scale fuel cell churns out only one-tenth of the power of a hydrogen fuel cell. But Gorte is optimistic about its potential, saying his team hopes to work with a major car company that has created a solid oxide fuel cell division. He would not identify the company, saying he wasn?t sure if it was willing to go public yet. Shorter term, possibly within a decade, the fuel cell could be used for portable generators for businesses and homes. NATURE?S SOLUTION? Kevin Kendall, a chemical engineer at Britain?s University of Birmingham, writes in a Nature article accompanying the study that while hydrogen is the ultimate clean power source of the future it is still expensive to extract it, difficult to store and prone to explosion. The new research, he adds, provides an interim technology by tapping into the hydrogen stored naturally in hydrocarbons. Nature seems to achieve this with ease through biochemical routes described in the study, he notes. Kendall even ventures that fuel-cell progress will go beyond just replacing internal combustion engines, as well as their noise and pollutants. By the end of the century, he writes, these fiery combustion processes may be banned. ____________________________________*______________________________________ 6. STUDY: DIESEL EXHAUSTS CAUSE CANCER ___________________________________________________________________________ Study: Diesel Exhausts Cause Cancer By H. JOSEF HEBERT Associated Press Writer 03:26 AM ET 03/15/00 WASHINGTON (AP) _ Toxic chemicals in diesel exhausts from trucks and buses are responsible for at least 125,000 cancers over a lifetime, according to a study by a coalition of state and local air pollution control agencies. The state officials' report being released today comes as the petroleum industry is stepping up a campaign to persuade the Clinton administration to back off from plans for tougher pollution controls on diesel fuel. Although the new regulations for diesel, now under review at the White House, would not go into effect until 2006, industry groups hoped the current turmoil about diesel fuel prices _ and to some extent supply _ might help sway the administration. The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal, sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget earlier this year, would sharply reduce the sulfur content in diesel fuel and require other pollution improvements. An EPA spokeswoman, Kim Ruby, declined to comment on the proposal, except to say it had been sent to the White House. Some industry groups and government sources said it would require sulfur levels in diesel to be reduced from 500 parts per million to 15 per million by 2006, though the specifics could still be changed. The state regulators, along with environmentalists and health advocates, planned to release the new analysis on diesel and cancer risks, partly in response to the industry push to try to get the EPA regulation withdrawn. ``These (diesel) fumes are putting us at risk of cancer, a risk that can be almost completely eliminated with modern pollution controls,'' said William Becker, executive director of the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators. The group, which represents state pollution control officials, conducted the analysis that concludes an additional 125,000 people would be expected to get lung cancer during their lifetime as a result of exposure to chemicals and soot from diesel fuel. Becker said there have been many epidemiological studies linking diesel soot and lung cancer and that the 125,110 estimated of additional cancers was ``an extremely conservative figure'' using the same methodology used by regulators in California in estimating diesel-related cancers. ``The actual numbers of cancers could easily be 10 times as high,'' maintained Becker. Last year, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the air pollution control agency in the Los Angeles area, concluded that 70 percent of the total cancer risks from transportation sources in the region came from diesel emissions. Becker said his group's analysis used the California methodology and extended it nationwide, using air pollution monitoring data from both metropolitan and rural areas and accounting for population distributions. It estimated 119,570 additional cancers in metropolitan areas and 5,540 such additional cancers in rural areas nationwide. The state regulators as well as the American Lung Association and several environmental groups including the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Clean Air Network, maintain these health statistics make a strong argument for pressing ahead with the proposed EPA diesel rules. But in a letter earlier this week to the EPA, nine organizations representing a variety of interests from refiners and oil companies to convenience store operators and farm cooperatives, urged that the diesel rule be withdrawn. ``EPA's proposal for diesel sulfur is likely to reduce the supply of diesel fuel as well as heating oil and even gasoline,'' they said in a letter to EPA Administrator Carol Browner. The letter noted recent trucker protests about soaring prices and said the EPA proposal was ``a blueprint for future shortages of diesel and home heating oil.'' Diesel prices have soared from a nationwide average of 96 cents a gallon a year ago to more than an average of $1.50 a gallon, according to the Energy Department, with prices in some areas of more than $1.86 cents a gallon. The increases have been attributed by the Energy Department to increases in crude oil costs and supply shortages caused by a cutback in world oil production. ____________________________________*________________________
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