File IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
In this summary for policymakers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change focuses on the likely impact of human-induced climate change on global populations. The report sees millions of people affected by land loss, water shortage, and new disease vectors, consequently greatly increasing the potential for conflict.
File Putting a Price on Energy
The Energy Charter Secretariat released a report on “International Pricing Mechanisms for Oil and Gas.” The study notes that while oil has developed all the features of a global commodity market, strong variations remain in the pricing mechanisms for natural gas in different regional and national markets. The study explores reasons for these difference, and also examines the role of liquified natural gas in providing a link between different markets.
File Light Behind the Fall
Writing in Japan Focus, Vaclav Smil (“Light Behind the Fall: Japan’s Electricity Consumption, the Environment, and Economic Growth”) notes that despite averaging only 1.1% annual growth over the past 15 years, Japan’s primary energy consumption actually increased by 17%. The article explores several factors that contributed to the growth in energy intensity in Japan over that period, including increasing use of electricity in the home.
File UK concept paper on energy, security, and climate change
The United Kingdom, acting in capacity as temporary president of the United Nations Security Council, has proposed that the UNSC hold a debate on April 17 on the relationship between energy, security, and climate change. This brief concept paper outlines some of the potential causes of conflict from climate change, including border disputes, migration, energy and other supply shortages, societal stress, and humanitarian crises.
File Greenhouse gas makes its presence felt
SwissInfo (“Greenhouse gas makes its presence felt,” 3/28/07) reported that, from a monitoring station high up in the Swiss Alps, Swiss scientists have been able to detect the presence of Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) as far away as Tasmania. While HFCs are considered less harmful than CFCs, since they don’t attack the ozone layer, the scientists warn that they could cause problems for global warming in the future.
File Japan Pumps Funds Into Energy Drive
OhmyNews International (Hisane Misaki, “Japan Pumps Funds Into Energy Drive,” 04/03/07) reports that Japan’s New National Energy Strategy calls for increasing the ratio of oil produced and imported by domestic companies to 40% by 2030 from the current 15%. To achieve this goal, the strategy calls for stresses the importance of “drastically strengthening the supply of risk money” related to the exploration and development of overseas oil and natural-gas reserves by domestic development companies.
File 634 Million People at Risk from Rising Seas
National Public Radio’s Morning Edition (“Study: 634 Million People at Risk from Rising Seas,” 3/28/07) reported that a new study determined that nearly 1/10th of the global population live in low-elevation coastal zones, and thus are at high risk from rising sea levels.
File The Rising Tide
A new study from Columbia University finds that approximately 10 percent of the world’s population live in low elevation coastal zones and are thus at the largest risk from rising sea levels caused by global warming.
File Ethanol and Biofuels
The Congressional Research Service released a report for Congress entitled, “Ethanol and Biofuels: Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Market Constraints Related to Expanded Production.” The report notes that meeting some of the more ambitious projections for biofuel demand would require more than the total current U.S. corn crop, and switching to alternative crops risks moving much agriculture land away from food production.
File Crude Oil
The US Government’s General Accounting Office released a report to Congress that said that the uncertainty about future oil supply makes it important for the US to develop a strategy for addressing a peak and decline in oil production. The report warns that an imminent peak and sharp decline could lead to a worldwide recession, but if the peak is delayed, alternative technologies would have a greater potential to mitigate the consequences.
File EPA Fact Sheet on Biodiesel
File Biotech seeks to ease reliance on corn
The Associated Press (Paul Elias, “Biotech seeks to ease reliance on corn,” 4/14/07) reported that, with the demand for ethanol driving up food prices and reducing corn supplies, genetic engineers are looking for new microbes capable of producing alternative fuels from sources other than corn.
File Replacing_Petroleum_with_plant_sugars
The Seattle Times (Kristi Heim, “Researchers study how to replace petroleum with plant-derived sugar,” 4/20/07) reported that in addition to biofuels, scientists at Washington State University and the US Department of Energy are studying how to replace other petroleum products with plant-derived sugars. They hope that chemical products sold at higher margins can help offset the cost of making lower-margin alternative fuels, creating more incentive for producers.
File The Nuclear Flock
In an opinion piece in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (“The Nuclear Flock,” March/April 2007), Michael Krepon of the Henry L. Stimson Center argues that the US decision to give India an exemption to nuclear export controls will encourage other countries to pursue proliferation. Noting that there is no precedent for single-country exemptions, Krepon argues that the idea that the deal will remain limited to India “smacks of wishful thinking.”
File Ten Years of Fighting Bird Flu
The World Health Organization notes that this May marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the global fight to prevent a bird flu pandemic. Since that time, $1.9 billion has been spent fighting influenza, and there is now far greater awareness about the risks of a global pandemic. However much remains unknown.
File NASA Spacecraft make first 3-D pictures of sun
NASA spacecraft have made the first 3-dimensional photographs of the sun. The new view will greatly aid scientists’ ability to understand solar physics and thereby improve space weather forecasting, thus increasing the reliability of power grids, satellites, and radio communication.