File Scientists develop portable generator that turns trash into electricity
A group of scientists have developed a portable generator for the U.S. military that turns waste into electricity. The “tactical biorefinery” could alleviate the expense and danger associated with transporting waste and fuel, while at the same time removing garbage remnants that can provide clues to a military unit’s movements.
File Nanotechnology: The Next Battleground?
A commentary in OhmyNews International (John Horvath, “Nanotechnology: The Next Battleground?” 02/02/07) discussed the potential dangers of nanotechnology, both with regards to military applications and health concerns. It notes that some scientists are calling for a deceleration of nanotechnology research to allow policy to catch up to the science.
File Climate change ‘affecting’ China
The BBC News (“Climate change ‘affecting’ China,” 02/06/07) reports that as signs of climate change become more apparent, China is recognizing the need to move on emissions. However, the government continues to argue that more developed countries bear the primary responsibility.
File Japan’s Nuke Power Policy Limps Along
In a commentary in OhmyNews International, Hisane Misaki (“Japan’s Nuke Power Policy Limps Along,” 02/10/07) argues that although an accident-prone reactor has now been brought back online, Japan’s “pluthermal” program remains beset with problems. Not the least of these is public skepticism of nuclear power.
File Piping the problem underground
The Toronto Globe and Mail (Shawn McCarthy, “Piping the problem underground”) reports that some scientists see a massive potential for carbon sequestration, given the large amount of potential space in depleted oil and natural gas fields. Other scientists, however, worry that the CO2 could leak back onto the surface, or into the groundwater.
File Japan to embrace CO 2 storage in seabed
Kyodo News (“Japan to embrace CO 2 storage in seabed,” 02/05/07) reported that Japan’s Environment Ministry plans to promote projects to confine factory-emitted carbon dioxide in layers of porous rock more than 1,000 meters below the ocean floor to help fight global warming. Scientists believe that water-bearing layers surrounding the Japanese archipelago could retain up to 150 billion tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to more than 100 years of carbon dioxide emissions by Japanese plants.
File Climate change seen fanning conflict and terrorism
Reuters (Mark Trevelyan, “Climate change seen fanning conflict and terrorism,” 1/24/07) reported that participants at a conference on climate change and security warned that global warming could exacerbate the world’s rich-poor divide and help to radicalize populations and fan terrorism in the countries worst affected.
File MIT-led panel backs ‘heat mining’ as key U.S. energy source
A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth’s hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.
File The Pandemic Influenza Challenge
The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis issued a report on a workshop held in Tokyo to discuss the threat of an influenza pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region. Participants discussed how to enhance collaboration to minimize the health and economic impacts of an outbreak.
File IPCC summary for policy makers
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its fourth assessment report, which concluded that global warming is a indisputable and most likely caused by human activities. The summary for policy makers describes progress in understanding the drivers of climate change, climate processes and attribution, and estimates of projected future climate change.
File New international rules to allow storage of CO2 in seabed
As of February 10, storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) under the seabed is now allowed under amendments to an international convention governing the dumping of wastes at sea.
File Cleaner Coal Is Attracting Some Doubts
The New York Times (Matthew Wald, “Cleaner Coal Is Attracting Some Doubts,” 2/21/07) reports that environmentalists have been putting their faith in gasification of coal as the first step to carbon capture, while industry experts have put their faith in pulverization, which they say is cheaper and more reliable. But a new study by MIT researchers concludes that no determination can be made on either method because too much engineering remains to be done.
File New Reactor across the Globe
Der Spiegel (Rüdiger Falksohn, “New Reactors Across the Globe,” 1/16/07) reported that worldwide at present, 29 nuclear power plants are under construction and there are concrete plans to build another 64. Another 158 are under consideration. Only six are slowly being shut down in preparation for decommissioning. In response to the growing demand, the price for uranium has increased seven-fold since 2002 and now sells for $72 per pound.
File Can We Stop Global Warming?
Writing in the Boston Review, David G. Victor and Danny Cullenwald (“Can We Stop Global Warming?,” January/February 2007) argue that given the widespread use of coal in energy generation, the only practical approach to combat global warming is to pursue technologies that burn coal more cleanly.
File Global warming: enough to make you sick
The Los Angeles Times (Jia-Rui Chong, “Global warming: enough to make you sick,” 2/25/07) reported that global warming is leading to new disease vectors. Incremental temperature changes have begun to redraw the distribution of bacteria, insects and plants, exposing new populations to diseases that they have never seen before.
File How global warming goes against the grain
The Toronto Globe and Mail (Martin Mittelstaedt, “How global warming goes against the grain,” 2/23/07) reported that a small but influential group of agricultural experts are increasingly worried that global warming will trigger food shortages long before it causes better known but more distant threats, such as rising sea levels that flood coastal cities. The experts warn that the food shortages will disproportionately effect developing countries.
File Climate change: scientists warn it may be too late to save the ice caps
The Guardian (David Adam, “Climate change: scientists warn it may be too late to save the ice caps,” 2/19/07) reported that new studies of Greenland and Antarctica have forced a UN expert panel to conclude there is a 50% chance that widespread ice sheet loss “may no longer be avoided” because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Such melting would raise sea levels by four to six meters.
File Baghdad attacks spark local fear
The San Francisco Chronicle (“Baghdad attacks spark local fear,” 2/25/07) reported that since January, insurgents in Iraq have been targetting mobile tanks of chlorine with deadly results. These examples of how shipments of widely used chemicals can easily be turned into weapons have helped to bolster advocates’ efforts to tighten security on hazardous shipments.
File Japan Launches New Spy Satellite
OhmyNews International (Hisane Misaki, “Japan Launches New Spy Satellite,” 2/24/07) reported that Japan launched its fourth spy satellite on Saturday, Feb. 24. The new satellite will provide Japan with an all-weather capability to survey virtually any point in the world at least once every day, instead of once every two days at present, and keep watch on North Korea’s military movements.
File China envisions environmentally friendly ‘eco-city’
USA Today (Calum McLeod, “China envisions environmentally friendly ‘eco-city’,” 2/15/07) reported that Chinese developers are planning an eco-city three modern villages on Chongming Island, which is about three-quarters the size of Manhattan. The communities will be powered by energy captured from sun, wind, biofuels and recycled organic material, while a quarter of the island will be untouched ecological buffer.
File China Security
The Winter 2007 issue of China Security includes articles on China’s space ambitions by Bao Shixiu, Theresa Hitchens, and Eric Hagt; on nuclear challenges by Wang Zhongchun and Keir Lieber & Daryl Press; on crisis management by Zhong Kaibin; and a situation report on coalbed methane.
File High Tech Means High Efficiency
A new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories details the important gains for increasing energy efficiency in high tech industries. The study points out that very little attention has been given to energy efficiency in high performance buildings such as laboratories and clean rooms.